The Baptism of The Lord (Year C) – 13th Jan 2019

Theme: THE REVELATION OF THE LORD AS SON AND SUFFERING SERVANT OF GOD

  • Isaiah 40:1-5. 9-11;
  • Psalm 103 (104): 1-2. 3-4. 24-25. 27-30. R/ v. 1;
  • Titus 2:11-14. 3:4-7
  • Luke 3:15-16. 21-22

Today we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Liturgical Year C. Like Christmas and Epiphany, the Baptism of the Lord is about the revelation of the Lord. At Christmas, the Lord revealed himself to shepherds, that is, to the poor, the humble, the lowly, and to sinners! At Epiphany, the Lord revealed himself to the wise men from the east, that is, to all the nations, not only to the Jews, but to the whole world! At the Baptism of the Lord, the Lord revealed himself as Son and Suffering-Servant of God!

The gospel today tells us that when Jesus was baptized and was at prayer, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him and a voice from heaven said,

“You are my Son, the Beloved; my favor rests on you”. (Lk 3:22; SM; CSB)

That is, Jesus is the Son and Suffering-Servant of God! (NJBC; Is 42:1) As Son, Jesus is to love God, as Servant, Jesus is to serve God, and as Suffering-Servant, Jesus is to suffer and sacrifice in order to sanctify and save the world!

The gospel also tells us that Jesus will baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire! That is, he will baptize us with the fire of the Holy Spirit, the fire of Pentecost! (Acts 2) The fire of God’s love! The fire of God’s love will burn away our sins and make us into sons and servants of God! As sons of God we will love God and neighbor, as servants of God, we will serve God and neighbor, and as suffering-servants of God we will suffer and sacrifice for the sanctification and salvation of the world!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us about the revelation of the Lord. The first reading tells us that the glory of the Lord will be revealed to all the nations!

The first reading was originally about the return from exile from Babylon to Jerusalem, the new and second exodus; but the New Testament sees it as a prophecy on John the Baptist and Jesus Christ! (CSB; Mt 3:3) Thus we read in the first reading:

“A voice cries, ‘Prepare in the wilderness a way for the Lord. Make a straight highway for our God across the desert. Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be laid low, let every cliff become a plain, and the ridges a valley; then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all mankind shall see it; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Is 40: 3-5; SM)

More importantly, the first reading tells us that when the Lord is revealed he will be revealed as the Good Shepherd! (NJB; Jr 23:1-6; Ezk 34; Mt 18: 12-14; Jn 10:11-18) Thus the first reading concludes:

“He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering lambs in his arms, holding them against his breast and leading to their rest the mother ewes.” (Is 40:11; SM)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that the Lord does not only reveal himself in the glory of salvation, but the Lord also reveals himself in “the glories of creation”! (NJB)

The responsorial psalm has five stanzas. The first and second stanzas (vv. 1-4) tell us about the creation of the heavens. The third stanza (vv. 24-25) tells us about the creation of the many and various creatures of the land and sea!

And most importantly, the fourth and fifth stanzas (vv. 27-30) tell us that all creatures depend on God! (HCSB) God does not only create the universe, but God also sustains the universe! Ongoing creation! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Bless the Lord, my soul! Lord God, how great you are.” (Ps 103 (104): 1; SM)

The second reading also tells us of the revelation of the Lord. The second reading tells us that God has revealed his grace for our salvation and this he did through the sacrifice of his Son Jesus Christ who purified us from sins so that we will do good. This happens to us in the Sacrament of Baptism where we receive the Holy Spirit who renews us and justifies us with the grace of God! Thus we read in the second reading:

“God’s grace has been revealed, and it has made salvation possible for the whole human race. …. He sacrificed himself for us in order to set us free from all wickedness and to purify a people so that it could be his very own and would have no ambition except to do good.” (Tt 2:11. 14; SM) ….

“He saved us by means of the cleansing water of rebirth and by renewing us with the Holy Spirit which he has so generously poured over us through Jesus Christ our savior. He did this so that we should be justified by his grace, to become heirs looking forward to inheriting eternal life.” (Tt 3:5-7; SM) 

Today in this Mass, we thank God for the revelation of his Son Jesus Christ and we thank God for the gift of Baptism. And we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit so that we will grow as sons and servants of the Lord; and so that as sons we will love the Lord and love one another, and so that as servants we will serve the Lord and serve one another. And so that as suffering servants we will suffer and sacrifice in order to sanctify and save the world! A happy feast day to all of you!

Amen!

34th or Last Sunday of The Year (Year A) – Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King – 26th November 2017

Theme: THE END OF THE WORLD: THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS CHRIST AS KING OF THE UNIVERSE 

  • Ezekiel 34:11-12. 15-17
  • Psalm 22 (23):1-3. 5-6. R. v. 1
  • 1 Corinthians 15:20-26. 28
  • Matthew 25:31-46

Today is the 34th or last Sunday of the Liturgical Year and today we celebrate the feast of Christ the King! We celebrate the feast of Christ the King at the end of the Liturgical Year, because we believe that at the end of the world, Jesus Christ will be the King of the universe! He will have established his kingdom fully, perfectly and completely! The end of the world is not the end of the physical world, but the end of the evil and sinful world; the end of death and the Devil! As Christians we do not fear the end of the world, but we look forward to the end of the world, because the end of the world is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ as King of the universe!

The gospel today tells us that at the end of the world, Jesus Christ will come a second time as king to judge the nations! He will reward those who have done good deeds of mercy and punish those who have not done good deeds of mercy!

It is important to note that the gospel today does not talk about sin, but about good works! In order to go to heaven it is not enough not to commit sin, but we must also do good works, especially good works of mercy! But if we want to talk about sin in today’s gospel, then we talk about the sin of omission and not the sin of commission!

The gospel today tells us that the wicked were sent to hell not because they committed sins of stealing, killing, adultery, etc., but because they did not do good works of mercy! Again, the good were sent to heaven not because they did not commit sins, but because they did good works!

Like the gospels of the last two Sundays on the “Virgins” and the “Talents” respectively, the gospel today tells us to prepare for the second coming of Jesus Christ by doing good works, especially good works of mercy, so that when Jesus Christ comes a second time he will welcome us to heaven!

‘Come you whom my Father has blessed, inherit the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world, for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was naked and you clothed me, a stranger and you welcomed me, sick and in prison and you visited me’!

But more than that, the first reading from the prophet Ezekiel tells us that Jesus Christ is not only a King, but he is a Shepherd-King! And like a shepherd, he looks after his sheep, he rescues his sheep, he saves his sheep, he feeds his sheep, he looks for the lost sheep, he brings back the stray sheep, he bandages the wounded sheep, he makes the weak sheep strong, and he watches over the healthy sheep!

The first reading today (Ez 34:11-16) is an outline of the allegory (symbolic story) of the Good Shepherd in John 10:11-18, (NJB), where Jesus says, ‘I am the good shepherd. I lay down my life for my sheep! I know my sheep and my sheep know me! Just as the Father knows me and I know my Father. And I lay down my life for my sheep’! (Jn 10: 11. 14-15)

Jesus Christ is not only a King, but a Shepherd-King, and not only a Shepherd-King, but a Good Shepherd-King who lays down his life for his sheep!

Finally in the second reading from the first letter to the Corinthians, Paul tells us that ‘Christ has been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. Death came through one man, in the same way, Resurrection from the dead came through one man. Just as all men die in Adam, all men will be brought to life in Jesus Christ in the proper order: First Jesus Christ, the first-fruits, then after the Coming of Jesus Christ, those who belong to him. After that will come the end, when Jesus Christ will hand over his kingdom to his Father after destroying all sovereignty, power and authority. For he must be king until he has put all his enemies under his feet, and the last and worst enemy is death. After subjecting everything to himself, he will in turn subject himself to his Father who has subjected all things to him, so that God his Father may be all in all’! This is the end of the world! This is the second coming of Jesus Christ! This is the Good News!

Today in this Mass we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and we eat his body and drink his blood and our Risen Lord will give us His Holy Spirit to do good deeds of mercy, so that when Jesus Christ comes a second time he will say to us, ‘Come you, whom my Father has blessed, inherit the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world, for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, naked and you clothed me, a stranger and you welcomed me, sick and in prison and you visited me’! Go to heaven! Not “go to hell”, but go to heaven! This is the Good News!