Monthly Archives: April, 2019

Second Sunday of Easter, Cycle C (or Sunday of Divine Mercy)

First Reading
Acts of the Apostles 5:12-16
Peter and the apostles perform many signs and wonders.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 118:2-4,13-15,22-24
A song of praise to the Lord.

Second Reading
Revelation 1:9-11a,12-13,17-19
John describes the instruction he received to write down his vision.

Gospel Reading
John 20:19-31
Thomas believes because he sees Jesus.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today’s reading, from the Gospel of John, is proclaimed on the second Sunday of Easter in each of the three Sunday Lectionary cycles. This should alert us to the significance of the encounters with the resurrected Jesus described in this reading. This Gospel combines two scenes: Jesus’ appearance to his disciples after his Resurrection and Jesus’ dialogue with Thomas, the disciple who doubted.

Part of the mystery of Jesus’ Resurrection is that he appeared to his disciples not as a spirit but in bodily form. We do not know exactly what this form was like. Earlier in John’s Gospel, when Mary of Magdala first encountered the risen Jesus, she did not recognize the figure standing before her until Jesus spoke her. In Luke’s Gospel, the disciples walking on the road to Emmaus did not recognize Jesus until he broke bread with them. We know from readings such as today’s that in his resurrected body, Jesus was no longer bound by space; he appeared to the disciples in spite of the locked door. And yet, on this resurrected body, the disciples could still observe the marks of his Crucifixion.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus greets his disciples with the gift of peace and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus also commissions his disciples to continue the work that he has begun. As Jesus was sent by God, so too does Jesus send his disciples. This continuity with Jesus’ own mission is an essential element of the Church. Jesus grants the means to accomplish this mission when he gives his disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit binds us together as a community of faith and strengthens us to bear witness to Jesus’ Resurrection.

Jesus’ words to his disciples also highlight the integral connection between the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Forgiveness and reconciliation are gifts to us from Jesus. With the grace of the Holy Spirit, we can share these with others. This is another essential aspect of what it means to be Christ’s Church. The Church continues Jesus’ ministry of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Thomas, the disciple who doubts, represents the reality of the Church that comes after this first community of disciples. All but the first disciples of Jesus must believe without seeing. Like Thomas, we may doubt the news that Jesus, who was crucified and buried, appeared to his disciples. It is part of our human nature to seek hard evidence that the Jesus who appeared to the disciples after his death is, indeed, the same Jesus who was crucified. Thomas is given the opportunity to be our representative who obtains this evidence. He gives witness to us that the Jesus who was raised is the same Jesus who had died. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are among those who are blessed for we have not seen and yet have believed.– loyolapress.com


The Second Sunday of Easter is celebrated as Divine Mercy Sunday.

 

Soccom’s YoM message reaches outstation parishes

A SOCCOM ADKK member sharing on what God’s mercy means for him and his family

Kota Kinabalu – Members of the Social Communications Commission of the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu (SOCCOM ADKK) visited two parishes during this year’s season of Lent with the purpose of communicating the Gospel message of God’s mercy to the people.

They were at St. Pius X, Church, Bundu Tuhan, and the St. Peter’s Church in Kudat  on April 5, and April 12 respectively, to carry out its Year of Mercy (YoM) programme there.

The Jubilee Year of Mercy, from 8 Dec 2015 to 20 Nov 2016, was proclaimed by Pope Francis as a special time for believers to grow stronger and more effective in giving witness to the mercy shown by God the Father.

Fr Thomas Madanan, the Commission’s Spiritual Advisor, who led the Soccom team in conducting the YoM programme, told the gatherings that for Christians, seeking God’s mercy and showing mercy to others is an endeavour of a lifetime.

That was the reason why, he said, that the Commission has decided to continue with its special YoM programme, despite the fact that the Jubilee Year had ended in November 2016, in order to convey to the people of God at the parish level on, “What Mercy Means to Me and My Family”.

This year, the Soccom ADKK members joining Fr Thomas in presenting the programme were Sr. Bibianah Dunsia,fsp, Ruben Sario, Gideon Abel and Joseph Leong, who jointly gave the catechesis, based on the Gospel message on Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10), and to give personal witness on the mercy of God shown to them in their life.

The speakers invited the parishioners of the two churches to be reconciled with each other in their respective family by way of forgiveness and other acts of mercy, particularly during the season of Lent.

By way of its special YoM programme, Soccom ADKK continues with its mission to spread the Gospel message not only in writing but by word of mouth as well, personally sharing the good news of love and mercy of Jesus Christ.

They have organized the programme also as part of its outreach to parishes in the Archdiocese updating them on latest activities of the Commission and encouraging them to establish new or strengthening the existing social communications or publicity committee.

The programme was conducted in both churches on a Friday following the Station of the Cross and a Holy Mass. It received full support from the parish priest Fr Michael Modoit at Bundu Tuhan, the chairman of the Parish Pastoral Council, Joseph Akiu,   together with  the parishioners (around 150 people) who stayed back to listen to the talk.

Meanwhile, at the St Peter’s Church, Kudat , among those who attended were about 50 parishioners including 39 youth who were having a weekend camp in the parish to prepare them for the World Youth Day celebration on Palm Sunday in union with youths throughout the world. Some members of PPCs were also there. Likewise , dinner was served at the parish hall just before the talk.

Previous occasions when the Soccom YoM event was held were at: the Holy Rosary Church, Limbahau (Nov 11, 2016); the Holy Nativity Church, Terawi (April 28, 2017); St Catherine’s Church, Inanam (Aug 18, 2017); St Joseph Husband of Mary, Kiulu (Mar 2, 2018), and St John’s Church, Tuaran (Mar 9, 2018). – kkdiocese.net

Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord

First Reading
Acts of the Apostles 10:34a,37-43
Peter preaches about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 118:1-2,16-17,22-23
Rejoice in this day of the Lord.

Second Reading
Colossians 3:1-4 or 1 Corinthians 5:6b-8
Colossians: Having been raised by Christ, be concerned with what is above.
1 Corinthians: Let us celebrate this feast with new yeast.

Gospel Reading
John 20:1-9
Mary of Magdala finds that the stone has been removed from Jesus’ tomb.

Background on the Gospel Reading

Today we begin the Easter Season, our 50-day meditation on the mystery of Christ’s Resurrection. Our Gospel today tells us about the disciples’ discovery of the empty tomb. It concludes by telling us that they did not yet understand that Jesus had risen from the dead. Thus, the details provided are not necessarily meant to offer proof of the Resurrection. The details invite us to reflect upon a most amazing gift, that is faith in Jesus and his Resurrection.

Each of the four Gospels tells us that Jesus’ empty tomb was first discovered by women. This is notable because in first-century Jewish society women could not serve as legal witnesses. In the case of John’s Gospel, the only woman attending the tomb is Mary of Magdala. Unlike the Synoptic accounts, John’s Gospel does not describe an appearance of angels at the tomb. Instead, Mary is simply said to have observed that the stone that had sealed the tomb had been moved, and she runs to alert Simon Peter and the beloved disciple. Her statement to them is telling. She assumes that Jesus’ body has been removed, perhaps stolen. She does not consider that Jesus has been raised from the dead.

Simon Peter and the beloved disciple race to the tomb, presumably to verify Mary’s report. The beloved disciple arrives first but does not enter the tomb until after Simon Peter. This detail paints a vivid picture, as does the detail provided about the burial cloths. Some scholars believe that the presence of the burial cloths in the tomb offers evidence to the listener that Jesus’ body had not been stolen (it is understood that grave robbers would have taken the burial cloths together with the body).

The Gospel passage concludes, however, that even having seen the empty tomb and the burial cloths, the disciples do not yet understand about the Resurrection. In the passage that follows, Mary of Magdala meets Jesus but mistakes him for the gardener. In the weeks ahead, the Gospel readings from our liturgy will show us how the disciples came to believe in Jesus’ Resurrection through his appearances to them. Our Easter faith is based on their witness to both the empty tomb and their continuing relationship with Jesus—in his appearances and in his gift of the Holy Spirit.-loyolapress.com

Archbishop John Wong’s Message for Easter 2019

The encounter with True Love is in the silence

AS the Universal Church rejoices at the Resurrection of Jesus Christ our Savior, let us together proclaim “The Lord is risen indeed! Alleluia!”

It is in this Rising from the dead that has given significance to the birth and death of Christ. The world experiences births and deaths every day and many a time, these experiences give and take away hope and joy respectively. Yet, it is in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ that has set the foundation to true Hope, true Joy because we are promised with Eternal Life.

When I reflected on the accounts of the Passion and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, I could not still fully describe and comprehend the immensity and intensity of the Love that is given so generously to us. “It is proof of God’s own love for us, that Christ died for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5: 8) It is not just any love that the world is promoting and living by today. This Love gives of Himself (1 John 4: 8) fully and freely, even unto death. It is called the Sacrificial Love, one that is given willingly for the good and life of the others. Yet, through my own experience, I believe anyone who has truly encountered this Love could not ever resist it. Moreover, this Love would draw one to be committed to lead a life transformed in the way of Christ.

With the signs of times and urgent issues the Church and the World are facing, we see clearly that the love of the world centers on the interest of the “I”. During the season of Lent, I was very moved when the psalmist said “Save me in your Love, O Lord” (Psalm 31:16). It has drawn me into a deeper contemplation of what this Love means and how it could save. It has convicted me more and more that the only remedy to these issues could only be countered purely from the decision of each person to will the good of the other person, just as Jesus Christ has chosen to lay down His own life for our salvation (John 10:18).

Brothers and sisters in Christ, to be the channel of love, we are to first encounter Love Himself. For me, the encounter of this Love lies in the empty tomb. The tomb, to many of us, may signify darkness, sorrow, despair and death. Yet, J.R.R. Tolkein once wrote a profound quote,  “Christian joy produces tears because it is qualitatively so like sorrow, because it comes from those places where Joy and Sorrow are at one, reconciled, as selfishness and altruism are lost in Love.”

Likewise, I see this truth in the empty tomb. It is at dusk that the first sunlight will break through darkness. It is in the darkness of defeat, sorrow, despair and death, Jesus meets us there. As St Paul the Apostle wrote to the Ephesians (4: 8-10) “He went up to the heights, took captives, he gave gifts to humanity.” When it says, ‘he went up’, it must mean that he had gone down to the deepest levels of the earth. The one who went down is none other than the one who went up the heavens to fill all things. Jesus has Himself entered into this pit and won victoriously! Hence, we could proclaim “Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15: 55). Love Himself has conquered death!

Today, Jesus continues to meet us where we are, with the same Passion for our Salvation. It takes only our openness to respond with a ‘Yes” to reach out to His Hands which has been extended waiting for ours decision to want to be saved. This is where we will experience the power of love through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It brings us true Joy, true Hope and Eternal Life.

In order for us to encounter this True Love, I strongly urge us to “Listen”. Only when we choose to stop, be still and listen, we would encounter True Love Himself, for He is found in the silence.

Two very practical steps to listen are: (1) to soak ourselves in the Word of God, and (2) to frequent ourselves to the Sacraments, especially the Sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation.

The Word of God is filled with God’s Truth and His covenant Love for us. He wants to speak Love to us. Moreover, He wants to show us His tangible Love through the Sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation. When we avail ourselves to these Sacraments, it is in fact God initiating to give, reassure and restore us to fullness. He knows all that we are, but He remains faithful to love us totally.

Brothers and sisters, as we celebrate the victory of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, let us also give our honour to our Most Holy Mother of God, Mary. She was present all through the life of Jesus, convicted by the life that they walked through together, that Jesus is the Messiah the whole nation of Israel has been waiting for. She remained standing even at the foot of the Cross, trusting that God’s Will is fulfilled. She encountered Love, carried Love and lived with Love.  Therefore, let us continue to ask for her kind intercession that we, too, will encounter this Abounding Love that can be found in Jesus Christ Alone. Carry this love, live and share it to all.

We are redeemed children of an ever-abundant Father! Be Courageous! Let Love reach you, touch you and motivate you to go forward. Have a Blessed Easter!

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, Cycle C

Gospel at the Procession with Palms
Luke 19:28-40
Jesus sends his disciples for a colt and then rides into Jerusalem.

First Reading
Isaiah 50:4-7
The Lord’s Servant will stand firm, even when persecuted.

Responsorial Psalm
Psalm 22:8-9,17-20,23-24
A cry for help to the Lord in the face of evildoers.

Second Reading
Philippians 2:6-11
Christ was obedient even to death, but God has exalted him.

Gospel Reading
Luke 22:14—23:56 (shorter form: Luke 23:1-49)
From the cross, Jesus speaks words of forgiveness and promises that the good thief will be with him in paradise.

Background on the Gospel Reading

This Sunday, called Palm or Passion Sunday, is the first day of Holy Week. Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday are called the Triduum, three days that are the highlight of the Church year. There are two Gospels proclaimed at today’s Mass. The first Gospel, proclaimed before the procession with palms, tells of Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. Riding on a borrowed colt, Jesus was hailed by the crowds as they shouted blessings and praise to God. This event is reported in each of the four Gospels.

Luke’s Gospel is the only one to report the exchange between Jesus and the Pharisees as Jesus enters Jerusalem. Jesus’ response shows that this event, and those yet to come, are part of a divine plan. We hear this echoed again in Luke’s description of the Last Supper when Jesus speaks of Judas’ betrayal, saying that the Son of Man “goes as has been determined.”

At the Liturgy of the Word on this Sunday, the events of Jesus’ passion are proclaimed in their entirety. In Lectionary Cycle C, we read the passion of Jesus as found in the Gospel of Luke. We will hear these events proclaimed again during the Triduum when we read the passion of Jesus from the Gospel of John.

Throughout Luke’s Gospel we see that Jesus’ words and actions proclaim the Kingdom of God. This motif continues throughout Luke’s passion narrative. Jesus appears to be in total command of events at the Passover meal as he hands over the kingdom to his disciples. He welcomes them to the Passover meal announcing that this will be his last until the Kingdom of God is fulfilled.

As throughout Luke’s Gospel, however, the disciples show little understanding of this kingdom that Jesus often announces. Following the meal, the disciples argue about who is the greatest. Jesus takes the opportunity to distinguish the meaning of leadership in the Kingdom of God from the forms of leadership seen in the world.

Jesus initiates a conversation with Simon and predicts his denial. Jesus then instructs his disciples to prepare themselves for the events that will follow. His words reveal an awareness of the challenges that all of them will face in the days ahead. As the disciples and Jesus enter the Mount of Olives, Jesus indicates the importance of the disciples’ time in prayer, telling them that through prayer they will be able to face the challenges ahead.

As he prays, Jesus is tested. In the garden, an angel is sent to strengthen him and to prepare him for the events ahead. After this moment, Jesus is again in charge of the events and circumstances.

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is portrayed as active and vocal throughout his passion. When one of the disciples strikes the high priest’s servant, Jesus heals the man, an event reported only in the Gospel of Luke. Jesus stops the disciples’ protest against his arrest by noting that this is the “time for the power of darkness.” Jesus engages and responds when brought before the Sanhedrin; his words speak about the “power of God” that will bring about the reign of the Son of Man. When questioned by Pilate, Jesus responds with just one phrase; yet before Herod, Jesus refuses to speak.

When Luke describes the Way of the Cross and Jesus’ crucifixion, he calls to our attention many events that are not reported in the other Gospels. Throughout his Gospel, Luke has paid heed to the women who accompanied Jesus. Now, on the road to Calvary, Jesus speaks to the women who walk with him. Only Luke reports Jesus’ words of forgiveness spoken from the cross. And only Luke reports the dialogue between Jesus and the good thief. Finally, in contrast with the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, Luke reports no words of abandonment spoken by Jesus on the cross. Instead, Jesus, in full command until his death, commends his spirit to his Father and takes his final breath.

Throughout Holy Week, we will continue to reflect on the events of Jesus’ passion and death. As we meditate on the cross, we ask again and anew what it means to make the statement of faith that Jesus, in his obedient suffering and dying, revealed himself to us as God’s Son and brought to fulfillment the Kingdom of God.-loyolapress.com

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