22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 1st Sept 2019

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

  • Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 3:17-20. 28-29;
  • Psalm 67 (68):4-7. 10-11. R/ cf. v. 11;
  • Hebrews 12:18-19. 22-24
  • Luke 14:1. 7-14

 Today is the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The readings today tell us about humility.

The gospel today tells us that when we are invited to a wedding feast we must not take the place of honor, lest someone who is more honorable than us turns up and we will have to be moved down to the lowest place. But when we are invited to a wedding feast we must take the lowest place so that when no one more honorable than us turns up we will be moved up to the place of honor!

This gospel parable tells us a very important spiritual truth, that is, “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the man who humbles himself will be exalted.”! (Lk 14:11; SM) That is, God humbles the proud and raises up the humble! A parallel passage is found in the same gospel of Luke in chapter 18: 9-14. It is the parable on the Pharisee and the Tax Collector.

The parable tells us that a Pharisee and a tax collector went to the Temple to pray. The Pharisee prayed to himself, thanking God that he was not greedy, dishonest and adulterous, like the rest of men, particularly, he was not like the tax collector. He fasted twice a week and he gave tithes (10%) of all of his income to the Temple. The tax collector on the other hand prayed to God for mercy. The tax collector was justified but the Pharisee was not justified! Again, “For everyone who raises himself up will be humbled, but anyone who humbles himself will be raised up.” (Lk 18:14; NJB)

Indeed, pride is the greatest sin and humility is the greatest virtue! Satan (the Devil) fell from heaven because of pride (1 Tm 3:6)! (CGDB) And Satan tempted Adam and Eve with the Original Sin of pride; and Adam and Eve fell also because of pride! The Pharisees in today’s gospel fell also because of pride! But most importantly, the world was saved because of humility, because of the humility of Jesus Christ!

The letter to the Philippians tells us that Jesus the second Adam and the new Adam was opposite of the first Adam and the old Adam who was proud, who though a man wanted to be God! Jesus was God but he humbled himself and became man and he became lower than man by accepting death on the cross, but the Father raised him from the dead and saved the whole world through him! (Ph 2:6-9; NJB)

In the “Gospel Acclamation” today Jesus tells us: “Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.” (Mt 11:29; SM) That is, carry the cross of Jesus and learn from Jesus, for he is gentle and humble in heart, that is, he depends on God the Father, he trust and believe in God his Father. He puts his faith in God his Father! A proud man on the other hand trust, believe and depend on himself. He puts his faith in himself!

Saint Augustine (354-430) was asked as to which are the three most important virtues! St. Augustine answered: “humility, humility and humility”! If we were to ask St. Augustine which are the three biggest sins, I believe he will answer: “pride, pride and pride”! Again, “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the man who humbles himself will be exalted.”! (Lk 14:11; SM)

The first reading follows the theme of the gospel. The first reading tells us that God favors the humble and he listens to the prayers of the humble (NJB), but there is no cure for the sickness of the proud! (Lefrois) Thus we read in the first reading:

“The greater you are, the more you should behave humbly, and then you will find favor with the Lord; for great though the power of the Lord is, he accepts the homage of the humble. There is no cure for the proud man’s malady, since an evil growth has taken root in him.” (Si 3:18-20. 28; SM)

The last verse (v. 28) of the above quotation – “There is no cure for the proud man’s malady” – reminds me of what Cardinal Rozales of the Philippines said in our annual priests’ retreat in “Bundu Tuhan”, Sabah some years back. He said that in order for us to be humble we need to be humbled / humiliated! We cannot humble ourselves but others can humble/humiliate us and help us to be humble! Therefore if someone humbles/humiliates you, give thanks to God! Praise the Lord!

The responsorial psalm follows the theme of the first reading. The responsorial psalm tells us that God gives new life and home to the poor and the humble! The responsorial psalm is a hymn of praise to God who gives new life and home to the poor and the humble. (Fuller)

The responsorial psalm has three stanzas. The first and second stanzas tell us to give praise to God. The third stanza tells us that God gives new life and home to the poor and the humble. (CSB) Thus the response of the responsorial psalm which is taken from the third stanza:

“In your goodness, O God, you prepared a home for the poor. (for the humble; NJB)

Indeed, God gives a home to the poor and the humble not only on earth, but also in heaven! (Fuller) Thus the second part of the second reading tells us about heaven! The second reading tells us that we will be in heaven with God the Father, with Jesus Christ, with the angels, with the saints, and with one another, indeed with the whole world! (NJBC; Craghan) Thus we read in the second reading:

“But what you have come to is Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem where the millions of angels have gathered for the festival, with the whole Church in which everyone is a ‘first-born son’ and a citizen of heaven. You have come to God himself, the supreme Judge, and been placed with spirits of the saints who have been made perfect; and to Jesus, the mediator who brings a new covenant.”! (Heb 12:22-24; SM)

Indeed, just as we fell from heaven with the pride of Satan, we will go to heaven with the humility of Jesus!

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 to be humble, to depend on God, to trust in God and to put our faith in Go d our Father! The Holy Spirit will help us to pray so that like Jesus Christ, all our actions will come from the Father and go back to the Father!Amen!

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C) – 20th Jan 2019

Theme: JESUS CHANGED THE WATER OF THE PURIFICATION RITES OF THE JEWS INTO THE WINE OF THE MESSIANIC WEDDING BANQUET!

  • Isaiah 62:1-5;
  • Psalm 95 (96): 1-3. 7-10. R/ v. 3;
  • 1 Corinthians 12:4-11
  • John 2:1-11

Today is the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, Liturgical Year C. The gospel today tells us that Jesus changed water into wine. That is, Jesus changed the water of the purification rites of the Jews into the wine of the Messianic Wedding Banquet! (Is 62:4-5; First Reading; NJBC) Jesus did two things. First he asked the servants to “replace” the water of the “empty” water jars, and then he changed the water into wine!

The gospel tells us that this was the first of seven signs of Jesus and the disciples saw his glory and believed in him. It was done at the request of his mother Mary before his hour had come! Next, Mary appeared at the foot of the cross (Jn 19:25-27) when his hour had come! Mary is the symbol of the Church! (CSB)

It is through his death and resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that he will change the water into the waters of Baptism, the waters of the Holy Spirit; and he will change the wine into his blood, the blood of the Eucharist! The Fathers of the Church see these two sacraments as signifying the Church! (Jn 19:34; NJBr) The Church is the bride of Christ born from the side of Christ!

The first reading tells us about the glory of Jerusalem. The first reading tells us that the Lord will be the bridegroom and Jerusalem will be the bride! The first reading was a prophecy made to the Jews returned from exile! The prophecy is fulfilled in Jesus Christ who is the bridegroom of the bride the Church! Thus we read in the first reading:

“No more shall men call you “Forsaken,” or your land “Desolate,” But you shall be called “My Delight,” and your land “Espoused.” For the Lord delights in you, and makes your land his spouse. As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you; And as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you.” (Is 62: 4-5; CSB)  

The responsorial psalm invites all the peoples to praise and worship the Lord who rules the world with justice! The responsorial psalm has four stanzas. The first and second stanzas (vv. 1-3) invite all the peoples to praise the Lord. The third and fourth stanzas (vv. 7-10) invite all the peoples to worship the Lord who rules with justice! (CSB) Thus the response:

“Proclaim the wonders of the Lord among all the peoples.” (Ps 95 (96): 3; SM)

The second reading tells us about unity in diversity in our Church! The second reading tells us that there are many different gifts in our Church; the gifts of preaching, teaching, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, speaking in tongues, etc.; but they are all from the same Spirit, and they are all to serve the same Lord, and they all have the same God working in them, and they are all for the common good! Unity in diversity not unity in uniformity! We are a Christian Community, not a Communist Commune! Thus we read in the second reading:

    “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Co 12:4-7; HCSB)

Today in this Mass we thank God for the many different spiritual gifts and we ask God to help us live in love and unity, that is, to work together for the glory of God and for the good of the Church!

We also thank God for the gifts of the Sacraments and we ask God to give us more priests to celebrate the Sacraments, especially the Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist, so that all may see the glory of the Lord and believe in him!

Let us pray for more vocations to the priesthood so that we will have enough priests to celebrate the sacraments, to preach the good news and to build the kingdom of God, so that all may see the glory of the Lord and believe in him! A happy and blessed Sunday to all of you!   Amen!

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) – 15th October 2017

Theme: THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

  • Isaiah 25:6-10
  • Psalm 22 (23). R. v. 6
  • Matthew 22:1-10 (Shorter Form) 

Today is the 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, or 28th Sunday of the Liturgical Year A. The readings today tell us about the “kingdom of heaven”!

The gospel tells us that the kingdom of heaven can be compared to a king who gave a feast for his son’s wedding. He sent out his servants to call the invited guests to the wedding, but they would not come. He sent out more servants to call the invited guests, but still they would not come! Instead, one went to his farm, another went to do his business, and the rest seized his servants, ill-treated them and killed them. The king was angry and he destroyed the murderers and burned their town.

Then the king said to his servants, ‘the wedding is ready, and since the invited guests are not worthy, go to the crossroads and invite everybody’! The servants went to the roads and invited everybody, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was full of guests!

The allegory of this parable is clear. The king is God the Father, his son is Jesus Christ. The servants are the prophets. The invited guests who did not come for the wedding are the Jews. The “uninvited guests” who were invited later and came for the wedding are the Gentiles and the sinners, and the tax collectors and prostitutes!

But more importantly, the first reading from Isaiah tells us what the king (NJBC) does in the kingdom of heaven! The first reading tells us that “on this mountain”, that is, on Mount Zion, a symbol of the heavenly Jerusalem (CSB), that is, in the kingdom of heaven, the king will prepare for all peoples a banquet of rich food and fine wine, rich and juicy food and fine strained wines! The king will remove the mourning veil and the mourning shroud from his people. He will destroy death forever! He will wipe away every tear. He will remove the shame from his people. He will save his people!

The responsorial psalm tells us that in the kingdom of heaven, the shepherd-king (the kings of Israel are shepherd-kings, NJBC) will lead his people and provide his people with food and drink! Thus we sang and prayed in the responsorial psalm:

Stanza 1: ‘The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want. Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose. Near restful waters he leads me to revive my drooping spirit’!

Stanza 2: ‘He guides me in the right path. He is true to his name. If I should walk in the valley of darkness and death, no evil would I fear. You are there with your crook and your staff; with these you give me comfort’!

Stanza 3: ‘You have prepared a banquet for me in the sight of my enemies. (So that my enemies will see that I am a friend and guest of God). You have anointed my head with oil (perfumed olive oil of welcome and hospitality) and my cup is overflowing (with wine)’!

Stanza 4: ‘Surely goodness and kindness will follow me all the days of my life. In the Lord’s own house will I dwell forever and ever’! (This last verse of the responsorial psalm is the response of the responsorial psalm)!

Today the “kingdom of heaven” is the Church, not the building, but the people of God! And the banquet of rich food and fine wines is the Eucharist! In the Eucharist we eat the body of Christ, and we drink the blood of Christ! And our Risen Lord in the power of His Holy Spirit will remove our mourning veils and mourning palls. He will destroy our deaths forever! He will wipe away our tears. He will remove our shame! He will save us!

He is doing it right here and now and he will continue to do it every Sunday until the end of time when we will eat and drink of the eternal and eschatological banquet in heaven! This is the Good News!  Amen!