12th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) – 21st June 2020

Theme: WITH EVIL WITHIN US AND AROUND US, WE TRUST IN GOD 

  • Jeremiah 20:10 – 13
  • Psalm 68:8-10. 14. 17. 33-35
  • Romans 5:12-15
  • Matthew 10:26-33 

The theme for today’s readings (Gospel and first reading) is on preaching God’s word faithfully without fear even in times of persecution for God will protect and vindicate his prophets and apostles.

But there is a wider and more relevant theme in today’s readings. That is, when we are surrounded by evil and evil men, we have to trust in God and pray, and God will protect us and vindicate us.

The first reading from the prophet Jeremiah tells us that Jeremiah was being persecuted for proclaiming the bad news that Jerusalem will be destroyed. Jeremiah’s mission was “to uproot and to tear down and to plant and to build”. But up to today’s first reading – chapter 20 – Jeremiah was still tearing down and uprooting. Jeremiah was persecuted for proclaiming bad news.

However Jeremiah trusted in God and prayed to God to take revenge on the enemy and to save him from the hands of the evil men.

The Responsorial Psalm has been chosen to go with the first reading. It is the prayer of a man who has been persecuted for doing God’s will and work. It is a prayer asking God to save the good man from the evil man.

The Gospel tells us that the apostles will be persecuted for proclaiming the Good News, and again, the gospel tells us that God will protect them and vindicate them.

God has counted every hair on their heads and God who cares even for worthless sparrows will surely take care of them who are worth more than hundreds of sparrows.

But for me personally, I am most struck by the second reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans. St. Paul tells us in the second reading from the letter to the Romans that just as Adam brought sin and death into the world, Jesus Christ brought grace and eternal life to the world. But much more than that Paul tells us that the grace and eternal life that Jesus Christ brought far outweighed the sin and death brought by the first Adam. And that is why on Easter Vigil night we can sing in the Exsultet (Easter Proclamation): “oh happy fault, oh necessary sin of Adam, that has won for us so great a redeemer”! And that is why I always say that the life of grace after sin is even better than the life of innocence before sin! “Oh happy fault, oh necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!”

Again, I am personally touched by this second reading because I realize that sin is not only outside us in our enemies, but sin is also deeply rooted in each of us. In fact modern spiritual psychologists tell us that it is in our unconscious and subconscious minds. Modern geneticists tell us that it is even in our genes! In fact the doctrine of Original sin taught by the Catholic Church is based on this text of Paul to the Romans – Romans 5:12!

We are born with sin and death and that is what Original Sin is all about! But more importantly, the second reading tells us that through the second Adam, Jesus Christ, grace and eternal life is even more abundant than sin and death!

Today’s second reading is taken from Romans 5:12-15, but if we were to read the whole section on “Adam and Jesus Christ” in the NJB, up to Romans 5:12-21, we will read that ‘where sin increased, grace increased all the more! The more sin the more grace!

I am not a politician or an expert in race relations and religions, but when I look at the present war in the Middle East between the Palestinians and the Israelites, I get the feeling that they see evil only outside themselves in their enemies and they see salvation only of themselves and they see destruction only of the enemy. And they see salvation coming from themselves, from their own hands and from their own tanks or bombs.

But for us Christians we see evil first and foremost in ourselves, and our salvation do not come from ourselves, but from Jesus Christ. And Jesus Christ does not save us with tanks and bombs – Jesus Christ is not a political and much less a military Messiah – but with grace, love and forgiveness!

We Christians also see that salvation is not only for ourselves, but for everybody, especially for sinners. We believe that God hates sin, but God loves the sinner! We believe that God hates evil, but he loves the evil man. St. Paul tells us that what proves that God loves us is that Jesus Christ died for us while we were still sinners!

Today Jesus Christ continues his work of Salvation in the Holy Spirit, in the Church, in the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist. Today as we celebrate the Eucharist, as we celebrate his death and resurrection, he will pour out his graces upon us to forgive our sins, to free us from death and to give us eternal life!

And through us he will pour out his graces upon the whole world, forgiving their sins, freeing them from death and giving them eternal life! This is the Good News for the whole world! Amen!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The second reading today tells us that

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

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

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

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