15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) – 16th July 2017

Theme: THE WORD OF GOD WILL BEAR FRUIT ABUNDANTLY IN SPITE OF REJECTIONS, PERSECUTIONS AND THE TEMPTATIONS OF THE WORLD 

  • Isaiah 55:10-11;
  • Psalm 64 (65):10-14. R/ Lk 8:8;
  • Romans 8:18-23
  • Matthew 13:1-9. 18-23 (Shorter Form)

Today is the 15th Sunday of the Year, Liturgical Year A. Today is also “Bible Sunday” for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. The readings today tell us that the word of God will bear fruit abundantly, in spite of rejections, persecutions and the temptations of the world.

The gospel today tells us of the parable of the sower. The gospel today tells us that a sower went out to sow and as he sowed, some seeds fell besides the path and the birds ate them up. These are the people who reject the word of God. Some seeds fell on rocks where the soil was shallow. They took no root and when the sun rose they were scorched. These are the people who accepted the word of God, but because of persecutions they gave up. Some seeds fell among thorns and the thorns grew up and choked them. These are the people who at first accepted the word of God, but because of the temptations of the world, they bore no fruit. Some seeds fell on rich soil and they produced a hundred-fold, sixty-fold, thirty-fold. The usual harvest is about eight-fold. (Fuller)

Again, the gospel today tells us that the word of God will ultimately bear abundant fruit, in spite of rejections, persecutions and the temptations of the world. We are therefore to proclaim the word of God in season and out of season!

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that the word of God is like the rain. The rain does not return to God empty, but the rain waters the earth to make it bear fruit. The word of God does not return to God empty, but the word of God makes us bear spiritual fruits! Thus we read in the first reading:

“As the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.” (Is 55:10-11; SM)

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm is a reflection on the first reading. The responsorial psalm also tells us that the word of God makes us bear fruit. Thus the response of the responsorial psalm:

“Some seed fell into rich soil and produced its crop.” (Lk 8:8; SM)

The responsorial psalm tells us that God sends down rain to water the earth to make the earth bear fruit, to make the wheat grow and the flocks of sheep multiply. In the same way God sends us the word of God to make us bear fruit. Thus we read in the first and fourth stanzas of the responsorial psalm:

“You care for the earth, give it water, you fill it with riches. Your river in heaven brims over to provide its grain.

The hills are girded with joy, the meadows covered with flocks, the valleys are decked with wheat. They shout for joy, yes, they sing.” (Ps 64 (65): 10. 13b-14; SM)

Again, the word of God is like the rain. It makes us bear spiritual fruits!

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 we are intimately connected to creation, so much so that when we sin, creation also suffers the consequences, but more importantly, when we are saved, creation is also blessed.

An Australian theologian by the name of Denis Edwards tells us that we are intimately connected with creation. He tells us that we all came from the same “Big Bang” about 14 billion years ago, we all came from the same supernova about 5 billion years ago, we all came from the same biological evolution which began on earth about 4 billion years ago, and today we share the same environment.

But more importantly, he tells us that it is in human beings that creation became conscious of itself, that is, self-awareness. And it is in human beings that creation consciously and freely gives praise to God.

But when humans sinned and stop giving praise to God, creation also suffers its consequences. Today, the consequences of human sins can be seen in the destruction of creation, in the destruction of the rainforest, global warming, climate change, the destruction of other species, environmental pollution, desertification, etc.

More importantly, the second reading tells us that when humans are saved from sin, creation will also be blessed and restored to its original and pristine state!

Pope John Paul II said something similar in his “World Day of Peace” Message (1.1.1990) entitled: “Peace with God the Creator, Peace with all of Creation”.

Today is also “Bible Sunday” for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. The Regional Biblical Commission of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei has a message for us based on the Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Benedict XVI (Verbum Domini – The Word of the Lord, 2010). We will summarize the message in 8 points:

(i) The word of God in Creation. God speaks to us in Creation.

(ii) The word of God in History. God speaks to us in the History of Israel.

(iii) The word of God in the Prophets. The Prophets help us understand the word of God.

(iv) Jesus Christ is the Word of God. Jesus Christ died, rose from the dead and gave us the Holy Spirit.

(v) The word of God in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit was given to the Church.

(vi) The word of God in the Church.

(vii) The word of God in the Living Tradition of the Church.

(viii) The word of God in the Bible of the Church.

Let us then continue to proclaim the word of God, share and pray it in BECs (Basic Ecclesial Communities), share and pray it in “Bible-Sharing” groups every Monday, and celebrate it every Wednesday! Amen!

22nd February 2015 – 1st Sunday of Lent (A)

Theme: JESUS CHRIST THE NEW AND SECOND ADAM

  • Genesis 2:7-9. 3:1-7;
  • Psalm 50:3-6. 12-14. 17. R/ cf. v.3;
  • Romans 5:12. 14d-19
  • Matthew 4:1-11 

Today is the First Sunday of Lent, Liturgical Year A. Lent is a time when we prepare to celebrate Easter, that is, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and our dying and rising with him in the sacrament of baptism! Lent is therefore a time when our catechumens prepare for baptism and we who are baptized prepare to renew our Baptism on Easter Vigil Night, so that we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! Lent is therefore a time of repentance!

The first reading tells us that Adam and Eve sinned against God by eating the forbidden fruit. By eating the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve committed the Original Sin of Pride. Adam and Eve wanted to be gods and to decide for themselves what is good and what is evil. As a result sin and death entered the world. As a result they lost their innocence and were ashamed that they were naked.

 

More importantly, the gospel today tells us that Jesus Christ the new and second Adam turned back to God! The gospel today tells us that the devil did not only tempt Adam and Eve, but the devil also tempted Jesus Christ! The devil tempted Jesus Christ with three temptations.

In the first temptation the devil tells Jesus to turn stones into bread; in the second temptation the devil tells Jesus to jump from the highest point of the Temple to test God; and in the third temptation, the devil tells Jesus to worship him and he will give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world!

More importantly, are the three responses of Jesus. To the first temptation Jesus responded:

“Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Mt 4:4; SM)

To the second temptation Jesus responded:

“You must not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Mt 4:7; SM) 

To the third temptation Jesus responded:

“You must worship the Lord your God, and serve him alone.” (Mt 4:10; SM)

 

Most importantly, the second reading tells us that sin and death entered the world through one man, Adam; and more importantly, the second reading tells us that grace and life entered the world through one man, Jesus Christ!

Most importantly, the second reading tells us that the grace and life of Jesus Christ far outweighed the sin and death of Adam, so much so that the new life of Easter and Baptism is even better than the life before sin and death! Thus we sing in the Easter Proclamation:

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

And thus the caption of the second reading:

“However great the number of sins committed, grace was even greater.” (Rm 5:20; SM)

 

The responsorial psalm is a “Prayer of Repentance”. (CSB) Thus we responded four times:

“Have mercy on us, O Lord, for we have sinned.” (Ps 50:3; SM)

The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas ask God to forgive our sins. Thus we read:

“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.

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.” (vv. 3-6; SM)

The third and fourth stanzas ask God to give us the Holy Spirit so that we will not sin anymore. Thus we read:

“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.

Give me again the joy of your help; with a spirit of fervor sustain me.” (vv. 12-14; SM)

 

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 to repent and to prepare for the celebration of Easter, so that we will die and rise with Jesus Christ to the new life of Easter! A Blessed Lent to all of you!    Amen!