23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (C) – 4th September 2016

Theme: LOVE GOD MORE THAN FATHER, MOTHER, WIFE, HUSBAND, CHILDREN, PARENTS, BROTHERS, SISTERS AND ONESELF  

  • Wisdom 9:13-18;
  • Psalm 89 (90): 3-6. 12-14. 17. R/ v. 1;
  • Philemon 9-10. 12-17;
  • Luke 14:25-33

Today is the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The gospel today tells us to love God more than father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters and even oneself, and to love God more than all of one’s possessions!

We love God more than father and mother, because God loves us more than father and mother, we love God more than wife/husband and children because God loves us more than wife/husband and children, we love God more than brothers and sisters because God loves us more than brothers and sisters!

We love God more than oneself because God loves us more than we love ourselves! Saint Augustine tells us that God loves us more than we love ourselves and God is nearer to us than we are to ourselves! And I add, “God knows us more than we know ourselves”! We love God more than all our possessions because God loves us more than all our possessions! All our possessions cannot give us love, life and happiness! Thus we read in the gospel today:

“If any man comes to me without hating his father, mother, wife, children, brothers, sisters, yes and his own life too, he cannot be my disciple. Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. …. So in the same way, none of you can be my disciple unless he gives up all his possessions.”! (Lk 14: 26-27. 33)

 

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that God gives us Wisdom and the Holy Spirit (Wisdom and Holy Spirit are synonymous; R. H. Fuller) so that we will know the will of God, and so that we will live good moral lives pleasing to God, and so that we will be saved! Thus we read in the first reading:

“And who could ever have known your will, had you not given Wisdom and sent your holy Spirit from above? Thus have the paths of those on earth been straightened and people have been taught what pleases you, and have been saved, by Wisdom.”! (W 9:17-18; NJB)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a prayer for Wisdom and for God’s pity, mercy, love, joy, favor and prosperity! The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas tell us that

God is eternal and man is frail and weak, and man’s life is short and made even shorter by sin.

But more importantly, the third and fourth stanzas tell us to pray for Wisdom and for God’s pity, mercy, love, joy, favor and prosperity! Thus we read in the third and fourth stanzas of the responsorial psalm:

“Teach us to count our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart. Relent, O Lord! How long? Have pity on your servants! Fill us at daybreak with your love, that all our days we may sing for joy. May the favor of the Lord our God be ours. Prosper the work of our hands! Prosper the work of our hands!” (Ps 89 (90): 12-14. 17; CSB)

And thus the response of the responsorial psalm: “O Lord, you have been our refuge from one generation to the next.” (Ps 89 (90): 1; SM)

 

The second reading tells us that St. Paul is in prison and in chains because of the Good News! In the second reading St. Paul is writing to Philemon to request that he set free his slave Onesimus. St. Paul also request that Onesimus be given to him as a companion to help him proclaim the Good News! Thus we read in the second reading:

“This is Paul writing, an old man now and, what is more, still a prisoner of Christ Jesus. I am appealing to you for a child of mine, whose father I became while wearing these chains: I mean Onesimus. I am sending him back to you, and with him – I could say – a part of my self. I should have liked to keep him with me; he could have been a substitute for you, to help me while I am in the chains that the Good News has brought me.” (Phm 9-10. 12-13; SM)

 

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 love God more than father, mother, wife, husband, children, parents, brothers, sisters, and oneself, and all of one’s possessions! The Holy Spirit will help us proclaim the Good News! Amen

THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY – 14th August 2016

Theme: MARY WAS TAKEN UP INTO HEAVEN BODY AND SOUL

  • Apocalypse (Revelation) 11:19; 12:1-6. 10;
  • Psalm 44:10-12. 16. R/ v. 10;
  • 1 Corinthians 15:20-26
  • Luke 1:39-56

 Today we celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven! Mary was taken up into heaven body and soul after her life on earth! Her body did not see corruption because she was untouched by Original Sin!

The Protestants protest that Mary had to be a sinner before Jesus Christ can save her! But we Catholics believe that Jesus Christ saves us in two ways, that is, by forgiving our sins and by preserving us from sin with his grace! Mary was saved uniquely and exclusively in the second way! She was preserved from sin by the grace of God to prepare her to be the Mother of God and the Mother of the Savior of the world! The all Holy God cannot be born from a sinful womb and the Savior of all sinners cannot himself be born from a sinful womb!

Thus at the Announcement of the Birth of Jesus, the angel Gabriel greeted Mary with these words:

“Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” (Lk 1:28; CSB)

Or “Hail Mary, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”

And in today’s gospel after Mary greeted Elizabeth, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she gave a loud cry and said:

“Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. …. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Lk 1:42. 45; SM)

And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit exults in God my savior; because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid. Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed, for the Almighty has done great things for me.” (Lk 1:46-49; SM)

Indeed, Mary was blessed, favored and graced! Mary was preserved from Original Sin by the grace of God to prepare her to be the Mother of God and the Mother of the Savior of the world!

In fact this is the first part of the prayer “Hail Mary”:

“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you; Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.”   

Only in the second part of the “Hail Mary” do we ask Mary to pray for us:

“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen.”

We ask Mary to pray for us so that one day we will also be “taken up” or “assumed” into heaven body and soul! And that is what we did half an hour before Mass at the grotto of Mary when we said the Holy Rosary! A Blessed Assumption Day to all of you! That is, may you be blessed as Mary was blessed so that one day you will also be “taken up” or “assumed” into heaven body and soul!

Amen!

19th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C) – 7th August 2016

​Theme: THE END OF THE WORLD: THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS CHRIST 

  • Wisdom 18:6-9; 
  • Psalm 32 (33):1. 12. 18-20. 22. R/ v. 12; 
  • Hebrews 11:1-2. 8-12. (Shorter Form) 
  • Luke 12:35-40 (Shorter Form)

Today is the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The gospel today tells us about the end of the world, that is, the end of the evil world, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, when all will be saved! 

The gospel today tells us that Jesus will come a second time, but we do not know when. 

That is why we must always be ready for his Second Coming! Thus the “Gospel Acclamation” today: 

“Stay awake and stand ready, because you do no know the hour when the Son of Man is coming.” (Mt 24:42. 44; SM) 

And thus the gospel today ends: 

“You too must stand ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Lk 12:40; SM) 

To prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ at the end of time, we must pray, we must do the will of God, and we must be detached from the world! 

The first reading tells us that when Jesus Christ comes a second time he will destroy sin and death completely and finally and he will save the whole world! 

The first reading tells us about the destruction of the first-born of the Egyptians and the salvation of the Israelites in the Exodus from Egypt! Thus the caption of the first reading: 

“By the same act with which you took vengeance on our foes you made us glorious by calling us to you.” (Ws 18:8; SM) 

But more importantly, the first reading prefigures the second and new Exodus of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit destroys sin and saves us from death! Today the Holy Spirit continues to destroy sin and saves us from death in the Sacrament of Baptism! 

But most importantly, the first reading prefigures the Second Coming of Jesus Christ at the end of time when sin and death will be completely destroyed and we will all be saved! 

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the Sunday. The responsorial psalm tells us that as baptized Christians we are the chosen people of God and as we prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ we are to hope and pray for his love and he will rescue us from death! 

The responsible psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza (vv. 1 & 12) tells us that as baptized Christians we are the chosen people of God! Thus the response which is taken from the first stanza: 

“Happy are the people the Lord has chosen as his own.” (Ps 32 (33): 12; SM)

The second stanza (vv. 18-19; SM) tells us to hope in God’s love and he will save us from death! The third stanza (vv. 20 & 22) tells us to pray and hope in God’s love and he will save us from death! (IBC) 

Incidentally, the second reading also follows the theme of the Sunday. The second reading tells us that we have to hold on to our faith until the end of our lives and until the end of the world, even and especially in the face of persecutions and the Lord will save us! 

The second reading was addressed to the Jewish Christians who were persecuted and who were losing their faith! (NJB; CCB) 

The second reading gives us the example of Abraham! Abraham held on to his faith even in the face of many obstacles! Abraham had to go to a land he did not know. He was promised a son in his old age and his wife was barren. And finally he was asked to sacrifice Isaac, the son of the promise! (Longer Form, vv. 17-19; SM) But, because of his faith, Abraham was blessed with many descendants, as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the grains of sand on the seashore! 

We are therefore to hold on to our faith to the end of our lives and to the end of the world, even in the face of persecutions and we will be blessed with salvation! 

Today we thank God for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of our sins and for saving us from death. And we ask God to continue to give us the Holy Spirit to help us to prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ when all will be saved! Again, we prepare for the Second 

Coming of Jesus Christ by prayer, by doing the will of God and by detaching ourselves from the world! God bless you!

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time (C) – 26th June 2016

Theme: WE ARE TO LEAVE EVERYTHING TO FOLLOW JESUS

  • 1 Kings 19:16. 19-21;
  • Psalm 15:1-2. 5. 7-11. R/ cf. v. 5;
  • Galatians 5:1. 13-18
  • Luke 9:51-62

Today is the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The gospel today tells us that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, to suffer, to die, to rise from the dead, to ascend into heaven and to send down the Holy Spirit to save the word!

The gospel tells us that when Jesus and his disciples were rejected by a Samaritan village, James and John wanted to call down fire from heaven to burn them up, but Jesus rebuked them and told them that he “came not to destroy souls but to save them”! (NJB) Indeed, Jesus came to save souls, and not only the souls of the Jews, but also the souls of the Samaritans, the enemies of the Jews!

The gospel also tells us that we are to leave everything, including our families, in order to follow Jesus! That is why to the first man who wanted to follow him, Jesus told him that foxes have holes and birds of the air have nest, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head!

And to the second man who wanted to follow him, but wanted to bury his father first, Jesus told him to let the dead bury the dead, that is, to let the spiritually dead to bury the physically dead, and that his duty was to preach the good news of the kingdom!

And to the third man who wanted to follow him, but wanted to say good-bye to his family first, Jesus told him that anyone who puts his hand on the plough and looks back is not worthy of the kingdom of God!

Again, we are to leave everything, including our families, in order to follow Jesus!

 

Indeed the first reading tells us that the prophet Elisha left everything, including his family, in order to follow the prophet Elijah and to succeed him! Thus we read in the first reading:

“Elisha left his oxen and ran after Elijah. ‘Let me kiss my father and mother, then I will follow you’ he said. …. Elisha turned away, took the pair of oxen and slaughtered them. He used the plough for cooking the oxen, then gave to his men, who ate. He then rose, and followed Elijah and became his servant.” (1 K 19:20-21; SM) 

 

The responsorial psalm tells us that God is the supreme good! (CSB) In fact Jesus tells us that God is the only good! (Mk 10:18) That is why we leave everything, including our families, in order to follow him!

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first stanza (vv. 1-2. 5; SM) tells us that the psalmist prefers the God of Israel to all the false gods! Thus the response which is taken from the first stanza:

“O Lord, it is you who are my portion.” (Ps 15:5; SM)

That is, O Lord, it is you who are my portion, my heritage, my inheritance!

The second, third, and fourth stanzas (vv. 7-11) tell us of the wise and life-giving presence of God, that is, God and God alone gives wisdom and life. That is why he is the supreme good and the only good! And that is why we give up everything, including our families, in order to follow him!

 

The second reading tells us that besides loving and serving God, we must also love and serve our neighbor! In fact we cannot love and serve God without also loving and serving our neighbor! Thus we read in the second reading:

“Serve one another, rather, in works of love, since the whole of the Law is summarized in a single command: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Ga 5: 13-14; SM)

 

Today we thank God for his Son Jesus Christ, who suffered, died, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven and sent the Holy Spirit for the salvation of the world. And we ask God to help us to leave everything, including our families, in order to follow Jesus to love and serve God and to love and serve our neighbor!

Indeed, this is the meaning of life, this is the secret to happiness, and this is what God created us for, that is, to know him, to love him, to serve him and to be happy with him forever; and to know our neighbor, to love our neighbor, to serve our neighbor, and to be happy with our neighbor forever!

A blessed Sunday to all of you!                                                                 Amen!

7th Sunday of Easter (C) – 8th May 2016

  • Acts 7:55-60
  • Revelation 22:12-14. 16-17. 20
  • John 17:20-26

We celebrated the Ascension of the Lord on Thursday. Today the 7th Sunday of Easter we continue with the theme of the Ascension in our Eucharistic celebration.

The celebration of the Ascension of the Lord includes the giving of the Holy Spirit so that we will also die and rise with him and ascend with him into heaven in glory! But more than that, we are given the Holy Spirit so that we can be witnesses to his death and resurrection and ascension into heaven so that everyone in the world will die and rise with him from the dead and ascend with him into heaven in glory! What hope! What grace! What hope! The Christian is not only a person of faith and love, but also a person of hope! Will everybody go to heaven and will there be nobody in hell? Yes indeed, that is our hope, and prayer and witnessing!

 

The Gospel of Ascension Thursday tells us to be witnesses to Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection and to preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins to all the nations beginning in Jerusalem. (Lk 24:46-53.) The first reading of Ascension Thursday also tells us to be witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judaea and Samaria and indeed to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:1-11) – so that the whole earth may ascend into heaven with him in glory! What hope for the world!

Today is also World Communications Day and Pope John Paul II in his message has said that no matter which age we belong to, past, present or future, all human beings ask the basic questions of life and death, i.e. Where do I come from? Who am I? What is the meaning of life? Where am I going? And the answer the Pope says is Jesus Christ! And today as we continue to celebrate the theme of the Ascension, the Church proclaims to the world the answer of the Good News, ‘You are loved by God and created by god for love and unity, for peace and happiness! Not for hate and war, not for sadness and suffering! You have been loved and saved by Jesus Christ and through the power of the Holy Spirit you will die and rise with him and ascend into heaven with him in glory! …..

 

Today’s readings have also been chosen by the Church to tell us about the Ascension of the Lord and the giving of the Holy Spirit so that we may also rise with him and ascend into heaven with him and so that through our witnessing the whole world may also rise with him and ascend into heaven with him! Again, what hope! What hope!

In the 1st reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we see St. Stephen filled with the Holy Spirit had a vision of the glory of God and Jesus standing at God’s right hand. The Jews could not stand this vision of Stephen and stoned him to death. St Stephen the reading tells us died like Christ, surrendering his spirit to the Lord and forgiving his executioners. And most worthy of note is a young man called Saul who today we know as St. Paul!

In this first reading, we see that not only Jesus ascends into heaven, but St. Stephen also has a vision of his glory in heaven and dies like him and with him and in this way rises to a new life with him and ascends into heaven with him! But more than that the young man Saul who was one of the persecutors and executioners through the witness of St. Stephen also as we know from the Scriptures also died and rose with him and ascended into heaven with him in glory!

 

Again, the Church has chosen the 2nd reading from the book of Revelation to celebrate the Ascension and in anticipation of the celebration of Pentecost next Sunday with the theme “Come, Lord Jesus!” The Church wants to tell us that Jesus did not ascend into heaven to forget us and to leave us alone, but that the Lord will come back to us in the Holy Spirit! This time he will not only be with us, but within us! He will not only be on earth, but in us, so that we may be in Him! This time he will become us so that we become him! That is why in the Eucharist we eat his body and drink his blood, so that he becomes us and we become him! When we eat ordinary bread, the bread becomes us, but when we eat the bread of the body of Christ we become the bread of the body of Christ!

Again, the Spirit is given to us so that we may share in his ascension into heaven in glory and the Spirit is given to us so that we may be witness to Jesus and so that the whole world may share in his ascension into heaven in glory!

 

The Gospel reading has also been chosen by the Church to tell us that Jesus did not ascend into heaven to leave us alone, but that he will give us his Spirit so that we may share in his glory and so that united into one like him with the Father and with him in us and we in him we may be witnesses to Him so that the whole world may believe and share in his ascension and glory!

 

I want to draw your attention to the readings of Ascension Thursday again. You may have noticed that in the 1st reading we were told that Jesus ascended into heaven forty days after his resurrection, but the Gospel also written by St. Luke told us that Jesus ascended into heaven on the same day of his resurrection! In other words the Resurrection, the Ascension and Pentecost are one and the same reality of the Paschal mystery of Jesus Christ which we celebrate in the Eucharist!

In fact, in the early Church, it was not until the 4th century that the feasts of the Resurrection, Ascension and Pentecost were celebrated separately – with Ascension on the 40th day and Pentecost on the 50th day! And in fact, even Easter itself was not celebrated as an annual feast until the 2nd century! But from the very first century onwards, Easter, Ascension and Pentecost were celebrated as one big and in fact biggest feast every Sunday in the Eucharist!

I want to draw your attention to this fact so that we may celebrate our Sunday Eucharist every Sunday very seriously and solemnly. For it is here that we celebrate his Death, Resurrection, Ascension and Pentecost. For it is here that he Holy Spirit will be given to us so that we will die, rise and ascend into heaven with him. For it is here that the Holy Spirit will be given to us so that we will be his witnesses, so that the whole world will die, rise and ascend into heaven with him in glory!

 

I want to conclude now with a personal sharing. Some years ago I have proposed to the priests’ meeting that the Ascension be celebrated on a Sunday. This is to emphasize the importance of the Ascension and to show that the Ascension, the Resurrection and Pentecost are one Paschal Mystery! Just as Easter and Pentecost are celebrated on Sundays, so too must we celebrate Ascension on a Sunday!

I have also proposed to the priests’ meeting that every Friday of the 50 days of the Easter season, the faithful be dispensed from fasting, abstinence and penance in order to celebrate Easter! We had been fasting and abstaining and doing penance for Lent and Good Friday, we must also celebrate Easter with joy! Easter is more important than Lent and Good Friday!

 

 

A happy Ascension to all of you! A happy World Communication Day to all of you! And a Happy Harvest Festival to all of you!

We thank God for the plentiful harvest and we pray that the Good Lord will continue to bless us with even more abundant harvests! We also pray that God may give us the grace to be good stewards of his creation so that we will not poison the earth with pesticides and chemicals, but that we protect and care for the earth so that it will yield abundant harvests for ourselves and for others!

God bless you!    Amen!

28th June 2015 – 13TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Theme: THE LORD SAVES US FROM SIN AND DEATH 

  • Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24;
  • Psalm 29 (30): 2. 4-6. 11-13. R/ v. 2;
  • 2 Corinthians 8:7. 9. 13-15.
  • Mark 5: 21-24. 35-43. (Shorter Form)

Today we celebrate the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year B. The readings today tell us that the Lord saves us from sin and death! 

The first reading tells us that God created us in his own image to live an eternal life of love and happiness! But it was the devils envy that brought sin and death into the world!

Sin is not only breaking the law, or doing something bad, or doing something wrong, or doing something immoral or unethical; but sin is death! Thus Paul writes:

“For the wage paid by sin is death.” (Rm 6:23; NJB)

Thus we read in the first reading:

“Yet God did make man imperishable, he made him in the image of his own nature; it was the devil’s envy that brought death into the world, as those who are his partners will discover.” (Ws 2: 23-24; SM)

 

But more importantly, the gospel today tells us that the Lord raises us from the dead! The gospel today tells us that the Lord raised the dead daughter of Jairus the synagogue official from the dead!

More importantly, the raising of Jairus daughter to life points to the death and resurrection of the Lord himself, and most importantly, to our own death and resurrection with the Lord in Baptism!

And most importantly, again, the new life of the resurrection is even better than the old life before sin! Thus we sing in the Easter Proclamation on Easter Vigil Night:

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

Paul tells us that where sin increased, grace increased all the more! (Rm 5:20) The grace of Jesus Christ far outweighed our sins! The grace of Jesus Christ more than compensated for our sins! So much so that the new life of the resurrection is even better than the old life before sin! Again, the Easter Proclamation in the New Translation of The Roman Missal:

“O truly necessary sin of Adam, destroyed completely by the Death of Christ! O happy fault that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer!”

 

The responsorial psalm is a thanksgiving for salvation! (CSB) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“I will praise you, Lord, you have rescued me.” (Ps 29 (30): 2; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza thanks God for salvation! (vv. 2 & 4; SM) The second stanza invites the whole community to thank God. (vv. 5-6; SM) The third stanza again thanks God for salvation! (vv. 11-13; SM)

 

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday, but again, the second reading has something important to tell us! In the second reading Paul tells the Gentile Corinthian church to make a collection for the Jewish Jerusalem church. The collection is not only to help the mother church in Jerusalem economically, but the collection is also an expression of the unity of the church!

 

 

Today in this Mass, we thank God for creating us in his own image to live, to love and to be happy; more importantly, we also thank God for saving us from sin and death in his Son Jesus Christ; and most importantly, we ask God to continue to sanctify us in the Holy Spirit! We also ask God to continue to help us help the poor and the needy! A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you!

8th March 2015 – 3rd Sunday of Lent

Theme: IN BAPTISM JESUS GIVES US THE LIVING WATER OF THE HOLY  SPIRIT TO FORGIVE US OUR SINS AND TO GIVE US NEW LIFE

  • Exodus 17:3-7; Psalm 94 (95):1-2. 6-9. R/ v. 8;
  • Romans 5:1-2. 5-8.
  • John 4:5-42 (Shorter Form, verses 5-16. 19-26. 39-42)

Today is the 3rd Sunday of Lent, Liturgical Year B, but we are using the readings of Year A, because there will be Baptism on Easter Vigil Night! Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter. Lent is a time when we prepare for the Baptism of our catechumens on Easter Vigil Night and the renewal of our own Baptism on Easter Vigil Night!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus will give us living water so that we will not be thirsty again, because the living water will turn into a spring inside us welling up to eternal life! In Baptism Jesus will give us the living water of the Holy Spirit to forgive us our sins and to give us new and eternal life!

The gospel also tells us that Jesus gave this living water to the Samaritan woman who had five husbands! During the time of Jesus, a woman did not have the same rights as a man; a Samaritan being a half-Jew was despised by the Jews; and a sinner with five husbands was condemned by the Law! But Jesus gave her the living water of the Holy Spirit to forgive her sins and to give her new life, so that she will not sin anymore!

Finally, the gospel tells us that the faith of the Samaritan woman grew! At first she saw Jesus to be a man, and then a prophet, then the Messiah; then she became the first missionary of Jesus to bring other Samaritans to believe that Jesus is the Savior of the world! After Baptism our faith has also to grow! That is why we renew our faith and Baptism every year on Easter Vigil Night!

 

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the people of Israel lost faith in God. They complained against Moses for bringing them out of Egypt to die of thirst in the desert! They, their children and their cattle will die of thirst in the desert! They “quarreled” with God (Meribah) and they “tested” God (Massah) saying: “Is the Lord with us, or not?” (SM)

But more importantly, the first reading tells us that God gave them water in the desert! God gave them water in the dry and dead desert by asking Moses to strike the rock with his staff! Again, water in the dry and dead desert symbolizes the Holy Spirit who gives us life even from sin and death! 

 

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Thus the third stanza of the responsorial psalm 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.’” (SM)

We are not to “quarrel” with God (Meribah), we are not to “test” God (Massah); but we are to trust God and God will give us water and life, even in the dry and dead desert!

Again, water in the desert symbolizes the living water of the Holy Spirit inside us welling up to eternal life!

The first and second stanzas of the responsorial psalm tell us to praise and worship God our Shepherd! (CSB)

 

The second reading also follows the theme of the Sunday. The second reading tells us that it is in faith that we receive the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit of God’s love! What proves that God loves us is that Christ died for us while we were still sinners! It is this love of God that forgives us our sins and gives us new life!

 

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 grow in faith to prepare us for Baptism on Easter Vigil Night, and to prepare us to renew our Baptism on Easter Vigil Night, so that we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! Again, a blessed Lent to all of you!