4th Sunday of Lent – 27th March 2022

4th Sunday of Lent – 27th March 2022

*We use Readings from Year A because the church will be having Baptism on Easter Vigil.

Theme: LENT IS A TIME WHEN WE PREPARE TO CELEBRATE THE SACRAMENTS OF INITIATION: BAPTISM, CONFIRMATION AND EUCHARIST

  • 1 Samuel 16:1. 6-7. 10-13;
  • Psalm 22. R/ v. 1;
  • Ephesians 5:8-14
  • John 9:1-41 (Shorter Form, verses 1. 6-9. 13-17. 34-38)

1. Today is the 4th Sunday of Lent. Today is also “Rejoice” Sunday or joyful Sunday! We are joyful because we are more than half way through to Easter! That is why today we use rose vestments instead of purple vestments!

    Again, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter. Particularly, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the sacrament of baptism on Easter Vigil night! Besides receiving the sacrament of baptism, some of us are also receiving the sacraments of confirmation and Eucharist! These three sacraments are the sacraments of initiation into full communion with the Catholic Church!    

    The readings today tell us about these three sacraments of initiation, namely, baptism, confirmation and Eucharist.

    The gospel today tells us about the sacrament of baptism. The gospel today tells us that Jesus “anointed” (Lefrois; Brown) the blind man with saliva mixed with earth and told the blind man to wash himself in the Pool of Siloam. Siloam means ‘sent’. Jesus was sent by the Father. After washing himself, the blind man could see, that is, see with the eyes of faith! He could see God in creation, in salvation, and in sanctification!

    Washing, anointing and faith are three important themes of baptism. When we are baptized, we are washed with the waters of baptism, the waters of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit cleanses us of our sins and gives us new life! A new life that is even better than the life before sin! Paul tells us that the grace of Jesus Christ more than compensated for the sin of Adam! When sin increased, grace increased all the more!   

    After that we are anointed with the oil of Chrism as Christ was anointed priest, prophet and king. We share in the priesthood of Jesus Christ. As a priest, I share in the “ministerial priesthood” of Christ in the “parish church”. You share in the “common priesthood” of Christ. This is especially evident in the “BECs” (Basic Ecclesial Communities), that is, in the “community church” and in the “domestic church” where the head of the house presides in prayer and worship. You are also prophets. You proclaim the word of God and you share and pray and act on the word of God in the BECs! You are also kings. You build the kingdom of God and you build the Church by building BECs of love and unity, and of justice and peace!      

    After washing himself, the blind man could see with the eyes of faith! The gospel tells us that not only the blind man had faith, but that his faith also grew. At first he saw Jesus as a man, then he recognized Jesus to be a prophet, and finally he believed in the Son of Man, Jesus and worshipped him as Lord! The Pharisees on the other hand did not believe in Jesus, then they did not even believe that the blind man was blind, and finally they believed that Jesus was a sinner! Even today there are those who believe that Jesus was a sinner! Indeed, they have lost their faith! 

    After baptism, we have to renew our baptism every year, so that like the blind man, our faith will grow stronger and stronger every year! Otherwise like the Pharisees our faith will grow weaker and weaker every year!

    There is another important theme of baptism found in the longer form of the gospel today, that is, light! It is related to the theme of faith, particularly to the faith of the blind man. Light in the New Testament basically, symbolizes three things, namely, faith, life and good. (NJB; Jn 8:12) The three themes are related, that is, if we have faith in God, we will receive new life, and this new life is a life of good and good works!

    The gospel today tells us about the light of faith. Thus we read in the long form of the gospel: “As long as I am in the world I am the light of the world.” (Jn 9:5; SM)

    The Gospel Acclamation today tells us about the light of life. Thus we read in the Gospel Acclamation: “I am the light of the world, says the Lord; anyone who follows me will have the light of life.” (Jn 8:12; SM)

    Finally the second reading tells us about the light of good and good works. Thus we read in the second reading: “You were darkness once, but now you are light in the Lord; be like children of light, for the effects of the light are seen in complete goodness and right living and truth.” (Ep 5:8-9; SM)        

    After baptism and after being anointed with the oil of Chrism, we will be given candles lighted from the big Easter candle symbolizing the light of Jesus Christ, the light of faith, life and goodness!

2. The first reading tells us about the sacrament of confirmation. To confirm is to strengthen, to make strong. In the sacrament of baptism we are born again in the Holy Spirit. In the sacrament of confirmation we are made strong in the Holy Spirit! David was a youth, but he was made strong in the Spirit so he could defeat the giant Goliath! We read this in the next chapter (1 S 17). Thus we read in the first reading:

    “The Lord said, ‘Come, anoint him, for this is the one.’ At this, Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him where he stood with his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord seized on David and stayed with him from that day on.” (1 S 16:12-13; SM) In the next chapter, David defeats the giant Goliath! (1 S 17)           

3. The responsorial psalm today tells us about the Eucharist! Just as we are born again in baptism and we are made strong in confirmation, we continue to grow stronger and stronger in the Eucharist by eating the body of Christ and drinking the blood of Christ every Sunday! That is why it is important to come to Mass every Sunday after baptism! If we do not eat and drink, we die! Our faith will die! That is why not coming to Mass on Sunday is a mortal sin! The word mortal is from a Latin word meaning death!

   Again, it is the Lord who provides – providence! The Lord provides us with both material food and drink, and spiritual food and drink! Thus we read in the first and third stanzas of the responsorial psalm depicting the Lord as Shepherd and Host respectively:

    “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose. Near restful waters he leads me, to revive my drooping spirit.” (Stanza 1; SM)   

    “You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my foes. My head you have anointed with oil; my cup is overflowing.” (Stanza 3; SM)

4. Again, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter. Particularly, Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the sacrament of baptism on Easter Vigil night. Besides receiving the sacrament of baptism, some of us are also receiving the sacraments of confirmation and Eucharist.

    Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate the sacraments of initiation, namely, baptism, confirmation and Eucharist. That is why the Church asks us to pray, to fast, and to give alms to the poor during this time of Lent. A happy Lent to all of you!

                                                                                                                             Amen!

3rd Sunday of Advent (Year C) – 12th December 2021

3rd Sunday of Advent (Year C) – 12th December 2021

  • Zephaniah 3:14-18;
  • Responsorial Psalm (Isaiah 12:2-6. R/ v. 6);
  • Philippians 4:4-7
  • Luke 3:10-18

Theme: WHEN THE LORD COMES, HE WILL BURN AWAY OUR SINS WITH THE FIRE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, AND WE WILL BE VERY HAPPY

1. Today is the 3rd Sunday of Advent; Liturgical Year C. Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time. The word Advent means coming. Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago, Jesus Christ continues to come every Christmas, and Jesus Christ will come again at the end of time. Because Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago, and continues to come every Christmas, we believe that he will come again at the end of time.

    Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago in Memory, Jesus Christ continues to come every Christmas in Mystery, and Jesus Christ will come again at the end of time in Majesty. When Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago in memory, he did something very important; before he died, rose from the dead, and gave us the Holy Spirit; he gave us the Eucharist/Mass in memorial of him, that is, to make real, present and effective what he did two thousand years ago, so that he can continue to come to us every Christmas in Mystery, and so that he can come to us at the end of time in Majesty!

    The word Christ-mas comes from the two words “Christ’s” and “Mass”. (Raas) The Mass is the Sacrament of Sacraments. The word Sacrament in Greek and in Latin means Mystery. Jesus Christ comes to us every Christ-mas in Mystery and Jesus Christ will come again at the end of time in Majesty! Advent is a time when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time.

    The gospel today tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ by practicing charity and justice. But before we practice charity we have to practice justice. Justice is giving back to the poor what belongs to them, that is, paying them a just wage, etc. Charity or “sharity” is sharing what we have with the poor, the have-nots. Thus we read in the gospel today:

    “When all the people asked John, ‘What must we do?’ he answered, ‘If anyone has two tunics he must share with the man who has none, and the one with something to eat must do the same.’ There were tax collectors too who came for baptism, and these said to him, ‘Master what must we do?’ He said to them, ‘Exact no more than your rate.’ Some soldiers asked him in their turn, ‘What about us? What must we do?’ He said to them, ‘No intimidation! No extortion! Be content with your pay!’ (Lk 3:10-14)      

    More importantly, the gospel today tells us that when the Lord comes he will burn away our sins with the fire of his Holy Spirit, that is, the fire of his love! God the Father is love, God the Son is love, and God the Holy Spirit is also love! Theologians tell us that God the Father loves the Son, and God the Son loves the Father, and the love between the Father and the Son is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit of God’s love will burn away our sins! Thus we read in the gospel today:

    “John declared before them all, ‘I baptize you with water, but someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Lk 3:16/Pentecost, Acts 2)

2. The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us to rejoice because the Lord is with us to save us! More than that the first reading also tells us that God is not only with us to save us, but God also rejoices with us! Thus we read in the first reading:

    “Shout for joy, daughter of Zion, Israel, shout aloud! Rejoice, exult with all your heart, daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has repealed your sentence; he has driven your enemies away. The Lord, the king of Israel, is in your midst; you have no more evil to fear. When that day comes, word will come to Jerusalem: Zion, have no fear, do not let your hands fall limp. The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult with joy over you, he will renew you by his love; he will dance with shouts of joy for you as on a day of festival.” (Zp 3:14-18a)

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us to rejoice because God is with us to save us! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

    “Sing and shout for joy for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” (Is 12:6)

    And thus the first stanza of the responsorial psalm:

    “Truly, God is my salvation, I trust, I shall not fear. For the Lord is my strength, my song, he became my savior. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” (Is 12:2-3)      

4. Finally, the second reading tells us to rejoice in the Lord because the Lord is near! Thus we read in the second reading: “I want you to be happy, always happy in the Lord; I repeat, what I want is your happiness.” (Ph 4:4) And thus the “Entrance Antiphon” of today’s Mass which is taken from the first verse of today’s second reading with a different translation (Ph 4:4): “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near.”!

    The first word of the “Entrance Antiphon” of today’s Mass is the name given to this Third Sunday of Advent, that is, “Rejoice Sunday” or “Joyful Sunday”! Today we celebrate Joyful Sunday because we are more than half way through to Christmas! That is why we use rose colored vestment to symbolize joy, light the rose candle, start caroling, start making the Christmas Crib, start putting up the Christmas Tree, etc.! 

5. Today in the Eucharist, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and the Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help us prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time. The Holy Spirit will help us practice charity and justice to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ. And when Jesus Christ comes he will burn away our sins with the fire of his Holy Spirit, that is, the fire of his love, and we will be very happy! A happy Advent to all of you!   Amen!

3rd Sunday of Advent (Year B) – 13th December 2020

3rd Sunday of Advent (Year B) – 13th December 2020

Theme: REJOICE! THE LORD IS NEAR!

  • Isaiah 61:1-2. 10-11;
  • Lk 1:46-50. 53-54. R.
  • Is 61:10;
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
  • John 1:6-8. 19-28

1. Today is the 3rd Sunday of Advent. Advent means coming, that is, the coming of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago in memory, Jesus Christ continues to come every Christmas in mystery, and Jesus Christ will come at the end of time in majesty as King of the universe!

    Because Jesus Christ came two thousand years ago in memory, and continues to come every Christmas in mystery, we are sure Jesus Christ will come again at the end of time in majesty as King of the universe! Advent is a time when we remember the coming of Jesus Christ two thousand years ago in Bethlehem, and when we prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time!  

    Today is also “rejoice” or joyful Sunday! Today we celebrate joyful Sunday because we are more than half way through to Christmas! Christmas is very near! The Lord is very near! The pink/rose candle on the Advent wreath and the pink/rose vestment of the priest symbolize joy!   

2. The first reading tells us to rejoice because the Lord has brought us salvation. He has brought us “saving justice” (NJB) and praise. The first reading tells us to rejoice because the Lord has come to bring good news to the poor, to bind up the broken hearts, to proclaim liberty to captives, freedom to those in prison, and to proclaim a year of favor from the Lord, that is, a year of salvation from the Lord! Thus we read in the first reading:

    “I exult for joy in Yahweh, my soul rejoices in my God, for he has clothed me in garments of salvation, he has wrapped me in a cloak of saving justice, …. So Lord Yahweh makes saving justice and praise spring up in the sight of all nations.” (Is 61:10-11/NJB)

    Again we read in the first reading: “The spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for the Lord has anointed me. He has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to bind up hearts that are broken; to proclaim liberty to captives, freedom to those in prison; to proclaim a year of favor from the Lord.” (Is 61:1-2/SM)     

3. The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. In fact the response of the responsorial psalm is taken from the first reading. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “My soul rejoices in my God.” (Is 61:10)   

    The responsorial psalm itself is taken from the canticle of Mary (Magnificat), but originally it was a song of praise of the “poor” of Yahweh, the “anawim” of Yahweh! The poor of Yahweh are the humble who are totally dependent on Yahweh for salvation! Thus we read in the responsorial psalm:

    “My soul glorifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior. He looks on his servant in her nothingness; henceforth all ages will call me blessed. The Almighty works marvels for me. Holy his name! His mercy is from age to age, on those who fear him. He fills the starving with good things, sends the rich away empty. He protects Israel, his servant, remembering his mercy.” (Lk 1:46-50. 53-54)    

4. Again, the second reading begins with the theme of joy! The second reading tells us to be happy always, to pray always, and to give thanks to God for all things, because that is what God wants us to do in Jesus Christ! The second reading also tells us that God will make us perfect and holy and blameless in body, soul and spirit for the second coming of Jesus Christ. For God has called us. He will not fail us. Thus we read in the second reading:

    “Be happy at all times; pray constantly; and for all things give thanks to God, because this is what God expects you to do in Christ Jesus. …. May the God of peace make you perfect and holy; and may you all be kept safe and blameless, spirit, soul and body, for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. God has called you and he will not fail you.” (1 Th 5:16-18. 23-24)

5. Finally, the gospel today tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ, because Jesus Christ is much greater even than John the Baptist. John the Baptist is not worthy even to undo His sandal-strap. John the Baptist baptized with water but Jesus Christ will baptize with the Holy Spirit! (Jn 1:33) Thus we read in the gospel today:

    “So John said, ‘I am, as Isaiah prophesied: a voice that cries in the wilderness: Make a straight way for the Lord.’ …. John replied, ‘I baptize with water; but there stands among you – unknown to you – the one who is coming after me; and I am not fit to undo his sandal-strap.’” (John 1:23. 26-27)

6. Again, to remember the coming of Jesus Christ two thousand years ago in Bethlehem, and to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time, we have to pray, to read the Bible, to read the Sunday Mass readings, to attend Sunday Mass, to attend BEC (Basic Ecclesial Community) meetings, to attend prayer meetings, to repent, to go to confession, to go caroling, to proclaim the good news, to love, to serve, to forgive, to make others happy, etc. We have also to be Santa Claus (St. Nicholas) to the poor, the needy, the aged, the foreigner, the orphan, those in prison, etc.

7. 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 remember the coming of Jesus Christ two thousand years ago, and the Holy Spirit will help us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas and at the end of time! Amen.                                                                                                       

FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT (A) – 6th March 2016

FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT (A) – 6th March 2016

Theme: LENT IS A TIME WHEN CATECHUMENS PREPARE FOR BAPTISM AND EUCHARIST

  • 1 Samuel 16:1. 6-7. 10-13
  • Psalm 22. R. v. 1
  • Ephesians 5:8-14
  • John 9:1-41

Today is the 4th Sunday of Lent. The 4th Sunday of Lent is also known as “rejoice” or “joyful” Sunday, because we are more than half way through to Easter! Next Sunday will be the 5th Sunday of Lent, and the Sunday after next Sunday will be Passion or Palm Sunday, to be followed by Easter Sunday!

Lent is a time when catechumens prepare to receive the Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist on Easter Vigil Night and on Easter Sunday Morning!

The readings today tell us about the Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist! The gospel and the second reading tell us about Baptism. The first reading and the responsorial psalm tell us about Eucharist.

The gospel today is on the curing of the blind man, and this is to illustrate the theme of the gospel, that is, Jesus Christ is the light of the world: “I am the light of the world”! (John 9:5) The gospel acclamation indicates the theme of the gospel: “I am the light of the world, says the Lord; anyone who follows me will have the light of life”! (John 8:12)

In the New Testament, light symbolizes 3 things: (1) Anything that shows us the way to God. (2) Life and happiness. (3) Good over evil. (NJB, John 8:12b)

  • In the New Testament light symbolizes anything that leads us to God. In the Old Testament it was the Law, the Wisdom and the Word of God, but in the New Testament it is Jesus Christ that leads us to God!
  • In the New Testament light also symbolizes life and happiness, contentment and joy, as opposed to darkness, which symbolizes death, unhappiness, and misery. In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the life and joy!
  • In the New Testament light also symbolizes good over evil, and God over the Devil! In the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the good that overcomes evil, and the God who overcomes the Devil!

In sum, in the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the light that leads us to God, Jesus Christ is the light that gives us life and joy, and Jesus Christ is the light that overcomes evil with good!

The Church has chosen the gospel reading of today to tell us about Baptism, to tell us that in Baptism, Jesus Christ shows us the way to God the Father, in Baptism, Jesus Christ gives us life and joy, and in Baptism, Jesus Christ overcomes the evil in us with good!

The second reading from the letter to the Ephesians also tells us about Baptism. The second reading tells us to live the light of Baptism, that is, to live a life of complete goodness, right living, and truth, and to have nothing to do with the works of darkness!

In fact, the second reading ends with a Baptismal hymn: “Wake up from your sleep, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you”! (Ephesians 5:14)

The first reading and the responsorial psalm tell us about the Eucharist. The first reading from the first book of Samuel tells us that David was anointed the Shepherd-King of Israel! There is a difference between a shepherd-king and a king! A shepherd-king is like a shepherd who protects his sheep and feeds his sheep! David the Shepherd-King of Israel is a prefigure of Jesus Christ! Jesus Christ is the Shepherd-King par excellence, that is, the best of its kind, who protects and feeds us with his body and blood in the Eucharist!

That is why the responsorial psalm is on the Lord, as the good shepherd (stanzas 1 & 2), and on the Lord as the host of a banquet (stanzas 3 & 4)!

Stanzas 1 & 2   tell us that the Lord is the Good Shepherd: ‘The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want (or need). Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose. Near restful waters he leads me to revive my drooping spirit. If I should walk in the valley of darkness, no evil would I fear. You are there with your crook and staff to give me comfort’! (Psalm 22:1-4)

Stanzas 3 & 4 tell us that the Lord is the host of a banquet: ‘You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my enemies. You have anointed my head with oil (sign of hospitality). My cup is overflowing. Goodness and kindness will follow me everyday of my life (the blessings of God). In the Lord’s own house (temple) will I live forever and ever’! (Psalm 22:5-6)

During this time of Lent, the Church asks our catechumen brothers and sisters to pray, fast, and give alms, to prepare themselves to receive the Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist at Easter! The Church also asks all of us who have already been baptized to pray, fast, and give alms, to prepare ourselves to renew our Baptism at Easter! A Happy Lent to all of you! Amen!