32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 10th Nov 2019

Theme: WE SHALL RISE FROM THE DEAD AND LIVE FOREVER

  • 2 Maccabees 7:1-2. 9-14;
  • Psalm 16:1. 5-6. 8. 15. R/ v. 15;
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5
  • Luke 20:27-38 (Shorter Form, Lk 20:27. 34-38)

Today is the 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. And as we come to the end of our Liturgical Year, the readings today tell us about the end times! The readings today tell us that at the end of time, life will win over death, Resurrection and new life will win over sin and death! Indeed, the new life of the resurrection is even better than the life before sin!

    “O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!” (Easter Proclamation; SM)

To begin with, God created us in his own image, to love, to think, to be free, to do good and to live forever! And when we sinned, God sent his Son to save us! Through the death and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ, God gave us the Holy Spirit to help us love as he loves, think as he thinks, to be free as he is free, to do good as he does good, and to live forever as he lives forever! The other creatures were not created in the image of God. They cannot love, think, be free, do good and live forever! So, don’t take your sonship for granted!

The gospel today tells us that the Sadducees do not believe in the resurrection! They only believe in Moses and the first five books of the Bible!

But more importantly, Jesus tells us in the gospel today that there is the resurrection! In answer to the question of the Sadducees, Jesus tells us that in heaven there is no marriage, because in heaven nobody dies. Therefore in heaven there is no need to marry to replenish the population! Therefore there is the resurrection!

Again, in answer to the question of the Sadducees, Jesus tells us that even Moses believed in the resurrection, since he called God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob! Since God is a God of the living and not of the dead, then Abraham, Isaac and Jacob must still be alive! Therefore there is the resurrection!

Most importantly, the “Gospel Acclamation” today tell us that Jesus himself rose from the dead! And it is through his Holy Spirit that we also rise from the dead never to die anymore! Thus the “Gospel Acclamation”:

“Jesus Christ is the First-born from the dead; to him be glory and power for ever and ever.” (Rv. 1:5. 6; Sunday Missal (SM))

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading also tells us about the resurrection! The first reading tells us that seven brothers and their mother were forced to eat pig’s flesh by the pagan Syrian king (Antiochus IV, 2nd century BC). They were tortured and put to death, but they refused to eat pig’s flesh, because it was against the Law! But more importantly, the first reading tells us that before they died they proclaimed the resurrection:

“The King of the world will raise us up, since it is for his laws that we die, to live again for ever. …. Ours is the better choice, to meet death at men’s hands, yet relying on God’s promise that we shall be raised up by him.” (2M 7:9. 14; SM)

The first reading tells us that even under persecution the seven brothers kept their faith, did the will of God and proclaimed the resurrection!

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

“I shall be filled, when I awake, with the sight of your glory, O Lord.” (Ps 16:15; SM)

The responsorial psalm also tells us to keep our faith, to pray, and to do the will of God, even under persecution, and we will rise from the dead! Thus the response again:

“I shall be filled, when I awake, with the sight of your glory, O Lord.”

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but the second reading has something important to tell us. The second reading tells us that St. Paul prayed for the Thessalonians and that St. Paul asked the Thessalonians to pray for him! St. Paul also expressed his confidence in the Thessalonians!

In short, the second reading tells us to pray for one another and to have confidence in one another!

Today we thank God for the resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ, and we ask God to give us his Holy Spirit, so that even under persecution, we may keep our faith, pray and do his will and one day rise from the dead and live forever with him in heaven! God bless you! Amen!

2nd Sunday of Lent (Year C) – 17th Mar 2019

Theme: REPENT: TURN AWAY FROM THE WORLD AND TURN TO GOD AND FIND LIFE

  • Genesis 12:1-4;
  • Psalm 32:4-5. 18-20. 22. R. v. 22;
  • 2 Timothy 1:8-10
  • Matthew 17:1-9

Today is the Second Sunday of Lent, Year A. Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter, particularly, when we prepare to celebrate the Sacrament of Baptism on Easter Vigil Night, or renew our Baptism on Easter Vigil Night! Lent is therefore a time of penance, repentance and conversion.

That is why during this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast, and to give alms; not to punish us for our sins, but to help us to covert and find life! Conversion is not only turning away from sin, but conversion is also turning away from oneself and from the world; but most importantly, conversion is turning to God and consequently to neighbor!

That is why on giving Ashes on Ash Wednesday, the priest says: “Repent and believe the Good News.”! (BM/Mk 1:15) In other words, ‘Turn away from sin, self, and world; and turn to God and consequently, to neighbor and find life.’!

The alternative formula for the administration of Ashes is: “Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you will return.”! (Gn 3:19) In other words, if we turn away from God like Adam did, we will become dust, that is, death as Adam was; but if we turn back to God we will find life! That is why I used the first formula!

The readings today tell us to turn away from the world and to turn to God and find life! The first reading tells us that Abraham turned away from the world and turned to God and found life! The first reading tells us that God called Abraham to leave his country, his family, and his father’s house; and go to a land God will show him, and God will bless him and through him God will bless all the nations and all the peoples of the world! Abraham was 75 years old and he was blessed with a son – Isaac! And through him the whole world was blessed! Again, turn away from the world and turn to God and you will find life!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us to hope in God for He loves us! Thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you.”! (Ps 32:22)

The responsorial psalm has 3 stanzas. The first stanza tells us that God created the universe with his word. (Ps 32:4-5) This becomes clearer when we read up to verse 9. The second stanza tells us that God alone is the savior. (Ps 32:18-19) And that is why the third stanza – which is also the response – tells us to put all our hope in God for he alone loves us! (Ps 32:20. 22/NJBC/CSB/HCSB)

God created us out of love (Father)! God saved us out of love! (Son) And God continues to sanctify us out of love! (Holy Spirit) The “Mystery of the Holy Trinity” is the Mystery of the God of love! The God of law is not the “Mystery of the Holy Trinity”, because the God of law is not the God of love!

The gospel follows the theme of the first reading and the responsorial psalm. The gospel also tells us to turn away from the world and to turn to God to find life! The gospel is on the Transfiguration and it is placed immediately after Jesus’ first prophesy of his suffering, death and resurrection; and Jesus’ instruction to his disciples to take up their crosses and follow him in order to find life! (Mt 16:21-26)

The transfiguration is only a prefigure and a foreshadow of the Resurrection to affirm and confirm the faith of the disciples for the impending death of Jesus and for their own deaths as followers of Jesus! The Transfiguration is to strengthen the faith of the disciples so that they will believe that in the death of Jesus is resurrection and new life! (NJB/Raas/Lefrois) Again, the gospel tells us to turn away from the world and to turn to God to find life!

Thus the hymn: I HAVE DECIDED TO FOLLOW JESUS (N32):

“I have decided to follow Jesus (3x) No turning back, no turning back.

The world behind me, the cross before me (3x) No turning back, no turning back.

Take the whole world, but give me Jesus (3x) I’ll follow Him, I’ll follow Him.”!

Indeed, the Lord has risen from the dead! The second reading follows the theme of the day, that is, turn away from the world and turn to God to find life! In the second reading Paul tells Timothy: “With me, bear the hardships for the sake of the Good News.”! (2 Timothy 1:8) Or in the words of Jesus, “Take up your cross and follow me.”! (Mt 16:24/Raas) Again, the second reading tells us to turn away from the world and to turn to God to find life!

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, to help us during this time of Lent, to do penance, to pray, to fast, and to give alms; and to repent and to convert. The Holy Spirit will help us to prepare for Easter and for the Sacrament of Baptism on Easter Vigil Night, or renew our Baptism on Easter Vigil Night, so that we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! A happy Lent to all of you!

Amen!

ASH WEDNESDAY (Year A, B, C)

Theme: LENT IS A TIME WHEN WE “REPENT AND BELIEVE THE GOSPEL”

  • Joel 2:12-18 (SSC)
  • Psalm 50:3-6. 12-14. 17. R. v. 3
  • 2 Corinthians 5:20 – 6:2
  • Matthew 6:1-6. 16-18

Today is Ash Wednesday the first day of Lent. Lent is a time of retreat and renewal of the Church, when we prepare ourselves to renew our Baptismal faith, and celebrate Easter, and rise with Jesus Christ from the dead to the new life of Easter! The word Lent means “springtime”! This is the time of the year when the countries in the Northern Hemisphere is tilted towards the sun and the days become longer and warmer! It is springtime as opposed to wintertime! It is a time of new life! In the same way, when we are turned towards God we experience new life, but when we are turned towards ourselves or towards the world, we experience sin and death!

The traditional formula for administering the ashes is “remember man that you are dust and unto dust you will return”! These were the words God said to Adam when he Sinned! It was no ordinary actual sin, big or small, it was Original Sin! The sin of believing in oneself rather than believing in God! In Genesis 3:5 the Devil tempted Adam to be like God and Adam fell for the temptation and after the fall in Genesis 3:19 God said to Adam “For dust you are and to dust you shall return”! Dust and ashes cannot give life, only God can give life! If we turn on ourselves and on the world we will not find life!

Lent is a time when we turn away from ourselves and from the world and from our sins and more importantly, we turn towards God for love, mercy, forgiveness and life! Thus the new formula for administering the ashes “turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel”! But I prefer the original text in Mark 1:15 from which it was taken, that is, “repent and believe the good news”! These were the first words of Jesus in Mark’s gospel!

The word repent comes from the Greek word “metanoia” which means to convert! It means not only a turning away from sin, but more importantly it means a turning towards God! It means an about turn, a 180% turn, a U turn! And the word believe means putting our faith in God and not in ourselves and not in the world! On Easter Vigil Night before we celebrate the Eucharist, we will be asked to renew our Baptismal faith. I do not like the words Baptismal promises. We will be asked the following 6 questions. Do you reject Satan? And all his works? And all his empty promises? And the second 3 questions are even more important. Do you believe in God the Father Almighty? Do you believe in Jesus Christ? Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church? And we will answer, “I do”! And the priest will sprinkle you with the newly blessed water of Baptism! And after that we will celebrate the Eucharist of Easter Vigil Night and rise with Jesus Christ from the dead to the New Life of Easter!

The Church has chosen the first reading from the Prophet Joel to tell us to repent with communal prayer and fasting, for our God is a merciful and forgiving God! The first reading was written in 400 B.C. when Judah was plagued by locust, which ate up the crops. The prophet Joel told the Israelites to repent and to do penance and to pray and to fast, and God will relent and will drive the locust far away, and the crops will grow again!

The Church has edited the responsorial psalm to go with the first reading! The responsorial psalm is a penitential psalm. It is a prayer of a repentant sinner! The response is “have mercy on us, O Lord, for we have sinned”! The psalm continues (1) “have mercy on me, God, in your kindness. In your compassion blot out my offence. O wash me more and more from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin. (2) My offences truly I know them; my sin is always before me. Against you, you alone, have I sinned: what is evil in your sight I have done. (3) A pure heart create for me, O god, put a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, nor deprive me of your holy spirit. (4) Give me again the joy of your help; with a spirit of fervor sustain me. O Lord open my lips and my mouth shall declare your praise”!

The Church has chosen the second reading from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians to tell us to make peace with God now, to reconcile with God now! Now is the favorable time! This is the day of salvation!

God has made the sinless one into sin so that we may become the goodness of God! Do not let this grace pass us by! God has reconciled us to himself! Let us respond to God’s reconciliation by reconciling ourselves to God! Now is the favorable time to be reconciled to God! Lent time is the favorable time to be reconciled to God! This is the day of salvation!

The Church has chosen the gospel today from Matthew to tell us to do 3 things during this time of Lent, to help us turn away from the world and from sin, and to turn to God who is love, mercy, forgiveness, and new life! The gospel today tells us to pray, to fast and to give alms to the poor! In prayer we turn to God, in fasting we turn away from ourselves and we turn to God, and in alms giving we not only help the poor, but we also help ourselves by turning away from money and from the world and turning to God! Prayer, fasting and almsgiving are the 3 things done by a pious Jew! The Christians took over these practices from the pious Jews. The Church asks us to pray, fast, and give alms to the poor, to help us “repent and believe in the gospel”!

Again, the 3 formulas for administering ashes on Ash Wednesday are: (1) “remember man that you are dust and unto dust you will return”. Man is dust and ashes, man is not God, dust and ashes have no life; only God can give us life! (2) “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel”. This is taken from Mark 1:15. (3) “Repent and believe the gospel”, Mark 1:15! I will use this third formula when I give you the ashes, because this third formula expresses the spirit of Lent best! A happy Lent to all of you!

Amen!

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 30th September 2018

Theme: WE MUST WORK WITH ONE ANOTHER FOR THE SAKE OF JESUS
AND FOR THE SAKE OF GOD HIS FATHER

  • Numbers 11:25-29;
  • Psalm 18 (19): 8. 10. 12-14. R/ v. 9;
  • James 5:1-6
  • Mark 9:38-43. 45. 47-48

Today is the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that we must not be jealous of one another or compete with one another, but we must be tolerant (be inclusive; Faley) towards one another and work with one another for the sake of Jesus and for the sake of God His Father!

The gospel today tells us that John complained to Jesus that there was a man who cast out devils in Jesus’ name and John tried to stop him, because he did not belong to the company of Jesus. But Jesus told John not to stop him, because he who works a miracle in Jesus’ name will not speak ill of Jesus. Those who are not against Jesus are for Jesus!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that Joshua told Moses to stop two men from prophesying, because the two men did not belong to the company of the seventy elders who received the spirit of Moses. But Moses told Joshua not to be jealous because of him. In fact Moses wished that all the people received the spirit and became prophets!

These two readings tell us that we must not be jealous of one another or compete with one another, but we must tolerate one another and work with one another for the sake of Jesus and for the sake of God His Father!

Within our Catholic Church we have many groups, communities, apostolate, ministries, movements, etc., with different gifts and charisms of healing, miracles, exorcism, teaching, preaching, praying, counseling, catechizing, evangelizing, etc.! We must not be jealous of one another or compete with one another, but we must work with one another for the sake of Jesus and God His Father.

Within the Christian Churches too we have different denominations with different organizations, structures, ministries, gifts, charisms, etc. Again, we must not be jealous or compete with other Christian denominations, like the Anglicans, Methodists, Basel, etc., but we must learn from them and work with them for Jesus and for God our Father.

Within the religious communities too, we have different religions, like Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. Again, we must not be jealous of one another or compete with one another, but we must tolerate one another and work with one another to overcome “secularism”, “individualism” and “relativism”!

“Secularism”, that is, atheism, that is, people do not believe in God anymore! “Individualism”, that is, people are individualistic, they think of themselves only, they do not think of others. They are selfish. “Relativism”, that is, there are no absolute truths; all truths are relative. I have my truth and you have your truth; I do not believe in God and you believe in God. Absolute truths of Religions have been reduced to relative truths of cultures!

But we believe in absolute truths, that is, we believe in God and we believe that God is love, mercy, forgiveness and salvation! This is the absolute truth!

The second part of the gospel tells us that we must not cause scandal, that is, we must not cause others to sin. (NJBC) The gospel tells us that if our eye, hand or foot causes others to sin, we must cut them off! It is better to enter heaven with one eye, one foot and one hand than to have the whole body cast into hell! (IBC; CCB) That is, we must not cause scandal; we must not cause others to sin, even if it means making sacrifices!

The response of the responsorial psalm and the first stanza tell us that the law is good, because it gives happiness to the heart, life to the soul, and wisdom to the simple! Thus the response:

“The precepts of the Lord gladden the heart.” (Ps 18 (19):9; SM)

And thus the first stanza:

“The law of the Lord is perfect, it revives the soul. The rule of the Lord is to be trusted, it gives wisdom to the simple.” (Ps 18 (19):8; SM)

The second reading is not against riches. The “gospel of prosperity” tell us that riches are a blessing from God! But the second reading is against injustices, that is, the rich do not pay the poor their wages or the rich underpay the poor their wages. That is, the rich oppress and exploit the poor, that is, social injustice. Thus we read in the second reading:

“Laborers mowed your fields, and you cheated them – listen to the wages that you kept back, calling out; realize that the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.” (Jm 5:4; SM)

Today in this Mass, we thank God our Father for his Son Jesus who suffered, died, and rose from the dead to give us the Holy Spirit. And we ask God to give us the Holy Spirit so that we may work with one another for the sake of Jesus and for the sake of God His Father; and so that we will not cause others to sin, even if it means making sacrifices; and so that we will keep the laws of God and find happiness, life and wisdom; and so that we will practice social justice towards the poor by paying them just and living wages. A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you! Amen!

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) – 28th January 2018

Theme: JESUS THE TEACHER OF LOVE WITH POWER TO EXORCISE THE DEVIL OF SIN AND DEATH

  • Deuteronomy 18:15-20;
  • Psalm 94 (95): 1-2. 6-9. R/ v. 7f;
  • 1 Corinthians 7:32-35
  • Mark 1:21-28

Today is the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us about Jesus the teacher. The gospel today tells us that Jesus teaches something new and with authority behind it. He has the authority and power even to exorcise the devil of sin and death.

The Devil brought sin and death into the world through Adam. Jesus the new Adam has the power to exorcise the devil of sin and death. Jesus is also the new Moses who teaches the new law of love with the power to overcome sin and death! Thus we read in the gospel today:

“‘Here is a teaching that is new’ they said ‘and with authority behind it: he gives orders even to unclean spirits and they obey him.’” (Mk 1:27; SM)

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. In the first reading Moses tells the people of Israel that God will raise up for them a prophet like Moses himself and that they must listen to him. Christians see in this future prophet the “Messiah-Prophet”, the “second Moses” (NJB), the new Moses, Jesus Christ! (NJBC)

Again, Jesus Christ, the new Moses teaches the new law of love with the power to overcome sin and death. The old Moses teaches the old law. The old law is without power to overcome sin and death! Thus we read in the first reading:

“Moses said to the people: ‘Your God will raise up for you a prophet like myself, from among yourselves, from your own brothers; to him you must listen.’” (Dt 18:15; SM)

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

“O that today you would listen to his voice! Harden not your hearts.” (Ps 94 (95): 7f; SM)

The responsorial psalm is a call to worship and obedience. (HCSB) The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first and second stanzas are a call to worship God the creator and savior/shepherd. The third stanza is a call to obedience, that is, to listen to God! (CSB; NJBC) Thus the third stanza from which the response is taken:

“O that today you would listen to his voice! ‘Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as on that day at Massah in the desert when your fathers put me to the test; when they tried me, though they saw my work.’” (Ps 94 (95): 7-9; SM)

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday. The second reading is a continuation of the second reading of last Sunday. Again, in the second reading, St. Paul was mistaken to think that the end of the world was imminent, that is, in his own lifetime! (HCSB; NJBC; IBC)

In the second reading, St. Paul tells the men who are not married not to marry so that they can devote all their time to God. A married man has to divide his time between God and his wife. St. Paul also tells the women who are not married not to marry so that they can devote all their time to God. A married woman has to divide her time between her husband and God. Thus we read in the second reading:

“An unmarried man can devote himself to the Lord’s affairs, all he need worry about is pleasing the Lord; but a married man has to bother about the world’s affairs and devote himself to pleasing his wife: he is torn two ways. In the same way an unmarried woman, like a young girl, can devote herself to the Lord’s affairs; all she need worry about is being holy in body and spirit. The married woman, on the other hand, has to worry about the world’s affairs and devote herself to pleasing her husband.” (1 Co 7:32-34; SM)

Although the end of the world is not imminent, the second reading is still relevant to us, especially for priests and religious brothers and sisters! Priests and religious brothers and sisters do not marry so that they have more time for God!

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 listen to the new teaching of Jesus on love and the Holy Spirit will help us teach the new teaching of Jesus on love with the power to overcome sin and death! A happy Sunday and a happy week 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!

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) – 5th November 2017

Theme: PRIDE IS THE GREATEST SIN; HUMILITY IS THE GREATEST VIRTUE 

  • Malachi 1:14-2:2. 8-10
  • Psalm 130 (131)
  • Mt 23:1-12

Today is the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, or 31st Sunday of the Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us that pride is the greatest sin and humility is the greatest virtue!

The first reading from the prophet Malachi tells us of the sins of the priests! The priests do not keep the law, and the priests give wrong instructions on the law to the people! The first reading also tells us of the sins of the people! The people marry foreigners and divorce their Jewish wives! (v.10)

Again, the gospel today tells us of the sins of the religious leaders! The gospel tells us of the sins of the Scribes and Pharisees! The gospel tells us that the Scribes (Lawyers) and Pharisees do not practice what they preach!

They are also hypocrites! They tie small boxes containing the Law on their foreheads and left forearms; they wear tassels at the fringe of their garments to remind themselves to keep the commandments; they take the seats of honor at banquets; they take the front seats at the synagogues; they are being greeted obsequiously (slavishly); and they are being called Rabbi, Master, Father, and Teacher! (CSB/NAB)

But their greatest sin is the sin of pride! That is why I began this homily by saying that pride is the greatest sin and humility is the greatest virtue! That is why the gospel ends with Jesus saying, “Anyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and anyone who humbles himself will be exalted.”! (Mt 23:12)

A parallel verse is found in “Lk 18:14”! In fact Luke 18:9-14 is on pride and humility! “Luke 18:9-14” tells us that a Pharisee and a tax collector went to the Temple to pray. The Pharisee said this prayer to himself, ‘I thank you God I am not like the rest of men, greedy, unjust, adulterous, particularly, I am not like this tax collector here. I fast twice a week; I give tithes (10%) on all that I earn.’! The tax collector on the other hand said this prayer, “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner.”! Jesus says in the gospel that the tax collector was justified, but the Pharisee was not justified!

The tax collector was justified not because he was good and holy, but because he was humble! The Pharisee was not justified not because he was bad and sinful, but because he was proud! The Pharisee was good and holy – at least compared to the tax collector – but the tax collector was humble! The tax collector was justified, but the Pharisee was not justified!

It is important to remember that Satan himself fell because of pride! Satan wanted to be like God; to be equal to God! In “1 Timothy 3:6” we read, “The elder-in-charge should not be a new convert, in case pride should turn his head and he incur the same condemnation as the devil”!

Again, we read in “Isaiah 14:12-15”, “‘How did you come to fall from the heavens, Daystar, son of Dawn? How did you come to be thrown to the ground, conqueror of nations? You who used to think to yourself: I shall scale the heavens; higher than the stars of God I shall set my throne. I shall sit on the Mount of Assembly far away to the north. I shall climb high above the clouds, I shall rival the Most High.’ Now you have been flung down to Sheol, into the depths of the abyss!”! (NJB)

The Church Fathers identified the fall of the Morning Star (Vulg. ‘Lucifer’) with that of the prince of the demons (Satan)! (NJB/CSB)

Adam and Eve fell from grace also because of pride! Satan fell because of pride and that is why his temptation to Adam and Eve is also on pride! In Genesis 3: 4-5, we read, “Then the snake said to the woman, ‘No! You will not die! God knows in fact that the day you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good from evil.’”!

Satan fell because of pride; Adam and Eve fell also because of pride; and the Scribes and Pharisees fell also because of pride! But more importantly, the tax collector was justified, raised up and exalted because of humility!

Humility is not belittling oneself, but humility is accepting and confessing the honest truth of oneself! And the honest truth of oneself is that I am a sinner, I cannot save myself, and more importantly, I believe only God can save me! Humility is trusting in God for my salvation!

Thus the responsorial psalm of today (Psalm 130 (131); a psalm of humble childlike trust in God: “O Lord, my heart is not proud nor haughty my eyes. I have not gone after things too great nor marvels beyond me. Truly I have set my soul in silence and peace. A weaned child on its mother’s breast, even so is my soul. O Israel, hope in the Lord both now and for ever.”!

Today we celebrate this Eucharist in humility! We began this Eucharist by humbly acknowledging our sins, and more importantly, with faith and trust in God, 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 justify us and through us to justify the whole world! This is the Good News! A Happy, Holy and Blessed week to all of you! Sunday, the day of the Sun, the first day of the week, the day of the Resurrection, blesses all the days of the week!

Amen!