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!

15th February 2015 – 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Theme: THE LORD HEALS US OF OUR PHYSICAL AND SPIRITUAL LEPROSY

  • Leviticus 13:1-2. 44-46;
  • Psalm 31 (32): 1-2. 5. 11. R/ v. 7;
  • 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1
  • Mark 1:40-45

Today is the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B. The readings today tell us that the Lord heals us of our physical and spiritual leprosy.

The gospel today tells us that Jesus healed a leper. Leprosy in the Bible includes many forms of skin diseases.

I once visited a leper hospital and I saw patients without noses, lips, toes, fingers, and even without a foot. I was assured by the doctor that they were not contagious as they were under treatment and medication.

But after shaking their hands I did not dare to touch my face or nose or any part of my body for fear that I may be infected. When I reached home I washed my hands many times over with soap.

Today there is a cure for physical leprosy, but today there is no cure for spiritual leprosy, that is, our sins. Only Jesus Christ can heal us of our spiritual leprosy by his death, resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

That is why after curing the leper, Jesus warned him sternly not to tell anyone about it, for fear that the people make mistake him to be a wonder-worker or a miracle-worker Messiah.

Jesus Christ is a suffering Messiah, a crucified Messiah! This “Messianic Secret” of the gospel of St. Mark will only be revealed after Jesus’ death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit! (NJB; CCB; Fuller) That is why the symbol of Christianity is the crucifix, the crucified Christ, not the empty cross!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the leper is to be excluded from the community, especially from the worshiping community, because he is not only physically unclean, but he is also ritually unclean!

The Law of Moses cannot heal one of physical leprosy and spiritual leprosy. The Law of Moses can only exclude the leper from the community, especially the worshiping community. Only the love of Jesus Christ can heal one of physical leprosy and spiritual leprosy and include one in the community, especially the worshiping community!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. Leprosy is a symbol of sin! The responsorial psalm is a thanksgiving for the forgiveness of sins. (HCSB) It is a penitential psalm. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“You are my refuge, O Lord; you fill me with the joy of salvation.” (Ps 31 (32): 7; SM)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first stanza (vv. 1-2) tells us that the forgiven sinner is blessed. The second stanza (v. 5) tells us that the sinner confesses his sins to God and God forgives his sins. And the third stanza (v. 11) tells us that the just and upright man is full of joy! (CSB; NJBC)

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday. The second reading tells us not to cause scandal, that is, not to cause other people to fall into sin! We may be doing the right thing, we may not be doing the wrong thing, but if what we do causes scandal, we are not to do it. Whatever we do, must be done for the glory of God and for the good of others!

In the second reading today, St. Paul tells the Corinthians not to eat food and not to drink drinks offered to idols, not because it is wrong, but because it will scandalize the weak! (IBC; CCB)

In our own day, the Chinese New Year Mass may be a cause of scandal for some people. In a Catholic church in Malaysia, a red ancestral altar was erected, with red candles, big joss sticks, food offering, and with two priests bowing three times in veneration of the ancestral tablet has caused scandal to many people, including Catholics, non-Catholics, non-Christians, etc. It was a scandal of idolatry, that is, worshipping false gods! (Herald, 12.2.2012, p. 4)

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 heal us of our physical and spiritual leprosy. The Holy Spirit will help us heal others of their physical and spiritual leprosy. And the Holy Spirit will help us not to cause scandal to other people. A happy Sunday and a happy week to all of you!

1st February 2015 – 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

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; the 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!

7th December 2014 – 2nd Sunday of Advent

Theme: LET US PREPARE FOR THE COMING OF JESUS CHRIST AT CHRISTMAS

  • Isaiah 40:l-5, 9-11
  • Psalm 84-9-14. R. v. 8
  • 2 Peter 3:8-14
  • Mark 1:1-8

 

Today is the second Sunday of Advent. Advent as we know means “arrival” or “coming”. We also know that at his first coming Jesus Christ died and rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit. He gave us his grace, his love, his peace and his joy. In philosophy we know that these non-material spiritual qualities belonging only to God and humans who can think and love cannot die. They continue eternally in heaven. Like God, they have no beginning and end because they come from God! When these spiritual qualities of love, peace and joy which comes from God the Holy Spirit and from God’s grace, become full, fulfilled, complete and perfect in us, Jesus Christ will come a second time to take us to heaven!

But between Jesus Christ’s first and second coming there are thousands of years! Jesus Christ will not forget or abandon us during this time of thousands of years! He will continue to come and help us. He will continue to give us his Holy Spirit, his grace, his love and his joy. He will continue to help us grow in his grace, his love and his joy, until they become complete and perfect in us. And when his grace and love become perfect in us, he will come a second time to take us to heaven!

That is why we celebrate Christmas every year and at the beginning of every liturgical year. This is because Jesus Christ continues to come every year, every month, every week and every day! And Advent is a time to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas!

The first reading tells us that when the Lord comes at Christmas, he will come with power, subduing all things to him and he will come victorious with all his trophies before him! But more importantly, his power and victory are power and victory of love and mercy! That is why the same last paragraph of the first reading today tells us that he is the shepherd who feeds his flock, who carries the lambs in his arms close to his breast, and he leads the mother sheep to their rest!

The historical context of this first reading was the Israelites in exile in Babylon in the 6th century, waiting to return home to the Promised Land.

This theme of God’s coming love and mercy is taken up in the responsorial psalm. Thus the responsorial psalm tells us that when the Lord comes there will be peace, justice and mercy! The whole world today is looking for justice and peace, but the Pope (John Paul II) in his New Year’s message this year tells us that there can be no peace without justice, and more importantly, there can be no justice without forgiveness! In fact this is the very theme of his message! The Pope had in mind the present conflict between the Israelites and the Palestinians in the Holy Land today!

Indeed the psalm today tells us that when the Lord comes there will not only be peace and justice, but most importantly, there will also be mercy and forgiveness! More than that, the responsorial psalm also tells us that when the Lord comes, there will also be prosperity and the earth will yield its fruits!

The last stanza of the responsorial psalm tells us that the Lord will provide not only for our spiritual needs, but our material needs as well! “The Lord will make us prosper and our earth shall yield its fruit.” Today we cannot and must not take our earth ~ mother earth – for granted! With all the environmental pollution, destruction of the rainforest, poisoning of the earth, pollution of the air and sea, ete., the earth may not yield its fruit!

 

In his New Year’s Day message in 1990 on the environment, the Pope reminded us of Genesis 3:l7ff & 4:11, where it is written that after the fall of Adam and Eve, the earth will not yield its fruit, but it will yield thorns and thistles instead!

 

Our sins today do not only offend God and neighbour, but it also offends the earth and the environment! It is what we call environmental sins!

 

The Gospel today tells us that when Jesus Christ comes at Christmas he will baptize us with the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit is God the Holy Spirit. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one and the same God!

 

A Catholic who was a former student of a teacher who belonged to another religion told me that the teacher ridiculed Christianity for believing in three Gods and eating God! My reaction was to thank God for the faith to believe in a God of love and mercy! Our God loved us and created us, loved us and saved us, and today continues to love us and continues to sanctify us! We do not believe in three Gods, but we believe in three persons in one God, because God is love. The mystery of the Trinity is the mystery of God’s love! Again, we believe in a God who loves us and became man, became a criminal, a thief, became death, and became Food for sinners, so that he becomes us and we become him! Salvation is 100% – not 99% – God’s love and God’s grace!

 

Again, the gospel today tells us that when Jesus Christ comes at Christmas he will baptize us with God the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit is the fire of God’s love that burns away our sins and saves us! Fr. John Reilly, an Australian theologian who gave a retreat to our priests many years ago tells us that the Holy Spirit is the Holy Love of God! He also conducted a penitential service with our priests where we wrote our sins on pieces of paper, showed them to our confessors and burned them with the fire of God’s love from the Paschal candle!

 

The second reading from the second letter of Peter tells us that when the Lord comes there will be a new heavens and a new earth, i.e. not only we and our earth will be renewed, but the whole universe will be renewed! The stars and planets and galaxies will all be renewed! The heavens refer to the stars and planets! And if there are aliens and E.T.s, they will all be renewed! Tonight if we go out at about l0 p.m. we should be able to see the biggest star, the brightest star, the planet Saturn, and a little later, the planet Jupiter, and a little earlier, the Andromeda Galaxy, etc.. All these and the whole universe will be made new! The second reading employs very rich imageries of stars and planets burning up — which are not scientific – t0 tell us that the whole cosmos and universe will be made new by Jesus Christ’s coming!

 

The second reading also tells us that as we wait for the coming of Jesus Christ, we have to prepare ourselves by living good, godly, saintly and holy lives. We must not commit sins!

 

The gospel also tells us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ. In the gospel, John the Baptist prepares the people for the coming of Jesus Christ by asking them to repent, to confess their sins and to be baptized with water. John the Baptist himself led a penitential life. He wore a garment of camel-skin and he ate locusts and wild honey and he lived in the wilderness!

 

The Church today asks us to prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas by praying, attending masses on Sundays (some people do not come to mass every Sunday) and weekdays, by going to confession (penitential services in the parishes), by penance (no parties, except on Sundays, e.g. no marriages during Advent), by doing good works, by doing works of mercy, by becoming Santa Claus to the poor, the weak, the aged, the children, the sick, the marginalized, etc., by proclaiming the good news to others through Christmas carolling, etc.!

 

A Happy Advent to all of you! Amen!