The Body and Blood of Christ, Corpus Christi (Year B) – 2nd June 2018

Theme: ONLY THE BLOOD OF CHRIST CAN PURIFY US FROM SINS 

  • Exodus 24:3-8;
  • Psalm 115 (116): 12-13. 15-18. R/ v. 13;
  • Hebrews 9:11-15
  • Mark 14:12-16. 22-26

Today we celebrate the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. The readings today tell us that the blood of animals cannot purify us from sins. Only the blood of Christ can purify us from sins.

The first reading tells us about the sealing of the Sinai Covenant. The Sinai Covenant was sealed with the blood of animals. Moses poured half of the blood of the animals on the altar and half of the blood towards the people. Blood symbolizes life and purification. The pouring of half of the blood on the altar and half towards the people symbolizes union and communion with God and keeping the commandments of God. Thus we read in the first reading:

“Half of the blood Moses took up and put into basins, the other half he cast on the altar. And taking the Book of the Covenant he read it to the listening people, and they said, ‘We will observe all that the Lord has decreed; we will obey.’ Then Moses took the blood and cast it towards the people. ‘This’ he said ‘is the blood of the Covenant that the Lord has made with you, containing all these rules.’” (Ex 24:6-8/SM)

The responsorial psalm is a thanksgiving to God for salvation from death. (CSB) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“The cup of salvation I will raise; I will call on the Lord’s name.” (Ps 115 (116): 13)

The second reading tells us that the blood of animals cannot purify us from sins. Only the blood of Jesus Christ can purify us from sins. The blood of animals can only purify us externally, ritually and legally, but the blood of Jesus Christ can purify us internally. The blood of Jesus Christ can purify us from sins, and save us from death, so that we serve the living God! Thus we read in the second reading:

“How much more effectively the blood of Christ, who offered himself as the perfect sacrifice to God through the eternal Spirit, can purify our inner self from dead actions so that we do our service to the living God.” (Heb 9:14/SM)

The gospel tells us of the institution of the Eucharist. (NJB) Jesus Christ instituted the Eucharist to give us his body to eat and his blood to drink; to forgive our sins, to save us from death, so that we serve the living God. Thus we read in the gospel:

“And as they were eating he took some bread, and when he had said the blessing he broke it and gave it to them. ‘Take it,’ he said ‘this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and when he had returned thanks he gave it to them, and all drank from it, and he said to them, ‘This is my blood, the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many. I tell you solemnly, I shall not drink any more wine until the day I drink the new wine in the kingdom of God.’” (Mk 14:22-25/SM)

Today in the Eucharist we will do the four actions that Jesus did in the institution of the Eucharist. We will take (Preparation of the Gifts/Offertory). We will bless/thank (Eucharistic Prayer). We will break (Break the Bread). And we will give (Holy Communion).

We will eat his body and drink his blood and the Risen Lord will give us the Holy Spirit to forgive our sins, and to save us from death, so that we will serve the living God!

Amen!

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

Theme: JESUS, THE LIGHT OF LIFE AND THE LIGHT OF HAPPINESS

  • Isaiah 8:23 – 9:3
  • Psalm 26:1. 4. 13-14. R. v. 1
  • 1 Corinthians 1:10 – 13. 17
  • Matthew 4:12 – 23

Today is the 3rd Sunday of the Year. The readings today tell us that Jesus Christ is the light of life and the light of happiness! In the New Testament, light symbolizes 3 main things, that is, (i) anything that shows us the way to God, (ii) life and happiness, and (iii) light as good as darkness symbolizes evil (NJB: John 8:12b). In the readings today, light symbolizes life and happiness! Jesus is the light of life and the light of happiness!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus is the light of life and the light of happiness! But more importantly, the gospel today tells us that Jesus is the light of life and happiness, because he preaches the good news of repentance: “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven (God) is close at hand”! The parallel text in “Mark 1:14-15” which is more original reads: “Repent and believe the Good News”!

In this short text is contained the “Messianic Secret” to life and happiness! Repent means more than turning away from sin, it also means turning away from the world! For if we only turn away from sin, but not turn away from the world, we will turn back to sin again and again and again and again ….! Turning away from the world does not mean escaping from the world and being irresponsible to the world, but it means not believing that power, richness, status, etc., can give us life and happiness!

But more importantly, the gospel today tells us not only to turn away from sin and from the world, but to turn to God, that is, to believe in him, to believe in his love, his mercy and his forgiveness, to believe that God, and God alone can give us life and happiness!

It is most important not only to believe in God, but also to believe that God is love! There are as many “Gods” as there are religions. There are the “Gods” of the law, of “justice”, of revenge, of war, etc., but the God of Jesus Christ is a God of love, mercy and forgiveness! The “Gods” of law, “justice”, revenge, war, etc., cannot give us life and happiness, only the God of Jesus Christ can give us life and happiness!

That is why the gospel today quotes the first reading from Isaiah to tell us that Jesus Christ is the light of life and the light of happiness: “The people that lived in darkness has seen a great light; on those who dwell in the land and shadow of death a light has dawned”!

The gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah in the first reading!

The first reading is from the prophet Isaiah! The historical context of the first reading is in the 8th century BC (Before Christ), when the Assyrians invaded “Zebulun” and “Naphtali” (“Capernaum” in the New Testament) in northern Palestine and exiled their people!

 

It was in this historical context that Isaiah prophesied: “The people that walked in darkness has seen a great light; on those who live in a land of deep shadow a light has shone. You have made their gladness greater, you have made their joy increase; they rejoice in your presence as men rejoice at harvest time, as men are happy when they are dividing the spoils”!

The gospel today tells us that this prophesy of Isaiah of life and happiness is fulfilled in Jesus Christ when he came to proclaim the good news of Repentance: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand”, or in the parallel text in the gospel of Mark: “Repent and believe the Good News”!

The responsorial psalm helps us to meditate on the first reading. The responsorial psalm today is a psalm of “trust in God” (CSB/NAB), that is, to trust that God and God alone is the source of life and happiness and salvation!

Thus in the response of the responsorial psalm we sing: “The Lord is my light (life and happiness) and my salvation” (NJB)!

The second reading does not follow the theme of the Sunday readings, but today the second part of the second reading is relevant to the theme of the Sunday readings, as Paul tells us “to preach the Good News, and not to preach that in the terms of philosophy in which the crucifixion of Christ cannot be expressed”! (1 Cor 1:17).

  We have to preach the Good News (“Kerygma” in Greek) of Christ’s death and Resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the Salvation of the world, so that the world may believe and be saved and find life and happiness!

Preaching politics, sociology, psychology, human wisdom, philosophy, science, “social justice”, etc., will never ever give faith and salvation, and life and happiness to the world!

Let us now conclude with the second part of today’s gospel; found in the long form of the gospel, that is, the calling of the first disciples! The gospel today tells us that when Jesus Called Peter and Andrew, they “at once” left their nets and followed him! And the gospel tells us that when Jesus called James and John, they “at once” left their boat and their father and followed him!

Why was their response to the call of Jesus immediate and total, immediate, that is, here and now, and total, that is, leaving everything! This is because to proclaim the Good News is the most important and the most urgent thing to do! Some things are important, but not urgent. Some things are urgent, but not important. Some things are urgent and important, but not the most important and the most urgent! But to proclaim the Good News is the most important and the most urgent!

The Church exhorts us today to go forth and proclaim the good news so that the world may believe and be saved, and so that the world may find life and happiness!

Amen!

THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT (A) – 28th February 2016

Theme: LENT IS A TIME WHEN WE PREPARE OUR FAITH FOR BAPTISM WITH THE LIVING WATER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD’S LOVE

  • Exodus 17:3-7
  • Psalm 94:1-2. 6-9. R. v. 8
  • Romans 5:1-2. 5-8.
  • John 4: 5-42

Today is the 3rd Sunday of Lent, and the Church has chosen the readings of today, to tell us that Lent is a time when we prepare our faith for Baptism, with the living water of the Holy Spirit of God’s love, for the forgiveness of our sins, so that we may die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter!

To begin with, the first reading from the book of Exodus tells us that the people of Israel had no faith. They “grumbled” (“Meribah”) against God and they put God to the “test” (“Massah”)! They were looking for material and earthly water that cannot quench their spiritual thirst! They were not looking for the spiritual and living water that can quench their spiritual thirst!

The last sentence of the first reading tells it all, “Is the Lord with us, or not?” They stop short of saying, ‘Does God exits or not?’ They had no faith!

But more importantly, the responsorial psalm tells us to have faith in God, and to praise and worship Him, because he is our Creator and our Shepherd and we are his creatures and his sheep!

The 3rd stanza of the responsorial psalm from which the response is taken, tells us, ‘Today listen to his voice! Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, at Massah when they put me to the test though they saw my work!’

The 1st and 2nd stanzas of the responsorial psalm tell us to praise and worship God our Creator and Shepherd!

And most importantly, the gospel tells us that the Samaritan woman had faith in Jesus Christ! What distinguished her from the Jews was not that she was more holy, but that she had faith in Jesus Christ!

The Samaritan woman was not more holy than the Jews, the chosen people of God! On the contrary, she was a woman, a Samaritan and she had 5 husbands! In their morning prayer, the Jews thank God that they are not gentiles, slaves and women! A Samaritan is a “half-Jew” and he is despised by a Jew! In the 8th century BC, the Jews of the Northern Kingdom of Israel were deported to Babylonia, and the gentiles and pagans from Babylonia were imported into Israel. They intermarried with the Jews and their descendents were the Samaritans! The Samaritans worshiped the God of the Jews, but they also worshiped the false gods that they brought in from Babylonia! The 5 husbands of the Samaritan woman may symbolize the Bible of the Samaritan, that is, the first 5 books of the Bible, it may also symbolize the 5 groups of gentiles imported from Babylonia into Israel, but historically, it refers to the 5 husbands of the Samaritan woman!

The gospel also tells us that the faith of the Samaritan woman was dynamic and not static! The gospel tells us that the faith of the Samaritan woman grows and increases! At first she recognized Jesus to be a Jew, then a prophet, then the Messiah, and finally together with the other Samaritans she confessed that Jesus Christ was the Savior of the world!

More than that, the Samaritan woman was also the first missionary and apostle of Saint John’s gospel! She was also the first woman evangelizer (proclaimer of the Good News) of Saint John’s gospel!

The Church has chosen the gospel reading of today to tell us that we have to have faith in Jesus Christ, and that our faith have to grow every year, especially at Lent and Easter time, and that like the Samaritan woman we have to share our faith with others by proclaiming the Good News!

Finally, the Church has chosen the second reading of today from the letter to the Romans to tell us that in faith we are baptized with the living water of the Holy Spirit of God’s love for the forgiveness of our sins, so that we may die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter!

For those of us who have already been baptized, we have to renew our baptismal faith and we will be sprinkled with the living water of the Holy Spirit of God’s love for the forgiveness of our sins, and we will once again die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter!

During this time of Lent, the Church asks us to pray, to fast and to give alms, in order to renew our faith, so that on Easter Vigil Night and on Easter Sunday Morning, we may renew our “baptismal profession of faith”, and so that we will be sprinkled with the living water of the Holy Spirit of God’s love for the forgiveness of our sins, and so that we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! A happy Lent to all of you! Amen!