Posts Tagged ‘Baptism’

Holy Trinity Sunday: God Is Love — The mystery of the Holy Trinity simplified — God’s simplicity — Are we seeking ‘Oneness’? — Am I a beacon of love?

May 27, 2018

Fr Matthew Jarvis delights in the mystery of the Holy Trinity, The Triune God who, as a beacon of Love, draws us ever further into glory.

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‘Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’ Or more literally: ‘into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’ That’s also what the original Creed says: ‘I believe into God the Father… and into the Son… and into the Holy Spirit.’ We are on a journey into God, a journey into the dynamic life of the Holy Trinity. It’s a journey into love.

‘I love you.’ Three of the simplest words in the world, but we use them to express an inexhaustible mystery in our human relationships. 

‘God is love.’ Again, three simple words but they open up the infinite mystery of the Trinity.

‘The Lord is God indeed,’ we read in Moses today, ‘he and no other.’ Reason finds no problem in thinking of God as the Absolute, the One, but we need revelation to teach us about the Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God is Three and God is One; both are true mysteries, and they are connected. To appreciate why we cannot fully comprehend the mystery of the Holy Trinity (God’s personal threeness), it helps to remember that we really cannot grasp the mystery of the Divine Simplicity (God’s substantial oneness) either.

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The doctrine of divine simplicity states that God is not complex (made up of parts) in any way. Father, Son and Spirit are not parts of God, but One God. Easier said than understood! G. K. Chesterton recounts the story: ‘A lady I knew picked up a book of selections from St Thomas [Aquinas], with a commentary; and began hopefully to read a section with the innocent heading, The Simplicity of God. She then laid the book down with a sigh and said: “Well, if that’s His simplicity, I wonder what His complexity is like.”’

But God is not complex. The Platonists understood that simplicity is found at both the highest and lowest realities, both in the mere potentiality of ‘pure matter’ and in the luminous glory of the One. Is this what a modern American writer, variously cited as Ralph Waldo Emerson or Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr, is also saying? ‘I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.’

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God’s simplicity is not like pure matter, because God is pure Actuality, white-hot Light, total and unconditional Love. This actuality envelops and drives everything, as its source and goal, the Alpha and Omega. I’m deliberately mixing philosophical language with Scriptural images, because both reason and revelation should guide us on our journey into the mystery of the Triune God.

Our journey into God’s simplicity will not take us back again to square one, empty-handed, but instead we will discover that a fullness has sent us out and a fullness will receive us home, transformed. There is a fullness in the simplicity that encloses complexity, like there is a fullness in the God whose eternity encloses time and is not enclosed by it. So, our journey into the Trinity is an attraction to the divine simplicity, not a stagnation in human simple-mindedness.

After all, there is a lovely simplicity in genius that differs from simple-mindedness. Often a beautiful object is found to have a simple rationale, despite its manifold appearance, whether it’s the mathematical iteration of the ‘Hofstadter butterfly’ or the musical unfurling of a Bach fugue.

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We cannot draw the Trinity or compose its theme-tune, but there’s a decent medieval attempt in the simple yet profound pictogram called the Scutum Fidei (Shield of Faith) that summarises: the Father is God, the Son is God, the Spirit is God, yet the Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Spirit and the Spirit is not the Father.

The Trinity does not undermine the simplicity of God, because there’s nothing simpler nor stronger than persons united in love. The unity of God is a perfect communion of persons. And then St Paul pronounces God’s extraordinary invitation to us: receive the Spirit of God, let God dwell within you and make you his child, his heir, and take you into his glory.

The Light is too bright for our eyes right now; it’s too pure and simple, but it beckons us, a beacon of Love, drawing us ever further into glory – into the Father, and into the Son, and into the Holy Spirit.

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Deut 4:32-34, 39-40  |  Rom 8:14-17  |  Matt 28:16-20

Photograph by Fr Lawrence Lew OP of the ‘scutum Fidei’ depicted in a window in the church of St Denis in Hanover, MA.


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Prayer and Meditation for Sunday, May 27, 2018 — Trying To Understand What Often Cannot Be Understood — Time For Faith

May 26, 2018

TODAY’S FEAST is one which many preachers would prefer not to have to talk about.  What can one say that is meaningful about such an abstract concept as the Holy Trinity?  In one sense, of course, they are right.  It was the great St Thomas Aquinas who said that it was much easier to say what God was not than what he is.  In other words, every positive statement made about God has to be immediately denied.  If we say God is “good”, it is obviously true but our concept of “goodness”, however exalted, is so limited that God’s “goodness” cannot remotely correspond to our limited concept of it.  And so of every other attribute applied to God.

Art: Holy Trinity by Nicoletto Semitecolo

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity
Lectionary: 165

Reading 1DT 4:32-34, 39-40

Moses said to the people:
“Ask now of the days of old, before your time,
ever since God created man upon the earth;
ask from one end of the sky to the other:
Did anything so great ever happen before?
Was it ever heard of?
Did a people ever hear the voice of God
speaking from the midst of fire, as you did, and live?
Or did any god venture to go and take a nation for himself
from the midst of another nation,
by testings, by signs and wonders, by war,
with strong hand and outstretched arm, and by great terrors,
all of which the LORD, your God,
did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?
This is why you must now know,
and fix in your heart, that the LORD is God
in the heavens above and on earth below,
and that there is no other.
You must keep his statutes and commandments that I enjoin on you today,
that you and your children after you may prosper,
and that you may have long life on the land
which the LORD, your God, is giving you forever.”

Responsorial Psalm  PS 33:4-5, 6, 9, 18-19, 20, 22

R. (12b) Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Upright is the word of the LORD,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the Lord the earth is full.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made;
by the breath of his mouth all their host.
For he spoke, and it was made;
he commanded, and it stood forth.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
who have put our hope in you.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.

Reading 2  ROM 8:14-17

Brothers and sisters:
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you received a Spirit of adoption,
through whom we cry, “Abba, Father!”
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit
that we are children of God,
and if children, then heirs,
heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ,
if only we suffer with him
so that we may also be glorified with him.

AlleluiaRV 1:8

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Glory to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit;
to God who is, who was, and who is to come.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

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Art: The Holy Trinity by José de Ribera

Gospel MT 28:16-20

The eleven disciples went to Galilee,
to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them.
When they all saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.
Then Jesus approached and said to them,
“All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.
And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
From The Abbot
Monastery of Christ In The Desert

My sisters and brothers in the Lord,

Abba, Father!  We come to the Lord today, asking that He keep us aware of this great mystery of the Trinity.  It is this belief that God is Trinity, three in one, that distinguishes the Christian faith from all other beliefs.  We believe that God is Father, that Jesus is Son and equal to the Father and is God, and that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father and the Son and also God.  It is a truly challenging belief and we believe because Jesus taught us to believe.

The first reading today is from the Book of Deuteronomy.  This passage tells us of the incredible experience of our ancestors in the faith.  God spoke to them!  This is what you and I receive from our ancestors in the faith:  God speaks to His people!  Today not many still believe in such revelation.  We believe and because of that belief, we believe in Jesus Christ and in the Spirit.  God speaks to us today in His Church and through the Sacraments and in our daily lives through faith.

The second reading is from the Letter to the Romans.  We must come to know within ourselves that our faith is a gift of the Spirit, that we can speak of Jesus as our Lord and Savior because of the Spirit within us, that we call God our Father because the Spirit is the pledge of our adoption as children of God, of the Father.  These words must become words that speak of the reality that we experience.  Today, as we honor Father, Son and Spirit, let us seek to live these mysteries more profoundly in our lives.

Today’s Gospel is from Saint Matthew and gives us the formula of Baptism in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Baptism is the wonderful gift of being incorporated into Jesus Christ and into all the mysteries of our faith.  Most importantly, it is a proclamation that God is Triune, Three-in-One, that God is in Jesus teaching us about the mysteries of God.

For many of us, we only know this great mystery because we have come to believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord.  It is He who teaches us.  It is He who draws us into this great mystery of God.  To Him be glory and honor forever.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip



Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
27 MAY, 2018, Trinity Sunday

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ Dt 4:32-3439-40Ps 33Rom 8:14-17Mt 28:16-20  ]

The Christian doctrine of the Trinity, according to some theologians, could be the reason why Christianity has become less attractive, especially to people with a simple mind.  It is much easier just to confess faith in the One God than to try to figure out how God is One in being and three in persons.  The doctrine is mind boggling when we try to understand how the inner life of God works.  How could God be one being or one substance and yet there are three persons sharing the same being in thinking, in will, in majesty, in power, omnipotence and omniscience and yet are different?  In truth, even with all the intellectual attempts to make sense of the doctrine of the Trinity, we know that we cannot truly explain the inner life of God because it is a mystery of faith.  Indeed, the doctrine of the Holy Trinity is a mystery.

The path to understanding the Trinitarian God is not through reason.  If we try to explain why God is one being and three persons, it will create more confusion rather than enlightenment.  Speaking about the Holy Trinity via a doctrinal exposition is not the best way to introduce someone to the Holy Trinity.   The discourse is useful for clarification and to calm the intellect in searching for the truth, but this presupposes the person experiences God as such.  Thus the way to speak about the Holy Trinity is the way of experience, the way of prayer and the way of encountering God concretely.  Without this prior experience of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, such theological expositions remain abstract propositions.

The first step in coming to know the doctrine of the Trinity presumes faith in the One God. Our creed begins with the opening article of faith, “I believe in one God.”  This must be the starting point, for Christianity is a monotheistic religion.  However, faith in God again cannot be simply a conceptual or intellectual assent to a truth.  Many people do not have faith in God simply because they do not experience His presence in their lives, more so, when society is so secularistic and God is removed from public life.  When God is not felt or heard or seen, how could there be faith in God?

Indeed, in the first reading, Moses demanded obedience of the people to God only because this God was encountered by them intensely.  The Lord worked in their lives and history, delivering them from their enemies, especially from slavery.  Truly, they had heard the voice of God, they had seen Him in nature, thunder, lightning, a pillar of fire and clouds.  They witnessed God’s power over nature in the Ten Plagues and in their fight with the Egyptians and their enemies on their march to the Promised Land.

Unless we have experienced God concretely in our lives, it is difficult to profess our faith in Him.  Often, people give up faith in God because they feel that God was not with them in their pains and sufferings, in their illnesses, failures or when they lost their loved ones or their job.  Only if we have encountered God personally and concretely, can we profess with Moses, “The Lord is God indeed, in heaven above as on earth beneath, he and no other.”  So the question of faith in God is whether one has encountered Him radically in their lives.  If in our helpless moments and desperation, a miracle happens, then faith becomes stronger and God becomes real in our lives.  This is why testimonies of God’s love for us in our daily life is the most convincing way to lead people to faith in Him; not through doctrines.

Nevertheless, Christian faith does not stop at believing that God is one.  God is Father but He also sent us His Son who revealed to us the full identity of God.  Jesus made it clear, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.”  (Jn 14:10)  Christ revealed to us that He is one with the Father.  “The Father and I are one.” (Jn 10:30)

But how do we know that Jesus and the Father are one?  This is proven by His death and resurrection. In His resurrection from the dead, the Father endorsed everything that Jesus said and did.  All the claims of Jesus about His identity and the work He did for His Father make sense with His resurrection.  It shows that He is the Lord of life and Lord over death, which has no power over Him.  “The eleven disciples set out for Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had arranged to meet them. When they saw him they fell down before him, though some hesitated.”  In this statement, we see how the disciples bowed down in worship; and if some hesitated, it was because the Risen Lord had been so transformed from the Jesus of Nazareth that only faith could perceive His Presence.   But once perceived, the conclusion is that Jesus is the Risen Lord and therefore in assuming the powers of God, He now has the authority of God.  He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

But for us who have not seen the Risen Lord, how can we know that His Risen presence is real?  How can we encounter Him today so that we know that God is our Father through Christ?  This is where Jesus promised us the Holy Spirit.  This is what St Paul wrote, “Everyone moved by the Spirit is a son of God. The spirit you received is not the spirit of slaves bringing fear into your lives again; it is the spirit of sons, and it makes us cry out, ‘Abba, Father!’ The Spirit himself and our spirit bear united witness that we are children of God.”   The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father and the Son.  When we are baptized, the Holy Spirit is given to us so that in the Holy Spirit we come to encounter the Risen presence of the Lord.  This happens in our hearts at prayer, especially during worship, when the Word of God is read, preached and shared.

Beyond experiencing the Fatherliness of God in prayer, we also experience His strength and power working in us in our triumph and fortitude in the face of sufferings.  St Paul wrote, “And if we are children we are heirs as well: heirs of God and coheirs with Christ, sharing his sufferings so as to share his glory.”  In our union with Christ’s suffering even unto death, we also share His resurrection and new life.  Finally, in our fellowship with the Body of Christ, in our service to the poor and the abandoned, we encounter the Lord Jesus present in them. Jesus is felt, heard, touched and seen in our brothers and sisters, especially when we belong to a Catholic community.

Only then, can we speak about the work of evangelization and the obligation of mission.  Without this interior and personal experience of God as the Holy Trinity, we cannot be His witnesses.  Only after the disciples had seen Him, did Jesus tell them, “Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations.”   Unless we know from our heart that God is real and He is experienced as Father, Son and Spirit, we cannot share the Good News. Indeed, the Lord commanded us to “baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  Baptism is not in the names but name, singular, because there is one God.

Christian joy is to know the Father more and more through understanding the Son and acceptance of His teachings so that the Holy Spirit can live in our hearts.  Indeed, we are “to teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.” Dying to Christ in baptism, rising to a new life in the Spirit, sharing our communion with the rest of the family of God, together, we help each other and support each other to become more and more like Jesus and living together as God’s family.  In conclusion, not only is our experience of God triune, but our life as Christians must be lived in imitation of the Trinitarian communion.  We who are individuals, too, must learn to live in unity.  We need to become more and more united in love and service, sharing our uniqueness and talents together for the service of God and humanity, so as to build a community of love.

Written by The Most Rev William Goh Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore 



Commentaries on Deuteronomy 4:32-34,39-40, Romans 8:14-17, Matthew 28:16-20 From Living Space

TODAY’S FEAST is one which many preachers would prefer not to have to talk about.  What can one say that is meaningful about such an abstract concept as the Holy Trinity?  In one sense, of course, they are right.  It was the great St Thomas Aquinas who said that it was much easier to say what God was not than what he is.  In other words, every positive statement made about God has to be immediately denied.  If we say God is “good”, it is obviously true but our concept of “goodness”, however exalted, is so limited that God’s “goodness” cannot remotely correspond to our limited concept of it.  And so of every other attribute applied to God.

When it comes, then, to speaking of the meaning and inner relationship of three “Persons” in one God we are floundering in territory where ordinary human language is totally inadequate to express the reality.  Our God can only be reached in the “cloud of unknowing”, as Julian of Norwich so beautifully expressed it.  God is not any of the things we say he is.  It is, as Fr Anthony de Mello used to put it, something like trying to explain the colour green to a person who has been totally blind since birth.

No getting off the hook

However, we should not try to get off the hook too easily and decide to speak or think about something altogether different on this Sunday.  Provided we are aware of God’s basic unknowability by our limited minds, there are still many helpful things we can consider about our God and the inner relationships which are part of his* being.

While it is of the utmost importance that we realise this, there are many statements we can make which will help in our relationships with God.

To go back to Thomas Aquinas again, one of his basic principles was that “Behaviour is determined by the nature of things” (Agere sequitur esse).  From the way things act we know something about what they are.  We can thus distinguish the different natures of minerals and other non-living substances, plant life, bacterial and viral life, animal life, human life from the different ways in which each is able to function and react.  We normally will not confuse a cow and a horse, a bird or a bat, a shark or a whale, a gorilla or a human being.  It is not simply their appearances that are different.  We realise that each has certain capabilities and that those capabilities arise from the way they are essentially constituted in their inner being.  We don’t expect animals to talk as humans do, except in TV cartoons.  We don’t expect snails to run in the Derby or the Grand National or horses to fly.

And, in our daily rubbing shoulders with other people, the only way we can know them is by what they reveal of themselves through their behaviour and interactions.  We say they ARE kind, because they consistently behave in a way that is kind.  Or they ARE cruel, again because of what is perceived as consistently cruel behaviour.  “By their fruits you will know them,” said Jesus.  “A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, or a bad tree good fruit” – because agere sequitur esse.

A level of unknowability

At the same time, while we may feel we can know a lot about people from their behaviour (and do not hesitate to pass judgement!), we can by no means know everything.  Every human being, indeed as science constantly discovers, every created thing is a mystery whose innermost reality is really impossible for us to penetrate totally.  And that even applies to our own selves.  We do not know ourselves totally.  We are a mystery to ourselves – and, a fortiori, to others!

If this is true of created reality, we should not be surprised to face the same dilemma with the Creator.  God, in his deepest being, is a mystery we cannot ever fathom.  This is not just a “cop out”; it is a fact.  Nevertheless on the basis of what God DOES we do get some very clear indications of what he IS.  Agere sequitur esse applies to God also.

What the Scripture tells us

And it is in the Christian (New) Testament especially that it has been revealed to us that there are three Persons in our one God.  What it means to have three Persons in one Being is something we do not even try to understand.  But we can get some inkling if we confine ourselves to seeing what each of the persons DOES as a clue to what they ARE.

In Greek classical drama in the time of Jesus and earlier, the actors put on a mask to indicate the role they were playing (not unlike the elaborate painting of the face in Chinese opera).  The Greek word for this mask was prosopon (proswpon, literally, ‘in front of the face’) and the Latin translation was persona (that through which the sound of the speaker’s voice came).

So, speaking analogically, we can say that in our God there are three masks, three personae, three roles pointing to three separate sources of action.  This is not an explanation.  It is a groping effort to get some understanding.  Those three roles are that of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit acting from one single Source.


We see God as Father, a loving and compassionate Father.  Not a daunting patriarchal figure but one that is easily approached and who can be addressed by the familiar and intimate term Abba(Abba, compare the English ‘Papa’ or ‘Ah Ba’ in Chinese and other languages).  He is the creator and giver of all life.  Everything good that can be discerned in the world around us comes from him and through him.  In him, through him and with him all things exist.

He is the one who cares, the one who waits for the Prodigal to return and forgives completely and immediately.  He is the Father of truth, the Father of love and compassion, the Father of justice.  The whole of this beautiful world in which we lives is a testimony and, at the same time, only a faint indication of what he really is.  If we really look at the world he has made (and not at the one we have unmade), our hearts can only be overcome with praise and thanks.


We see God as Son, who in an extraordinary way came to live among us, and whom, in a paradox beyond all understanding, we humans killed.

In the Son as a human being, we can see, hear and touch God.  We see something of the nature of our God as Jesus heals the sick, identifies with the weak and socialises with the sinful.  We see him challenge the dehumanising values that form the fabric of most of our lives and, in the process, he is rejected by those he loves.  Though he is God, he empties himself of all human dignity that he might open for us the way to true and unending life.


We see God as Spirit, becoming, as it were, the soul of his people.  All the good that we do, all our evangelising work, our hospitals, schools, works of social development and social welfare, our care of the sick, the weak, the oppressed and the outcast – all are the work of God’s Spirit working in and through us.  Wherever there is genuine loving there is the Spirit of God at work.

Growing into his likeness

And yet, being aware of all this, we still cannot say that we know our God.  But there is enough here – if we pray and reflect on it – that is already overpowering in its significance.

We need to remember that we have been called to be and to grow into the image of God himself.  In what has been revealed to us through Jesus and the Scriptures, we have more than enough to challenge us and to help us to approach closer to our God.  Our ultimate goal, and it is the only goal for all living, is to achieve perfect union with him.  We do that, above all, by loving as he loved, by loving unconditionally and continuing to love where no love, and even hate, is returned.

For this we need the creative power of the Father, the compassion of the Son, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  They are all available to anyone who opens their heart to receive.

*Although God has been referred to here in male terms, we need to remind ourselves that the three persons of the Trinity are sexually inclusive of both male and female.

We need also to remember that, although Jesus as the incarnate Son is male, our Creed professes that the Second Person of the Trinity became primarily a human being (et homo factus est).  The word ‘homo’, although grammatically masculine, refers to any human being: man, woman or child.


Lectio Divina from the Carmelites
A key to guide the reading:The text reports the last words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew. This is like a testament, his last wish for the community, that which is uppermost in his mind. In our reading, let us try to pay attention to the following: What does Jesus insist on most in his final words?A division of chapter 14 to help with the reading:

Mt 28:16 – Geographical indication: return to Galilee.
Mt 28:17 – Jesus’ apparition and the reaction of the disciples.
Mt 28:18-20a – Jesus’ finalinstructionsMt 28:20b – The great promise, source of all hope..The text:

16: Meanwhile the eleven disciples set out for Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had arranged to meet them..
17: When they saw him they fell down before him, though some hesitated..
18-20a: Jesus came up and spoke to them. He said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you..
20b: And look, I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.’.

A moment of prayerful silence

so that the Word of God may enter into us and enlighten our life.

Some questions

to help us in our personal reflection.

a) What struck you and touched your heart most?
b) Identify the chronological and geographical information in this text.
c) How do the disciples react? What is the content of Jesus’ words to the disciples?
d) What is this “all power in heaven and on earth” given to Jesus?
e) What does it mean, “to become a disciple” of Jesus?
f) In this context, what does the baptism “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” mean?
g) What do the words “I am with you always, even to the end of time” remind us of in the OT?

A key to the reading

for those who wish to go deeper into the text.

The context of Matthew’s Gospel

* Matthew’s Gospel, written about the year 85, is addressed to a community of converted Jews who lived in Syria-Palestine. They were going through a deep identity crisis concerning their past. When they accepted Jesus as the awaited Messiah, they continued to go to the synagogue and to observe the law and the ancient traditions. Moreover, they had a certain affinity with the Pharisees, and after the revolution of the Jews in Palestine against the Romans (65 to 72), they and the Pharisees were the only two groups to have survived the Roman oppression.

* From the 80s, these Jewish brothers, Pharisees and Christians, only survivors, began to fight among themselves as to who had inherited the promises of the OT. Each claimed to be the inheritors. Gradually, tension grew between them and they began to excommunicate each other. The Christians could no longer attend the synagogue and were cut off from their past. Each group began to regroup: the Pharisees in the synagogue, the Christians in church. This added to the identity problem of the community of Jewish Christians because it raised serious questions in need of urgent solutions. “Who has inherited the promises of the OT, those of the synagogue or those of the church? On whose side is God? Who are really the people of God?

* Now, Matthew writes his Gospel to help these communities overcome their crisis and to find an answer to their problems. His Gospel is, first of all, a Gospel of revelation showing how Jesus is the true Messiah, the new Moses, the culmination of the whole of the history of the OT and its promises. It is also the Gospel of consolation for those who felt excluded and persecuted by their Jewish brothers. Matthew wants to console and help them to overcome the trauma of the split. It is the Gospel of the new practice because it shows the way to achieve a new justice, greater than that of the Pharisees. It is the Gospel of openness and shows that the Good News of God that Jesus brought cannot be hidden, but must be placed on a candlestick so that it may enlighten the life of all peoples.

Commentary on the text of Matthew 28: 16-20

* Matthew 28:16: Returning to Galilee: It was in Galilee that it all began (Mt 4:12). It was there that the disciples first heard the call (Mt 4:15) and it was there that Jesus promised to reunite them again after the resurrection (Mt 26:31). In Luke, Jesus forbids them to leave Jerusalem (Acts 1:4). In Matthew they are commanded to leave Jerusalem and go back to Galilee (Mt 28: 7.10). Each evangelist has his own way of presenting the person of Jesus and his plans. For Luke, after the resurrection of Jesus, the proclamation of the Good News has to begin in Jerusalem in order to reach to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). For Matthew, the proclamation begins in Galilee of the pagans (Mt 4:15) in order to prefigure the passage from the Jews to the pagans.

The disciples had to go to the mountain that Jesus pointed out to them. The mountain reminds us of Mount Sinai, where the first Covenant took place and where Moses received the tablets of the Law of God (Ex 19 to 24; 34:1-35). It also reminds us of the mountain of God, where the prophet Elijah took refuge in order to find again the meaning of his mission (1Kings 19:1-18). It also reminds us of the mountain of the Transfiguration, where Moses and Elijah, that is, the Law and the Prophets, appear with Jesus, thus confirming that he is the promised Messiah (Mt 17:1-8).

* Matthew 28:17: Some doubted: The first Christians had great difficulty in believing in the resurrection. The evangelists insist in saying that they doubted a lot and did not believe in the resurrection of Jesus (Mk 16:11.13.14; Lk 24:; Jn 20:25). Faith in the resurrection was a slow and difficult process, but ended by being the greatest certainty of Christians (1Cor 15:3-34).

* Matthew 28:18: All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me: The passive form of the verb shows that Jesus received his authority from the Father. What is this authority? In the Apocalypse, the Lamb (the risen Jesus) received from the hand of God the book with seven seals (Ap 5:7) and became the Lord of history, he who must assume the responsibility for the execution of God’s project as described in the sealed book, and as such is adored by all creatures (Ap 12:11-14). By his authority and power he conquers the Dragon, the power of evil (Ap 12:1-9). And captures the Beast and the false prophet, symbols of the Roman Empire (Ap 19:20). In the Creed at Mass we say that Jesus ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father, thus becoming the judge of the living and the dead.

* Matthew 28:19-20a: Jesus’ last words: three commands to the disciples: Vested with supreme authority, Jesus passes on three orders to the disciples and to all of us: (i) Go therefore and make disciples of all nations; (ii) baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; (iii) teach them to observe whatsoever I have commanded you.

i) Go therefore and make disciples of all nations: To be a disciple is not the same as being a student. A disciple is in relation to the master. A student is in relation to the teacher. The disciple lives with the master 24 hours a day; the student receives lessons from the teacher for a few hours then goes back home. The disciple presupposes a community. The student presupposes being present in a classroom for lessons. The state of discipleship in those days was marked by the expression to follow the master. In the Carmelite Rule we read: To live in obedience to Jesus Christ. For the first Christians, to follow Jesus meant three connected things:

– To imitate the example of the Master: Jesus was the model to imitate and to be repeated in the life of the disciple (Jn 13:13-15). Living together every day meant a constant meeting. In this School of Jesus only one subject was taught: the Kingdom! This Kingdom could be seen in the life and practice of Jesus.

– Sharing in the fate of the Master: Those who followed Jesus, had to commit themselves to “stay with him in temptations” (Lk 22:28), and in persecution (Jn 15:20; Mt 10:24-25) and had to be willing to take up the cross and die with him (Mk 8:34-35; Jn 11:36).

– To possess in oneself the life of Jesus: After Easter, a third dimension was added: “I live now not I but Christ lives in me”. The first Christians sought to identify themselves with Jesus. This is the mystical dimension in the following of Jesus, fruit of the Spirit’s action.

ii) Baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: The Trinity is the source, the end and the way. Those baptised in the name of the Father, revealed in Jesus, commit themselves to live as brothers and sisters in fraternity. And if God is Father, we are all brothers and sisters.


Those baptised in the name of the Son, Jesus, commit themselves to imitate Jesus and to follow him even unto the cross in order to rise with him. And the power that Jesus received from the Father is a creative power that conquers death. Those baptised in the Holy Spirit, given by Jesus on the day of Pentecost, commit themselves to interiorising fraternity and the following of Jesus, allowing themselves to be led by the Spirit alive in the community.

iii) Teaching them to observe all my commands: For us Christians, Jesus is the New Law of God, proclaimed from on high in the mountain. Jesus is the chosen of the Father as the new Moses, whose word is law for us. “Hear him” (Mt 17:15). The Spirit sent by him will remind us of all the things he taught us (Jn 14:26; 16:13). The observance of the new Law of love is balanced by the gratuitous presence of Jesus in our midst, till the end of time.

* Matthew 28:20b: I am with you always, even to the end of time: When Moses was sent to free the people from Egypt, he received a guarantee from God, the only guarantee that offers complete certainty: “Go, I shall be with you!” (Ex 3:12). It is the same certainty promised to the prophets and other persons sent by God to undertake an important mission in God’s plan (Jer 1:8; Jud 6:16).


Mary received the same guarantee when the angel said to her, “The Lord is with you” (Lk 1:28). The person of Jesus is the living expression of this guarantee, because his name is Emmanuel, God with us (Mt 1:23). He will be with his disciples, with all of us, even to the end of time. Here we see Jesus’ authority. He controls history and time. He is the first and the last (Ap 1:17). Before the first, nothing existed and after the last, nothing is. This guarantee sustains people, nourishes their faith, sustains hope and generates love and the gift of oneself.

Highlighting the words of Jesus: The universal mission of the community.

Abraham was called to be the source of blessings not only for his descendants, but for all families on earth (Gen 12:3). The slave people were called not only to restore the tribe of Jacob, but also to be light to the nations (Is 49:6; 42:6). The prophet Amos said that God not only freed Israel from Egypt, but also the Philistines from Kaftor and the Aramaians from Quir (Am 9:7). God, then, looks after and is concerned for the Israelites as well as for the Philistines and the Aramaians who were the greatest enemies of the people of Israel!


The prophet Elijah thought he was the only defender of God (Kings 19:10.14), but he had to be told that apart from himself there were seven thousand others! (1Kings 18:18) The prophet Jonah wanted Yahweh to be only the God of Israel, but had to admit that he is the God of all nations, even the inhabitants of Niniveh, the bitterest enemies of Israel (Jo 4:1-11). In the New Testament, John, the disciple, wanted Jesus only for the little group, for the community, but Jesus corrected him and said, He who is not against me is for me! (Mk 9:348-40).

At the end of the first century after Christ, the difficulties and persecutions could have driven the Christian communities into losing the missionary impetus and to close in on themselves, as if they were the only ones defending the values of the Kingdom. But Matthew’s Gospel, faithful to this long tradition of openness to all nations, tells the communities that they cannot close in on themselves. They cannot claim for themselves a monopoly on the action of God in the world.


God is not the community’s property; rather the community is Yahweh’s property (Ex 19:5). In the midst of humanity that struggles against and resists oppression, the communities must be salt and yeast (Mt 5:13; 13:33). They must proclaim aloud to the whole world, among all nations, the Good News that Jesus brought us. God is present in our midst, the same God who, in Exodus, commits himself to free those who call on his name! (Ex 3:7-12). This is our mission. If this salt loses its savour, what will it be good for? “It is of no use for the earth or for the fertiliser” (Lk 14:35)

Psalm 150

Universal praise

Praise God in his holy sanctuary;
give praise in the mighty dome of heaven.
Give praise for his mighty deeds,
praise him for his great majesty.

Give praise with blasts upon the horn,
praise him with harp and lyre.
Give praise with tambourines and dance,
praise him with flutes and strings.

Give praise with crashing cymbals,
praise him with sounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath
give praise to the Lord!

Final Prayer

Lord Jesus, we thank for the word that has enabled us to understand better the will of the Father. May your Spirit enlighten our actions and grant us the strength to practice that which your Word has revealed to us. May we, like Mary, your mother, not only listen to but also practise the Word. You who live and reign with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.



Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
31 MAY 2015, Trinity Sunday

SCRIPTURE READINGS: Deut 4:32-34.39-40; Ps 32:4-6,9,18-20,22Rom 8:14-17Matt 28:16-20

In the first reading, we read how God chose the People of Israel to be His own.  Indeed the people were merely slaves in Egypt.  They were under the bondage of Pharaoh.  But God in His mercy set them free from the slavery of the Egyptians.

The new life of Christ has now been given to us as well.  We are called not simply to be God’s people but His very own, that is, to be His sons and daughters.  The fullness of our identity can be realized only in Christ.  By His death and resurrection, He not only revealed to us our identity as the adopted sons and daughters of His heavenly Father, but that we have a share in His divine life.  This is made possible when the Father poured out the Spirit of Jesus into our hearts in His name.  This is what St Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans.  “Everyone moved by the Spirit is a son of God. The spirit you received is not the spirit of slaves bringing fear into your lives again; it is the spirit of sons, and it makes us cry out, ‘Abba, Father!’”

Knowing that God is not just a transcendent God but our personal Father makes us feel that we are not merely His creatures but His children as well.  This experience of sonship and daughtership frees us from slavery and fear.  We can now live our lives in total freedom because we know that God our Heavenly Father will look after us as He looked after Jesus.  Even when we find the trials of life too overwhelming and difficult, we can surrender our lives to the Heavenly Father as Jesus did.  We can also commend our spirit to the Father whom we know will help us to overcome every trial and even death.  So with the rediscovery of our true identity as the adopted sons and daughters of God in Christ, our lives are now lived with a purpose and with dignity.  We no longer need to live as slaves to the world but in total freedom as God’s children.  Indeed, the partial revelation of the people of God as God’s own and the deliverance from physical slavery is not fully revealed with the declaration that we are the children of God and that we are interiorly free.

How can one mediate this Trinitarian experience of the One God whom we worship as Father, Son and Holy Spirit?   This experience is transmitted through baptism.   This is why the Lord commands us to baptize.  He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”   Baptism therefore is the matrix in which a person is initiated into the experience of a Trinitarian God.

However, it is not sufficient to know that we are God’s children.  All children must grow to adulthood and maturity.  What is the use of being born again when we die a premature death? The gift of baptism and rebirth requires that we bring the gift of eternal life given to us to fullness.  We are not only called to be baptized but Jesus specifically makes it clear that we are called to be disciples.  “Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations.”   Indeed, we cannot be contented with making converts to the Faith.  More importantly, we must make them disciples.

This is the real weakness of the Catholic Church.  We are good at making converts. We even boast of the number of converts each year.  We are proud of the large number of Catholics in our country.  But what is the quality of their faith?  Are they mature in their faith?  Are they making others disciples of Christ?  Are they evangelizing?  Are they living as sons and daughters of God?  Do they know the Father more and more intimately?  Do they live the gospel of Christ?  How many of our young have left the Church after confirmation?  How many of them live the gospel and moral life as demanded of us?  Are they proud to be Catholics and to be identified as such in the world? How are they bringing the gospel into the lives of the people in their place of work, family and society?

Discipleship is an ongoing reality.  We never stop being disciples.  We need to underscore once again the importance of Christian discipleship.  We cannot be left on our own.  We need formation throughout our lives.  Our Catholic faith cannot be reduced to attending mass on Sundays and praying the occasional prayers.  Unless we seriously see the importance of our on-going formation in our faith, in doctrines and most of all our spiritual life, a deepening prayer life and love for the Word of God, we cannot expect to truly enjoy the fullness of life as the sons and daughters of God.  The truth is that many of us are Christian in name but not in fact.  This explains why many of us are nominal Catholics.  We do believe in God and in Christ but it is not a living and lively personal faith.  Our faith in God is merely notional and unconscious rather than a conscious personal relationship.  The only time when faith becomes more personal is when we are desperate to seek God’s help and divine intervention to solve our problems.

However, discipleship cannot take place without a community.  It is not enough to confess our faith in the Holy Trinity in name but not in fact.  To confess our faith in the Trinity and therefore the desire to live the Trinitarian life since we are baptized in the name of the Trinity, we must also imitate the life of God.  God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, although distinct within the being of God, yet all three are in each other, for each other, by each other and from each other.  The unity of the three persons in the inner life of God is one of intense union, reciprocal love, of interpenetration of life.  This accounts for the dynamic and vibrant life of God.  God is a living God because He is a God of life and love, of mutual giving and receiving.

Accordingly, to be a disciple is to live the Trinitarian relationship among ourselves.  We, too, wherever we go, at home, in our place of work, in the community, in society and in the country, we must live a life of communion.  We are called to support each other in every way.  We are called to live a life of love and unity among ourselves.  We are distinct and different, yet the strength of the Catholic lies in living a life of unity not in spite but because of our diversity.  We are all one in the Lord, regardless of our race, language, culture or status in life.   As Catholics, we need a community in which our fellow brothers and sisters can journey with us in our faith, support us when we are going through the trials of life.  Formation happens formally or informally, always within the community of faith.  Faith is very much connected with the extent of our relationship with the community.  This also explains why those who do not take discipleship and formation seriously normally have not much link to the community.  They are alone and eventually drop out of the Church.

Finally, through the empowering of God’s love in the community, we are inspired and filled with joy and zeal to share our fellowship with God and with each other with the world.  Truly, this is what it means to fulfill the command of our Lord to go out to the whole world to proclaim the Gospel and baptize them in the name of the Trinity.




Catholic Teaching on the Trinity

The doctrine of the Trinity is encapsulated in Matthew 28:19, where Jesus instructs the apostles: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

The parallelism of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit is not unique to Matthew’s Gospel, but appears elsewhere in the New Testament (e.g., 2 Cor. 13:14, Heb. 9:14), as well as in the writings of the earliest Christians, who clearly understood them in the sense that we do today—that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are three divine persons who are one divine being (God).

The Didache

“After the foregoing instructions, baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living [running] water. . . . If you have neither, pour water three times on the head, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Didache 7:1 [A.D. 70]).

Ignatius of Antioch

“[T]o the Church at Ephesus in Asia . . . chosen through true suffering by the will of the Father in Jesus Christ our God” (Letter to the Ephesians 1 [A.D. 110]).

“For our God, Jesus Christ, was conceived by Mary in accord with God’s plan: of the seed of David, it is true, but also of the Holy Spirit” (ibid., 18:2).

Justin Martyr

“We will prove that we worship him reasonably; for we have learned that he is the Son of the true God himself, that he holds a second place, and the Spirit of prophecy a third. For this they accuse us of madness, saying that we attribute to a crucified man a place second to the unchangeable and eternal God, the Creator of all things; but they are ignorant of the mystery which lies therein” (First Apology 13:5–6 [A.D. 151]).

Theophilus of Antioch

“It is the attribute of God, of the most high and almighty and of the living God, not only to be everywhere, but also to see and hear all; for he can in no way be contained in a place. . . . The three days before the luminaries were created are types of the Trinity: God, his Word, and his Wisdom” (To Autolycus 2:15 [A.D. 181]).


“For the Church, although dispersed throughout the whole world even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and from their disciples the faith in one God, the Father Almighty . . . and in one Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became flesh for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit” (Against Heresies 1:10:1 [A.D. 189]).


“We do indeed believe that there is only one God, but we believe that under this dispensation, or, as we say, oikonomia, there is also a Son of this one only God, his Word, who proceeded from him and through whom all things were made and without whom nothing was made. . . . We believe he was sent down by the Father, in accord with his own promise, the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, the sanctifier of the faith of those who believe in the Father and the Son, and in the Holy Spirit. . . . This rule of faith has been present since the beginning of the gospel, before even the earlier heretics” (Against Praxeas 2 [A.D. 216]).

“And at the same time the mystery of the oikonomia is safeguarded, for the unity is distributed in a Trinity. Placed in order, the three are the Father, Son, and Spirit. They are three, however, not in condition, but in degree; not in being, but in form; not in power, but in kind; of one being, however, and one condition and one power, because he is one God of whom degrees and forms and kinds are taken into account in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (ibid.).

“Keep always in mind the rule of faith which I profess and by which I bear witness that the Father and the Son and the Spirit are inseparable from each other, and then you will understand what is meant by it. Observe now that I say the Father is other [distinct], the Son is other, and the Spirit is other. This statement is wrongly understood by every uneducated or perversely disposed individual, as if it meant diversity and implied by that diversity a separation of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit” (ibid., 9).

“Thus the connection of the Father in the Son, and of the Son in the Paraclete, produces three coherent persons, who are yet distinct one from another. These three are, one essence, not one person, as it is said, ‘I and my Father are one’ [John 10:30], in respect of unity of being not singularity of number” (ibid., 25).


“For we do not hold that which the heretics imagine: that some part of the being of God was converted into the Son, or that the Son was procreated by the Father from non-existent substances, that is, from a being outside himself, so that there was a time when he [the Son] did not exist” (The Fundamental Doctrines 4:4:1 [A.D. 225]).

“No, rejecting every suggestion of corporeality, we hold that the Word and the Wisdom was begotten out of the invisible and incorporeal God, without anything corporal being acted upon . . . the expression which we employ, however that there was never a time when he did not exist is to be taken with a certain allowance. For these very words ‘when’ and ‘never’ are terms of temporal significance, while whatever is said of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, is to be understood as transcending all time, all ages” (ibid.).

“For it is the Trinity alone which exceeds every sense in which not only temporal but even eternal may be understood. It is all other things, indeed, which are outside the Trinity, which are to be measured by time and ages” (ibid.).


“The Word alone of this God is from God himself, wherefore also the Word is God, being the being of God. Now the world was made from nothing, wherefore it is not God” (Refutation of All Heresies 10:29 [A.D. 228]).


“For Scripture as much announces Christ as also God, as it announces God himself as man. It has as much described Jesus Christ to be man, as moreover it has also described Christ the Lord to be God. Because it does not set forth him to be the Son of God only, but also the son of man; nor does it only say, the son of man, but it has also been accustomed to speak of him as the Son of God. So that being of both, he is both, lest if he should be one only, he could not be the other. For as nature itself has prescribed that he must be believed to be a man who is of man, so the same nature prescribes also that he must be believed to be God who is of God. . . . Let them, therefore, who read that Jesus Christ the son of man is man, read also that this same Jesus is called also God and the Son of God” (Treatise on the Trinity11 [A.D. 235]).

Pope Dionysius

“Next, then, I may properly turn to those who divide and cut apart and destroy the most sacred proclamation of the Church of God, making of it [the Trinity], as it were, three powers, distinct substances, and three godheads. . . . [Some heretics] proclaim that there are in some way three gods, when they divide the sacred unity into three substances foreign to each other and completely separate” (Letter to Dionysius of Alexandria 1 [A.D. 262]).

“Therefore, the divine Trinity must be gathered up and brought together in one, a summit, as it were, I mean the omnipotent God of the universe. . . . It is blasphemy, then, and not a common one but the worst, to say that the Son is in any way a handiwork [creature]. . . . But if the Son came into being [was created], there was a time when these attributes did not exist; and, consequently, there was a time when God was without them, which is utterly absurd” (ibid., 1–2).

“Neither, then, may we divide into three godheads the wonderful and divine unity. . . . Rather, we must believe in God, the Father Almighty; and in Christ Jesus, his Son; and in the Holy Spirit; and that the Word is united to the God of the universe. ‘For,’ he says, ‘The Father and I are one,’ and ‘I am in the Father, and the Father in me’” (ibid., 3).

Gregory the Wonderworker

“There is one God. . . . There is a perfect Trinity, in glory and eternity and sovereignty, neither divided nor estranged. Wherefore there is nothing either created or in servitude in the Trinity; nor anything superinduced, as if at some former period it was non-existent, and at some later period it was introduced. And thus neither was the Son ever wanting to the Father, nor the Spirit to the Son; but without variation and without change, the same Trinity abides ever” (Declaration of Faith [A.D. 265]).

Sechnall of Ireland

“Hymns, with Revelation and the Psalms of God [Patrick] sings, and does expound the same for the edifying of God’s people. This law he holds in the Trinity of the sacred Name and teaches one being in three persons” (Hymn in Praise of St. Patrick 22 [A.D. 444]).

Patrick of Ireland

“I bind to myself today the strong power of an invocation of the Trinity—the faith of the Trinity in unity, the Creator of the universe” (The Breastplate of St. Patrick 1 [A.D. 447]).

“[T]here is no other God, nor has there been heretofore, nor will there be hereafter, except God the Father unbegotten, without beginning, from whom is all beginning, upholding all things, as we say, and his Son Jesus Christ, whom we likewise to confess to have always been with the Father—before the world’s beginning. . . . Jesus Christ is the Lord and God in whom we believe . . . and who has poured out on us abundantly the Holy Spirit . . . whom we confess and adore as one God in the Trinity of the sacred Name” (Confession of St. Patrick 4 [A.D. 452]).


“All the Catholic interpreters of the divine books of the Old and New Testaments whom I have been able to read, who wrote before me about the Trinity, which is God, intended to teach in accord with the Scriptures that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are of one and the same substance constituting a divine unity with an inseparable equality; and therefore there are not three gods but one God, although the Father begot the Son, and therefore he who is the Son is not the Father; and the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son but only the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, himself, too, coequal to the Father and to the Son and belonging to the unity of the Trinity” (The Trinity1:4:7 [A.D. 408]).

Art: Vision of St Augustine By Sandro Botticelli

Fulgence of Ruspe

“See, in short you have it that the Father is one, the Son another, and the Holy Spirit another; in Person, each is other, but in nature they are not other. In this regard he says: ‘The Father and I, we are one’ (John 10:30). He teaches us that one refers to their nature, and we are to their Persons. In like manner it is said: ‘There are three who bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit; and these three are one’ (1 John 5:7). Let Sabellius hear we are, let him hear three; and let him believe that there are three Persons. Let him not b.aspheme in his sacrilegious heart by saying that the Father is the same in himself as the Son is the same in himself and as the Holy Sprit is the same in himself, as if in some way he could beget himself, or in some way proceed from himself. Even in created natures it is never able to be found that something is able to beget itself. Let also Arius hear one; and let him not say that the Son is of a different nature, if one cannot be said of that, the nature of which is different” (The Trinity 4:1–2 [c. A.D. 515]).

“But in the one true God and Trinity it is naturally true not only that God is one but also that he is a Trinity, for the reason that the true God himself is a Trinity of Persons and one in nature. Through this natural unity the whole Father is in the Son and in the Holy Spirit, and the whole Holy Spirit, too, is in the Father and in the Son. None of these is outside any of the others; because no one of them precedes any other of them in eternity or exceeds any other in greatness, or is superior to any other in power” (The Rule of Faith 4 [c. A.D. 523).

NIHIL OBSTAT: I have concluded that the materials
presented in this work are free of doctrinal or moral errors.
Bernadeane Carr, STL, Censor Librorum, August 10, 2004

IMPRIMATUR: In accord with 1983 CIC 827
permission to publish this work is hereby granted.
+Robert H. Brom, Bishop of San Diego, August 10, 2004

Prayer and Meditation for Sunday, January 11, 2015 — A light for the nations

January 10, 2015


Baptism of Jesus, 1405 (Cathedral of the Annunciation, Moscow)

Reading 1 Is 42:1-4, 6-7

Thus says the LORD:
Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
upon whom I have put my spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
a bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
until he establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for his teaching.I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
to open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.

Or Is 55:1-11

Thus says the LORD:
All you who are thirsty,
come to the water!
You who have no money,
come, receive grain and eat;
come, without paying and without cost,
drink wine and milk!
Why spend your money for what is not bread,
your wages for what fails to satisfy?
Heed me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare.
Come to me heedfully,
listen, that you may have life.
I will renew with you the everlasting covenant,
the benefits assured to David.
As I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander of nations,
so shall you summon a nation you knew not,
and nations that knew you not shall run to you,
because of the LORD, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, who has glorified you.

Seek the LORD while he may be found,
call him while he is near.
Let the scoundrel forsake his way,
and the wicked man his thoughts;
let him turn to the LORD for mercy;
to our God, who is generous in forgiving.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
As high as the heavens are above the earth
so high are my ways above your ways
and my thoughts above your thoughts.

For just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down
and do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,
giving seed to the one who sows
and bread to the one who eats,
so shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
my word shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will,
achieving the end for which I sent it.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10.

R. (11b) The Lord will bless his people with peace.
Give to the LORD, you sons of God,
give to the LORD glory and praise,
Give to the LORD the glory due his name;
adore the LORD in holy attire.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.
The voice of the LORD is over the waters,
the LORD, over vast waters.
The voice of the LORD is mighty;
the voice of the LORD is majestic.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.
The God of glory thunders,
and in his temple all say, “Glory!”
The LORD is enthroned above the flood;
the LORD is enthroned as king forever.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.

Or Is 12:2-3, 4bcd, 5-6.

R. (3) You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation.
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name;
among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name.
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.
Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!
R. You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.

Reading 2 Acts 10:34-38

Peter proceeded to speak to those gathered
in the house of Cornelius, saying:
“In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.
Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly
is acceptable to him.
You know the word that he sent to the Israelites
as he proclaimed peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all,
what has happened all over Judea,
beginning in Galilee after the baptism
that John preached,
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and power.
He went about doing good
and healing all those oppressed by the devil,
for God was with him.”

Or 1 Jn 5:1-9

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God,
and everyone who loves the Father
loves also the one begotten by him.
In this way we know that we love the children of God
when we love God and obey his commandments.
For the love of God is this,
that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome,
for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.
Who indeed is the victor over the world
but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ,
not by water alone, but by water and blood.
The Spirit is the one who testifies,
and the Spirit is truth.
So there are three that testify,
the Spirit, the water, and the blood,
and the three are of one accord.
If we accept human testimony,
the testimony of God is surely greater.
Now the testimony of God is this,
that he has testified on behalf of his Son.

Alleluia cf. Mk 9:7

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The heavens were opened and the voice of the Father thundered:
This is my beloved Son, listen to him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Or: cf. Jn 1:29

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
John saw Jesus approaching him, and said:
Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 1:7-11

This is what John the Baptist proclaimed:
“One mightier than I is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee
and was baptized in the Jordan by John.
On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open
and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens,
“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”



Homily from the Abbot
My sisters and brothers in Christ,
Water! Each of the readings today refers to water and to its effects in our lives. We all know that we cannot live without water for very long. The image today is saying that without the water of divine wisdom and the water of divine compassion, we will perish. For us, that water is Jesus Christ, who refreshes our soul.The Prophet Isaiah has led us all through Advent and through Christmas and now we come to the beginning of Ordinary Time, and the Prophet Isaiah is still teaching us. He tells us: All who are thirsty, come to the water! Water here is the symbol of all that we need to live.
God will give it to us. Water is the symbol of life. God will give it to us. Water is the symbol of abundance. God will give it to us. Isaiah has a total confidence in this God who has revealed Himself to Him. Isaiah wants us to have that confidence as well.Why should we have confidence? Because, Isaiah tells us, the word of God will accomplish all that it sets out to do. This takes a huge amount of faith on our part.
Yet if we listen to the whole tradition of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures, this is always the promise of God to us, His people.The second reading, from the First Letter of Saint John, speaks to this very point: Who indeed is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is the real test for one who believe: to believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
Somehow God leads us to this belief. At times we believe because faith has been handed down to us. Yet we must come to believe because we ourselves have encountered the living God. This also is a challenge throughout the ages. There are multitudes who believe because their belief is inherited. God wants to challenge us to believe because we have encountered Him.The Gospel from Mark today, of course, is about the baptism of the Lord. It is a very short account and is clear: something happened at the baptism and the other followers of John the Baptist recognized it, but people only understood it as the life of Jesus unfolded and particularly after His Resurrection. And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”We are invited on this Sunday to deepen our faith, to be able to recognize that the voice from heaven is the voice of God Himself, speaking to Jesus His Son. In Jesus is our salvation. We are invited to believe. Water can remind us each day that we also are invited to be baptized in Him, our Savior.




Commentary on Isaiah 55:1-11; 1 John 5:1-9; Mark 1:7-11 From Living Space

WE COME TODAY to the end of the Christmas season. And we have the third great ‘epiphany’ or showing of God in the human person of Jesus. The first ‘epiphany’ was at the birth of the child Jesus in the stable at Bethlehem when he was visited by the shepherds representing the poor, the marginalised and the sinful for whom Jesus had specially come. The second ‘epiphany’ was when the ‘wise men’ came from ‘the East’ to worship the newly born Jesus. They represented all those peoples and nations who were being invited to be numbered among God’s own people through the mediation of Jesus as Lord.

Today we celebrate the third great ‘epiphany’ of the Lord in Jesus Christ. The time is much later. Jesus is now an adult, probably about 30 years of age. We are brought to the banks of the River Jordan somewhere north of Jerusalem where John the Baptist, a cousin of Jesus, is living out in the desert. The desert in some ways is a place where God can be found, although for Jesus it was also a place of trial and temptation. For the early Fathers in the desert it provided both experiences.

John the Baptist

John leads a very austere life, dressed in the simplest of clothes and sustaining himself on whatever nourishment he can find in the vicinity. He has made a name for himself as a man of God and large numbers come out to hear and be influenced by him.

The opening words of today’s Gospel tell us that he was proclaiming “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins”. It is important not to misunderstand the meaning of these words. It would be quite wrong to think that people simply had to come for baptism in the river for all their sins to be wiped out. That would be little more than superstition. The baptism itself was a symbolic act which had to be accompanied by an inner change. The word for ‘repentance’ here is metanoia (metanoia) in Greek. It implies a radical change in the way we look at the meaning and purpose of life and how we live that life ourselves. It calls for much more than is normally connoted by ‘repentance’ which we normally understand as ‘being sorry’ for something we have done. Metanoia is much more than just feeling sorry. It calls for a total reorganisation of one’s attitudes so that such errant or hurting behaviour would simply disappear from one’s life.

And the ‘forgiveness of sins’ is more than just God just wiping out the guilt and the threat of punishment that our sins might involve. In a sense, our sins can never be wiped out. The damage they do often lasts for a very long time and cannot be undone. If I have murdered someone, they stay dead no matter how sorry I feel. If I have destroyed a person’s reputation, it may remain destroyed for ever. Hurtful words spoken cannot be called back.


Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore


SCRIPTURE READINGS:  ISAIAH 42:1-4,6-7; ACTS 10:34-38; MARK 1:7-11 

Today, we celebrate the baptism of the Lord.  This feast is a culmination of Christmas and Epiphany.  Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ the king who will bring peace on earth.  Epiphany celebrates His mission to be the light to the nations.  Today we see the promises fulfilled when Christ takes up this mission at His baptism.

As we celebrate the baptism of Our Lord, we recall our own baptism.  We are never baptised only for ourselves or for our own salvation.  We are chosen and called for the mission of saving others.  To be baptised is to take the same mission of Christ upon ourselves. That is why we share in the threefold office of Christ as priest, king and prophet.

Hence, we need to reflect on our calling as Christians.  Two important questions must be asked.  This is the question of the basis of mission and what this mission entails.  The question often asked by theologians is why was the Lord baptised when He was sinless? The fact of baptism is accepted by all scholars and stated by all the evangelists.  It was not an apologetic fact that could be used by the Church to boost her claims of Jesus’ divinity.   But both underscore the fundamental need of identification for mission.

The first level of identification is with humanity.  One reason suggested for His baptism was that He wanted to be identified with us in our sins.  Though He knew no sin, yet He carried our sins upon Himself.  He is the fulfillment of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah in the first reading.  In order to feel called to help others, we must learn to feel with them.  That is why Pope Francis says we must first smell the sheep if we were to help them effectively.  We must go to the front line to attend to the wounded soldiers.  Only by identifying with them, can we feel for them and with them. 

But it is not enough to be identified with our fellowmen.  Otherwise it becomes merely humanism and ideology.  It can lead to anger and resentment against humanity and God, especially when we see so much injustice and innocent suffering in the world.   This is the case of those who work for social justice. Instead of making things more just through dialogue, they resort to arms and violence to achieve their agenda.

From identifying with man, we are called to be identified with God.  This is the other aspect of Christ’s baptism. His baptism was His calling and consciousness of His mission.  It was His experience of His identity as the Son of the Father.  At His baptism, He heard the voice of His Father.  “You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you.”  His baptism therefore was a moment of consciousness when Jesus experienced an intense love of His Father, resulting in mission.

The true meaning of Sonship is to be identified with the Father’s love and mind.  It is to share in His Spirit.  The Son is the expression of the Father.  That is why Jesus told Philip, “To see me is to see the Father.”   This explains why Jesus went about doing good.  His incarnation, His self-emptying is because of His Father’s love.  Sharing in His Father’s love, He emptied Himself of His divinity and sacrificed His life to manifest His Father’s love for humanity.

What is the Spirit of the Father?  It is the spirit of compassion and forgiveness.  The work of Christ is carried out in human lowliness.  Jesus stripped Himself of His divinity to be identified with us so that He could be a compassionate high priest. The way of Jesus is one of vicarious suffering and innocent suffering.  He did not take things into His own hands like the revolutionaries of His time.

What is the mission of Christ?  He is called to bring peace to the nations.  This is what the responsorial says, “The Lord will bless his people with peace.” St Paul says, “Jesus Christ – but Jesus Christ is Lord of all men.” 

There can be no peace unless there is justice.   Like the suffering servant, He Is called to bring justice to the nations. “Faithfully he brings true justice; he will neither waver, nor be crushed until true justice is established on earth, for the islands are awaiting his law.”   The gospel that Jesus preached is based on justice for all.  This justice is always tempered with compassion as well.    Christ Jesus, like the suffering servant, suffered unjustly but He did not use violence to restore justice.  Instead, He used love, compassion and forgiveness to win over His traitors, enemies and detractors. 

How to bring peace and justice to the nations? Jesus was called to be the light of the nations which we celebrated last Sunday on Epiphany.  This means that we need to enlighten the people by liberating them from their bondages.  “I, the Lord, have called you to serve the cause of right; I have taken you by the hand and formed you; I have appointed you as covenant of the people and light of the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to free captives from prison, and those who live in darkness from the dungeon.”

In other words, we must proclaim the truth which is Christ and the Word of God both in words and in deeds.  The world must be enlightened to the truth about love, meaning and purpose in life.  We must help humanity to understand their true calling in life and their identity so that they can live their lives purposefully, not just for this life on earth but for eternity.  We must proclaim the truth about God and the truth about man.  More importantly, not just by our words but by our lives.  We must live an exemplary life of truth and love if we were to enlighten the world.  Unless we live radically the gospel life, we are not going to impact others by our preaching.

Secondly, we are called to the ministry of healing, especially of relationships.   As Christians we need to work for peace by acting justly in our relationships.  Justice is the basic expression of charity.  Justice is to give what is due to others.  Charity is to give them what is not their right.  Hence, justice requires that we treat our workers well and they in turn must do an honest job.  Justice demands that we respect life.  We do not marginalise people because of gender, religion or races.  Peter made this clear when he said, “The truth I have now come to realise is that God does not have favourites.” Of course, we must go beyond justice to charity in helping the poor and underprivileged.

How is this to be done? We cannot enlighten the world nor have the capacity to help others without the help of God.  This empowerment presupposes we too have an experience of sonship which is the unconditional love of God and His mercy for us.  Only then can we find the same love and passion for humanity. This was the experience of St Peter when he came to realise that God has no favourites. The desire to spread the Good News to the Gentiles came about because of the vision that He had received earlier that everything created by God is good; and most of all when the Gentiles received the gift of the Holy Spirit as they did at Pentecost.

Consequently, if we want enter into the sonship of Christ it must be through the same Spirit that anointed Him at His baptism. Just as the Heavenly Father embraced Jesus and called Him His beloved Son, so too at our baptism, we are made sons and daughters of God in Christ.  Just as Mother Mary on the feast of Epiphany held the child to be adored by the Magi, the Father at the baptism of Jesus revealed His Son as the saviour of the world to be worshipped by all the nations.  St Luke remarked, “God had anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and because God was with him, Jesus went about doing good and curing all who had fallen into the power of the devil.”  We need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit as Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit.  John the Baptist said, “I have baptised you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.”

Indeed, the baptism of Jesus is but His desire to show us that this is the way to receive His Holy Spirit.  The sacrament of baptism is the means by which we are reborn sacramentally.  At Christmas, Christ was born from the Virgin Mary, which is a mystery.  Today, He is born in our hearts through the sacraments, which is also a mystery that we celebrate.  It is for this reason that the feast of the Baptism of the Lord follows immediately after the feast of Christmas, so that this common theme of being reborn in Christ is made a reality.  Christ came to be born at Christmas for the sole intention that we be reborn in Him through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  We need to be baptized in the Holy Spirit anew.

We need to be reevangelized through a renewal of the Holy Spirit who leads us to recognize and experience Jesus as Lord and Saviour.  This explains why Jesus was also baptized.  Through Christ, God gives us the Spirit once again.  His baptism reinforces the fact that Jesus who is anointed in the Holy Spirit will be the one who will give us the Spirit of His Father.  Through the Holy Spirit, He was reaffirmed as a man His divine sonship.  For this reason, Christ receives the Spirit not merely for Himself, since the Spirit is His and has already been given to Him. Rather, He receives it for our sake in His human nature so that in turn we receive the same Holy Spirit will also be renewed in our nature.  Through the Holy Spirit, like Christ, we also receive all the gifts that come from Him for the work of mission, and for the building of the Church.

Let us therefore consider seriously how we ourselves renew and re-appropriate our faith that was given to us at baptism.  We need to examine whether we are Catholics in name or in fact as well.  The danger is that many of us have become nominal Catholics complacent in our faith.  When we lack the desire to bring Christ to others and to announce the Good News, clearly, our faith is in grave danger.  If we do not want to lose our faith, then we must proclaim it to others.  But we need to rediscover our faith by seeking for a deeper personal relationship with the Lord and pray for a conversion experience so that Jesus is once again experienced in the power of the Spirit as our Lord and Savior.

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Prayer and Meditation or Thursday, May 8, 2014 — “Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever”

May 7, 2014

Art: Jesus Discourses with His Disciples by James Jacques Joseph Tissot, Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York

Thursday of the Third Week of Easter
Lectionary: 276

Reading 1 acts 8:26-40


The angel of the Lord spoke to Philip,
“Get up and head south on the road
that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, the desert route.”
So he got up and set out.
Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch,
a court official of the Candace,
that is, the queen of the Ethiopians,
in charge of her entire treasury,
who had come to Jerusalem to worship, and was returning home.
Seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah.
The Spirit said to Philip,
“Go and join up with that chariot.”
Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and said,
“Do you understand what you are reading?”
He replied,
“How can I, unless someone instructs me?”
So he invited Philip to get in and sit with him.
This was the Scripture passage he was reading: Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter,
and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who will tell of his posterity?
For his life is taken from the earth
.Then the eunuch said to Philip in reply,
“I beg you, about whom is the prophet saying this?
About himself, or about someone else?”
Then Philip opened his mouth and, beginning with this Scripture passage,
he proclaimed Jesus to him.
As they traveled along the road
they came to some water,
and the eunuch said, “Look, there is water.
What is to prevent my being baptized?”
Then he ordered the chariot to stop,
and Philip and the eunuch both went down into the water,
and he baptized him.
When they came out of the water,
the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away,
and the eunuch saw him no more,
but continued on his way rejoicing.
Philip came to Azotus, and went about proclaiming the good news
to all the towns until he reached Caesarea..

Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch


Responsorial Psalm ps 66:8-9, 16-17, 20


R. (1) Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
R. Alleluia.
Bless our God, you peoples,
loudly sound his praise;
He has given life to our souls,
and has not let our feet slip.
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
R. Alleluia.
Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare
what he has done for me.
When I appealed to him in words,
praise was on the tip of my tongue.
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
R. Alleluia.
Blessed be God who refused me not
my prayer or his kindness!
R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
R. Alleluia.

Gospel jn 6:44-51

Jesus said to the crowds:

‘No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me, and I will raise that person up on the last day. It is written in the prophets: They will all be taught by God; everyone who has listened to the Father, and learnt from him, comes to me. Not that anybody has seen the Father, except him who has his being from God: he has seen the Father. In all truth I tell you, everyone who believes has eternal life.

I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate manna in the desert and they are dead; but this is the bread which comes down from heaven, so that a person may eat it and not die. I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live for ever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world.’




Lectio Divina from the Carmelites




• Up until now the dialogue had been between Jesus and the people. From now on, the Jewish leaders begin to enter into conversation and the discussion becomes tenser.

• John 6, 44-46: Anyone who opens himself to God accepts Jesus and his proposal. The conversation becomes more demanding. Now, it is the Jews, the leaders of the people who complain: “Surely, this is Jesus, son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know. How can he say: I have come down from heaven?” (Jn 6, 42). They thought they knew the things of God. But, in reality, they did not know them. If we were truly open and faithful to God, we would feel within us the impulse of God which attracts us toward Jesus and we would recognize that Jesus comes from God, because it is written in the Prophets: “They will all be taught by God; everyone who has listened to the Father and has learnt from him, comes to me.

• John 6, 47-50: Your fathers ate manna in the desert and they are dead. In the celebration of the Passover, the Jews recalled the bread of the desert. Jesus helps them to take a step ahead. Anyone who celebrates the Passover, recalling only the bread that the fathers ate in the past, will die as all of them did! The true sense of the Passover is not to recall the manna which falls from heaven, but to accept Jesus, the new Bread of Life and to follow the way which he has indicated. It is no longer a question of eating the meat of the paschal lamb, but rather of eating the flesh of Jesus, so that the one who eats it will not die, but will have eternal life!

• John 6, 51: Anyone who eats of this bread will live for ever. And Jesus ends saying: “I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live for ever and the bread that I shall give is my flesh for the life of the world.” Instead of the manna and the paschal lamb of the first exodus, we are invited to eat the new manna and the new paschal lamb that was sacrificed on the Cross for the life of all.

• The new Exodus. The multiplication of the loaves takes place close to the Passover (Jn 6, 4). The feast of the Passover was the prodigious souvenir of the Exodus, the liberation of the People from the clutches of Pharaoh. The whole episode which is narrated in chapter 6 of the Gospel of John has a parallel in the episodes related to the feast of the Passover, whether as liberation from Egypt or with the journey of the people in the desert in search of the Promised Land. The discourse of the Bread of Life, in the Synagogue of Capernaum, is related to chapter 16 of the Book of Exodus which speaks about the Manna.


It is worth while to read all of chapter 16 of Exodus. In perceiving the difficulties of the people in the desert we can understand better the teaching of Jesus here in chapter 6 of the Gospel of John.


For example, when Jesus speaks of a “food which does not perish, which endures for eternal life” (Jn 6, 27) he is recalling the manna which produced worms and became rotten (Ex 16, 20) Like when the Jews “complained” (Jn 6, 41), they do the same thing as the Israelites in the desert, when they doubted of the presence of God in their midst during their journey across the desert (Ex 16, 2; 17, 3; Nb 11, 1). The lack of food made the people doubt about God and they began to complain against Moses and against God. Here also, the Jews doubt about God’s presence in Jesus of Nazareth and begin to complain (Jn 6, 41-42).


Personal questions

• Does the Eucharist help me to live in a permanent state of Exodus? Am I succeeding?

• Anyone who is open to truth finds the response in Jesus. Today, many people withdraw and do not find any response. Whose fault is it? Is it of the persons who know how to listen? Or is it the fault of us, Christians, who do not know how to present the Gospel as a message of life?


Concluding Prayer


Come and listen, all who fear God,
while I tell what he has done for me.
To him I cried aloud,
high praise was on my tongue. (Ps 66,16-17)


Reflection by  The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore

Easter, as we know, is a celebration of life.  On the third week of Easter, we are called to reflect on how one can possess this new life.  The answer is clear: sharing this life is nothing else but sharing in the life of the Trinity.  Today’s scripture readings tell us that it is the Father who draws us to Jesus in the Spirit.  Jesus has been sent by the Father so that we can share the life of God through Him. After all, only He who has seen God can reveal God to us.

The question is, how can we be drawn to Jesus today? The fact is that we have no physical contact with Jesus. That may be true, but we can certainly have a personal contact with Jesus. For us today, as Christians, we come into contact with Jesus primarily through the Word or the scriptures. In the gospel, Jesus affirms Himself as the bread of life that has come now from heaven. In eating of this bread, we find life. This does not mean that a mere understanding of the text is sufficient. What is important is that behind the text, we must discover the person of Jesus. It is when we come to acquire the vision and mind of Jesus and His life that we find life. In other words, the Word that we read cannot simply be some mere insights or beautiful thought, as if salvation is by gnosis or enlightenment alone. Nay, we cannot be considered to have grasped the Word if we have not yet come to grasp the person behind the Word.

But it is not only in the Word that we come to know Jesus personally. More than the Word alone, Jesus wants to give Himself to us personally and totally in the Eucharist. It is in the Eucharist that we receive Jesus sacramentally and experience His personal presence in us. In the gospel, Jesus declares Himself to be the Bread of life that has come down from heaven.  “Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world.”  This Bread of life of course refers to both the Word of God and the Eucharist.

But how can we find the person of Jesus behind the Word and in the Eucharist? It is only possible through His Spirit. It is the Spirit of Jesus that can lead us to Him. Indeed, it is His Spirit that will come to reveal to us who Jesus is and make Jesus present to us.  In the first reading we read how the Holy Spirit has been instrumental in directing Philip in his work of evangelization. It was Philip’s sensitivity and docility to the Spirit that enabled the Spirit to work in and through him, prompting him to reach out to the eunuch and going to new places to evangelize. The Spirit is essential if we want to find Jesus in the scriptures or in the Eucharist. This is because if we read the scriptures or receive the Eucharist without the Spirit, we will never come to know Christ fully.  The Holy Spirit is given to the Church precisely for this purpose; so that He might call to mind and deepen our understanding of what Jesus had taught us when He was on earth.

But where can we find the Spirit when reading the scriptures?  The Spirit is concretely present in the Christian community of faith.  It is through the believing faith community that we come to be in touch with the Spirit. Without Philip, who is representative of the Christian community, the eunuch would not have been able to come to understand the text of what he was reading. The Christian interpretation of the Old Testament text of Isaiah would not have been possible without the guidance of Philip. Unless the Old Testament is read in the perspective of Christ, we would not be able to see the fulfillment of God’s plan.  It was Philip’s personal encounter with Christ that enabled him to read the text in the light of Christ. This means that any encounter with the Spirit of the Risen Christ can only take place within the community of faith. The Christian community of faith is where the Risen Christ lives in His Spirit.

It is this same community of faith that gave concrete existence to the Bible.  Without the Church, we would only have many writings about Christ, but there would be no bible since no one would know which books are inspired and therefore the writings would never have been collected together as one book, which we call the Bible.   Since the Bible is produced by the Church with God as the author who inspired the writers, then necessarily scriptures must be interpreted within the context of the community of faith guided by the magisterium.  Otherwise we would not have the correct interpretation of the Word of God.  If the Word of God is self-explanatory, the eunuch would not need Philip to help him understand the scriptures.  So too, for an authentic understanding of scriptures, we need the Church to explain to us the truths concerning our salvation that the scriptures want to convey to us. That is why those who read the scriptures without the help of the faith community would not be able to come to know the full Christ, since the full Christ is experienced by the whole community.  Similarly, those who read the scriptures outside the Church will never understand its full meaning, its sensus plenior.  Hence, non-Christians like Ghandi, who read the scriptures, are not converted because they did not understand the Christian meaning of the scriptures.

What is true concerning the reading of scriptures is equally true regarding the Eucharist.  Receiving Jesus is not simply receiving Christ sacramentally present in the Eucharist.  This is not sufficient.   Christ is also present in a real way in the Church, the body of Christ.  It is in our fellowship with fellow believers that we come to experience the love and compassion of Jesus concretely. In the Christian community, Christ is truly present in Spirit.  In the Christian community, which is His body, He being the Head, we come into personal contact with Christ in our fellow brothers and sisters, thereby finding courage, strength and unity.  Of course, it is the same Holy Spirit that makes Jesus’ presence in the sacred species of bread and wine possible through the priest who offers the sacrifice of the mass.

Within this context, therefore, we can understand why the encounter with Christ is very much connected with baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist. It was through Philip that the eunuch came to receive his faith and got baptised and received the Spirit.  It would also be through the Christian community, especially in the celebration of the Eucharist, that the Word is rightly heard and enfleshed in the sacrament of the Eucharist and concretely in the experience of fellowship within the Christian community.

Hence, today, if we really want to come to know Christ personally, both in spirit and in the flesh, so to speak, then we must intensify our union with the Christian community. We must seek Christ in the community, for He cannot be found outside the community. In celebrating the Eucharist, we are saying that Christ is present in a par excellence manner, not only in the sacrament but in the Christian community that lives the life of the gospel and the life of Christ fully. It is here that we draw life, understand the Word in its fullness and come to know the whole Christ present in different ways in each one of us.

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Homily from Beyond The Sanctuary From Pastor David


Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.  This verse brought to a close last weeks Gospel lesson and it begins todays Gospel lesson.  Those who prepared the church readings wanted to make sure that we dont miss this point, for Jesus is the bread of life and anyone who comes to Him shall neither hunger nor thirst.  And in much the same way, we have the concluding verse this week being the beginning verse for next week, I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.  I dont think that any preacher has had an easier first sermon reading for a new congregation.  For JESUS IS THE LIVING BREAD THAT CAME DOWN FROM HEAVEN TO GIVE THE WORLD HIS FLESH.

Jesus came down from heaven, not to do His own will but the will of Him who sent Him.  This is not the only time that Jesus has said a similar thing.  On the night in which He was betrayed, after He took bread and a cup and gave it to His disciples, He went out to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray and said, My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.  He desires to accomplish what He was sent forth to do, to die upon the cross.  Even before He left His splendid throne, He knew what the cost was, His own life for you.  He emptied Himself, took the form of a servant, and came down to join His creation and die as a criminal.  The creator did the unthinkable, He joined His creation in a creaturely way.  He came down as the baby born of Mary, not as a fully grown man as some would have supposed.
The Jews pointed out that His earthly father was Joseph but thats where they end it.  They dont look into the matter further.  What more proof do they need?  After all, they know His father and mother.  They have seen Him playing with their kids.  They have seen Him in the temple.  They were there with Him while the Torah was read.  They know everything about Him.  Yet they know nothing about Him.  They, the world, and we, sometimes only focus on His humanity, discounting His divinity.  They can see Him with their own eyes but dont hear the message that He came to proclaim.  His message was too different.  His message has authority, You have heard that it was said … But I say to you …  They couldnt understand that He had come down from heaven.  They believed that Elijah had to come again in a similar way as going up into heaven, in a whirlwind.  This Jesus came down from heaven in an earthly way, and yet a glorious way, being born of a virgin.
His coming down to earth was not for His glory.  No, He came for you and to give you glory.  He didnt come to force people to believe in Him. He continues to spread His message through what the world sees as weakness.  He does not demand obedience or warfare but comes to bring peace to the world.  He comes to restore humanity back to the Father of all humanity.  He came for all of the times that you grumble or think, Whats the point in being here on a beautiful Sunday morning.  For all of the times that your husband, wife, mother, father, kids, siblings, your boss, has told you something but it went in one ear and out the other.  For all of the times that you have doubted His forgiveness.  And to take away all of your other sins.  But He also comes to give you something.  He gives you His peace, His perfection, His holiness.  He comes to give you Himself.
He comes to give you what you need.  He gives you Himself.  For He Himself said, I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger.  Last week He said that the crowds were coming because they had their fill and wanted more, they were hungry again.  Their bellies had been full, they got a free meal, and wanted more.  But thats not us, right?  We never take advantage of people, we never tag along for a free meal.  We always reach for the bill right away, ask the waitress, or waiter, to split the check.  Nope, we can be just as selfish as they were.  We desire food, we crave it.  We know that if we dont eat or drink, ultimately we die.  Its one of the reasons that babies cry, they are hungry.  But this bread that we eat lacks.  This cant be all that there is.
But wait, theres more.  Theres always more with Jesus.  For He said, I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger.  And, This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.  And, I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.  Jesus came to give more than earthly bread, far more.  He came to give us His very body and blood.  He gives His flesh for you for the forgiveness of your sins.  His flesh and blood are true food, they, along with baptism, are the only thing in the entire world that counts for anything before God.  Without Christ giving His life for you, you are lost.  But you are not lost, He has found you and has claimed you.  You have been claimed by the Father through the Son in baptism. 
You are able to taste and see that the Lord is good.  This small portion of a meal that we receive, this little portion of bread and this sip of wine, hold more than it seems.  Though our eyes see this as a small portion, through the eyes of faith we know that this is enough.  The Lord has given His body and blood in an earthly way to you.  You have been called out of the world, called to be in His true family, and are given a meal that He knows you need.
He knows that you need to be constantly reminded that your sins have been forgiven for His sake.  The entire Divine Service revolves around this fact.  You are reminded of your baptism at the beginning, hear the Words of Christ in the words of absolution, hear the Scriptures proclaiming this message, hear the pastor expounding this saving truth, pray that your sins are forgiven in the prayer that He handed down, come to the meal that He instituted for this forgiveness, and are reminded that the Lord has blessed you at the close of the service.  He is constantly working forgiveness for you. 
In this meal we also make a proclamation.  As often as we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the Lords death until He comes. Amen, come Lord Jesus.  We say that our Lord and Savior died upon the cross, shedding His blood for you, was buried, rose victorious over sin, death, and the grave, and ascended into heaven.  But it doesnt end there.  He will come again on that appointed day, the day that only the Father knows.  When He comes on the last day, He will raise all of the dead.  Jesus said, This is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.  Everyone who believes in Jesus will be raised on the last day and enter eternal life. 
The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Lengthy Mass Is Annual Celebration of The Savior’s Resurrection

April 19, 2014


Holy Thursday service

The Norfolk Daily News

Don’t be intimidated by the length of the Mass.

That’s part of the message the Rev. Dan Andrews wants his parishioners to keep in mind as they consider what time they will go to church on Easter weekend.

The pastor of Sacred Heart Catholic Parish said many Catholics tend to avoid the Saturday night Easter vigil at St. Mary’s because it can easily last more than two hours. But those who avoid it for that reason, he said, are denying themselves an opportunity to take part in the centerpiece of the Easter celebration.

“It gives the bigger picture,” said Andrews of the Easter vigil. “It’s not just long for the sake of being long.”

The journey through Holy Week to Easter began last weekend with the observance of Palm Sunday. On Thursday, Catholics entered the Holy Triduum — the three days leading to Jesus Christ’s resurrection — by commemorating the Lord’s last supper.

“It’s seen as kind of one continuous ceremony,” Andrews said of the Holy Triduum. “It begins with Mass on Holy Thursday, the Mass of the Lord’s supper, and at the end of that Mass, there is no final blessing.”

While Catholics gather to hear the Passion of Jesus Christ, receive communion and venerate the cross on Good Friday, Mass is not celebrated again until the Easter vigil begins at sunset on Holy Saturday.

“That’s the only period of the year where no Mass can be celebrated,” Andrews said. “Basically, it’s like when Jesus is dead, there is no life — and the liturgy, in a sense, dies. For us, the liturgy gives us access to life.”

Andrews said the entire week builds toward the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The vigil is the first celebration of the resurrection.

It is a four-part celebration Mass that begins with darkness enveloping the church. As candles — held by each parishioner as a symbol of baptism — are lit, the sanctuary brightens.

“It’s really neat to see this,” Andrews said.

The Service of Light is followed by the Liturgy of the Word, which includes seven readings from the Old Testament, several Biblical canticles and psalms, an Epistle from Paul and the Gospel of Christ’s resurrection. Andrews said the multiple readings give listeners a chance to hear the entire story of salvation.

“I don’t think a lot of Christians have a grasp of the story — from where we started to where Jesus brought us,” Andrews said. “When you hear those readings, you get a real sense of where we’ve come.”

The Liturgy of Baptism follows the readings. Adults who are joining the Catholic church are baptized or, if they’re joining from another Christian church, are confirmed and receive communion during the Easter vigil celebration, as well. Andrews said the length of the Mass increases if there are a lot of individuals joining the church.

Holy communion follows the Liturgy of Baptism.

The entire service can take about 2!-W hours, about 90 minutes longer than the regular Saturday night services and the Christmas vigil, both of which are well-attended.

Andrews said he knows the length of the Easter vigil is what keeps many people away.

“We spend time on things that are important to us. . . .Somehow people pull back from this because it’s too long. We kind of stumble over ourselves,” Andrews said. “We go to a Nebraska football game and gladly spend three hours and 15 minutes and don’t even think about it.”

Andrews said he believes followers of Jesus Christ will be moved by what they see and hear at the Easter vigil if they attend the Mass.

“It’ll have the effect on you that it’s supposed to — a word or a phrase from one of the readings or something will visually impact you and strike your heart in a particular way,” Andrews said. “Overall, my hope would be that people would just dive in and not let themselves be limited by time or anything like that.”

Go directly to confession, don’t wait, pope says at audience — “Jesus will be there and he’s even nicer than the priest.”

February 20, 2014

By Cathy Wooden

Pope Francis
Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, Pope Francis attends his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — If you haven’t been to confession recently, don’t wait, Pope Francis told people at his weekly general audience. One may walk into the confessional with a heavy heart, but forgiveness brings freedom and lightness.

“If a lot of time has passed, don’t lose even one more day. Go,” the pope said Feb. 19, promising that “the priest will be good. Jesus will be there and he’s even nicer than the priest.”

“Be courageous. Go to confession,” the pope told an estimated 20,000 people at his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square.

“Even just on a human level in order to vent, it’s good to speak to a brother, confessing to the priest these things that weigh so heavily on your heart,” the pope said. “Don’t be afraid of confession.”

Pope Francis said he wanted to follow up on his previous audience talks about baptism, Communion and confirmation.

Those sacraments give new life, he said, but sin eats away at that new life and can destroy it, which is why Jesus gave his disciples the power to forgive sins in the name of God and the Christian community.

“Some say, ‘I confess only to God.’ Yes, you can say, ‘God forgive me,’ but our sins are also against our brothers and sisters, against the church,” which is called to be holy, he said. “This is why it is necessary to ask forgiveness from our brothers and sisters and from the church in the person of the priest.”

Pope Francis said he knows some might say to him, “‘but, Father, I’m ashamed.’ Shame is good, it’s healthy to have a bit of shame,” because “shame makes us more humble.”

“Sometimes when you’re in line for confession, you feel all sorts of things, especially shame, but when your confession is over, you’ll leave free, great, beautiful, forgiven, clean, happy — this is what’s beautiful about confession,” he said.

The pope asked people at the audience to think about how long it’s been since they have been to confession. “Don’t say it out loud, OK? but respond in your heart: When was the last time you confessed. Two days? Two weeks? Two years? Twenty years? Forty years?”

Citing the “beautiful, beautiful” Gospel story of the Prodigal Son who returned home after squandering his father’s inheritance, Pope Francis said the father didn’t even wait for the son to finish asking forgiveness. “He hugged him, kissed him and threw a party.”

“I tell you,” the pope said, “every time we go to confession, God embraces us and celebrates.”

Includes video:

The Holy Spirit brings about the birth and growth of a divine, “spiritual” life in Christians — John Paul II

January 12, 2014

Art: Dove representing the Holy Spirit at the Baptism of Christ by Pietro Perugino, circa 1498

Baptism as the foundation of Christian life

By Pope John Paul II
April 1, 1998
General Audience

1. According to Mark’s Gospel, Jesus’ final instruction to his disciples presents faith and baptism together as the only way to salvation: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (16:16). And in recounting the missionary mandate Jesus gives the Apostles, Matthew stresses the connection between baptism and preaching the Gospel: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (28:19).

In conformity with these words of Christ, Peter addresses the people on the day of Pentecost to exhort them to conversion, inviting his listeners to receive baptism: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Conversion, then, involves not only an interior attitude but also entry into the Christian community through baptism, which takes away sins and makes one a member of Christ’s Mystical Body.

2. To grasp the deep meaning of baptism, we must meditate again on the mystery of Jesus’ baptism at the beginning of his public life. At first sight this is a surprising episode, because John’s baptism, which Jesus receives, was a baptism of “repentance” which prepared man to receive the forgiveness of sins. Jesus knew well that he had no need of that baptism, since he was completely innocent. One day he would challenge his enemies, saying: “Can any one of you convict me of sin?” (Jn 8:46).

Actually, in submitting to John’s baptism, Jesus did not receive it for his own purification but as a sign of redemptive solidarity with sinners. His baptismal act contains a redemptive intention, since he is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn 1:29). Later he would call his passion a “baptism”, describing it as a kind of immersion in suffering redemptively accepted for the salvation of all: “I have a baptism to receive. What anguish I feel until it is over!” (Lk 12:50).

3. At his baptism in the Jordan, Jesus not only foretold the task of redemptive suffering, but also received a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit, who descended in the form of a dove, that is, as the Spirit of reconciliation and divine goodwill. This descent prefigured the gift of the Holy Spirit, which would be imparted to Christians in baptism.

A heavenly voice also proclaimed: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Mk 1:11). It is the Father who acknowledged his own Son and expressed the bond of love between them. Christ is actually united with the Father in a unique relationship, because he is the eternal Word “of one being with the Father”. However, through the divine sonship conferred by baptism, it can be said that the Father’s words, “You are my beloved son”, apply to every person baptized and grafted on to Christ.

Thus, the source of Christian baptism and its spiritual riches are found in Christ’s baptism.

4. St Paul explained baptism primarily as a sharing in the fruits of Christ’s redemptive work, stressing the need to renounce sin and to begin a new life. He wrote to the Romans: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (6:3-4).

Because it is an immersion into Christ’s paschal mystery, Christian baptism has a much greater value than Jewish and pagan baptismal rites, which were ablutions symbolizing purification, but incapable of taking away sins. Christian baptism, however, is an effective sign which really purifies consciences and forgives sins. It also bestows a much greater gift: the new life of the risen Christ, which radically transforms the sinner.

5. Paul revealed the essential effect of baptism when he wrote to the Galatians: “All of you who have been baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with him” (3:27). The Christian bears a fundamental likeness to Christ, which involves the gift of divine adoptive sonship. Precisely because they have been “baptized into Christ”, Christians are “children of God” in a special way. Baptism causes a true “rebirth”.

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 3:26-29

Paul’s reflection is linked to the doctrine transmitted by John’s Gospel, especially to Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus: “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (3:5-6).

“Born of water” is a clear refererence to baptism, which is thus seen as a true rebirth by the Spirit. In it man receives the Spirit of life, who “consecrated” Christ’s humanity from the moment of the Incarnation and whom Christ himself poured out through his redeeming work.

The Holy Spirit brings about the birth and growth of a divine, “spiritual” life in Christians. This life animates and elevates their being. Through the Spirit, the very life of Christ bears its fruit in Christian existence.

What a great gift and mystery is baptism! It is to be hoped that all the Church’s children will become more deeply aware of it, especially during this time of preparation for the Jubilee.






. —Saint Augustine of Hippo

Indwelling of the Holy Spirit By C. I. Scofield:


See also the Book “Holy Spirit” By Edward Leen:

We recommend the book “Holy Spirit” By Edward Leen. It changed my life. It can change yours too.


St. Augustine on “Our heart is restless until it rests in you.”


Trying to chase away depression and anxiety with depressants is often a path toward the greater risk of addiction and death.

Prayer and Meditation for Thursday, April 18, 2013: “Whoever eats this bread will live forever”

April 18, 2013

Thursday of the Third Week of Easter Lectionary: 276

Reading 1 Acts 8:26-40

The angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, “Get up and head south on the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, the desert route.” So he got up and set out. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, that is, the queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury, who had come to Jerusalem to worship, and was returning home. Seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. The Spirit said to Philip, “Go and join up with that chariot.” Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” So he invited Philip to get in and sit with him. This was the Scripture passage he was reading:

Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so he opened not his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who will tell of his posterity? For his life is taken from the earth.

Then the eunuch said to Philip in reply, “I beg you, about whom is the prophet saying this? About himself, or about someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth and, beginning with this Scripture passage, he proclaimed Jesus to him. As they traveled along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look, there is water. What is to prevent my being baptized?” Then he ordered the chariot to stop, and Philip and the eunuch both went down into the water, and he baptized him. When they came out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, but continued on his way rejoicing. Philip came to Azotus, and went about proclaiming the good news to all the towns until he reached Caesarea.

Responsorial Psalm PS 66:8-9, 16-17, 20

R. (1) Let all the earth cry out to God with joy. or: R. Alleluia. Bless our God, you peoples, loudly sound his praise; He has given life to our souls, and has not let our feet slip. R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy. or: R. Alleluia. Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare what he has done for me. When I appealed to him in words, praise was on the tip of my tongue. R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy. or: R. Alleluia. Blessed be God who refused me not my prayer or his kindness! R. Let all the earth cry out to God with joy. or: R. Alleluia.

Gospel Jn 6:44-51

Jesus said to the crowds: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets: They shall all be taught by God.
Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my Flesh for the life of the world.”
Whoever eats this bread will live forever
Homily Ideas
Today, we sing to the Lord whom we receive the glory and the triumph from. The Risen Lord presents himself to his Church with that «I am whom I am» that identifies him as a source of salvation: «I am the bread of life» (Jn 6:48). The community gathered around Him who is Alive, by way of thanks, lovingly recognizes him and accepts God’s instruction, now known as the Father’s teachings. Christ, immortal and glorious reminds us again that the Father is the true protagonist of everything. Those who listen and believe live in communion with Him who comes from God, with the only one who has seen him and, thus, faith is the very beginning of eternal life.The living bread is Jesus. It is not nourishment we assimilate for us but that assimilates us. It makes us feel hungry for God, thirsty for listening to his Word, which is, our heart’s rejoicing and joy. The Eucharist is an anticipation of the heavenly glory: «We divide the bread, the medicine of immortality, the antidote we take in order not to die but to live forever in Jesus Christ» (Saint Ignatius of Antioch). Our communion with the flesh of Christ risen must get us used to all that comes down from Heaven, that is, to beg, receive and assume our true condition: we are made for God and only him can fully satisfy our hunger.

But this living bread will not only one day make us live beyond our physical death, but we receive it now «for the life of the world» (Jn 6:51). The Father’s design, who did not create us to die, is tied to love and faith. He demands a present, free and personal reply to his initiative. Each time we eat from that bread, let us go deeper into the very Love! We do not live anymore for ourselves, we do not live anymore in error. The world is precious because there is He who keeps on loving it to the end, because there is a Sacrifice out of which we all benefit, even those who ignore it.


Tuesday After Easter; Prayer and Meditation, “You will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”

April 2, 2013

Tuesday in the Octave of Easter Lectionary: 262

Reading 1 Acts 2:36-41

On the day of Pentecost, Peter said to the Jewish people, “Let the whole house of Israel know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and they asked Peter and the other Apostles, “What are we to do, my brothers?” Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is made to you and to your children and to all those far off, whomever the Lord our God will call.” He testified with many other arguments, and was exhorting them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand persons were added that day.

Responsorial Psalm PS 33:4-5, 18-19, 20 and 22

R. (5b) The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. or: R. Alleluia.
Upright is the word of the LORD, and all his works are trustworthy. He loves justice and right; of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. or: R. Alleluia.
See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him, upon those who hope for his kindness, To deliver them from death and preserve them in spite of famine.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. or: R. Alleluia.
Our soul waits for the LORD, who is our help and our shield. May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us who have put our hope in you.
R. The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord. or: R. Alleluia.

Gospel Jn 20:11-18

Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the Body of Jesus had been. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and then reported what he had told her.

Saint Mary Magdalene approaching the Sepulchre by Girolamo Savoldo
(Mary Magdalene stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb….)
Homily For  Acts 2:36-41
When the Apostle Peter first preached this sermon in Jerusalem 50 days after Jesus’ Resurrection, he addressed a crowd of Jews and Gentile proselytes from many different nations. They were living in a corrupt and wicked generation just as we are today. It can hardly be questioned that today’s generation is every bit as corrupt as it was in the first century A.D.
Despite the fact that statistics claim the United States is largely a nation made up of Christians, our generation’s morals don’t always reflect that claim. Instead we find widespread moral permissiveness, and the collective conscience of society is growing more and more numb. Things that were once considered unacceptable to society, such as homosexuality, are gradually gaining more and more acceptance in our generation. We are witnessing what St. Paul described as people “glorying in their shame” (Phil. 3:19). In areas of scientific research, technology has progressed to a point where life can be manipulated in ways not possible until now, and science and medicine are crossing into realms that ethics haven’t yet explored. Often the rationale for doing such things is simply, “If we can do it, we should.” An “end justifies the means” philosophy is prevalent in this generation. But who will save us from this corrupt generation?
It’s at this point that I have to make a very important side note about the NIV translation of Acts 2:40. The NIV reads, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation,” which is a major mistranslation, that also occurs in several other English translations. What it should say is “Be saved from this corrupt generation.” And this is not just a matter of translator’s preferences, or some ambiguity in how the original Greek reads; the grammar is simple and clear, “Be saved.” And why is that so important? Well, for Peter to have told the gathering of Jews and Gentiles to “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation,” would have been about as useful as telling them to grow purple wings and fly. It’s just that absurd. They could not save themselves from their corrupt generation any more than you or I can save ourselves from our corrupt generation. “Save yourselves” makes us the ‘actors’; make us the ‘doers,’ when in fact we don’t have the capability to save ourselves. Rather, with Peter I say to each of you, “Be saved” because there is One Actor who is capable of saving us from this corrupt generation, and He is Jesus Christ. When Peter said “Be Saved” it was clear that he was telling them to be saved by Jesus Christ, in the same way as he had just said a few verses earlier “Be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.” Jesus is the One whom the Father made both Lord and Christ, who is powerful to save us.
So if Christ is the One who saves us, where are the cries of sorrow and repentance from this generation? Where are the cries of “What shall we do?” The Apostle Peter’s listener’s were cut to the heart when they realized the wickedness of what they had done, and said with sincere grief and mourning, “What shall we do?” Peter had made it clear that the Messiah promised to the Jews, for whom they had waited for so long, was the very man Jesus who they despised, rejected, and crucified. What greater guilt could they feel than that from killing their promised Lord? There they were, standing guilty of a man’s blood, and it was not just any man, but the very Son of God! And knowing that the One they had killed had risen from the dead probably struck fear in their hearts as well. Who was this man who defeated death, and was He coming back for vengeance? They were very clearly convicted by Peter’s words, and their cries of “What shall we do?” showed their sorrow over their sin.
But where is the sorrow of this generation over our sin? Instead of being sorrowful over sin, our culture seems to glory in it. People are dying in unbelief and unrepentance, quite content with their sins, and with no visible signs of remorse. How can our generation be brought back to repentance and sorrow over sin? The answer is that we need to shine as lights in this world, in the midst of this crooked and twisted generation (Phil 2:15), to awaken our corrupt generation to its sinfulness. And we shine as lights because we are light in the Lord Jesus. It is His light that shines through us to awaken this corrupt generation. Our present culture and society needs to hear God’s Law, because the world needs to have its conscience reawakened to recognize the sins we have committed against God. People of our generation will see no need for a Savior until they realize that they have sinned against God, and are in need of saving. This starts with us standing up for what is right even when it isn’t popular. Among our families, and friends, and at work, we must be Christians of conviction—not willing to let the sins of this corrupt generation go by unnoticed and uninhibited. But rather we are to call our generation to repentance, so that they may receive Christ’s forgiveness.
We too, as believers need to have sorrow and contrition over our sin. We are regularly taught God’s Law; so we, of all people should know our own sin when we break those commandments. We should be cut to the heart whenever the Law rightly strikes home in condemning our sin. Here we stand, guilty of a man’s blood, and not just any man, but the very Son of God, Jesus Christ. We too are guilty of His blood, not because it was we who hung Him on the cross and crucified Him, but it was for our sins that He died. But the miraculous thing is that His blood is not on us for guilt, but for innocence! God does not condemn us for our guilt in Jesus’ death, but rather He counts us as innocent by faith in Jesus. And so we, along with the Pentecost crowd who asked Peter “What shall we do?” find great joy in Peter’s answer. “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” There is great joy in these words, and these words welcomed about 3,000 souls into the Christian church that Pentecost, and these words continue to call people to the Lord today.
And these words need to be spoken to our generation today. For a wicked generation that has broken God’s commands, Jesus Christ comes, not bringing vengeance, but forgiveness and salvation. And He offers it to all who hear His Word, repent, and receive His baptism. From this short verse we learn so much about God’s gift of Baptism to us. Peter teaches us how forgiveness and the gift of the Holy Spirit are brought to us—by baptism into Jesus name. How great a miracle it is that by simple water God cleanses our corruption? But Christians especially of this generation, and of the past few hundred years, stumble at these words of St. Peter. How can baptism bring forgiveness, they ask? To answer, we must not forget that it is not just plain water, but the “Word of God in and with the water that does these things, along with the faith which trusts this Word of God in the water.” And that very Word of God which gives baptism its power, is the Name of The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, into whom we are baptized. It is the power of God’s name, of Jesus’ name, which gives baptism the power to forgive.
Peter not only said “Be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins,” he also showed the power of Jesus’ Name by performing miracles and casting out demons, as recorded in Acts. Jesus’ Name will one day bring every knee to bow and tongue to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord; so how much more will that name bring forgiveness to those who are baptized into it? The forgiveness Jesus won at the cross is washed over you in your baptism, as His Holy Name is marked on your forehead.
And Peter also promised that in baptism we would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For us who are living in this present corrupt generation, baptism is essential to our survival. It brings us Christ’s forgiveness, as we fail and sin along our way, and it brings us the Holy Spirit, who teaches us Christ’s Word and focuses our faith on Jesus. The Spirit guides us in right paths and battles for us and with us against the attacks of the sinful world against our flesh. See how great God’s love for us is? He repays our sin with grace and our rebellion with free gifts! The Holy Spirit also teaches us to know our sins, so that we may continually live in repentance and forgiveness, so that we are not swept away with this unbelieving generation. So here we learn from St. Peter how closely tied together are baptism, the forgiveness of sins, Jesus’ Name, and the Holy Spirit. All this is God’s way of pouring out His mercy on poor repentant sinners.
This is certainly an amazing promise for Peter to make to guilty sinners, asking “What shall we do?” But who does he make this promise to? To just anyone? To any broken sinner, no matter how great their sin, no matter how deep the hurt? Yes, ABSOLUTELY Yes! This promise of forgiveness by baptism into Jesus name is for everyone! “Repent and be baptized, every one of you,” Peter says. “This promise is for you AND your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” Peter explicitly says this promise is for adults and children, and all afar off. Adults and children alike need this promise, because all are sinners in need of grace. And Christ has lived in and redeemed every stage of life, from the womb to the tomb, to eternal life! This promise is open for all, and it will be given freely to every person called to the waters of Baptism by the Lord our God—irrespective of age, gender, race, social status, and irrespective of the greatness of our sins. Since God valued each person’s life so much, that He sent His only Son to die for us, He wants to have each one of us for eternity with Him. And so He has blessed the waters of Baptism by the Word of Jesus Name, so that forgiveness of sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and a renewed life in His name are literally poured out on us in a cleansing flood. And so Christ saves us from this corrupt generation. Not by our own efforts at purification, but by the purifying waters of Baptism in Jesus’ Name. For He has made those waters pure and holy, and He has called us to be clean in Him. Amen.
Now may the peace of God, which passes all human understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.

Catholic Readings and Sermon for the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (January 27, 2013)

January 27, 2013


First Reading:

Neh 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10

Second Reading:

1 Cor 12:12-30


Lk 1:1-4; 4:14-21

In the first readings from Nehemiah, the priest-scribe Ezra stands to read the Book of the Law of Moses to the families who have just returned from Babylon. Their souls are thirsting for the word of God. Like men who find water in the desert, they drink in the message, spending the entire morning listening to the Book of the Law. They are “re-awakened” and are moved to tears thinking about all the time they avoided the Lord’s assistance.

The description of the congregation’s reaction to the reading of the Word of God serves as a reminder to us to listen with our hears and to “drink in the teachings” of the Word. The readings are meant to move us to action, to lead better lives, and to serve as better examples of Christ’s love for all. The Word is the source of life and wisdom, “It revives the soul,” “gladdens the heart,” and gives” light to the eyes.”

When we in our modern world listen to the Word, we are challenged to allow the Word to work on us, with us and through us just as it did 2,000 years ago. In our world, perhaps, we allow too much trash from TV, DVDs, Facebook, our computers and cell phones to eat up all our time that could be spent more wisely with just a few minutes each day of “Listening with our Hearts to the Word of God.”

In the Gospel, something quite magnificent takes place. Jesus, an outsider, not even a priest, reveals himself as one “With the Power of the Spirit in him.”

Jesus tells the assembly, “The Spirit has been given to me, for he has anointed me.”

And aren’t we anointed at Baptism and again in the sacraments of the Church later in life? Aren’t we also supposed to be filled with the Holy Spirit and serving others with our “Christ-like Life”?

One of the fruits of our Catholic life, our “Christ-like life,” is supposed to be the “Indwelling of the Holy Spirit.” That should fill us with inner joy — we are not asked by Jesus to be miserable people but Joyous in our proclamation of His Word.


Friday during the “March for Life” in Washington D.C. several reporters commented upon the “light-heartedness” of the crowd. When a newspaperman called me to ask about that, I said to him simply: “‘This crowd is mostly  made up of Christian young people doing the Work God Gave Them To Do. Of course they are joyful and lighthearted. We should expect that.”

I noticed nobody called the gun control paraders of yesterday “lighthearted.”

One of the fruits of meeting Jesus and having a daily encounter with him through His Word and His sacraments is the “Indwelling of the Holy Spirit” and “inner joy.”

God Bless us all!

John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom


Related from Pope John Paul II:

March for Life 2013 = a success. :)

“Carly, 17, Catholic. My goals in life are to follow Jesus Christ and run a mediocre blog. So far, so good.” — She’s Lighthearted!

(“Voldemort” is “The Dark Lord” from the Harry Potter stories)

See also:

Deacon Greg Kandra

As if to reinforce this sense of something beginning, our gospel this Sunday is, literally, about something beginning. We encounter the first words of Luke’s gospel, which then leads us to an episode a few chapters later in a synagogue, for the start of Christ’s public ministry. Even that echoes another beginning, since it took place where Jesus’s life began — in Nazareth, the scene of the Annunciation.

And in this moment, I think, Jesus offered another Annunciation: he was announcing glad tidings, liberty to captives, sight to the blind, freedom to those who are oppressed.

What comes through in this brief passage must have been startling to those who heard it; the people sitting in the synagogue weren’t hearing the fire and brimstone of John the Baptist. This wasn’t a call to repentance. This was something else altogether. In Christ’s first public teaching moment in Luke’s gospel—the Messiah’s first message to the world—he was proclaiming, in every sense, good news.

This is what the gospel is all about

The dictionary tells us that the very word “gospel” comes from Middle English, from “god-spell,” meaning, literally, “good tale.” Good news. And as we just heard, it is very good news. It’s about recovering what has been lost: sight, freedom, dignity.

Somehow, though, it’s that message that often gets lost and that needs to be recovered.

Last year, Cardinal Timothy Dolan put it beautifully in an interview about vocations. “The Church,” he said, “is always looked upon as saying ‘no’ to everything. And, we aren’t saying ‘no.’ The Church is one big ‘yes.’ Yes to anything that will make us happy in this life and the next.”

We need to remember that. We are people who believe in salvation. In reconciliation. In renewal and conversion. We are people who believe in the resurrection.

We believe in faith, hope and charity—to help the helpless and defend the defenseless.

We believe in the most enduring and challenging three words of Christ’s teaching: love one another.

Following Christ’s example, we are people who proclaim good news. Glad tidings. Joy.

We are a people of “Yes.

So why doesn’t the world see that? It may be that we aren’t communicating it. It may be, in fact, that we aren’t living it.

In the synagogue in Nazareth, people listened with expectation to what Jesus had to say. As Luke puts it: “The eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him.”

Twenty-one centuries later, the eyes of the world are looking intently at us. What do they see?

Do they see people who are living the gospel, the “good tale”?

Do they see people who have a deep and abiding friendship with Christ? People who have taken what he taught to heart? Do they see people uplifted by the sacraments, especially the Eucharist—people who literally receive Christ into their hearts and bodies and lives and want to share that with the world?

Or do they see people who are indifferent? Judgmental? Unforgiving? Hypocritical?

Do they see people who profess one thing on Sunday, but do another on Monday?

Do they look at us and see people still captive, still oppressed, still blind? The healing work that Christ proclaimed in Nazareth extends far beyond the physical limitations mentioned in Isaiah. It also encompasses the stifling limitations of sin—the blindness and captivity we carry in our hearts. That is what he truly came to change.

And his message reaches far beyond the geographical boundaries of a synagogue in 1st century Galilee. It cries out to us here and now.

Are we listening?

If there is one New Year’s resolution worth keeping, it’s this one: embrace Christ’s “glad tidings.” Resolve to live with Christian joy. As Cardinal Dolan might put it, resolve to live with “Yes.” Resolve to say “Yes” to the gospel, the “good news” again and again and again. Say “Yes” to possibility and to hope.

Luke’s gospel today is about great beginnings—the greatest, really, in all of history.

Four weeks into a new year, it reminds us that there is always time to begin again.

To start anew.

To say “Yes.”