Theme: The Unifying Force of the Holy Spirit
The scripture readings of last Sunday, the Solemnity of the Ascension, prepared us for today’s celebration. In my homily of that Sunday, I said that the Ascension of Jesus was not a farewell but a mission to do. Before the disciples started that mission, Jesus exhorted them to stay together and wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. Today, then, we celebrate the Pentecost, the decent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples and upon the Church.
How can we explain the Holy Spirit to someone? It is always difficult to talk about something that the people cannot see nor touch. We probably heard a lot about the Holy Spirit. For instance, at the sacraments of baptism and confirmation, during the catechism or the homilies at masses. Can we say that we understand the Holy Spirit perfectly? But I believe that if we use only our human intellect, we will never penetrate the mystery of the Holy Spirit. Let us use our heart and soul to contemplate the Spirit of God we received at our baptism and confirmation and now we are about to renew during this Mass. The Scripture Readings of both masses, the Vigil and the Day of Pentecost, bring out different functions of the Holy Spirit. This Spirit of God is seen as a unifying force, a principle of love, a life-giving, and a strong driving wind inspiring people to preach the Gospel. Only when we understand those functions and apply them to ourselves in our ... READ MORE
Theme: Jesus’ Ascension, not a Farewell but a Mission to Do
Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. After his life on earth, Jesus was taken up by his Father and he is seated at his right hand as we profess in the Apostles’ Creed. The Ascension of Jesus marks the end of his physical life on earth and the beginning of the mission of the Church. This mission must be carried on by his disciples and anyone who loves him (Theophilus) until the end of the age. The question that must direct our reflection today is “after Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven, what are we to do? Do we sit around waiting for something to happen, as the disciples did in today’s first reading, or do we go and do something?” The liturgy of this Sunday teaches us to focus not on what Jesus is to do for us but rather on ... READ MORE
Theme: “If you Love Me, You Will Keep My Commandments”
It took me eleven years of training in the seminary before I was ordained a priest on May 27, 2012. (ten days from today I will celebrate the 8th year-anniversary of priesthood.) During these eleven years of formation, I was confident because I was under supervision of my formators. For instance, I knew that if I made a mistake, my formators would correct me. They always helped me and my classmates. However, at the end of my training, when I realized that I had to leave the formation house, go to work at a parish and start to do things by my own without my formators around me, I was nervous. I compare the beginning of my priestly experience to the situation of the disciples of Jesus in today’s Gospel. This passage is situated in the context of the Last Supper discourse. In his farewell speech, Jesus already told his disciples regarding ... READ MORE
Theme: Through Jesus We Have Access to the Father and Know Him
In hearing Jesus in today’s Gospel saying that he was going to his Father to prepare a place for his disciples, the following story came to my mind. One boss and his employee found themselves in heaven. The boss was not happy because the house of his employee was more beautiful than his. Then he complained to Jesus by asking him why was his house not beautiful compared to that of his employee? Jesus answered him that each house was built with the material that everyone sent to heaven while living on the earth. The employee sent more material and beautiful ones than him. The materials are your offerings, your love in God and in one another, your faith in God, and your good work. This story reminds us to consider sending more material and the beautiful ones right now to get a nice place in heaven.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus answered two questions asked by Thomas and Philip on behalf of all disciples. The preoccupations of these disciples are also our preoccupations today: Knowing the way that leads to heaven and knowing who ... READ MORE
Theme: Being a Good Shepherd and the Gate for the Sheep Like Jesus
Last week, one friend of mine and I discussed about the types of relationships that a principal of a school must have with his/her school staff, students, and the parents of the students to succeed in his/her career. We also discussed what type of a relationship a parish priest should have with the parishioners he shepherds. That discussion helped me to ask these double questions to myself: “How do I relate to people and how do people relate to me?” The scripture readings of this fourth Sunday of Easter, especially the Gospel, bring us the light to know the type of relationship with Jesus and with our fellow human.
Everybody can say that he/she knows Jesus, loves him and prays to him. But the questions here are how do you relate to him? What type of relationship do you have with him? Do you feel safe and secured with Jesus? Are you close to him? Do you hear his voice, and follow him? In today’s Gospel, Saint John describes the ... READ MORE
Theme: Recognizing Jesus Through Scriptures and Breaking of Bread
The Gospel of this third Sunday of Easter opens with two disciples (disappointed by the death of Jesus; lost their faith and hope) leaving the community in Jerusalem heading to Emmaus, and closes with the two of them (strengthened in faith and being happy) back in Jerusalem. In this passage, Saint Luke tells us the story of what happened to them on the road to Emmaus: how Jesus encountered them, unrecognized, by walking with them. He explained to them the Scriptures and in the evening, he shared in the breaking of the ... READ MORE
Theme: Amid the Fear of COVID-19, Jesus Stands in our Midst
When Simon Peter and the other disciple had seen only Jesus’ burial clothes in the tomb as we heard on last Sunday’s gospel, they returned home where they remained with the other disciples behind locked doors for fear of the Jews. In today’s gospel, Jesus stands in their midst. The locked doors did not prevent him to enter the house.
The disciples’ situation is similar to what we are going through this time of COVID-19 crisis. If the fear of the disciples was the Jews, many people today are experiencing fear caused by this pandemic of coronavirus. Like the disciples, some of us have locked up ourselves, not only... READ MORE
Theme: Resurrection of the Lord Amid COVID-19
The celebration of Easter is different this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. I miss this big liturgy together with my parishioners: our gospel choirs (both parishes: Saint Bartholomew’s and Saint Augustine’s), our altar servers, lectors, Eucharistic ministers, Ushers and Security, etc. Today, we would be singing the Easter songs with joy, welcoming the new baptized members into our communities (both parishes), and renewing our baptismal commitments. All these joyful moments of Easter are in contrast with the sadness that COVID-19 is causing in our families across the globe. How can we then ... READ MORE
Theme: Light of the Resurrection Versus Darkness of COVID-19
I just heard that in October 1918, all masses were suspended in Arkansas due to the pandemic of Spanish Flu. In that year, I was not born yet, nor even my parents; maybe my grandparents that I have not met except one (my father’s mother). But my grandmother did not tell me about this Spanish flu that struck the world. 102 years later, our planet is struck again, this time by what the people call CORONAVIRUS or COVID-19. This is my first time to ... READ MORE
Theme: The Holy Cross of Jesus and our own Crosses
Three men needed jobs. As a condition to be hired, their master asked them to travel a long distance by foot. Each of them needed to carry a big wooden cross to the job site. They started their trip early in the morning. They were excited and determined to get that job. After a couple hours of traveling, they were tired, and the crosses became heavy and difficult for them to carry. They spoke among themselves to trim their... READ MOR
Theme: From Vertical Love to Horizontal Love
Tonight, we start the Sacred Paschal Triduum: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, three days before Easter. The celebration of the first day of Triduum, the Lord’s Supper, preludes the passion but prefigures it also. At the last super, Jesus celebrated the Jewish Passover with his disciples for the last time. During this celebration, he initiated two sacraments: the sacrament of the Eucharist and the sacrament of Holy Order. At the same supper, Jesus also... READ MORE
Theme: Suffering, Death, and Life
It is said that great people were often controversial figures during their lifetime. This is the case with our Lord, Jesus Christ. His contemporaries including his closest coworkers did not understand him. They did not understand his strange ideas on suffering and death as a necessary passage to a better life. It took them until after the resurrection and Pentecost for all of... READ MORE
Theme: “I AM the Resurrection and the Life”
I am a Bible teacher at the Mount Saint Mary Academy in Little Rock/Arkansas. Together with my 10-grade students, we already studied the Gospel of saint John. We learned the seven “I AM” statements and the seven sings (miracles) in this fourth gospel. The ... READ MORE
Theme: Take a Stand
Often you are asked to take a stand, be it concerning politics, sports, the education of the children, or the way work
should be done. We know that taking stand, especially one concerning a controversial issue, sometime involves
opposition. Christians are asked...