March 29, 2020
Pastor’s Perspective …
“JESUS—THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE”
The readings for today’s Mass are focused on the death and resurrection of Jesus in the Holy Week which will in turn give hope to our own death and resurrection.
Prophet Ezekiel in our first reading prophecies about God’s plan of bringing the Israelites back to life by bringing them back to the Promised Land. God, through the prophecy of Ezekiel, assures his people that nothing not even death will stop him from fulfilling his promise.
In our second reading, St. Paul assures the early Christians who were facing persecution, and we who are surrounded by the culture of death, that the same spirit who raised Jesus from the dead will also give life to our mortal bodies. St. Paul considers the resurrection of Jesus as the basis for our own hope of sharing in it after our own death.
Jesus raising Lazarus from death in our Gospel reading today shows his greatest sign as a deliverer and his victory over death. It also points to Jesus’ resurrection, and the Church is using this great miracle to assure us that we too will be raised to eternal life after our own battle with sin and death in this world. So the central message of the fifth Sunday of Lent is the hope for our resurrection. Our readings today assure us that our faith in Jesus who is the resurrection and the life will bring about our own resurrection and eternal life.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, it will be good if we can use this Lenten season to find out the different ways we bind ourselves and ask Jesus to unbind us. Sometimes we find ourselves in the tomb of selfishness, filled with negative feelings such as worry, fear, resentment, hatred and guilt.
If we want Jesus to visit our dark dungeons of sin, despair and unhappiness, let us ask him at this Holy Mass to bring the light and power of the Holy Spirit into our private life and liberate us from our tombs.
Jesus is always ready to give us new life. He is always ready to command us to come out of our tombs and difficulties just as he did to Lazarus in our Gospel reading today.
March 22, 2020
Pastor’s Perspective …
“ONLY GOD CAN GIVE US PROPER VISION IN BODY AND IN SPIRIT”
The fourth Sunday of Lent is generally known as “Laetare Sunday”, expressing the Church’s joy in anticipation of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Today’s readings remind us that only God can give us proper vision in body as well as in spirit. They instruct us to be constantly on guard against spiritual blindness.
Our first reading from the book of Samuel in describing the anointing of David shows how blind we can be in our judgments and how much we need God’s help in our decision making.
St. Paul in our second reading reminds us that as Christians we have an important responsibility of living as children of light, producing every kind of goodness, righteousness and truth.
Today’s Gospel reading tells us the story of how Jesus restored sight to a blind man. This Gospel passage teaches us the necessity of opening the eyes of our mind by faith and warns us that those who pretend to see the truth are often blind, while those who acknowledge their blindness are given clear vision.
In this Gospel episode, the most unlikely person, the blind man, receives the light of faith in Jesus, while the religion-oriented and law-educated Pharisees remain spiritually blind. To live as a Christian is to have a clear vision about God, about ourselves and about others.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, we all have blindspots. They may be in our families, our parenting, our work habits, or our personalities. We often wish to remain in the dark, preferring darkness to light.
Like the blind man in today’s Gospel reading, Jesus wants to heal our spiritual blindness and our blindspots. We need to ask him to remove the root cause of our blindness which includes selfishness, greed, anger, hatred, unforgiveness, prejudice, jealousy, addiction to evil habits and hardness of heart.
Let us pray that through our Lenten observance and prayers that Jesus will heal our spiritual blindness so that we can see clearly what God is expecting from us and also love others as children of God, our brothers and sisters.
March 15, 2020
Pastor’s Perspective …
“JESUS THE LIVING WATER”
The readings for our Mass today are centered on Baptism and new life. Baptism represents God’s living water which comes to us, penetrating every aspect of our lives and satisfying our spiritual hunger. The Holy Spirit, the word of God, and the Sacraments of the Church are the primary sources of this living water of divine grace.
We have come to this Mass to drink this water of eternal life and salvation. Washed in it at Baptism, renewed by its abundance whenever we receive the Holy Eucharist, invited to it at every proclamation of the word of God, and daily empowered by the Spirit, we are challenged by today’s Gospel to continue longing for the living water which only God can give.
Our first reading describes how God provided water to the ungrateful grumblers of Israel, thereby placing Jesus’ promise within the context of the Exodus account of water coming from the rock at Horeb. The responsorial psalm refers to both the Rock of our salvation and also to our hardened hearts. It reminds us that our hardened hearts need to be softened by the grace of God, which comes to us through prayer, fasting and works of mercy.
Jesus, in our Gospel reading, gave an unclean Samaritan woman an opportunity to receive the living water. Jesus awakened in her the hunger for wholeness and integrity which she had lost, a hunger he had come to satisfy in everybody’s life. Today’s Gospel passage reveals Jesus as the source of our Living Water and teaches us the need for us to always come to him to quench of thirst and hunger.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus wishes to come into our private life, not to embarrass us, not to judge us or to condemn us, but to free us, to change us and to offer us what we really need: the living water of the Holy Spirit. Like the Samaritan woman in today’s Gospel passage, let us, in this Lenten season, have the courage to get rid of our unholy attachments and evil habits that keep us enslaved and idolatrous.
Lent is a time for us to learn from the mistakes of our over-indulgence in food, drink, drugs, gambling or any other addiction that distances us from the living water. This is a time for us to acquire the graces we need to witness to Jesus by standing for truth and justice in our day-to-day life.
Like the Samaritan woman in today’s Gospel passage, we are expected in this season of Lent to acknowledge Jesus as the living water that will satisfy all our thirst and desires, and also make him known to others. Remember, God certainly does write straight on crooked lines.
March 8, 2020
Pastor’s Perspective …
“JESUS: OUR SOURCE OF TRANSFORMATION”
The liturgy of the word for today’s Mass talks about transformation and the need for all of us to always listen to the voice of Jesus. The readings invite us to work with the Holy Spirit to transform our lives by renewing them and radiating the glory and grace of the transfigured Jesus to all around us by our spirit-filled lives.
The first reading describes the transformation of a pagan patriarch into a believer in God and the transformation of his name from Abram to Abraham. Because of these transformations, God made a covenant with Abraham’s family as a reward for his obedience to God.
The second reading from the second letter of St. Paul to Timothy, explains the type of Lenten transformation expected of us. According to St. Paul we are transformed when we see the hand of God in all our hardships, pains and suffering, and try our best to grow in holiness by cooperating with the grace of God given to us through Jesus and his Gospel message.
through Jesus and his Gospel message.
In the transfiguration story in our Gospel reading, Jesus was revealed as a glorious figure, superior to Moses and Elijah. The primary aim of Jesus’ transfiguration was to allow him to consult his heavenly Father and ascertain his plan for his Son’s suffering, death and resurrection. The secondary aim was to make his chosen disciple aware of his divine glory, so that they might discard these worldly ambitions and dreams of a conquering political Messiah and to be strengthened in their time of trial. On this occasion, God the Father identified Jesus as his Beloved Son and advised us to listen to him. The transfiguration is the revelation of who Jesus really is. The transfiguration of Jesus in today’s Gospel reading gives us a glimpse of the heavenly glory awaiting those who do the will of God by listening to the voice of Jesus his beloved son.
Any time we celebrate the Holy Mass, our offering of bread and wine is transformed to the Body and Blood of Jesus. Just as the transfiguration strengthened the apostles in their time of trial, each Holy Mass should be our source of heavenly strength against our own trials and source of renewal. Each sacrament we receive should be a source of transformation in our lives. Baptism for example transforms us into sons and daughters of God and members of his Church. Confirmation makes us the temple of the Holy Spirit. By receiving the sacrament of the anointing of the sick in faith, we are spiritually and physically healed and our sins are forgiven.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, in moments of doubt, pain, suffering, and disappointments, let us always come to Jesus and listen to him. He is the only one who can bring transformation in our life. God the Father in our Gospel reading today is telling us as he told the apostles, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”
March 1, 2020
Pastor’s Perspective …
“NOBODY IS ABOVE TEMPTATION”
Today, we celebrate the first Sunday of Lent. Every Lenten season gives us the op-portunity to reflect on our faith journey and the battle against sin and temptation.
In our Gospel reading today, Jesus shows us the importance of our Lenten discipline and exercises. He demonstrates how we can triumph over evil, even in our fragile human nature. Anticipating his spiritual warfare, He fasted for forty days and forty nights, in fervent prayers and meditation on the word of God. Hence, He was battle ready and triumphed over the devil’s wicked scheme.
The first reading shows us that all human bragging comes to nothing. We are mere dust. This under-lines our initial insignificance; only the breath of God in us made all the difference. If we dispense with God, we risk being stripped of all glory and returned to the dust of eternal damnation.
All that glitters is not gold. The devil only offers false hopes and empty promises. See how he took advantage of the unhealthy cravings of Adam and Eve, offering them false hopes and false notion of knowledge and freedom. The devil pretended to be offering them something more than what God has given to them. Regrettably, they trusted the devil more than God. What a shame! Immediately, their eyes “were opened”, and they realized they had been duped, ridiculed and stripped of their true dignity. They saw the emptiness of their blind pursuits. Vanity of vanities! All is vanity (Eccl. 1: 2).
My dear friends in Christ, the devil is no respecter of persons. He even dared to tempt Jesus, attempting to take advantage of His identity and personality. He also tried to exploit his hunger and his position as heir to God’s kingdom. Jesus remained focused; He knew that He was hungry by choice. He knew that His power and possession were not under any danger. Standing on the word of God, Jesus repelled the devil on all fronts, saying, “It is written: One does not live on bread alone, but on every word, that comes from the mouth of God.” “It is written: You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.” And finally, “Get away Satan! It is written: You shall worship the Lord your God and only Him shall you serve.”
My dear friends in Christ, from our Gospel reading, and the second reading of this Mass, we can see that where Adam and Eve failed, Jesus succeeded. Like Jesus, we must anchor our lives on the word of God, on faith, prayer and fasting, in order to prevail against the persistent onslaught of the devil. Remember the advice of St. Peter, “Be calm but vigilant, because your enemy the devil is prowling round like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand up to him strong in faith” (1Pet. 5: 8- 9).
We pray at this Mass, that God will give us the grace to always overcome the evil scheme of the devil, so that we will share from the glory of Christ. Amen.