Pentecost Sunday (Year A, B , C) – 4th June 2017

Theme: THE HOLY SPIRIT HELPS US TO PROCLAIM THE GOOD NEWS AND TO BUILD CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES OF LOVE AND UNITY 

  • Acts 2:1-11;
  • Psalm 103:1. 24. 29-31. 34. R/ cf v.30;
  • 1 Corinthians 12:3-7. 12-13
  • John 20:19-23

A happy and blessed Pentecost Sunday to all of you! Today we celebrate Pentecost Sunday, Liturgical Year A.

The first reading tells us that on the Day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles. The first reading tells us that there was a loud noise which sounded like a strong wind that filled the room and there were tongues of fire resting on the apostles and the apostles spoke in foreign languages! The wind symbolizes the Holy Spirit (Jn 3:8). In Greek, as in Hebrew, one word serves for both ‘wind’ and ‘spirit’ (NJB). The loud noise and fire symbolize the presence of God as at the covenant on Sinai (Ex 19:16. 18).

The first reading also tells us that the Jews from all the nations of the world assembled at the loud noise and each of them heard the apostles preaching the marvels of God each in their own language! The first reading foreshadows the universal mission of the Church to preach the good news to the whole world! When we receive the Holy Spirit we preach the good news to the whole world!

 

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

“Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.” (Ps 103:30; SM)

The responsorial psalm is a hymn of “Praise of God the Creator” (CSB). But in today’s liturgy, it is a hymn of praise to God the Savior! The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The second stanza from which the response is taken is the most important! Thus the second stanza:

“You take back your spirit, they die, returning to the dust from which they came. You send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the earth.” (Ps 103:29-30; SM)

The responsorial psalm tells us that the Holy Spirit gives us life, without the Holy Spirit we die, but with the Holy Spirit, even though we die we will live!

 

The second reading tells us that the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit of unity! The second reading tells us about unity in diversity, not unity in uniformity! The second reading tells us that though there are many different gifts, they are from the same Spirit; though there are many different services, they serve the same Lord; and the same God is working in all of us! And all the different gifts are given for the common good!

The second reading also tells us that just as the human body has many parts, the many parts make up one body, so it is with the body of Christ. We are different parts of the one body of Christ! We were all baptized with the one Spirit, “Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as citizens”, and we were all given the one Spirit to drink in baptism! Again, the second reading tells us that the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit of unity, not of division!

 

The Gospel Acclamation tells us that the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit of God’s love! Thus the Gospel Acclamation:

“Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.”

The fire of the Holy Spirit is the fire of God’s love that burns away our sins! Only the fire of God’s love can burn away our sins! That is why at a Penitential Service we were asked to write our sins down on a piece of paper and burn it with the fire of the Easter Candle and throw it into a bin symbolizing hell! And we were told that hell is a place where God burns away our sins with the fire of his love so that we can go to heaven! Hell is the love of God experienced by a sinner for his conversion!

 

The gospel today also tells us about Pentecost, but the gospel today tells us that the Holy Spirit was given on the day of the Lord’s resurrection and not fifty days after his resurrection! The gospel today is from St. John. The gospel today tells us that on the day of his resurrection the Lord appeared to his disciples and said to them, ‘Peace be with you,’ and showed them his hands and his side and the disciples were filled with joy! Again, he said to them, ‘Peace be with you. As the father sent me so I am sending you’. After saying this he breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit, those whose sins you forgive they are forgiven, those whose sins you retain they are retained’.

That is, proclaim the good news, those who believe and are baptized will have their sins forgiven, but those who do not believe and are not baptized will not have their sins forgiven. (NJBC; Fuller) The Holy Spirit forgives our sins in the sacrament of Baptism! The Holy Spirit also forgives our sins in the sacrament of Penance/Reconciliation. And above all, the Holy Spirit forgives our sins in the sacrament of sacraments, the Eucharist, the “Perpetual Pentecost”! The Holy Spirit forgives our sins in the Church, particularly, in the sacraments of Baptism, Penance and Eucharist! That is why it is most important that we come to Mass every Sunday!

 

Today, fifty years after the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), the Holy Spirit continues to renew the Church through the Charismatic Renewal, the Life in the Spirit Seminars, and the Prayer Meetings; the Holy Spirit continues to renew the Church through the Neo-Catechumenal Way, the Neo-Catechumenal Communities; and the Holy Spirit continues to renew the Church through the BECs (Basic Ecclesial Communities)! All these three movements involve the proclamation of the good news and the building of Christian communities of love and unity, so that our Church may be a community of communities of love and unity and a sign and sacrament of salvation for the whole world!

That is why it is important that we attend Mass every Sunday and we attend the Life in the Spirit seminars and we attend the Neo-Catechumenate Catechesis and the BECs so that we may receive the Holy Spirit and proclaim the good news and build Christian communities of love and unity and so that our Church may be a community of communities of love and unity and a sign and sacrament of salvation for the whole world! Again, a happy and blessed Pentecost Sunday 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!

 

THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT (A) – 28th February 2016

Theme: LENT IS A TIME WHEN WE PREPARE OUR FAITH FOR BAPTISM WITH THE LIVING WATER OF 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

Today is the 3rd Sunday of Lent, and the Church has chosen the readings of today, to tell us that Lent is a time when we prepare our faith for Baptism, with the living water of the Holy Spirit of God’s love, for the forgiveness of our sins, so that we may die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter!

To begin with, the first reading from the book of Exodus tells us that the people of Israel had no faith. They “grumbled” (“Meribah”) against God and they put God to the “test” (“Massah”)! They were looking for material and earthly water that cannot quench their spiritual thirst! They were not looking for the spiritual and living water that can quench their spiritual thirst!

The last sentence of the first reading tells it all, “Is the Lord with us, or not?” They stop short of saying, ‘Does God exits or not?’ They had no faith!

But more importantly, the responsorial psalm tells us to have faith in God, and to praise and worship Him, because he is our Creator and our Shepherd and we are his creatures and his sheep!

The 3rd stanza of the responsorial psalm from which the response is taken, tells us, ‘Today listen to his voice! Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, at Massah when they put me to the test though they saw my work!’

The 1st and 2nd stanzas of the responsorial psalm tell us to praise and worship God our Creator and Shepherd!

And most importantly, the gospel tells us that the Samaritan woman had faith in Jesus Christ! What distinguished her from the Jews was not that she was more holy, but that she had faith in Jesus Christ!

The Samaritan woman was not more holy than the Jews, the chosen people of God! On the contrary, she was a woman, a Samaritan and she had 5 husbands! In their morning prayer, the Jews thank God that they are not gentiles, slaves and women! A Samaritan is a “half-Jew” and he is despised by a Jew! In the 8th century BC, the Jews of the Northern Kingdom of Israel were deported to Babylonia, and the gentiles and pagans from Babylonia were imported into Israel. They intermarried with the Jews and their descendents were the Samaritans! The Samaritans worshiped the God of the Jews, but they also worshiped the false gods that they brought in from Babylonia! The 5 husbands of the Samaritan woman may symbolize the Bible of the Samaritan, that is, the first 5 books of the Bible, it may also symbolize the 5 groups of gentiles imported from Babylonia into Israel, but historically, it refers to the 5 husbands of the Samaritan woman!

The gospel also tells us that the faith of the Samaritan woman was dynamic and not static! The gospel tells us that the faith of the Samaritan woman grows and increases! At first she recognized Jesus to be a Jew, then a prophet, then the Messiah, and finally together with the other Samaritans she confessed that Jesus Christ was the Savior of the world!

More than that, the Samaritan woman was also the first missionary and apostle of Saint John’s gospel! She was also the first woman evangelizer (proclaimer of the Good News) of Saint John’s gospel!

The Church has chosen the gospel reading of today to tell us that we have to have faith in Jesus Christ, and that our faith have to grow every year, especially at Lent and Easter time, and that like the Samaritan woman we have to share our faith with others by proclaiming the Good News!

Finally, the Church has chosen the second reading of today from the letter to the Romans to tell us that in faith we are baptized with the living water of the Holy Spirit of God’s love for the forgiveness of our sins, so that we may die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter!

For those of us who have already been baptized, we have to renew our baptismal faith and we will be sprinkled with the living water of the Holy Spirit of God’s love for the forgiveness of our sins, and we will once again die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter!

During this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms, in order to renew our faith, so that on Easter Vigil Night and on Easter Sunday Morning, we may renew our “baptismal profession of faith”, and so that we will be sprinkled with the living water of the Holy Spirit of God’s love for the forgiveness of our sins, and so that we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! A happy Lent to all of you! Amen!