Corpus Christi (Body and Blood of Christ) Year A – 14th June 2020

Theme: WHEN WE EAT THE BODY OF CHRIST WE EAT THE RISEN BODY OF CHRIST

  • Deuteronomy 8:2-3. 14-16;
  • Psalm 147:12-15. 19-20. R/ v. 12;
  • 1 Corinthians 10:16-17
  • John 6:51-58

A happy and a blessed Corpus Christi to all of you! “Corpus Christi” means “Body of Christ”! Today we celebrate the Solemnity of “The Body and Blood of Christ”, Liturgical Year A.

The gospel today tells us that if we eat the body of Christ and drink his blood we will live forever, but if we do not eat the body of Christ and drink his blood we will not have life in us!

It is most important to know that when we eat the body of Christ we eat the risen body of Christ! The transformed body of Christ! The gospel of John, chapter 20, tells us that after his resurrection Jesus could enter locked doors and be at any place at an instance! He was not limited by time and place!

In the same way his risen body can enter into the bread and change it into his body and when we eat the bread which is his body he can enter into us and change us into his body!

Again, when we eat the body of Christ we eat the risen body of Christ! At the “Breaking of Bread” the priest puts a piece of the bread into the chalice symbolizing the unity of the body and blood of Christ, that is, his resurrection and life! And when we eat his risen body we receive his Holy Spirit of eternal life! The risen Lord gives us the Holy Spirit of eternal life!

Thus we read in the “General Instruction of the Roman Missal” (GIRM), number 83.2:

“The Priest breaks the Bread and puts a piece of the host into the chalice to signify the unity of the Body and Blood of the Lord in the work of salvation, namely, of the Body of Jesus Christ, living and glorious”.    

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading is a foreshadow of our Sunday Mass! The first reading has two parts. The first part tells us that man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God! The second part tells us that God gave the people of Israel food and drink in the desert!

Our Mass also has two parts, namely, the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist! Both parts are important! In fact, the Word gives faith and when we celebrate the sacrament of sacraments, that is, the mystery of mysteries, the Eucharist, with faith, the Holy Spirit will come and build the community, the Church and the Kingdom of God!

That is why the duty of the Bishop and his priests is to teach, to sanctify and to govern, that is, to teach the Word of God, to sanctify with the Sacraments and to build the community, the Church and the Kingdom of God! And the first of the three duties is to teach the word of God!

And that is also why we must not come late for Mass and miss the Word of God. Instead, we must come early for Mass to read the word of God before Mass to prepare ourselves for the Mass!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that “God’s Word Restores Jerusalem” (Catholic Study Bible (CSB)). Again, the importance of the word of God! The word of God in creation and the word of God in salvation! Verse 15 tells us of the word of God in creation:

“He sends out his word to the earth and swiftly runs his command”.

Verse 19 tells us of the word of God in salvation:

“He makes his word known to Jacob, to Israel his laws and decrees”.   

That is why in the BECs (Basic Ecclesial Communities) we share and pray personally and spiritually on the Sunday Mass readings! We can celebrate the Word without the Eucharist, but we cannot celebrate the Eucharist without the Word! In our BECs we do not celebrate the Eucharist, we only celebrate the Word! We celebrate the Eucharist in the Church where and when all the BECs are gathered together as One Big Community!

The second reading tells us that when we receive Holy Communion, we are in communion with God and with one another! That is, we are in love and unity with God and with one another! Two Sundays ago, on Pentecost Sunday, we have seen that the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit of love and unity. Last Sunday, Trinity Sunday, we saw that the Holy Trinity is the mystery of God’s love and unity. Today, Corpus Christi, we see that our Eucharist is a Eucharist of love and unity! That is why we build small Christian communities of love and unity! That is why we build BECs!

At the Communion Rite the priest breaks the bread symbolizing that though we are many we make up one body of Christ! Thus we read in the GIRM, no. 83.1:

“The gesture of breaking bread done by Christ at the Last Supper, which in apostolic times gave the entire Eucharistic action its name, signifies that the many faithful are made one body (1 Cor 10:17) by receiving Communion from the one bread of life, which is Christ, who for the salvation of the world died and rose again”.

Together with “1 Cor 11:23-26”, the second reading today is the most ancient written text on the Eucharist (56 A.D.)!

Now to complete our understanding of the Eucharist let us look at “1Corinthains 11:23-26”:

“For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.” (CSB) 

This text tells us 4 important things:

(i) The four actions of the Eucharist: (a) take (offertory), (b) thank (Eucharistic Prayer), (c) break (breaking of bread), (d) give (Communion).

(ii) Jesus’ self-giving in his body and blood.

(iii) We are to repeat Jesus’ action in remembrance of him.

(iv) The last verse which we acclaim at “The mystery of faith”: “When we eat this Bread and drink this Cup, we proclaim your (saving) Death, O Lord, until you come again (when all will be saved)”.

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

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

  • Genesis 1:1. 26-31;
  • Genesis 22:1-2. 9-13. 15-18;
  • Exodus 14:15-15:1;
  • Ezekiel 36:16-28
  • Romans 6:3-11; Luke 24:1-12

A happy and blessed Easter to all of you! We began this celebration of Easter with the service of light. Light in the New Testament symbolizes 3 things:

(i) Light symbolizes faith as opposed to unbelief which is darkness.
(ii) Light symbolizes life, contentment and happiness as opposed to death, misery and unhappiness which is darkness.
(iii) Light symbolizes good as opposed to evil which is darkness.

More importantly, the 3 themes are related, that is, with faith in God, we receive life, and the life from God is a life of goodness!

Most importantly, light will overcome darkness, faith will overcome unbelief, life will overcome death, and good will overcome evil! This is because Jesus Christ the light of the world has overcome the devil the darkness of the world!

And Jesus Christ the light of the world will continue to overcome the devil the darkness of the world through the power of the Holy Spirit until the end of time when light will overcome all darkness totally, completely and fully! That would be the end of the world, that is, the end of the evil world, the second coming of Jesus Christ, the Parousia!

The service of light concluded with the Easter Proclamation! The most touching verse of the Easter Proclamation is:

“O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!”

How can Adam’s fault be happy? How can Adam’s sin be necessary? How can Adam’s sin merit for us so great a Redeemer? The verse is not telling us about Adam’s fault and sin, but it is telling us about the love of God!

God created the world out of love, but when we sinned God loved us even more. He became man to save us from sin, but when we crucified him on the cross he loved us even more. He died, rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit dwells not in heaven or on earth, but the Holy Spirit dwells among us and within us, nearer to us than we are to ourselves, and loving us more than we love ourselves! (St. Augustine) The Holy Spirit will continue to love us until we love God, love our neighbor and love ourselves! That would be the end of the world, that is, the end of the evil world, the second coming of Jesus Christ, the Parousia!

After the service of light we listened to 6 readings, 4 from the Old Testament and 2 from the New Testament. The first 3 readings from the Old Testament have been used in the Easter Liturgy since the fifth century! (Raas, p. 186) The first 3 readings are from the Law, the fourth reading is from the Prophets. We should read from both the Law and the Prophets. (Sunday Missal, 2011)

The readings tell us about the history of salvation! They tell us what God has done for us in the past and what God continues to do for us in the present in baptism!

The first reading tells us that God created the universe, but more importantly, it tells us that God created man and woman according to his image and likeness to be the co-creators of God to create life! But man and woman committed the Original Sin of Pride and brought death into the world! Consequently, instead of creating life, man and woman destroy life, destroy the environment, destroy one another and destroy oneself!

The second reading tells us that God began the history of salvation with Abraham the father of faith. Abraham’s faith was such that he was ready to sacrifice his son Isaac to God! As result, God blessed him with many descendents as many as the stars in heaven and as many as the grains of sand on the seashore! We are the descendents of Abraham the father of faith! We are the children of faith! Without faith we cannot be baptized! Only with faith can we be baptized!

The third reading tells us about the Exodus, that is, the liberation of Israel from slavery in Egypt! The third reading tells us that God destroyed the Egyptians in the waters of the Red sea and saved the people of Israel! More importantly, the third reading tells us that God will destroy our sins in the waters of baptism and save us from death!

The fourth reading tells us about the New Exodus, the Second Exodus, even more important than the First Exodus! The second reading tells us that the people of Israel sinned against God and were exiled to Babylon, but more importantly, the fourth reading tell us that God will bring them back to their homeland in the New Exodus! God will cleanse them with water. God will give them a new heart. God will put his spirit in them and they will live! But most importantly, the fourth reading tells us that in baptism God will cleanse us with the waters of baptism. God will give us a new heart. God will give us the Holy Spirit and we will live!

The gospel tells us about the resurrection of Jesus Christ! In the gospel the two angels told the women that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead! It is through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ that the Holy Spirit is given to us so that we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter!

Finally, the fifth reading from the letter to the Romans tells us that it is in baptism that we die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter, never to die anymore and never to sin anymore!

After this homily we will bless the water. We will ask God the Father with his Son Jesus Christ to send the Holy Spirit upon the water:

“We ask you, Father, with your Son to send the Holy Spirit upon the waters of this font.”!

After that we will profess our faith by answering 6 questions, 3 rejecting Satan who tempts us not to have faith in God and more importantly, 3 professing our faith in God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit! After that we will be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit! And we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter!

After baptism, the adults will also receive the sacrament of confirmation. They will be made strong in the Holy Spirit to be witnesses of Jesus Christ. The Greek word for witness is “martyr”, that is, one who suffers or dies for his beliefs! The adults will also receive the sacrament of the Eucharist so that they will continue to grow stronger and stronger in the Holy Spirit! That is why it is important that after baptism and confirmation we continue to come to Mass every Sunday!

Again, a happy and blessed Easter to all of you!

2nd Sunday of Lent (Year C) – 17th Mar 2019

Theme: REPENT: TURN AWAY FROM THE WORLD AND TURN TO GOD AND FIND LIFE

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

Today is the Second Sunday of Lent, Year A. Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter, particularly, when we prepare to celebrate the Sacrament of Baptism on Easter Vigil Night, or renew our Baptism on Easter Vigil Night! Lent is therefore a time of penance, repentance and conversion.

That is why during this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast, and to give alms; not to punish us for our sins, but to help us to covert and find life! Conversion is not only turning away from sin, but conversion is also turning away from oneself and from the world; but most importantly, conversion is turning to God and consequently to neighbor!

That is why on giving Ashes on Ash Wednesday, the priest says: “Repent and believe the Good News.”! (BM/Mk 1:15) In other words, ‘Turn away from sin, self, and world; and turn to God and consequently, to neighbor and find life.’!

The alternative formula for the administration of Ashes is: “Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you will return.”! (Gn 3:19) In other words, if we turn away from God like Adam did, we will become dust, that is, death as Adam was; but if we turn back to God we will find life! That is why I used the first formula!

The readings today tell us to turn away from the world and to turn to God and find life! The first reading tells us that Abraham turned away from the world and turned to God and found life! The first reading tells us that God called Abraham to leave his country, his family, and his father’s house; and go to a land God will show him, and God will bless him and through him God will bless all the nations and all the peoples of the world! Abraham was 75 years old and he was blessed with a son – Isaac! And through him the whole world was blessed! Again, turn away from the world and turn to God and you will find life!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us to hope in God for He loves us! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.”! (Ps 32:22)

The responsorial psalm has 3 stanzas. The first stanza tells us that God created the universe with his word. (Ps 32:4-5) This becomes clearer when we read up to verse 9. The second stanza tells us that God alone is the savior. (Ps 32:18-19) And that is why the third stanza – which is also the response – tells us to put all our hope in God for he alone loves us! (Ps 32:20. 22/NJBC/CSB/HCSB)

God created us out of love (Father)! God saved us out of love! (Son) And God continues to sanctify us out of love! (Holy Spirit) The “Mystery of the Holy Trinity” is the Mystery of the God of love! The God of law is not the “Mystery of the Holy Trinity”, because the God of law is not the God of love!

The gospel follows the theme of the first reading and the responsorial psalm. The gospel also tells us to turn away from the world and to turn to God to find life! The gospel is on the Transfiguration and it is placed immediately after Jesus’ first prophesy of his suffering, death and resurrection; and Jesus’ instruction to his disciples to take up their crosses and follow him in order to find life! (Mt 16:21-26)

The transfiguration is only a prefigure and a foreshadow of the Resurrection to affirm and confirm the faith of the disciples for the impending death of Jesus and for their own deaths as followers of Jesus! The Transfiguration is to strengthen the faith of the disciples so that they will believe that in the death of Jesus is resurrection and new life! (NJB/Raas/Lefrois) Again, the gospel tells us to turn away from the world and to turn to God to find life!

Thus the hymn: I HAVE DECIDED TO FOLLOW JESUS (N32):

“I have decided to follow Jesus (3x) No turning back, no turning back.

The world behind me, the cross before me (3x) No turning back, no turning back.

Take the whole world, but give me Jesus (3x) I’ll follow Him, I’ll follow Him.”!

Indeed, the Lord has risen from the dead! The second reading follows the theme of the day, that is, turn away from the world and turn to God to find life! In the second reading Paul tells Timothy: “With me, bear the hardships for the sake of the Good News.”! (2 Timothy 1:8) Or in the words of Jesus, “Take up your cross and follow me.”! (Mt 16:24/Raas) Again, the second reading tells us to turn away from the world and to turn to God to find life!

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, to help us during this time of Lent, to do penance, to pray, to fast, and to give alms; and to repent and to convert. The Holy Spirit will help us to prepare for Easter and for the Sacrament of Baptism on Easter Vigil Night, or renew our Baptism on Easter Vigil Night, so that we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! A happy Lent to all of you!

Amen!

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 1st July 2018

Theme: JESUS RAISES US FROM DEATH AND GIVES US NEW LIFE  

  • Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24;
  • Psalm 29 (30): 2. 4-6. 11-13. R. v. 2;
  • 2 Corinthians 8:7. 9. 13-15.
  • Mark 5:21-24. 35-43. (Shorter Form)

Today is the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The gospel today tells us that Jesus raised a synagogue official’s (Jairus’) daughter from the dead. Thus we read in the gospel today:

“And taking the child by the hand Jesus said to her, ‘Talitha, kum!’ which means, ‘Little girl, I tell you to get up.’ The little girl got up at once and began to walk about, for she was twelve years old. At this they were overcome with astonishment, and he ordered them strictly not to let anyone know about it, and told them to give her something to eat.” (Mk 5: 41-43/SM)

Jesus told the people not to tell anyone about the miracle (the “Messianic Secret” of St. Mark), because Jesus himself had not risen from the dead yet and had not given the Holy Spirit yet to raise us from the dead and to give us new life!

More importantly, the gospel today tells us that Jesus can also raise us from the dead if we have faith in him. Jesus can raise us from the dead and give us new life. A new life that is even better than the life before sin and death. Thus we sing in the “Easter Proclamation” on Easter Vigil night: “O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!”

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that God created everything to live and not to die. But it was the Devil who brought death into the world by tempting man to sin. When man sinned man brought death not only upon himself, but also upon other men and upon the environment. Thus we have wars. Thus we have abortions; so much so that the most dangerous place in the world is the mother’s womb, because more lives are destroyed there than all the wars in the world!

Thus we have environmental destruction, that is, the destruction of God’s creation. Thus we have not only homicide and genocide, but also “biocide” (destruction of life itself) and “geocide” (destruction of earth itself)! Environmental destruction is caused by one of the seven Capital Sins, that is, the sin of greed / avarice. Traditionally, the other Capital Sins are pride, envy, sloth, lust, intemperance and anger. The seven Capital sins are the sources and causes of other sins. Thus we have the seven steps down the Baptismal Pool symbolizing the seven Capital Sins.

Thus we read in the first reading: “Yet God did make man imperishable, he made him in the image of his own nature; it was the devil’s envy that brought death into the world, as those who are his partners will discover.” (Ws 2:23-24/SM)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a thanksgiving to God for salvation from death. The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza is a thanksgiving to God for salvation from death. In the second stanza the psalmist invites the community to join in to thank God. In the third stanza the psalmist continues to thank God. (CSB)

Thus we read in the first stanza: “I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me and have not let my enemies rejoice over me. O Lord, you have raised my soul from the dead, restored me to life from those who sink into the grave.” (Ps 29 (30):2. 4. /SM)

And thus the response of the responsorial psalm which is taken from the first stanza: “I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me.” (Ps 29 (30): 2)

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 we have to share our resources with the poor not only in the name of charity (love) but also for the sake of unity. Thus in our “BECs” (Basic Ecclesial Communities) we always help the poor with our “Lenten Appeal” collections. We also give 25% of our first collection to our Diocese and 10% of the second collection to our Diocese. And incidentally today both our collections will be sent to Rome and given to our Pope as “Peter’s Pence”!

In the second reading, St. Paul tells the Corinthians (Gentiles) to make a collection for the Church in Jerusalem (Jews) not only in the name of charity (love) but also for the sake of unity. (HCSB) St. Paul tells the Corinthians that they have been blessed with many charisms and that they should practice charity. St. Paul also tells the Corinthians that Jesus Christ became poor to make them rich and that they should follow the example of Jesus Christ. Finally, St. Paul tells them to balance their surplus with those in need so that there may be “equality”! St. Paul gives them the example of the “manna in the desert” where God gives to all “equally”!

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 raise us from death and give us new life. The Holy Spirit will help us raise others from death and give them new life!

 

Amen!

1st Sunday of Lent (Year A) – 18th February 2018

Theme: LENT IS A TIME WHEN WE PREPARE TO DIE AND RISE WITH JESUS CHRIST TO THE NEW LIFE OF EASTER

  • Genesis 2:7-9. 3:1-7;
  • Psalm 50 (51): 3-6. 12-14. 17. R/ v. 3;
  • Romans 5:12. 17-19
  • Matthew 4:1-11

Today is the first Sunday of Lent. Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ at Easter. Particularly, Lent is a time when we prepare to die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter in the sacrament of Baptism and in the renewal of our Baptism at Easter.

Lent is therefore a time of penance, repentance and conversion. Conversion is turning away from sin, from oneself, and from the world; and turning to God, to the God of love, mercy and forgiveness, to the God of Jesus Christ who died and rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Baptism. Lent is therefore a time when we prepare to die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter in the sacrament of Baptism and in the renewal of our Baptism at Easter! The readings today tell us to repent and to convert! The word “convert” comes from a Latin word convertere meaning “to turn around”!

The first reading tells us that Adam and Eve turned away from God and turned to themselves. They wanted to be like gods. They did not want to depend on God; they wanted to depend on themselves. They wanted to decide for themselves what is good and what is evil. As a result sin and death entered the world!

More importantly, the gospel tells us that Jesus Christ the second Adam, the new Adam, turned back to God! Thus the three replies of Jesus to the three temptations of the devil:

To the temptation of changing stones into bread, Jesus replied: “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Mt 4:4/Dt 8:3)

To the temptation of throwing himself down from the top of the temple, Jesus replied: “You must not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Mt 4:7/Dt 6:16)

To the temptation of worshiping the devil for all the kingdoms of the world, Jesus replied: “Be off, Satan! For scripture says: You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone.” (Mt 4:10/Dt 6:13)

Most importantly, the second reading tells us that just as Adam brought sin and death into the world; Jesus Christ the second Adam, the new Adam brought grace, justification/salvation and life into the world! Thus we read in the second reading:

“For if, by the transgression of one person, death came to reign through that one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of justification come to reign in life through the one person Jesus Christ.” (Rm 5:17/CSB)

It is through the grace of Jesus Christ that we repent, convert, and turn back to God this Lent!

Thus we can make the responsorial psalm our own “Prayer of Repentance”! (CSB) The “historical heading” (NJBC) of the responsorial psalm associates it with David when the prophet Nathan came to him after he committed the sin of adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband.

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas are a prayer for the forgiveness of our sins. The third and fourth stanzas ask God to give us his holy spirit to give us new life so that we will not sin anymore! (CSB/NJBC) Thus the responsorial psalm:

“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. (Stanza 1)

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. (Stanza 2)

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. (Stanza 3)

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.” (Stanza 4)

During this time of Lent, the Church asks us to do penance, to pray, to fast and to give alms. Penance is not a punishment. Penance helps us to repent and to convert. Prayer includes Lectio Divina (spiritual reading of the Bible), attending Sunday Mass, going to confession, etc. Fasting, that is, eating one full meal a day, is obligatory on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday for those over 18 years old and under 60 years old. Abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory for those over 14 years old. However we can voluntarily fast every Friday of Lent. Our religion is not a religion of the law, but a religion of love, a religion of the Spirit, a religion of freedom! Almsgiving is to help the poor and to help ourselves to trust in providence. God provides! Thus the religious take the vow of poverty! They depend on God! They do not depend on money!

Pope Benedict XVI has a Lenten Message for us! He emphasizes on fasting. He tells us that fasting helps us to avoid sin, to restore friendship with God, to do the will of God, to love God and neighbor, and to help the poor.

The Consequences of Not Fasting: cannot avoid sin, cannot restore friendship with God, cannot do God’s will, cannot love God and neighbor, and cannot help the poor.

Bishop Julius also has a Lenten Message for us! He tells us that Lent is a time of repentance, reconciliation and conversion. Lent is a time of prayer, fasting and almsgiving to prepare for the celebration of Easter. He emphasizes that Lent is a time to help the poor. He also tells us that Lent is a time when our catechumens prepare for their Baptism at Easter.

A Happy Lent to all of you!                                                                       Amen!

5th Sunday of Lent (Year A)

Theme: LENT IS A TIME WHEN WE PREPARE TO DIE AND RISE WITH JESUS CHRIST TO THE NEW LIFE OF EASTER IN THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM 

  • Ezekiel 37:12-14;
  • Psalm 129. R/ v. 7;
  • Romans 8:8-11
  • John 11:1-45 (Shorter Form, John 11:3-7. 17. 20-27. 33-45)

Today is the 5th Sunday of Lent; Liturgical Year A. Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter. Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and our death and resurrection with him in the sacrament of baptism!

Lent is therefore a time when our catechumens prepare for their baptism and when we who are baptised prepare for the renewal of our baptism on Easter Vigil Night!

Lent is therefore a time of repentance! Lent is therefore a time when we prepare to die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter in the sacrament of baptism!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus is the resurrection and the life and that anyone who believes in him even though he dies he will live! And that whoever lives and believes in him will never die!

More importantly, the gospel tells us that Martha believed in Jesus! Martha believed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into the world!

Most importantly, the gospel tells us that because Martha believed in Jesus, Jesus raised his brother Lazarus from the dead! Thus we read in the gospel:

“Jesus said: ‘I am the resurrection and the life. If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’

‘Yes Lord,’ Martha said ‘I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world.’ ….

Jesus cried in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, here! Come out!’ The dead man came out, his feet and hands bound with bands of stuff and a cloth round his face. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, let him go free.’” (Jn 11:25-27. 43-44; SM)   

 

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the Lord will open our graves and raise us from our graves and the Lord will put his spirit in us and we will live! Thus we read in the first reading:

“And you will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and raise you from your graves, my people. And I shall put my spirit in you, and you will live. ….” (Ezk 37: 13-14a; SM)

 

The second reading tells us that if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in us, then he who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to our mortal bodies through his Spirit living in us! Thus we read in the second reading:

“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, then he who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to your own mortal bodies through his Spirit living in you.” (Rm 8:11; SM)

 

In front of this Good News we can only respond with the psalmist in today’s responsorial psalm. Thus the response:

“With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption.” (Ps 129:7; SM)

Indeed, the Lord is love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation!

 

During this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast, and to give alms to the poor; not as a punishment for our sins, but to help us to repent! To help us die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter in the sacrament of Baptism! A blessed Lent to all of you! Amen!

 

THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD – ABC (Mass During the Day)

Theme: GOD REVEALS HIMSELF IN CREATION, AND GOD REVEALS HIMSELF IN OTHER RELIGIONS, BUT GOD REVEALS HIMSELF FULLY IN JESUS CHRIST

  • Hebrews 1:1-6
  • John 1:1-18

A Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you! Today we celebrate Christmas Day! The word Christmas comes from two words, namely, “Christ” and “Mass”! But in Latin it is called “Nativitas Domini”, that is, “the birth of the Lord”! In Italian, Spanish and French, it is also called “the birth of the Lord”! The word “Christmas” refers to the celebration, but the words “Nativitas Domini” (the birth of the Lord) refers to the event! I will therefore begin this homily by reflecting with you on the birth of the Lord as proclaimed to us in St. Luke’s gospel at Midnight Mass last night! I will first summarize the gospel, and then I will reflect on its theology, spirituality, and above all its Good News for all of us! After that I will reflect with you on the New Testament readings for Christmas Day, today, that is, the gospel of John and the letter to the Hebrews!

The gospel of Luke tells us about the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ! ………………… ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

 

Now let us look at the readings of today, Christmas Day, that is, the gospel of John and the letter to the Hebrews! The gospel of John and the letter to the Hebrews tell us that God reveals himself in creation, and God reveals himself in other religions, but God reveals himself fully, totally, completely, and perfectly in Jesus Christ!

The gospel of John and the letter to the Hebrews tell us that God reveals himself in creation! Catholic theology is sacramental and incarnational! We believe that God reveals himself in creation, in nature, in the cosmos, in the stars, in the trees, in the animals, in the mountains, in the seas, in the birds, in the Sun and Moon, etc.!

That is why we have to love and care for creation! We have to love and care for the environment, the trees, the rivers, the seas, the air, the ozone layer, the fishes of the sea, the animals, the birds of the air, the orangutans, the rhinoceros, the rainforest, etc.!

But unfortunately, we have cut down too much of our rainforest, we have polluted our rivers, we are driving our orangutans and other species to extinction, etc.! We have committed environmental sins! We need development of course! We need money of course! We can promote nature tourism or eco-tourism to help people appreciate nature and to help people love and care for nature and to make money of course! I dare say that nature tourism is very spiritual! “Creation Spirituality”!

 

The gospel of John and the letter to the Hebrews also tell us that God reveals himself in Judaism and by extension in other religions too! God reveals himself in Judaism, in Islam, in Hinduism, in Buddhism, etc.!

That is why we have to respect other religions! We have to dialogue with other religions, and we have to understand other religions, and we have to love and serve people of other religions, and we have to work together with people of other religions for the good of humanity and for the good of the earth! It is not enough just to tolerate other religions! It is most important and most urgent that we dialogue with Islam!

 

Finally, the gospel of John and the letter to the Hebrews tell us that God reveals himself fully and completely in Jesus Christ, because in Jesus Christ we see the fullness of God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness!

The gospel of John today tells us that: “Indeed, from his fullness we have, all of us, received – yes, grace in return for grace, since, though the Law was given through Moses, grace and truth have come through Jesus Christ”!

In short, Moses brought the law, justice and punishment, but Jesus Christ brought love, mercy and forgiveness!

Again, the second reading today, from the letter to the Hebrews tells us that: “At various times in the past and in various different ways, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; but in our own time, the last days, he has spoken to us through his Son”!

We have therefore to proclaim this Good News of Christmas to all the world! Every human being must have the right and freedom to hear this Good News of Christmas! But how can they hear this Good News of Christmas if we are not proclaiming it!

The word Christmas comes from two words, namely, “Christ” and “Mass”! The word “Mass” means “Mission”! It is our mission to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world! This is the Christmas present we give to the world! Jesus Christ is the Christmas present we received from God the Father, Jesus Christ is the Christmas present we give to the world!

Again, A Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you!

 

Amen!

 

23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (C) – 4th September 2016

Theme: LOVE GOD MORE THAN FATHER, MOTHER, WIFE, HUSBAND, CHILDREN, PARENTS, BROTHERS, SISTERS AND ONESELF  

  • Wisdom 9:13-18;
  • Psalm 89 (90): 3-6. 12-14. 17. R/ v. 1;
  • Philemon 9-10. 12-17;
  • Luke 14:25-33

Today is the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The gospel today tells us to love God more than father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters and even oneself, and to love God more than all of one’s possessions!

We love God more than father and mother, because God loves us more than father and mother, we love God more than wife/husband and children because God loves us more than wife/husband and children, we love God more than brothers and sisters because God loves us more than brothers and sisters!

We love God more than oneself because God loves us more than we love ourselves! Saint Augustine tells us that God loves us more than we love ourselves and God is nearer to us than we are to ourselves! And I add, “God knows us more than we know ourselves”! We love God more than all our possessions because God loves us more than all our possessions! All our possessions cannot give us love, life and happiness! Thus we read in the gospel today:

“If any man comes to me without hating his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own life too, he cannot be my disciple. Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. …. So in the same way, none of you can be my disciple unless he gives up all his possessions.”! (Lk 14: 26-27. 33)

 

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that God gives us Wisdom and the Holy Spirit (Wisdom and Holy Spirit are synonymous; R. H. Fuller) so that we will know the will of God, and so that we will live good moral lives pleasing to God, and so that we will be saved! Thus we read in the first reading:

“And who could ever have known your will, had you not given Wisdom and sent your holy Spirit from above? Thus have the paths of those on earth been straightened and people have been taught what pleases you, and have been saved, by Wisdom.”! (W 9:17-18; NJB)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a prayer for Wisdom and for God’s pity, mercy, love, joy, favor and prosperity! The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas tell us that

God is eternal and man is frail and weak, and man’s life is short and made even shorter by sin.

But more importantly, the third and fourth stanzas tell us to pray for Wisdom and for God’s pity, mercy, love, joy, favor and prosperity! Thus we read in the third and fourth stanzas of the responsorial psalm:

“Teach us to count our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart. Relent, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants! Fill us at daybreak with your love, that all our days we may sing for joy. May the favor of the Lord our God be ours. Prosper the work of our hands! Prosper the work of our hands!” (Ps 89 (90): 12-14. 17; CSB)

And thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “O Lord, you have been our refuge from one generation to the next.” (Ps 89 (90): 1; SM)

 

The second reading tells us that St. Paul is in prison and in chains because of the Good News! In the second reading St. Paul is writing to Philemon to request that he set free his slave Onesimus. St. Paul also request that Onesimus be given to him as a companion to help him proclaim the Good News! Thus we read in the second reading:

“This is Paul writing, an old man now and, what is more, still a prisoner of Christ Jesus. I am appealing to you for a child of mine, whose father I became while wearing these chains: I mean Onesimus. I am sending him back to you, and with him – I could say – a part of my self. I should have liked to keep him with me; he could have been a substitute for you, to help me while I am in the chains that the Good News has brought me.” (Phm 9-10. 12-13; SM)

 

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 love God more than father, mother, wife, husband, children, parents, brothers, sisters, and oneself, and all of one’s possessions! The Holy Spirit will help us proclaim the Good News! Amen

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C) – 7th August 2016

​Theme: THE END OF THE WORLD: THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS CHRIST 

  • Wisdom 18:6-9; 
  • Psalm 32 (33):1. 12. 18-20. 22. R/ v. 12; 
  • Hebrews 11:1-2. 8-12. (Shorter Form) 
  • Luke 12:35-40 (Shorter Form)

Today is the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The gospel today tells us about the end of the world, that is, the end of the evil world, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, when all will be saved! 

The gospel today tells us that Jesus will come a second time, but we do not know when. 

That is why we must always be ready for his Second Coming! Thus the “Gospel Acclamation” today: 

“Stay awake and stand ready, because you do no know the hour when the Son of Man is coming.” (Mt 24:42. 44; SM) 

And thus the gospel today ends: 

“You too must stand ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Lk 12:40; SM) 

To prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ at the end of time, we must pray, we must do the will of God, and we must be detached from the world! 

The first reading tells us that when Jesus Christ comes a second time he will destroy sin and death completely and finally and he will save the whole world! 

The first reading tells us about the destruction of the first-born of the Egyptians and the salvation of the Israelites in the Exodus from Egypt! Thus the caption of the first reading: 

“By the same act with which you took vengeance on our foes you made us glorious by calling us to you.” (Ws 18:8; SM) 

But more importantly, the first reading prefigures the second and new Exodus of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit destroys sin and saves us from death! Today the Holy Spirit continues to destroy sin and saves us from death in the Sacrament of Baptism! 

But most importantly, the first reading prefigures the Second Coming of Jesus Christ at the end of time when sin and death will be completely destroyed and we will all be saved! 

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the Sunday. The responsorial psalm tells us that as baptized Christians we are the chosen people of God and as we prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ we are to hope and pray for his love and he will rescue us from death! 

The responsible psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza (vv. 1 & 12) tells us that as baptized Christians we are the chosen people of God! Thus the response which is taken from the first stanza: 

“Happy are the people the Lord has chosen as his own.” (Ps 32 (33): 12; SM)

The second stanza (vv. 18-19; SM) tells us to hope in God’s love and he will save us from death! The third stanza (vv. 20 & 22) tells us to pray and hope in God’s love and he will save us from death! (IBC) 

Incidentally, the second reading also follows the theme of the Sunday. The second reading tells us that we have to hold on to our faith until the end of our lives and until the end of the world, even and especially in the face of persecutions and the Lord will save us! 

The second reading was addressed to the Jewish Christians who were persecuted and who were losing their faith! (NJB; CCB) 

The second reading gives us the example of Abraham! Abraham held on to his faith even in the face of many obstacles! Abraham had to go to a land he did not know. He was promised a son in his old age and his wife was barren. And finally he was asked to sacrifice Isaac, the son of the promise! (Longer Form, vv. 17-19; SM) But, because of his faith, Abraham was blessed with many descendants, as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the grains of sand on the seashore! 

We are therefore to hold on to our faith to the end of our lives and to the end of the world, even in the face of persecutions and we will be blessed with salvation! 

Today we thank God for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of our sins and for saving us from death. And we ask God to continue to give us the Holy Spirit to help us to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ when all will be saved! Again, we prepare for the Second 

Coming of Jesus Christ by prayer, by doing the will of God and by detaching ourselves from the world! God bless you!

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C) -31st July 2016

Theme: MONEY CANNOT BUY LIFE, LOVE AND HAPPINESS

  • Ecclesiastes/Qoheleth 1:2; 2:21-23;
  • Psalm 89 (90):3-6. 12-14. 17. R/ v. 1;
  • Colossians 3:1-5. 9-11
  • Luke 12:13-21

Today is the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us that money cannot buy life, love and happiness. Life, love and happiness are the three most important things! They are found in heaven! And God gives them to us through the death and resurrection of his Son and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! Seek first the kingdom of God and all the other things will be given to you as well! That is, seek first salvation and all of creation will be given to you as well!

The gospel today tells us that a man in the crowd asked Jesus to tell his brother to give him his share of their inheritance, but Jesus did not respond to his request. Instead Jesus told them something more important, that is, life does not come from wealth, even if we have more than we need! Then Jesus told them the “parable of the rich fool”:

There was once a rich man who had a bountiful harvest. The harvest was so plentiful that he had to build new storehouses to store his harvest! Then the rich man thought to himself that his harvest will last him a life time, he will now take things easy and eat and drink and have a good time; but that very night God took away his soul, that is, he died!

We may not be physically dead, but we may be spiritually dead, that is, our souls may be dead because of sin and there is no life, love and happiness in our souls. Like the “rich fool” we cannot enjoy our rich harvest, that is, though we may be rich we have no life, love and happiness!

That is why the “Gospel Acclamation” today tell us:

“How happy are the poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt 5:3; SM)   

The poor in spirit are not only the materially or spiritually poor, but the poor in spirit are those who are dependent on God and God will bless them with his life, love and happiness from heaven!    

 

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel, but the first reading is not good news, but bad news! The first reading tells us that without God our lives are futile, empty and meaningless! “Vanity of vanity”! We work hard day and night year after year only to die and leave our possessions to others who never worked for it. And to make things worse our possessions may all be wasted in one generation by those who never worked for it! (Qo 2:18-19) “Vanity of vanity”! Without God it is all futility, emptiness and meaninglessness!

 

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the Sunday. The responsorial psalm tells us that life and death, and love and happiness come from God. That is why we have to pray for wisdom to live a life of love and happiness!

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas (vv. 3-6) tell us that life and death come from God! The third and fourth stanzas (vv. 12-14. 17) tell us to pray for wisdom to live a life of love and happiness! The fourth stanza (v. 17) also tells us to pray for God’s blessings so that the work of our hands may be successful! Thus the response:

“O Lord, you have been our refuge from one generation to the next.” (Ps 89 (90):1; SM)

 

Incidentally, the second reading also follows the theme of the Sunday. The second reading has two paragraphs. The first paragraph (vv. 1-4) tells us to look for the things of heaven so that we can find life (NJB), love and happiness!

The second paragraph (vv. 5. 9-11) tells us not to look for the things of earth, because the things of earth may tempt us to sin and sin brings death and in death there is no love and happiness!

 

Today we thank God for creation and we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit of his life, love and happiness! Again, seek first the kingdom of God and all the other things will be given to you as well! (Lk 12:31; Mt 6:33) That is, seek first salvation and all of creation will be given to you as well! God bless you!