HOMILY: 27th Sunday In Ordinary Time (A)

REFLECTION OF THE HEART 27th Sunday In Ordinary Time (Year A) A Reflection: by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines *

First Reading: Isaiah 5L1-7

Let me now sing of my friend, my friend’s song concerning his vineyard. My friend had a vineyard on a fertile hillside; he spaded it, cleared it of stones, and planted the choicest vines; within it, he built a watchtower and hewed out a wine press. Then he looked for the crop of grapes, but what it yielded was wild grapes. Now, inhabitants of Jerusalem and people of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard:What more was there to do for my vineyard that I had not done? Why, when I looked for the crop of grapes, did it bring forth wild grapes? Now, I will let you know what I mean to do with my vineyard: take away its hedge, give it to grazing, break through its wall, let it be trampled! Yes, I will make it a ruin: it shall not be pruned or hoed, but overgrown with thorns and briers; I will command the clouds not to send rain upon it.for justice, but hark the outcry! is the house of Israel, and the people of Judah are his cherished plant; he looked for judgment, but see bloodshed!for justice, but hark, the outcry! RESPONSORIAL PSALM take care of this vine, and protect what your right hand has planted

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Psalms 80:9, 12, 13-14, 15-16, 19-20 Response:The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.

A vine from Egypt you transplanted;you drove away from the nations and planted it. It put forth its foliage to the Sea,its shoots as far as the River. R. The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.

Why have you broken down its walls,so that every passer-by plucks its fruit, The boar from the forest lays it waste,and the beasts of the field feed upon it?R. The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel. Once again, O LORD of hosts,look down from heaven, and see;take care of this vine,and protect what your right hand has plantedthe son of man whom you yourself made strong.R. The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.

Then we will no more withdraw from you;First Reading: Isaiah 5:1-7tcry! is the house of Israel. if your face shines upon us, then we shall be saved..if your face shines upon us, then we shall be saved.R. The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel.

SECOND READING:

Second Reading – Philippians 4:6-9 Brothers and sisters: Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable,whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious,if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.R. Alleluia, alleluia. I have chosen you from the world, says the Lord,to go and bear fruit that will remain.

GOSPEL: Matthew 21:33-43

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: “Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a winepress in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country.”When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way.”Finally, he sent his son to them saying, “They will respect my son.” But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.” So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.”Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.”Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes?””Therefore I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produce the fruits of the Kingdom.”*

REFLECTION:

How do we measure God’s love? God’s love is beyond measure. God’s love is unfathomable. God’s love is not even easy to comprehend. Despite man’s infidelity, his love never fails. We can never measure it. We cannot simply understand it. We only need to experience it.This Sunday, we are again invited to contemplate on God’s love and fidelity against the background of man’s sinfulness and ingratitude as Jesus relates to us another parable: The Parable of the Wicked TenantsThe Parable of the Wicked Tenants serves to be prophetic of what might be the plight of the Son of man. It is a story of man’s salvation. Actually, it was intended to the chief priests and Pharisees who condemned our Lord Jesus to death. We see parallelisms of this parable to the sacrifice made by our Lord Jesus. We get a clear picture, that God is represented by the landowner, the prophets are the messengers, the vineyard represents Israel, the tenants are the Israelites whom God expected righteousness in return for his goodness, and Jesus is the son. The Gospel could, therefore, be summarized this way: God who is expecting a produce from His people sent messengers after messengers to remind them of their responsibilities.But they were so ungrateful that they seized, beat and killed them.Finally, he sent his only son to collect thinking that “they will respect my son.” But the son suffered the same fate.In the end, the tenants were punished for their actions.This parable best illustrates the abundance of God’s love for us. It reveals to us the extent of His love by sending messengers after messengers and ultimately his only son.The sacrifice of His only begotten Son is unimaginable. Indeed, it proves that loving requires risk and great sacrifice.Webster Dictionary defines “Ingratitude” as forgetfulness of or poor return for, kindness received. We received countless blessings from God, but do we remember to offer Him thanks.The wicked tenants are a reminder of the Israelites in the Old Testament. After 430 years of bondage in the hands of the Egyptians, the Israelites were freed. God, through Moses, led them to a promised land of milk and honey. But as soon as they experienced hardships despite the fact that they were showered by God with so many blessings, they murmured, grumbled and complained against Moses, against Aaron, and against God. “Did God send us here to die, was it not better for us to return to Egypt?” Their ingratitude was indeed ignominious. God said, “How long shall I bear with this evil generation, which murmurs against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which murmurs against me.” Despite all these, God manifested only his love and fidelity. Psalm 103 says, “The love of the Lord is everlasting.” God’s fidelity and love for his people were manifested completely in Christ Jesus, His love surpassed man’s ingratitude and rejection. Indeed, nothing can separate us from the love of God, not even sin, God will never give up on people. That’s good news. Of course, His very nature is love. But lest we forget that this love demands a response from us. And it is for our own sake. God demands good works from us, just as the landowner expected to produce. Those tenants forgot that they were merely stewards, not owners. It is easy for us to judge those tenants in the parable. But somehow that is the same danger that we faced i.e. Ingratitude! Some people think that God owes them something. That they deserve something from Him. Many of us receive favours and gifts from Him, yet people forget to return these two words, “Thank you!” How many of us only come to Jesus in times of needs and troubles? And when we receive what it is we need and want, how many of us still approach him in thanksgiving? Indeed, there is wisdom in the old adage which says, “He who thinks, thanks!’Let us always guard ourselves with gratitude. Like I could still be thankful despite life’s adversities knowing completely that God is in every step of the way. I could bear the pain and be thankful for the process if , in the end, it means healing. I could be thankful for my hardships and sacrifices if it is for the benefits of others and to glorify God. That means I could suffer from meaning and be thankful at the same time especially if it is done in the spirit of love.But gratitude is not just a noun. It is an action word. How do we thank God? Well, simply by obeying His will.But what happens if we have a grateful heart? God is glorified. And we have a spirit-filled life. And therefore, all the more we are blessed. The more grateful we are, the more we will experience a gracious and a loving God. Our Life, therefore, should be an endless expression of gratitude to God.

HOMILY: 26th Sunday In Ordinary Time (Year A)

REFLECTION OF THE HEART 26th Sunday In Ordinary Time (Year A) A Reflection: by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

READINGS:

First Reading: Ezekiel 18:25-28

Thus says the LORD:You say, “The LORD’s way is not fair!” Hear now, house of Israel: Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair?When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity and dies, it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die.But if he turns from the wickedness he has committed, he does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life; since he has turned away from all the sins that he has committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.

Responsorial Psalm

Psalms 25:4-5,6-7,8-9

Response: Remember your mercies, O Lord.

Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;teach me your paths,guide me in your truth and teach me,for you are God, my savior.

R/ Remember your mercies, O Lord

Remember that your compassion, O LORD,and your love is from of old.The sins of my youth and my frailties remember not;in your kindness remember me,because of your goodness, O LORD.

R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.

Good and upright is the LORD;thus he shows sinners the way.He guides the humble to justice,and teaches the humble his way.R. Remember your mercies, O Lord.

Second Reading: Philippians 2:1-11

Brothers and sisters: If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing.Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others.Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus,Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

GOSPEL: Matthew 21:28-32

Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people: “What is your opinion? A man had two sons. He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ He said in reply, ‘I will not, ‘ but afterward changed his mind and went.The man came to the other son and gave the same order. He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir, ‘but did not go.Which of the two did his father’s will?” They answered, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you. When John came to you in the way of righteousness, you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did. Yet even when you saw that, you did not later change your minds and believe him.”

_____________________________

REFLECTION

In today’s Parable, Jesus relates to us an easy to understand story yet with a profound message. This Parable is known as the Parable of the two sons. It tells us of a comparison between the two sons’ responses to their father’s command to comply with a task i.e. to go to the vineyard to work. A certain father approached the first son and told him to go to the vineyard to work. Initially, the first son refused but later on had a change of mind and he complied with the command. The second son was also told the same. He immediately said “Yes, I a going” but he did not go. He actually didn’t have the intention of complying. What he was trying to avoid was to upset his father. Jesus concluded his story with a question – “Which of the two did his father’s will? The reply came, “The first son!”

It is easy for us to choose the first one and to judge him as a better son. However, I think both of them offended the father. The first son was arrogant and rude. It was easy for him to offend the feelings of his father. This is the kind of son who would talk back to his parents and will always have something to argue about before complying. Although, for me, the second son is even worst. He is the kind of son who portrays himself to be always good and nice yet inside is full of malice. To him, being obedient was just a show. His portrayal of a perfect son was not real. It is hypocrisy at a higher level.

The best response is actually the combination of the two sons i.e. to be able to say ‘Yes’ to the father and keep it. Jesus showed us the meaning of the perfect son. He said ‘Yes’ to his Father and fulfilled His will. It was perfect obedience to the Father. That’s the image of an ideal son -to be always obedient to the father. To be always giving his best to the will of the father. However, it is not always easy. In the Kingdom of God, holiness is indeed a bit of a challenge. Even saints had to struggle. Just like St. Augustine who lived a wayward life before he learned to accept Christ and became obedient to the Father. He said, “Late have I loved thee, my Lord.” But as they say in Spanish, “Mas vale tarde que nunca.” (It is better late than never.) The Gospel tells us that if we are to choose between the two sons; the better choice is the first one. As sons and daughters, we may not be perfect. God does not expect us to be always perfect. As human beings, he understands our flaws and weaknesses. But what is important to him is for us to be able to repent. A conversion of the heart is what pleases the Father.

The Gospel speaks to me personally and directly.. It tells me that I may not be perfect but what is important is to always recognize my flaws and to be able to do something about it. The Parable is an invitation for us to undergo some kind of transformation, a form of conversion, and some new direction of our hearts and minds. Are we ready to abandon things that keep us from the Lord daily? Are we ready to get rid of our own arrogance, deception, greed, resentment, and anger in our hearts? We need to recognize the need for daily conversion. By ourselves, it is never easy to do. And so we need the guidance of the Holy Spirit so that we may be able to say, “Forgive me, Father, for I am weak. Yet direct me to true repentance and the strength to do your most holy will.”

HOMILY: 25th Sunday In Ordinary Time (Year A)

REFLECTION OF THE HEART
25th Sunday In Ordinary Time (Year A)
Lessons learned from the Parable of the workers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16)
A Reflection: by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

GOSPEL: MATTHEW 20:1-16

Jesus spoke this parable to his disciples. “The Kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, “You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.” So they went.
When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, “Why are you standing here idle all day?” They said to him, “Because no one has hired us.” He said to them, “You also go into the vineyard.”
When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, “Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.” When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage.

Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.” But he replied to one of them, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?”

“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
*
_______________________________________

REFLECTION

In today’s Gospel parable, we are invited to reflect upon a more profound message of the story. The message is so powerful that we can see ourselves in the story and that we can apply it to our daily existence. Seemingly, the parable discussed with us the issue of wages. Or it may seem to tell us something about other people receiving more blessings and favors from God. But there’s more to it than meets the eye. Let us then try to examine today’s Gospel text:

There was an unusual landowner, who seemed to be more concerned about giving work to the unemployed rather than his personal profit. He cares about them so much that he goes out, not once, but several times during the day to see if there are people out there who may be looking for work that they may be able to feed their families. He found the first batch of workers who had agreed upon a set wage. He went out again to look for more workers at about noon, at about three o’clock and about five o’clock. These were promised a fair wage. When the work was done, each of them received the usual daily wage. To the first batch of workers, this seems to be so utterly unfair. So they grumbled against the landowner, saying, “These last worked only one hour, and you made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.” The landowner was accused of being unfair. And as Jesus explains to us that the landowner in the parable is God. God, therefore, is the one being questioned about fairness. In a way, there was no question of injustice here for they were paid according to what they had agreed. What then is the Gospel of today telling us about?

First, The Parable highlights Divine generosity and love. When we pay somebody in accordance with what is prescribed by the law, it is being fair and just. But when we give more than what is prescribed by the law, it is being generous and kind. The Gospel, therefore, is telling us not to be afraid to go beyond justice and what is fair, but always go on the side of generosity, kindness, and love. We have a kind, generous, forgiving, and loving God. And Jesus by his examples revealed these to us. During the crucifixion, one of the thieves who was crucified with him said, “Jesus, remember me when you enter paradise.” The repentant thief was not only promised paradise but at that instant given salvation. Isn’t that an extreme display of God’s generosity and love? And who are we to question God’s generosity? When we are tempted to do so, we may ponder upon the words of Isaiah in the first reading of today: “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Second, The Parable points to us one of man’s deadly weaknesses i.e. Envy. “Are you envious because I am generous?” It is, therefore, very clear that the question here is not about justice or being fair but of envy. Envy is spiritual poison. It is the poison of the heart. Envy is feeling sadness or anger at someone else’s success and good fortune. Some people thought that envy and jealousy are the same. No, they are different. For instance, when I am jealous of somebody, I could see something good in the person that I want to possess inordinately. But when I am envious of someone, I do not want to possess the good that he has rather I want to destroy it. When one is envious, he takes delight in the thought of other people’s downfall. In today’s Gospel, the first batch of workers cannot rejoice with the other workers who came late but received the same wage. Resentment rather than gratitude got a hold of them. They cannot rejoice because they were so envious. They wish to take revenge on them. Some people are envious when God’s grace of forgiveness and love are given to others in equal measure. People have a tendency to look highly of themselves. They have the tendency to be resentful of what others receive from God. Oftentimes, justice, and fairness rather than forgiveness, generosity, and love is the measure by which we regard others.
———————

STORY:(Author unknown)

A story is told about an eagle who is so envious of a fellow eagle because the latter could fly the highest. So high that no eagle could outfly him.
One day the envious eagle approached a sportsman with a request – “Will you bring down that eagle?” To which the sportsman replied that he would if he only had some feathers to put into the arrow. So the eagle pulled one out of his wing. The arrow was shot, but didn’t quite reach the rival eagle; it was flying too high. The envious eagle pulled out more feathers and kept pulling them out until he lost so many that he couldn’t fly, and then the sportsman turned around and killed him.
———————-

The lesson of the story is that: If you are envious, the only man you can hurt is yourself. Indeed, envy is a poison of the soul. It harms always the one who is guilty of it. Jesus wants us to learn to rejoice at other people’s blessings rather than be envious of them. Learn to be happy for others. Let us stop comparing ourselves to others in order for us to create room for grace to emerge in our own lives. If you appreciate your own blessings instead then certainly you can be happier. And let us put our trust completely in a loving and gracious God.

HOMILY: 24th Sunday In Ordinary Time (Year A)

REFLECTION OF THE HEART
Twenty-Fourth Sunday In Ordinary Time (Year A)
Parable of the Unforgiving Servant – Mt 18:21-35
A Reflection: by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

READINGS:

First Reading: Sirach 27:30-28:7

Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight.

The vengeful will suffer the LORD’s vengeance, for he remembers their sins in detail. Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.

Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the LORD?

Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself, can he seek pardon for his own sins?
If one who is but flesh cherishes wrath, who will forgive his sins?

Remember your last days, set enmity aside; remember death and decay, and cease from sin!

Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor; remember the Most High’s covenant, and overlook faults.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

Responsorial Psalm – Psalms 103:1-2, 3-4, 9-10, 11-12
Response: The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.

Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all my being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.

He pardons all your iniquities,
heals all your ills.
He redeems your life from destruction,
crowns you with kindness and compassion.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.

He will not always chide,
nor does he keep his wrath forever.
Not according to our sins does he deal with us,
nor does he requite us according to our crimes.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.

For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.
As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he put our transgressions from us.
R. The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.

Second Reading – Romans 14:7-9
\
Brothers and sisters:
None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself.
For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.
For this is why Christ died and came to life, that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.

Alleluia – John 13:34
R. Alleluia, alleluia. I give you a new commandment, says the Lord;
love one another as I have loved you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel: Matthew 18:21-35

Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? As many as seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.
That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants.
When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.
Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold,
along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt.
At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’
Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan.
When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’
Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ But he refused. Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison until he paid back the debt. Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair. His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’ Then in anger, his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart.”

____________________

REFLECTION:

I always find the word Forgiveness at the heart of Jesus’ message and mission here on earth, besides Love and great mercy, every time I read the Sacred Scriptures.

There is joy in my heart realizing the fact that we are collectively as well as individually forgiven. Yes, we are all sinners and we all need forgiveness. The good news is that we have a forgiving God, who loves us unconditionally. In the same manner that God wants us also to be always ready to forgive.

For sure, there are times that we need to forgive others but there are also times we are the ones in need of forgiveness. Just as there are times that someone has done something wrong against us but there are times also we are the ones who did something wrong against someone. So, which is easier really? To bestow forgiveness or to ask to be forgiven? I think they are equally not easy to do. Are you one among those who find it hard to forgive or are you among those people who find it difficult to beg for forgiveness. It takes a lot of humility to beg for forgiveness and it takes a lot of courage to forgive.

This Sunday’s Gospel imparts to us a very powerful message on Forgiveness. I said powerful because most of us find it hard to forgive some of the people who have offended us deeply in the course of our lives. There are times that we simply cannot forget. There are hurts that seem so deep that they keep on coming back over and over again at least on our mind. And we cannot move forward. It is easier for us to hold grudges against someone and to wallow in bitterness and hate.

The conversation between Jesus and Peter is, therefore, an invitation for us all to reflect on the importance of forgiveness. Okay, so we are convinced that forgiveness is indeed important. But the question is, how often must we forgive. Peter asked, is it seven times? But Jesus replied, No, not seven times but I say to you seventy-seven times. Which simply means limitless. God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness are boundless and limitless. So must be the kind of love, mercy, and forgiveness we must show to those who have wronged against us. Forgiveness should not just be a feeling or just an emotion but it should be a decision we make. No matter how difficult it may be, but we opted to forgive realizing that it is the right thing to do. It may be a cliche, but indeed, To err is human, To forgive divine. It means that we commit mistakes simply because as human beings we have our share of human flaws and imperfections. But when we learn to forgive, it is something special, for we actively participate in the divine nature which forgiveness, mercy, and love.

There are times we are tempted not to forgive. Jesus understands it fully that it is not easy to do so. And so in today’s Gospel text, he further relates to us a parable for us all- The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant. It tells us that we would only be forgiven if we know how to forgive from the heart. In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus taught us to ask for forgiveness – “as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

At this point, let us search our hearts. Is there someone in the past who has sinned against you and you still cannot forgive? Is there someone you still hold grudges against? Do you have someone you really hate and therefore, you cannot forget?
Jesus wants us to make a decision no matter how difficult it may be. How much we learn to forgive from the heart is exploring our capacity to practice love.

Let us reflect on part of the very prayer of St. Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon…and grant us that we may never seek so much
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

Celebrating the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

CELEBRATING THE NATIVITY OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
8th SEPTEMBER Happy Birthday Mama Mary!
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

In my ministry as a priest, I have never doubted Mary’s refuge in times of struggles and challenges. She never fails to give me the necessary strength that I may persevere always. And I owe her so much that despite my own shortcomings and weaknesses she’s always there inspiring me that I may remain faithful to my calling. I love the Blessed Virgin so much and I thank God for giving her to us to be our mother too. Thank you, Jesus!
*
Every 8th day of September, we celebrate the nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We love the Blessed Virgin Mary and honor her with great reverence and devotion simply because she is the Mother of God. Because of her “Fiat,” God’s plan of salvation was made possible for mankind. In her blessed womb, the Incarnation of Jesus became a reality. It is but fitting that today we rejoice with a grateful hearts to the Blessed Mother for giving us her Son, Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world.
*
“The day of the Nativity of the Mother of God is a day of universal joy because, through the Mother of God, the entire human race was renewed, and the sorrow of the first mother, Eve, was transformed into joy.” » Saint John Damascene
_________________________________
(From the Catholic Teaching)
History of the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The source for the story of the birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Protoevangelium of James, an apocryphal gospel written about A.D. 150. From it, we learn the names of Mary’s parents, Joachim and Anna, as well as the tradition that the couple was childless until an angel appeared to Anna and told her that she would conceive.
The traditional date of the feast, September 8, falls exactly nine months after the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Perhaps because of its close proximity to the feast of the Assumption of Mary, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is not celebrated today with the same solemnity as the Immaculate Conception. It is, nonetheless, a very important feast, because it prepares the way for the birth of Christ.
———————————————————–
But why do we take the Blessed Virgin Mary in such high regard? Let me answer that question by borrowing lines from some of my favorite saints. These holy men and women gave us the most profound insights on the Blessed Mother.
*
“Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.”
–Saint Maximilian Kolbe
*
“In danger, in doubt, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let not her name depart from your lips, never suffer it to leave your heart. And that you may obtain the assistance of her prayer, neglect not to walk in her footsteps. With her for guide, you shall never go astray; while invoking her, you shall never lose heart; so long as she is in your mind, you are safe from deception; while she holds your hand, you cannot fall; under her protection, you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach the goal.”
–Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Father, and Doctor of the Church
*
“We never give more honour to Jesus than when we honour his Mother, and we honour her simply and solely to honour him all the more perfectly. We go to her only as a way leading to the goal we seek – Jesus, her Son.”
–Saint Louis Marie de Montfort
*
‘Mary having co-operated in our redemption with so much glory to God and so much love for us, Our Lord ordained that no one shall obtain salvation except through her intercession.’
–St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori
*
“Men do not fear a powerful hostile army as the powers of hell fear the name and protection of Mary.”
–St. Bonaventure
*
“To give worthy praise to the Lord’s mercy, we unite ourselves with Your Immaculate Mother, for then our hymn will be more pleasing to You because She is chosen from among men and angels. Through Her, as through a pure crystal, Your mercy was passed on to us. Through Her, man became pleasing to God; Through Her, streams of grace flowed down upon us.” (1746)
–St. Faustina

*
“If you ever feel distressed during your day — call upon our Lady — just say this simple prayer: ‘Mary, Mother of Jesus, please be a mother to me now.’ I must admit — this prayer has never failed me.”
–Saint Mother Teresa
*
Let us run to Mary, and, as her little children, cast ourselves into her arms with perfect confidence.
–Saint Francis de Sales
*
After the love which we owe Jesus Christ, we must give the chief place in our heart to the love of His Mother Mary.’
–St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori
_______________________________

Let us pray the Memorare

Remember,
O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection,
implored thy help or sought thy intercession,
was left unaided.
Inspired with this confidence,
I fly unto thee,
O Virgin of virgins my Mother;
to thee do I come,
before thee, I stand,
sinful and sorrowful;
O Mother of thy Word Incarnate,
despise not my petitions,
but in thy clemency hear and answer me.
Amen.

Homily: Twenty-third Sunday In Ordinary Time (Year A)

REFLECTION OF THE HEART
Twenty-Third Sunday In Ordinary Time year A
On Fraternal Correction
A Reflection: by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

READINGS:

First Reading: Ezekiel 33:7-9
Thus says the LORD:
You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel; when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me.
If I tell the wicked, “O wicked one, you shall surely die, ” and you do not speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way, the wicked shall die for his guilt, but I will hold you responsible for his death.
But if you warn the wicked, trying to turn him from his way, and he refuses to turn from his way, he shall die for his guilt, but you shall save yourself.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalms 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9
Response: If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
let us acclaim the rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us joyfully sing psalms to him.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Come, let us bow down in worship;
let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
“Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
as in the day of Massah in the desert,
where your fathers tempted me;
they tested me though they had seen my works.”
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Second Reading: Romans 13:8-10

Brothers and sisters:
Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet,” and whatever other commandments there may be, are summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.

GOSPEL (Matthew 18:15-20) On Fraternal Correction

Jesus spoke to his disciples, “If your brother or sister sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If he or she listens to you, you have regained your brother or sister. But if the person does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the person refuses to listen to them, tell it to the Church; and if that person refuses to listen even to the Church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
*

________________________________________________

REFLECTION:

(Story) There’s a Spanish story of a father and son who had become estranged. The son ran away, and the father set off to find him. He searched for months to no avail. Finally, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in a Madrid newspaper. The ad read: Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father. On Saturday 800 Pacos showed up, looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers. (Source unknown)

I find this short story poignant. It tells us a reality that there are so many people out there in need of understanding, forgiveness, and love. There are so many people who are hurting. There are so many broken relationships.
There is no such thing as perfect relationships simply because there are no perfect people. We all have our flaws. We all commit mistakes. In any relationship – be it family relationships, relationships between friends or relationships among people in society, at our workplace, at school, and even in the Church, there will always be conflicts. No matter how much people try to have peace all the time – arguments, misunderstandings, disagreements, and even fights will always transpire along the way even when you least expect it. Having relationship issues, therefore, are inevitable. Good relationships don’t just happen. It takes a lot of hard work to make relationships really work. It takes a lot of patience, humility, and the will for people to truly want to build a good relationship. Yes, there are no perfect relationships, it’s how you deal with it that makes a relationship perfect. It means, therefore that a successful relationship is not impossible despite our differences and idiosyncrasies.

But how can we have a successful relationship? Well. this is what this Sunday’s Gospel text is trying to teach us. Jesus in today’s Gospel is teaching us a lesson on what to do every time some issues occur in any relationship. Jesus is teaching us a lesson on the fraternal correction. Jesus said, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.” But how do we correct one another? How do we encourage one another to do what is right? As for me, the very first thing to do is to look into our hearts, analyze our actions like whose fault is it really? So many times that we cannot admit our faults. Because of pride at times instead of accepting our own mistakes, we would do anything within our means to prove others wrong. Most of the time, we think we are always right. It is easier for us to judge other people. And even if we realized we’re wrong, apologizing wouldn’t be easy to do. That creates more tensions and more conflicts. Have this always in mind – Something is more important than just being always right and i.e. being compassionate. It’s actually a choice whether we wanna be always right or we wanna be always compassionate.

Since conflicts are inevitable in any relationship. Allow me to share with you some guidelines we should consider in order for us to be able to contribute to creating a successful relationship:

First, Humility. Pope Francis spoke of the importance of humility in order to dialogue with a brother or a sister. Fraternal correction, therefore, should be done in the spirit of humility. A humble person is never judgmental. We can learn a lot of lessons from Pope Francis who said: “Who am I to judge?” Judge not lest we are judged! There is one journey that we as Christians have to make i.e. a journey from pride to humility, from self-centered to Christ-centered.

Second, Forgiveness. Learn to forgive. Find ways to be reconciled and reach out. Pope Francis said that whenever there’s conflict look for peace as soon as possible. Always find a solution. He emphasized the need to build bridges rather than walls, like the one that divided Berlin for so many years. The Pope further says that “even in our heart there is the chance to become the Berlin wall to others. I am afraid of these walls that grow every day and foster resentment. And hate.”

Third, Love. We always have to find ways to love. In any conflict, find ways to love. Even if we feel oppressed, find ways to love. Even if we are hurt or we feel something unjust is done to us, we should find ways to love. True love means not to give up on each other. This would be our identity as Christians i.e LOVE! They’ll know we are Christians by our love. We opted to love, as Christ as our model, despite the fact that in so many cases it is never easy to do so. This is God’s greatest commandment that we should love our fellow men – sinner or saint. But who says loving is easy? Finding love especially to the unlovable is never easy. It is easier said than done. Even among members of our own family. Mother Teresa once said “It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start.”

One time, I blessed a couple in their 50th Wedding Anniversary. The husband shared the many challenges in their married life. He said that part of their married life is the many fights, and arguments but they followed the lesson they learned from a passage from the Ephesians 4:26 which says “If you are angry, let it be without sin, the sun must not go down on your wrath.” There’s wisdom in it, whenever a conflict occurs, do not wait till tomorrow to patch up things

HOMILY: Twenty-Second Sunday In Ordinary Time (A)

REFLECTION OF THE HEART
Twenty-Second Sunday In Ordinary Time (A) b
Matthew 16:21-27 On Jesus’ Passion and Discipleship
A Reflection: by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

READINGS:

First Reading – Jeremiah 20:7-9

You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me, and you triumphed. All the day I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me.

Whenever I speak, I must cry out, violence and outrage is my message; the word of the LORD has brought me derision and reproach all the day I say to myself, I will not mention him, I will speak in his name no more. But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalms 63:2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9
Response: My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

O God, you are my God whom I seek;
for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts
like the earth, parched, lifeless, and without water.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

Thus have I gazed toward you in the sanctuary
to see your power and your glory,
for your kindness is a greater good than life;
my lips shall glorify you.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

Thus will I bless you while I live;
lifting up my hands, I will call upon your name.
As with the riches of a banquet shall my soul be satisfied,
and with exultant lips, my mouth shall praise you.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

You are my help,
and in the shadow of your wings, I shout for joy.
My soul clings fast to you;
your right hand upholds me.
R. My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.

Second Reading – Romans 12:1-2

I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.

Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.

GOSPEL: MATTHEW 16:21-27

Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. 2Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does but as human beings do.”
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct.
*

___________________________________

REFLECTION:

Does God want us to suffer? Does He enjoy our pain? Of course NOT! But why is it that the world is filled with people who are suffering? Suffering has become a part of human existence. It happens to all of us in life, to have some suffering and pain – like every time we encounter problems when we are sick when we are dealing with rebellious sons or daughters when we are in financial trouble, etc. All these bring us pain and suffering. It could happen to anyone. Every one of us can experience loneliness and suffering. It could happen also to famous, rich, and powerful people. Wealth, fame, status in life are never guaranteed to make us happy. Yes, there’s no such thing as suffering-free existence. No one is spared. It’s only how we deal with it that makes the difference. Some people wallow in bitterness, hate, anger, and regret while others seek meaning and purpose in it. It is our choice!

In today’s Gospel text, our Lord Jesus was talking about his passion and death. If you still remember last Sunday’s Gospel text, Peter was praised by Jesus for giving the right answer when Jesus asked this question – “Who do you say that I am?” Peter said, “You are the Messiah!” But it’s different in today’s Gospel, Peter was rebuked by Jesus because he objected to the prediction of his sufferings (Mt. 16:23) “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” Thus Peter was called Satan and an obstacle. Because he is thinking not as God does but as human beings do. Jesus further said, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” This reminds me of a someone’s reaction when one time I was discussing this particular text to a certain group of people, one of them reacted -“Why do we have to take up a cross to follow Jesus?” The question is similar to this “Why do we have to suffer?” “Can we not live our lives free from suffering?” This reminds me of a story. A story is told about someone who approached Jesus with a question: “Why do you allow suffering like famine, war, disease, crime, homelessness, despair, etc. exist in our world?” To which Jesus replied, “Interesting that you should bring that up as I was about to ask you the exact same question.” Some people thought that “God wills us to suffer!” No, God did not want us to suffer. But suffering in the world is a consequence of man’s sinfulness. When Jesus said “If anyone wants to follow me let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me,” our Lord was just being realistic. He knew that following him is not gonna be easy considering that his way is a way of the cross. So why do we need to carry our cross? The question was of course as valid as it is relevant. To answer this -We need to understand the meaning of what true Discipleship is. True Discipleship means “laying something down.” – let him deny himself. Denying oneself means following the examples set forth by Jesus himself. True Discipleship demands of us ‘to pick something up’ – take up your cross. But what do we mean by the Cross? The Cross that Jesus was talking about does not necessarily mean bearing difficulties and pains of life.

There are people who interpret “Cross” as some burden they must carry in their lives, like our hardships, challenges, and struggles in life. But when Jesus was talking about his cross, he was not only talking about hardships and pain. He was actually talking about his DEATH! Therefore, when Jesus carried his cross, it was not meant only to carry a burden – but the cross meant only one thing i.e. death. This means taking up your cross is our willingness to die in order to follow Jesus. This is called “dying to oneself”, ultimate sacrifice and a complete surrender to the will of God. I know the demands are tough but the rewards, in the end, are priceless i.e. eternal bliss and the heavenly glory. Some people want only the reward without the cross. There’s truth in the saying “No pain, no gain!” Suffering, as they say, is a way of purification in order for us to achieve perfection. Yes, following Jesus may not be easy. Following him is easy when life runs smoothly but our true commitment and fidelity to Christ are revealed most especially during trials. Discipleship demands sacrifice. When he invited us to come to follow him, he never sugar-coated things. Jesus never hid the cost. But the reward is worth the price.
When we are called to carry our cross, we don’t have to carry it perfectly. In his agony in the garden, Jesus said: “Let this cup pass from me.” And remember Simon of Cyrene, was only forced to carry the cross, he actually didn’t want to help, but he did anyway. On his way to Calvary, Jesus fell several times. But He carried it out of his perfect love and obedience to the Father. Carrying the cross means obeying the will of God. Complete trust in His divine providence and design. Love makes things bearable. Let us, therefore, carry our crosses with LOVE.

HOMILY: TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME A

REFLECTION OF THE HEART
TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME A
Who do people say that the Son of Man is?
A Reflection: by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*
READINGS:

FIRST READING: Isaiah 22:19-23

Thus says the LORD to Shebna, master of the palace:
“I will thrust you from your office and pull you down from your station.
On that day I will summon my servant Eliakim, son of Hilkiah;
I will clothe him with your robe, and gird him with your sash, and give over to him your authority. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.
I will place the key of the House of David on Eliakim’s shoulder; when he opens, no one shall shut when he shuts, no one shall open.
I will fix him like a peg in a sure spot, to be a place of honor for his family.”

RESPONSORIAL PSALM: Psalms 138:1-2, 2-3, 6, 8

Response: Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands.

I will give thanks to you, O LORD, with all my heart,
for you have heard the words of my mouth;
in the presence of the angels I will sing your praise;
I will worship at your holy temple.
R/ Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands.

I will give thanks to your name,
because of your kindness and your truth:
When I called, you answered me;
you built up strength within me.
R. Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands.

The LORD is exalted, yet the lowly he sees,
and the proud he knows from afar.
Your kindness, O LORD, endures forever;
forsake not the work of your hands.
R. Lord, your love is eternal; do not forsake the work of your hands.

SECOND READING – Romans 11:33-36
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!
For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor?
Or who has given the Lord anything that he may be repaid?
For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

GOSPEL: MATTHEW 16:13-20 Peter’s Confession About Jesus
When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am? Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then he strictly ordered his disciples to tell no one that he was the Messiah.

_____________________________________

REFLECTION:

There are the so-called “Terms of endearment.” These are words or phrases used to address or describe a particular person especially someone related to us. They are also used to animals, pets most specially or to objects for which the speaker feels love or affection. That is why a husband or a wife may call the other like honey, sugar, cupcakes etc. Or some parents call their children like sunshine, butterfly etc. We also do that to our friends, depending of course, how close we are to them. We do not get insulted no matter what they call us like ‘my little monkey’ or a ‘noisy bumblebee’ We don’t get mad if a loved one calls us names, in fact, we find it sweet for we know that it’s their way of expressing their affection. But if someone whom we do not know calls us names like ‘monkey’, we get mad – we say, ‘how dare you to call me a monkey?’ That’s how to start a fight. They are no longer ‘terms of endearment’ but name-calling or insult.

Our Lord Jesus in today’s Gospel did the same to one of his disciples – Simon. He said, “You are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my church.” Peter means rock. Calling Peter “Rock” is done on purpose. Jesus compared Peter to a “rock.” What comes to mind when we say rock? Of course, we know that rock is something solid, something hard and firm. The question is – Do you think ‘rock’ is a perfect description of Simon Peter? Maybe not! And Jesus was aware of it. Remember in Matthew 26:31-35 – When Jesus was talking about his passion and how everyone will abandon him, Peter said to Jesus “Even if all are made to stumble because of you. I will never be made to stumble. Jesus said to him, Assuredly, I say to you that this night before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times. Peter said to him, Even if I have to die with you, I will not deny you.” Jesus was right. When it was time for Peter to prove his fidelity to Jesus, He failed! He was asked by some woman during the trial of Jesus – Are you one of them? Peter said, “I do not know the man!” He denied Jesus not once, not twice but three times. Despite Peter’s weaknesses, he was still given the honor of the keys of the Kingdom – “And I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my church…I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.” It was because Jesus knew that Peter’s betrayal was just temporary. What is important to Jesus was that he repented. His sorrowful reaction was proof of his repentance. In the end, Peter was able to prove his fidelity to Jesus. He was loyal to his mission of spreading the Good News and eventually offered his life for the Gospel.

Earlier in the Gospel, Jesus asked this question to his disciples – “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” The scene was Caesarea Philippi. This region actually became the center of worship of false gods for thousands of years. This may be the reason why our Lord asked such a question in that place. He wanted to know how people regarded him. And they replied Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets. And Jesus’s reaction was – Alright! that’s how they perceived me, and then he asked a crucial question – but who do you say that I am? Now Jesus was asking them their own personal perception of him. Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Peter, of course, was right but still, there was a need for him to clarify his understanding of what a Messiah is. When Jesus was talking about his suffering and death he got a reaction from no less than Peter himself. We can relate to Peter. Jesus was like asking us the same question, “Who do you say that I am?” To most of us, because of our knowledge of Theology and because of our Catechism, we will rightly say that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, our Savior, and Lord. But our knowledge of Theology is not enough for Jesus will demand of us to dig deeper into our hearts – Personally! Who do you say that I am? When I was teaching Catechism I asked my students the same question. Who is Jesus to them? I got several different answers – Jesus is a brother, a father, a friend, someone you can rely on. There was one student who can not perceive Jesus as a Father. Apparently, the kid was abused by his father physically and verbally. He can not perceive Jesus as a loving father because that was not his experience of his own father. Well, many times we hear within ourselves the same question that Jesus addressed his disciples. He is asking us – “Who am I for you?” What would be our response? We come to know Jesus in our daily encounter with him, each day, especially in dealing with one another. Our task, therefore, is to make Jesus known and alive in our day to day life.
Our good example and good deeds will reflect the image of Jesus to our fellowmen. Getting to know Jesus personally is a journey. A journey that we cannot make alone. In Matthew 16:13-28, it says, “The Holy Spirit, whom I shall send to you, will teach you all things and will make you understand all that I have taught you.” Let us, therefore, ask the Holy Spirit for guidance that we may come to know Jesus deeply.

Author: Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

Every day we are confronted with a lot of questions. We sometimes ask ourselves about the meaning and purpose of life. Why is there a need to struggle in life? Why is the world filled not only with good things but of bad as well? What really matters in life? And where is this journey leading me to? etc. Questions like these are worth pondering upon. Certainly, Scriptures could help us find the answers we’ve been looking for. The Bible comes from the Greek word “Biblos” meaning book or books. It also means “God-breathed” 2 Timothy 3: 16. We, therefore, allow contemplation of the Word of God our daily habit. Just like the air that we breathe, the Word of God sustains and nourishes our spirit. When you seek guidance and direction read the Scriptures. The Word Of God directs us to wisdom. It gives peace and joy to our lonely soul.

“On this page are my personal insights on the Gospel readings. I’d like to share them with my readers, feel free to use and to share them as to whatever purpose you may have – let’s spread the Good News. The Gospels of Jesus are meant to be shared and reflected upon by everyone.”


(The Author – Pater Allen Baclor Abadines is a Catholic clergy stationed in Canada. He received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Philosophy from Holy Rosary Major Seminary in Naga City, Philippines. He finished his studies of Sacred Theology from Maryhill School of Theology, Quezon City, Philippines. He did his ministry in the Philippines for 10 years. He was a professor of History of Philosophy and Audio-Visual Techniques in Catechesis at St. Peter’s College Seminary, San Pablo City, Philippines. He worked in three parishes in the Philippines as a parish priest, which includes St. Michael Parish, Rizal, St. Joseph the Worker Parish, Canlubang, and Our Lady of Pillar Parish, Alaminos (All in the Province of Laguna, Philippines). He also did his ministry at St. Raymond Church, Rockville Centre, New York, St. Elizabeth Parish, Long Island, New York, and at Blessed Sacrament Church, Martinsville, New Jersey, U.S.A.) Currently, Pater Allen is doing his ministry in Ontario, Canada. Pater Allen’s passions include traveling, reading, writing, watching movies, listening to good music, doodling, teaching, photography, adventures, and just being with family and friends.

HOMILY: Twentieth Sunday In Ordinary Time (A)

REFLECTION OF THE HEART
Twentieth Sunday In Ordinary Time (A)
Matthew 15:21-28 -The Faith of the Canaanite Woman
A Reflection: by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*
READINGS:

First Reading – Isaiah 56:1, 6-7

Thus says the LORD: Observe what is right, do what is just; for my salvation is about to come, my justice, about to be revealed.
The foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, ministering to him, loving the name of the LORD, and becoming his servants all who keep the sabbath free from profanation and hold to my covenant, these I will bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be acceptable on my altar, for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalms 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
Response: Let the peoples praise you, O God, let all the people’s praise you.

May God have pity on us and bless us;
may he let his face shine upon us.
So may your way be known upon earth;
among all nations, your salvation.
R.Let the peoples praise you, O God, let all the people’s praise you.

May the nations be glad and exult
because you rule the peoples in equity;
the nations on the earth you guide.
R. Let the peoples praise you, O God, let all the people’s praise you.

May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you!
May God bless us,
and may all the ends of the earth fear him!
R. Let the peoples praise you, O God, let all the people’s praise you.

Second Reading – Romans 11:13-15, 29-32

Brothers and sisters:
I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I glory in my ministry in order to make my race jealous and thus save some of them.
For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.
Just as you once disobeyed God but have now received mercy because of their disobedience,
so they have now disobeyed in order that, by virtue of the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy.
For God delivered all to disobedience, that he might have mercy upon all.

GOSPEL: MATTHEW 15:21-28

At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out,
“Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!
My daughter is tormented by a demon.”
But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her.
Jesus’ disciples came and asked him,
“Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”
He said in reply,
“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, “Lord, help me.”
He said in reply,
“It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.”
She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
that fall from the table of their masters.”
Then Jesus said to her in reply,
“O woman, great is your faith!
Let it be done for you as you wish.”
And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.
*
The Gospel of the Lord / Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

_______________________________________

REFLECTION

This Sunday’s Gospel text should be read and interpreted with extra care. We are used to seeing Jesus in the Gospels to be always caring, compassionate, and loving. Were not these the contexts of all his teachings? However, in today’s Gospel text we see an apparent different side of Jesus. This is where we see a seemingly inconsiderate, insensitive, and uncaring Jesus, by the way, He treated a woman in need who was a foreigner. The picture of Jesus here is far from the image of the one who taught us how to be a good Samaritan to the needy regardless of who the person is. But at a closer look at today’s Gospel, we realize that our Lord here was just trying to make a point. The Canaanite woman’s faith was just put to the test.
Let us examine closely this particular Gospel text as related to us by St. Matthew. It was the encounter of Jesus and a Canaanite woman. Matthew narrates to us that a certain woman approached Jesus with a plea – “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David. My daughter is tormented by a demon.” (Mt. 15:22) But there was no response from Jesus. The woman received a silent treatment from our Lord. But this didn’t stop her from presenting her case. For the second time, she begged him and yer the reply she got was – “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Mt 15:24) As if things weren’t enough she prostrated and begged for the third time but Jesus replied, ” It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” (Mt 15:26) If you were in the shoes of the woman, what would be your reaction? Probably, you will be upset and say to Jesus – “How dare you insult me, even comparing me to the dogs?” But surprisingly the woman was not offended. In fact, she gave our Lord the most humble yet sincere and clever answer that earned her so much admiration from the Lord. “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” (Mt.15:27) The scene was very moving for me. The words of the woman showed exceptional humility. Well, it came from a mother. And a mother would do everything for the welfare of her child. And so in the end, the woman was rewarded – her persistence and humility were met by Jesus’ admiration and compassion – “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that hour. (Mt 15:28) Obviously, the woman passed the test!
The faith of the woman is teaching us important lessons in life i.e, persistence, and humility. Some people thought that when we approach God in prayer it should always be a petition. People only come to Him especially when they needed something from the Lord. Worst is that people even demand and expect God to grant their every request. As if God owes them something. When they didn’t get what they want they rebelled against God. I know of a somebody who stopped going to Church only because her prayer apparently was not answered. The Canaanite woman showed us the right attitude when we approach God in prayer i.e. humility and total trust in the Lord. Let us bear in mind that God didn’t owe us anything. We deserved nothing from Him. And everything is but grace from the abundance of His love despite our unworthiness. So when we pray, we should say “Lord, I am not worthy to have you under my roof but only say a word and I shall be healed.” God never ignores a prayer done out of humility and love. His mercy knows no boundaries and partiality. He always answers our prayers but of course, in the way, He knows what is best for us. Let us reflect in the words of an unknown author who says “God looks not at the oratory of our prayers, how eloquent they are; nor at their geometry, how long they are; nor at their arithmetic, how many they are; nor at their logic, how methodical they are; but He looks at their sincerity, how spiritual they are.”
I came across an interesting prayer written by an unknown soldier:

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve.
I was made weak that I might obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things.
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for the riches that I might be happy with.
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men.
I was given a weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life.
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I received nothing that I asked for, but all I had hoped for.
My prayer was answered, I am most richly blessed.

God in His wisdom knows what is best for us. Our faith demands total trust in Him. Indeed, in prayers, it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart. St. Theresa of Avila said that “Prayers is a lifting up of our minds and hearts to God.”