20th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 18th Aug 2019

Theme: JESUS CAME TO BRING PEACE, SHALOM, SALVATION!

  • Jeremiah 38:4-6. 8-10;
  • Psalm 39:2-4. 18. R/ v. 14;
  • Hebrews 12:1-4
  • Luke 12:49-53

Today is the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The gospel today tells us that Jesus came not to bring peace, but to bring division! That is, Jesus came to bring peace, but his peace was rejected and that is why there was division! (HCSB)

The gospel today tells us that a family of five will be divided: three against two and two against three; the father against the son and the son against the father, the mother against the daughter and the daughter against the mother, and the mother-in-law against the daughter-in-law and the daughter-in-law against the mother-in-law.

The division is between those who accept Jesus and those who reject Jesus!

But more importantly, the gospel tells us that the rejection of Jesus brought about his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit which brought about unity and peace! Thus we read in the gospel today:

“Jesus said to his disciples: ‘I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already! There is a baptism I must still receive, and how great is my distress till it is over!’” (Lk 12:49-50; SM)

The fire is the fire of the Holy Spirit, the fire of God’s love that will burn away our sins and divisions and unite us in peace in God’s love! (NJB; Lefrois) The baptism is the baptism of the cross of his death and resurrection from which the fire of the Holy Spirit is lit! (NJB)

The first reading tells us that Jeremiah was thrown into a well to die by the officials of the king, because he prophesied that they should surrender to the Babylonians or Jerusalem will be destroyed by the Babylonians! But more importantly, the first reading tells us that Jeremiah was saved from the well by an Ethiopian official of the king’s house!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a psalm of thanksgiving for salvation (vv. 2-11) and a prayer for help (vv. 12-18). Usually the psalms have it in a reverse order, that is, a prayer for help and a thanksgiving for salvation. (NJBC) We will read the responsorial psalm in this order. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm which is a prayer for help:

“Lord, come to my aid!” (Ps 39:14; SM)

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The fourth stanza (v. 18) like the response is a prayer for help. The first, second and third stanzas (vv. 2-4) are a thanksgiving for salvation! Note verse 4b of the third stanza:

“Many shall see and fear and shall trust in the Lord.”

That is, many shall see and be awed by the salvation of the psalmist and put their trust in the Lord and be saved themselves!

The first reading and the responsorial psalm prefigure Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the whole world!

The second reading is a continuation of the second reading of the previous Sunday. The second reading of the previous Sunday tells us about the example of faith of Abraham. The second reading today tells us about the example of faith of Jesus himself.

The second reading today tells us that Jesus held on to his faith in God his Father and endured the shameful death of the cross and is now glorified in heaven! In the same way in our fight against sin we must hold on to our faith until death, resurrection and glorification!

But Jesus is not only an example of faith. Through his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit he perfects our faith so that we will fight sin until death and resurrection and glory! Thus we read in the second reading:

“Let us not lose sight of Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection: for the sake of the joy which was still in the future, he endured the cross, disregarding the shamefulness of it, and from now on has taken his place at the right of God’s throne. Think of the way he stood such opposition from sinners and then you will not give up for want of courage. In the fight against sin, you have not yet had to keep fighting to the point of death.” (Heb 12: 2-4; SM)

Today we thank God for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit brings us peace, shalom, salvation! Today we ask God to continue to give us the Holy Spirit, so that as Christians and as followers of Jesus Christ, we may also bring peace, shalom, salvation to the whole world! God bless you! Amen!

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 7th July 2019

Theme: THE PEACE OF SALVATION (SHALOM)

  • Isaiah 66:10-14;
  • Psalm 65:1-7. 16. 20. R/ v. 1;
  • Galatians 6:14-18
  • Luke 10: 1-9 (Shorter Form)

Today is the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us about The Peace of Salvation (Shalom)! The word “Peace” comes from the Hebrew word “Shalom” meaning wholeness, completeness, perfection, soundness, well-being, lacking nothing, prosperity, happiness, etc., in the Old Testament. In the New Testament it is almost synonymous with Salvation!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus sent out the seventy-two disciples to preach the “Peace of Salvation (Shalom)” (HCSB) to the whole world. The number seventy-two (or seventy) symbolizes the universal mission of the Church!

They were sent out two by two, they were instructed to pray for laborers for the harvest, they were told not to carry any purses, bags and sandals, they were told not to greet anyone on the road, and they were told to preach the peace of salvation!

They were sent out two by two for mutual support, to bear witness to each other’s testimony, and to embody the peace that they preach. (NJBC) They were instructed to pray for laborers for the harvest, because the mission of the Church is from God. Thus prayer and mission cannot be separated. Every mission has to begin and end with prayer. They were instructed not to carry any purses, backpacks or sandals, because they were to depend on the providence of God. God provides! Thus the vow of poverty of the religious! They were not to greet anyone on the way, that is, they were not to be distracted from their mission! Today our hand phones distract us even during Mass and we distract others too. We must switch off our hand phones, especially during Mass! And finally they were to preach the peace of salvation and not to preach damnation!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us about the joy of the peace of salvation in the New Jerusalem! The New Jerusalem becomes our Mother and we the infants who suckle milk from her breast! Today the New Jerusalem is our mother Church! It is in her that we find the peace of salvation and it is from her that missionaries are sent to the whole world to preach the peace of salvation! Thus we read in the first reading:

“Rejoice, Jerusalem, be glad for her, all you who love her! Rejoice, rejoice for her, all you who mourned her! That you may be suckled, filled, from her consoling breast, that you may savor with delight her glorious breasts. For thus says the Lord: Now towards her I send flowing peace, like a river, and like a stream in spate the glory of the nations.” (Is 66: 10-12; SM)       

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us about the joy of salvation! Thus the response:

“Cry out with joy to God all the earth.” (Ps 65:1; SM)

That is, cry out with joy to God all the earth in praise and thanksgiving for salvation! The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first, second and third stanzas (vv 1-7) are a praise and thanksgiving for salvation! Thus verse 6 of the third stanza:

“He turned the sea into dry land, they passed through the river dry-shod. Let our joy then be in him.” (Ps 65:6; SM)

Verse 6 is a summary of the whole history of salvation of Israel! Thus the first event and the last event of salvation are mentioned together, that is, the crossing of the Reed Sea in the Exodus and the crossing of the river Jordan into the Promised Land!

The fourth stanza (vv. 16. 20) tells us that God does not only save the community as a whole, but God also saves each and every individual in the community in a personal way! (IBC)

The second reading tells us that the peace of salvation cannot be merited by the works of the Law, but the peace of salvation can only be received as a free gift through faith in Jesus Christ, especially through faith in the cross of Jesus Christ through which we die to the world and the world die to us and through which we are made a new creation! Thus we read in the second reading:

“But may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither does circumcision mean anything, nor does uncircumcision, but only a new creation. Peace and mercy be to all who follow this rule and to the Israel of God.” (Ga 6:14-16; CSB) 

Today we thank God for the Peace of Salvation and we ask God to help us to be missionaries of the Peace of Salvation! The Peace of Salvation be with you all! Shalom! Amen!

 

19th Ordinary Time (Year A) – 13th August 2017

Theme: THE LORD BRINGS PEACE, SHALOM, SALVATION

  • 1 Kings 19:9. 11-13;
  • Psalm 84:9-14. R/ v. 8;
  • Romans 9:1-5.
  • Matthew 14:22-33

Today is the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us that the Lord brings peace, shalom, salvation! The gospel today tells us that the disciples were in a boat battling a heavy sea because there was a strong headwind. More importantly, the gospel tells us that Jesus walked towards them on the water! Jesus was the Son of God! Most importantly, the gospel tells us that Peter walked towards Jesus, but when he felt the strong wind, he lost faith and began to sink, but Jesus saved him! And when they entered the boat the wind dropped! There was peace, shalom, salvation!

Today the Church is troubled from within and from without! From within, the Church is troubled by the scandalous sins of its ministers, its theologians teach against the Pope, its people do not obey the teachings of the Church, particularly in abortion and contraception, and many of its people do not even come to Mass on Sundays. They do not believe in the Church and they do not believe in God! From, the outside, the Church is troubled by the world, by secularism, by unjust government laws, by extremists of other religions, by persecution, etc.

In all these, the Lord comes to bring us peace, shalom, salvation! We have to repent and we have to be renewed in order to experience the peace, shalom, salvation of the Lord! There are many renewal movements in our parish, e.g., the Charismatic Renewal, the Life in the Spirit Seminar, the Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs), the Neo-Catechumenal Communities, the Bible Sharing Groups, the Alpha Course, etc., but most importantly, we have to come to Mass every Sunday! After Baptism, we are renewed every Sunday by the Eucharist!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel! The first reading tells us that after Elijah destroyed the prophets of Baal, Queen Jezebel was after him to kill him. The first reading tells us that Elijah went to Mount Horeb, that is, Mount Sinai, where God appeared to Moses. God appeared to Elijah on Mount Horeb! As at Mount Sinai, there was a strong wind, there was earthquake, and there was fire; but the Lord was not in the strong wind, not in the earthquake, not in the fire! Then there was a gentle breeze. The Lord was in the gentle breeze! Like in the gospel today, the gentle breeze symbolizes the peace, shalom, salvation of the Lord!

Again, the Church is troubled from the outside by the world, by secularism, by modernism, by governments that make discriminatory laws, by extremists from other religions, by persecutions, etc. Again, in these times of trouble, the Lord brings us peace, shalom, salvation! Again, the Church has to repent and be renewed in order to experience the peace, shalom, salvation of the Lord!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that the Lord brings us peace, shalom, salvation, through his justice and mercy! The Lord is both just and merciful! As Saint Pope John Paul II said of the conflict in the Middle East, ‘There can be no peace without justice, and there can be no justice without forgiveness’! Thus we responded and prayed three times:

“Let us see, O Lord, your mercy and give us your saving help.”! (Ps 84:8; SM)

The responsorial psalm itself (84:9-14) is an oracle of salvation! (NJBC) Note the words “justice, mercy and peace”! Thus we read:

“I will hear what the Lord God has to say, a voice that speaks of peace.” (Ps 84:9; SM) “Mercy and faithfulness have met; justice and peace have embraced. Faithfulness shall spring from the earth and justice look down from heaven.” (Ps 84:11-12; SM) “Justice shall march before him and peace shall follow his steps.” (Ps 84:14; Sunday Missal (SM)) 

Note that “justice” in the Bible is “saving justice’! Thus verse 11b in the New Jerusalem Bible reads:

“Saving Justice and Peace embrace”! (Ps 84:10)    

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 of Saint “Paul’s love for Israel”! (CSB)

In the second reading, Saint Paul said something very shocking, but it showed his love for Israel! He said that he was willing to be condemned, to be cut off from Jesus Christ and to be sent to hell, if it helped the people of Israel to be saved and to go to heaven! Indeed, in Romans, Chapter 11, Paul believes that at the end of time, even the Jews who crucified Jesus will be saved!

We must have the same love for the world! We must be ready to say with Paul that if we have to be condemned and cut off from Jesus Christ and go to hell, in order to save the world, then let it be so! We must proclaim the good news so that the world may believe and be saved!

Today we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus Christ who brings us peace, shalom, salvation! And we ask God our Father to help us to repent and be renewed so that we will experience the peace, shalom, salvation of the Lord! We also thank God for Saint Paul and we ask God to help us love the world as Paul loved Israel, so that we will proclaim the good news and so that the world may believe and be saved! Amen!