30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 27th Oct 2019

Theme: THE LORD LISTENS TO THE PRAYER OF THE HUMBLE

  • Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 35:12-14. 16-19;
  • Psalm 33:2-3. 17-19. 23. R/ v. 7;
  • 2 Timothy 4:6-8. 16-18.
  • Luke 18:9-14

Today is the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us that the Lord listens to the prayer of the humble. The gospel today tells us that two men went to the Temple to pray; one a Pharisee and the other a tax-collector. The Pharisee said this prayer to himself, ‘I thank you God that I am not greedy, unjust and adulterous like the rest of man, particularly, I am not like this tax-collector here. I fast twice a week and I pay tithes on all that I earn’. The tax-collector on the other hand stood far off, not raising his eyes, beat his breast and said, ‘God have mercy on me a sinner’.

More importantly, the gospel today tells us that the tax-collector was justified but the Pharisee was not! The tax-collector was justified not because he was holier than the Pharisee, but because he was humble. That is, he acknowledged his sinfulness and more importantly, he acknowledged his dependence on God who is merciful! The Pharisee was not justified, not because he was less holy than the tax-collector, but because he was proud! He was not even praying, he was praising himself!

Last Sunday the readings told us to pray continually and persistently! This Sunday the readings tell us to pray humbly, because the Lord listens to the prayer of the humble, but rejects the prayer of the proud! Thus the gospel concludes:

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the man who humbles himself will be exalted”. (Lk 18:14; SM)

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us that the Lord listens to the prayer of the humble! Thus the caption of the first reading: “The humble man’s prayer pierces the clouds”. (Si 35:17; SM)

That is, the humble man’s prayer touches God! The cloud is a symbol of God.

The humble of the first reading are the poor, the widows and the orphans, that is, those who acknowledge their helplessness and hopelessness and more importantly, those who acknowledge their total dependence on a merciful God!

Again, the opposite is equally true, that is, the proud man’s prayer cannot pierce the clouds, that is, it cannot touch God! The proud man is one who is self-sufficient and who does not depend on God!

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

“This poor man called; the Lord heard him”. (Ps 33:7; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza thanks God for deliverance (vv. 2-3; SM). The second and third stanzas tell us that God protects the poor (vv. 17-19. 23; SM). (CSB; NJB)

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 St. Paul after preaching the Good News in the face of suffering and persecution has come to the end of his life. He is facing imminent death. He will be executed as a martyr. More importantly, the second reading tells us that he will receive the “crown of righteousness”!

Most importantly, the second reading tells us that the Lord was with him all the time from the beginning to the end! The Lord was with him when he proclaimed the Good News, when he was persecuted, when he was put to death and the Lord brought him to heaven! Thus we read in the second reading:

“But the Lord stood by me and gave me power, so that through me the whole message might be proclaimed for all the pagans to hear; and so I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from all evil attempts on me, and bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (2 Tm 4:17-18; SM)  

Last Sunday, Mission Sunday, the second reading told us to preach the good news! This Sunday the second reading tells us to preach the good news even in the face of persecution and we will receive the “crown of righteousness”! More importantly, the second reading tells us that the Lord will be with us when we preach the good news and when we are persecuted and the Lord will bring us to heaven! 

Today we thank God for his Son Jesus Christ who taught us to pray and we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit of his Son Jesus Christ so that we may pray with humility, acknowledging our sins and acknowledging our total dependence on God who is merciful.

Today we also thank God for the Good News and we ask God to help us proclaim the Good News even in the face of persecution, suffering and death, so that we too may receive the “crown of righteousness”! Amen!

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 20th Oct 2019

Theme: PRAY CONTINUALLY AND PERSISTENTLY THAT YOU MAY NOT LOSE YOUR FAITH AND LOSE YOUR GOD

  • Exodus 17:8-13;
  • Psalm 120. R/ cf. v. 2;
  • 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2
  • Luke 18:1-8

Today is the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us about prayer. The gospel today tells us to pray persistently that we may not lose our faith! (CSB; IBC) Thus the first and the last sentence of the gospel:

“Jesus told his disciples a parable about the need to pray continually and never lose heart. …. And the Lord said, ‘But when the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth?’” (Lk 18: 1 & 8b; SM)

The question is: “will he find any faith on earth?” The answer is: “he will find faith on earth if we pray continually and persistently!” Not only pray, but pray persistently!

The gospel tells us about the parable of the unjust judge and the persistent widow. The gospel tells us that the unjust judge had no fear of God or respect for man; but more importantly, the gospel tells us that the persistent widow kept on demanding justice from the unjust judge until he gave her justice!

The emphasis of the gospel is not on the unjust judge, nor even on God who answers our prayers; but the emphasis is on the persistent widow! In short, the gospel today tells us to pray continually and persistently that we may not lose our faith!

If we lose our faith, we lose God, and if we lose God, we lose everything, including the most important things, that is, love, life and happiness! We lose the God of Jesus Christ, that is, love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation!

Thus the gospel tells us to pray continually, persistently and perseveringly, so that we will not lose our faith, so that we will not lose the God of Jesus Christ, and so that we will find love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation! So that we will find love, life and happiness!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us to pray persistently! (CCB) The first reading tells us that Joshua was fighting the Amalekites, but more importantly, the first reading tells us that Moses was praying for Joshua! And as long as Moses arms were raised in prayer, Joshua was at an advantage, but as soon as Moses lowered his arms out of tiredness, Joshua was at a disadvantage! Moses’ arms had to be supported by Aaron and Hur until Joshua defeated the Amalekites! Thus we read:

“As long as Moses kept his arms raised, Israel had the advantage; when he let his arms fall, the advantage went to Amalek.” (Ex 17: 11; SM)  

The first reading tells us to pray persistently and continually so that we will win the fight even against the Devil himself!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that God is our guard and guardian! (CSB) Thus the response:

“Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.” (Ps 120: 2; SM)

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first stanza tells us that the Lord is our guard and guardian (vv. 1-2)! The second stanza tells us that the Lord will guard our every step (vv. 3-4)! The third stanza tells us that the Lord will guard us day and night (vv. 5-6)! The fourth stanza tells us that the Lord will guard our every movement (vv.7-8)!

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but today is also “Mission Sunday” or “World Mission Day”! The second reading follows the theme of “Mission Sunday”! Thus we read in the second reading:

“Before God and before Christ Jesus who is to be judge of the living and the dead, I put this duty to you, in the name of his Appearing and of his kingdom: proclaim the message and, welcome or unwelcome, insist on it.” (2 Tm 4:1-2; SM)

Pope Francis also has a message for us for “World Mission Day 2013”! Excerpts:

“The proclamation of the Gospel is part of being disciples of Christ and it is a constant commitment that animates the whole life of the Church. Missionary outreach is a clear sign of the maturity of an ecclesial community.” (No. 1)

“Each community is therefore challenged, and invited to make its own, the mandate entrusted by Jesus to the Apostles, to be his ‘witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8) and this, not as a secondary aspect of Christian life, but as its essential aspect: we are all invited to walk the streets of the world with our brothers and sisters, proclaiming and witnessing to our faith in Christ and making ourselves heralds of his Gospel.” (No. 2)

“I would like to encourage everyone to be a bearer of the good news of Christ and I am grateful especially to missionaries, to the priests, men and women religious and lay faithful – more and more numerous – who by accepting the Lord’s call, leave their homeland to serve the Gospel in different lands and cultures.” (No. 5)    

Today we thank God for the gift of faith and we ask God to help us pray persistently so that we will not lose our faith! We also ask God to help us share our faith with others by proclaiming the Good News, so that all may have faith and so that all may be saved! God bless you! Amen!

 

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 13th October 2019

Theme: GIVE THANKS TO GOD

  • 2 Kings 5:14-17;
  • Psalm 97:1- 4. R/ cf. v. 2;
  • 2 Timothy 2:8-13
  • Luke 17:11-19

Today is the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us to give thanks to God! Our God is a gracious, giving, blessing and favoring God! The proper response to our God is therefore one of thanksgiving!

The gospel today tells us that ten lepers were cured, but only one came back to thank the Lord. More importantly, the gospel today tells us that ten lepers were cured, but only one had faith and was saved! That is the one who came back to thank the Lord!

Indeed, our Sunday Eucharist is a thanksgiving! The word Eucharist in Greek means thanksgiving! Indeed our Eucharistic Prayer which begins at the Preface and ends at the Doxology is a thanksgiving! Thus all the eight “Prefaces of the Sundays in Ordinary Time” begin thus:

“It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks, Lord, holy Father, almighty and eternal God, (through Christ our Lord)”. 

Note that it is our salvation to give thanks to God! In short, those who come to Mass every Sunday to give thanks to God have faith and are saved, but those who do not come to Mass every Sunday to give thanks to God have no faith and are not saved! That is why it is a Mortal Sin not to come to Mass every Sunday!

The Gospel Acclamation today tells us:

“For all things give thanks, because this is what God expects you to do in Christ Jesus”. (1 Thessalonians 5:18; SM)

The fourteenth century German Dominican theologian and mystic Meister Eckhart wrote:

“The most important prayer in the world is just two words long: thank you”. (Gilhooley)

In our own century an American Dominican theologian said that if the only prayer we know is “thank you”, that is good enough!

If we start thanking God right here and now, we will not be able to finish thanking him even at the end of the world! We thank God for the sun and moon, for the sea and land, for the fish and animals, etc.! We thank God for creation, for salvation and for sanctification!

We thank God for the good things as well as the “bad” things, because we believe that God is love and that God can draw good out of evil (Gn 50:20), draw life from death (NT), draw grace from sin, etc.! Thus the Easter Proclamation:

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

Thus we begin our Sunday Mass with this greeting:

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all”.

Indeed, God is love and God can draw grace from sin in Jesus Christ!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us to thank God and not to thank the prophet, or priest, or minister; because they are not God, they are only servants of God!

The first reading tells us that Naaman after being cured of his leprosy wanted to give the prophet Elisha a present to thank him, but Elisha refused the present, because he was not God. He was only a servant of God! Consequently, Namaan asked for some of the soil of Israel so that he can erect an altar on the soil of Israel in Damascus, Syria, to worship the God of Israel, that is, to praise and thank the God of Israel!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us to praise God for salvation! Thus the response:

“The Lord has shown his salvation to the nations”. (Ps 97:2; SM)

And thus the first and last sentences of the responsorial psalm:

“Sing a new song to the Lord for he has worked wonders” (Ps 97:1; SM)

“Shout to the Lord all the earth, ring out your joy”. (97:4; SM)

The second reading tells us to proclaim the good news even in the face of persecution, suffering and death, so that all may believe and be saved and give praise to God! Thus we read in the second reading:

“Remember the Good News that I carry, ‘Jesus Christ risen from the dead, sprung from the race of David’; it is on account of this that I have my own hardships to bear, even to being chained like a criminal – but they cannot chain up God’s news. So I bear it all for the sake of those who are chosen, so that in the end they may have the salvation that is in Christ Jesus and the eternal glory that comes with it.” (2 Tm 2:8-10; SM)

Today we thank God for our salvation, and we ask God to continue to give us the Holy Spirit, so that we may proclaim the Good News, even in the face of persecution, suffering and death, and so that all may believe and be saved and give thanks to God! God bless 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!

3rd Sunday of Lent (Year A)

Theme: IN FAITH WE ARE BAPTIZED AND IN BAPTISM WE RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD’S LOVE

  • Exodus 17:3-7;
  • Psalm 94:1-2. 6-9. R/ v. 8;
  • Romans 5:1-2. 5-8
  • John 4:5-42 (Shorter Form, 4:5-16. 19-26. 39-42)

Today is the 3rd Sunday of Lent, Liturgical Year A. Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter; when we prepare to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ; and when we prepare to celebrate our death and resurrection with Jesus Christ in the sacrament of baptism!

Lent is therefore a time when our catechumens prepare for their baptism and when we who are baptized prepare to renew our baptism on Easter Vigil Night, so that we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the New Life of Easter! Lent is therefore a time of repentance! Lent is therefore a time when we grow in faith!

 

Indeed the gospel today tells us that the Samaritan woman grew in faith! At first she believed Jesus to be a man, then she believed Jesus to be a prophet, then she believed Jesus to be the Messiah, then she became the first missionary and the first apostle of Jesus to evangelize the other Samaritans, then finally the other Samaritans believed Jesus to be the Savior of the world!

More importantly, the gospel today tells us that Jesus gives her living water that will turn into a spring inside her welling up to eternal life and she will never be thirsty again!

The gospel today symbolizes our baptism! In this time of Lent we grow in faith like the Samaritan woman. On Easter Vigil Night we will be baptized with the waters of baptism, the waters of the Holy Spirit, the Holy water! The Holy water is the living water that will turn into a spring inside us welling up to eternal life and we will not be thirsty again!

 

The first reading tells us that the people of Israel had no faith in God! They complained against Moses for taking them out of Egypt into the desert to die of thirst! They, their children and their cattle will all die of thirst! They tested God by doubting if God was with them or not! The place was called Meribah (quarreling) and Massah (test) because the people of Israel quarreled with God and tested God!

 

The responsorial psalm tells us to have faith in God! Thus we responded three times:

“O that today you would listen to his voice: ‘Harden not your hearts.’” (Ps 94:8; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza tells us that God is our Savior (vv. 1-2)! The second stanza tells us that God is our Creator and Savior (vv. 6-7; NJBC)! The third stanza tells us to have faith in God and not to be like the people of Israel who had no faith in God! Thus the third stanza:

“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 94:7c-9; SM)

 

The second reading tells us that it is in faith that we are baptized in Jesus Christ and it is in baptism that we receive the Holy Spirit of God’s love; the love of God that loves sinners, the love of God that is merciful towards sinners, the love of God that forgives sinners, the love of God that saves sinners!

 

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 to grow in faith, so that on Easter Vigil Night in the sacrament of baptism and in the renewal of our baptism, we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! A blessed Lent to all of you! Amen!

1st Sunday of Lent (Year A)

Theme: JESUS CHRIST THE NEW AND SECOND ADAM 

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

Today is the First Sunday of Lent, Liturgical Year A. Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter, that is, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and our dying and rising with him in the sacrament of baptism! Lent is therefore a time when our catechumens prepare for baptism and we who are baptized prepare to renew our Baptism on Easter Vigil Night, so that we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! Lent is therefore a time of repentance!

The first reading tells us that Adam and Eve sinned against God by eating the forbidden fruit. By eating the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve committed the Original Sin of Pride. Adam and Eve wanted to be gods and to decide for themselves what is good and what is evil. As a result sin and death entered the world. As a result they lost their innocence and were ashamed that they were naked.

 

More importantly, the gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ the new and second Adam turned back to God! The gospel today tells us that the devil did not only tempt Adam and Eve, but the devil also tempted Jesus Christ! The devil tempted Jesus Christ with three temptations.

In the first temptation the devil tells Jesus to turn stones into bread; in the second temptation the devil tells Jesus to jump from the highest point of the Temple to test God; and in the third temptation, the devil tells Jesus to worship him and he will give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world!

More importantly, are the three responses of Jesus. To the first temptation Jesus responded:

“Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Mt 4:4; SM)

To the second temptation Jesus responded:

“You must not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Mt 4:7; SM) 

To the third temptation Jesus responded:

“You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone.” (Mt 4:10; SM)

 

Most importantly, the second reading tells us that sin and death entered the world through one man, Adam; and more importantly, the second reading tells us that grace and life entered the world through one man, Jesus Christ!

Most importantly, the second reading tells us that the grace and life of Jesus Christ far outweighed the sin and death of Adam, so much so that the new life of Easter and Baptism is even better than the life before sin and death! Thus we sing in the Easter Proclamation:

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

And thus the caption of the second reading:

“However great the number of sins committed, grace was even greater.” (Rm 5:20; SM)

 

The responsorial psalm is a “Prayer of Repentance”. (CSB) Thus we responded four times:

    “Have mercy on us, O Lord, for we have sinned.” (Ps 50:3; SM)

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas ask God to forgive our sins. Thus we read:

“Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness. In your compassion blot out my offence. O wash me more and more from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin.

    My offences truly I know them; my sin is always before me. Against you, you alone, have I sinned; what is evil in your sight I have done.” (vv. 3-6; SM)

The third and fourth stanzas ask God to give us the Holy Spirit so that we will not sin anymore. Thus we read:

“A pure heart create for me, O God, put a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, nor deprive me of your holy spirit.

Give me again the joy of your help; with a spirit of fervor sustain me.” (vv. 12-14; SM)

 

During this time of Lent the Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms to the poor, not as a punishment for our sins; but to help us to repent and to prepare for the celebration of Easter, so that we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! A Blessed Lent to all of you! Amen!

SOLEMNITY OF MARY, MOTHER OF GOD – A, B, C

Theme: WE THANK GOD FOR HIS BLESSINGS FOR THE PAST YEAR AND WE ASK GOD TO BLESS OUR NEW YEAR 

  • Numbers 6:22-27
  • Psalm 66: 2-3. 5. 6. 8. R. v. 2
  • Galatians 4:4-7
  • Luke 2:16-21

A Happy New Year to all of you! Today we celebrate the solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God! Today we also celebrate the Octave Day (8th Day) of Christmas! On Christmas day our focus was on Jesus! On the 8th day of Christmas our focus is on Mary his mother! Today we also celebrate the World Day of Peace. But today we also celebrate New Year’s Day! A Happy New Year to all of you! For us Christians this is not just an empty greeting, but this is a prayer to God, calling God’s blessings on you for a Happy New Year! But before we ask for God’s blessings, let us thank God for all the blessings of this year!

When we thank God for his blessings and ask God for more blessings, let us not forget in the first place, God’s blessings in creation! The blessings of creation, life, nature, the trees, the rainforests, the fresh air, the sun, moon and the stars, the earth and its fruits, the waters and its fishes, etc.! We always remember the blessings of Salvation, love forgiveness, mercy, joy, peace, freedom, etc., that came after Original Sin, but we tend to forget the Original Blessings of Creation that came before Original Sin!

 

The first reading today from the Book of Numbers tells us that God blesses Israel through Moses and the Law! ‘May the Lord bless you and keep you! May the Lord let his face shine (smile) on you and be gracious to you! May the Lord uncover his face to you and bless you with his peace!’ Peace here can mean peace, prosperity and happiness, wholeness and well-being, and peace with God and peace with men!

 

The responsorial palm is a response to the first reading and is a prayer for God’s blessings! ‘O God, be gracious and bless us! Let the light of your face shine upon us! O God continue to bless us until the ends of the earth revere you!’

 

The gospel today tells us that through Mary, God has blessed us with His Son Jesus Christ! The gospel today tells that through Mary, God has become food (manger) for sinful men (shepherds) for their salvation (“Jesus” means “God saves”)! God has not only become man, but has become food for sinful man for their salvation! What blessings! What grace! What favor! How can we thank God enough for His blessings of Salvation, a blessing far surpasses his blessings of the Law, and his blessings of Creation!

 

Again, the second reading from Paul’s letter to the Galatians tells us that through Mary, God blesses us with His Son Jesus Christ, so that we can be the sons and daughters of God, so that we can be the children of God! The second reading tells us that through Mary the Son of God has become the son of a woman, so that we sinners enslaved by the Law may become the sons and daughters of God!

 

God does this by giving us the Holy Spirit of his Son Jesus Christ so that we can cry “Abba (Dad), Father” to God! And as sons and daughters of God we are also heirs of God, inheriting his life, love and happiness! Again, what blessings, what graces, what favors! How can we thank God enough for his blessings graces, and favors!

 

Today in this Eucharist, we celebrate the Death and Resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ, and the Risen Lord will continue to give us His Holy Spirit and bless us with his “sonship” and “salvation”! He will bless us with his peace, his love and his joy!

 

So once again, we thank God for all His blessings for the past year and we ask God to bless our New Year 2017! A Happy New Year to all of you and God bless you!

 

Amen!