HOMILY: 27th Sunday In Ordinary Time (A) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

27th Sunday 3

GOSPEL REFLECTION: 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Matthew 21:33-43
by Rev.Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*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 Tenants
The 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.

Advertisements

Homily:23rd Sunday In Ordinary Time (A) by Rev.Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

23rd A3

 

GOSPEL REFLECTION (23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – A)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

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 work place, 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 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 times, 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 conflict occurs, do not wait till tomorrow to patch up things

Homily: 22nd Sunday In Ordinary Time (A) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

22nd A4

 

GOSPEL REFLECTION (22nd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – A)
Matthew 16:21-27 On Jesus’ Passion and Discipleship
3rd September 2017
by REV.FR. ALLEN BACLOR ABADINES
*

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 a 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 his 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 a someone who approached Jesus with a question: “Why do you allow sufferings 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 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. Which means taking up your cross is our willingness to die in order to follow Jesus. This is called “dying to oneself”, an 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 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. A complete trust in His divine providence and design.Love makes things bearable. Let us, therefore, carry our crosses with LOVE.

 

Homily:21st Sunday In Ordinary Time (A) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

21st A2

 

GOSPEL REFLECTION
21st SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR A
by Rev.Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

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 a 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 a 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 thousand of years. This maybe the reason why our Lord asked such 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 of 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. For 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, a 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 in 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.

HOMILY: 20th Sunday In Ordinary Time (A) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

20th Sunday A3

GOSPEL REFLECTION: TWENTIETH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – YEAR A
Matthew 15:21-28 -The Faith of the Canaanite Woman
Sunday, 20th August 2017
REV. FR. ALLEN BACLOR ABADINES
*

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 an 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 a 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 ignore 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.
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 a 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.”

Homily:19th Sunday In Ordinary Time (A) by Rev.Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

19th Sunday A1

 

GOSPEL REFLECTION: 19th Sunday In Ordinary Time (A)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

GOSPEL: MATTHEW 14:22-33

After he had fed the people, Jesus made the disciples get into a boat
and precede him to the other side,
while he dismissed the crowds.
After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.
When it was evening he was there alone.
Meanwhile, the boat, already a few miles offshore,
was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it.
During the fourth watch of the night,
he came toward them walking on the sea.
When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified.
“It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear.
At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter said to him in reply,
“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
He said, “Come.”
Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.
But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened;
and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter,
and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
After they got into the boat, the wind died down.
Those who were in the boat did him homage, saying,
“Truly, you are the Son of God.”
*

______________________________________________

REFLECTION:

It’s a broken world. We live in an imperfect world. Nothing is certain. We can not be so secured. Life is filled with uncertainties.Therefore, it is understandable for people to be afraid of so many things. Fear is part of human condition. Everybody is afraid of something. Like Some people are afraid of pain. Others are afraid of getting sick. Still, others are afraid of death.I could go on and on. But Pope Francis says that “Fear is not a Christian attitude, but rather an attitude of a caged animal without freedom.” Our freedom to believe is what would liberate us from fear. The answer to fear, therefore, is faith. Faith and Fear can never reside together at the same time in one’s heart. It’s either you have Faith or you are filled with Fear.

Today’s Gospel talks about the importance of having a solid Faith in God. It seems strange that in just a very short period of time, after having witnessed such a huge miracle from the Lord still, the apostles manifested a lack of faith.It happened that after feeding the people, Jesus instructed the disciples to get into a boat and go to the other side while he prays up the mountain.It was early in the morning and the disciples had to battle with the storm. Along came Jesus walking on water. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified thinking they saw a ghost. But Jesus took the initiative to reassure them saying “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” When Peter recognized that it was Jesus, he asked him to command him to come to him and walk on the water as well. At first, Peter was able to do the impossible i.e. to walk on water. But fears overcame him and he began to sink.

I’m pretty sure that most of us could identify with the disciples in today’s Gospel message. Like the disciples, we too have fears in our lives. Like them, we also have challenges and struggles in life. There are times when we too experience storms in our life. Those times when things just didn’t make sense at all. Times when the limits of our patience were being put to the test. Those many times when we struggled with disappointments. Those times when we felt so low and hopeless. Those times when we were so afraid and thought like we were going to be taken over by the storm. Those times when we saw darkness rather than light. And even if everything is going great right now, we know for certain that storms will come in one way or the other in our lives. The question is, how do we deal with those storms when they come.

Today’s Gospel is teaching us a great deal of lessons. First, we should keep our eyes focused on the Lord. Peter began to sink only when he got distracted and when he took his eyes off Jesus. Our faith, therefore, will be strong when we keep our eyes on Jesus i.e. when we keep our focus on His power and His love for us.Second, let us place our complete trust and confidence in a loving God.When we trust God, there is no need for us to be afraid of anything. In the midst of the storm, let us not forget who is with us, guiding us to safety. In times of doubt, let us remind ourselves that God is in control. He is in charge of how everything turns out. In his great wisdom, He makes no mistakes. Nothing happens by chance. Everything happens for a reason. And therefore we only have to put our trust in the Lord. Our faith in God demands of us a complete trust in the Lord who says – “Come to me all who are heavy and laden and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) And who assures us – “Whatever you asked in my name I would give it to you.” (John 14:14)

In Proverbs 3:5 it states: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” We either give God all our trust or none at all. Peter at first trusted, then he doubted. That’s the time when he begins to sink.And so Jesus said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” You know, half-hearted trust is tantamount to wholehearted doubt.When we are beset with problems. When everything seems to go wrong, turn to Jesus.Say to yourself- “This too shall pass.” Let us not forget that “Storms have a beginning and an end.” And then pray, ask Jesus for the serenity of heart. Do not make Jesus as our last resort but always come to Him not only during our most trying moments but every day of our life. Do not trust Jesus only when there’s no one else.”Sometimes you don’t realize that Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.”

HOMILY:17th Sunday In Ordinary Time (A) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

17th A

GOSPEL REFLECTION 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
THE GREATEST TREASURE
by Rev.Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

GOSPEL: MATTHEW 13:44-52

Jesus said to his disciples:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
which a person finds and hides again,
and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant
searching for fine pearls.
When he finds a pearl of great price,
he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea,
which collects fish of every kind.
When it is full they haul it ashore
and sit down to put what is good into buckets.
What is bad they throw away.
Thus it will be at the end of the age.
The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous
and throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

“Do you understand all these things?”
They answered, “Yes.”
And he replied,
“Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven
is like the head of a household
who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.”

_____________________________________

REFLECTION:

In his book, The Next 500 Stories, Frank Mihalic, SVD relates to us that in 1922, some of the world’s successful businessmen held a special meeting in Chicago. They were a group of high-powered specialists who knew the secret of making money. There was no doubt about where their altar was.Thus their main preoccupation was on making lots of money.But let’s take a look at what happened to some of those men 27 years later:
-Charles Schwab, president of the largest independent steel company, died bankrupt and lived on borrowed money the last years of his life.
-Samuel Insull, president of the greatest utility company, died a fugitive from justice, penniless in a foreign land.
-Howard Hopson, president of the largest gas company, was insane.
-Arthur Cutler, the greatest wheat speculator, died abroad in poverty.
-Richard Whitney, president of the New York stock exchange, was sitting in Sing Sing prison.
-Albert Fall, a member of the President’s cabinet, was pardoned from prison so he could die at home.

Frank Mihalic concluded that all these men knew how to make money, but none of them knew how to live. I like this story. It has a powerful message that we may ponder upon. For me, this story is not to condemn riches nor it is something against being rich. I think there’s nothing wrong with material possession. What is in question here concerns man’s values and priorities. What are the values and priorities we “treasure” in life? Is God our first priority or we give more importance to something or someone else? What is the deepest and most important value in our lives? Do we see God as that value? Do we value more the things that the world has to offer? To say that material things are not important in life is hypocritical. Of course, we need money to survive. However, we should never overlook our greatest treasure i.e. God and his Kingdom. “Set your hearts on his Kingdom first…and all those other things will be given you as well” (Matthew 6:33).

In today’s Gospel, our Lord Jesus made his point clear to us that the Kingdom of God is of utmost importance by telling us a couple of parables – the parable of the hidden treasure and the parable of precious pearl. Jesus said – “The Kingdom of God is like treasure hidden in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Mt. 13:44) In order to attain, therefore, that treasure one has to sell everything he has to take possession of the field, thus he has shown how much he values that treasure.

“Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.” (Mt. 13:45) Therefore, one cannot possess the pearl of great price unless one sells all that he has, thus to show how much the pearl is important to that person.
This reminds me of that rich young man in the Gospel who claimed to be righteous, and so he wanted to know what thing to do to guarantee eternal life. Our Lord Jesus challenges him to sell everything and give them to the poor and follow him. But he cannot! The instruction to sell all and follow Christ was designed to reveal that the man treasured his earthly possessions more than the heavenly hope, that he would rather maintain his lifestyle than becoming a follower of Christ.

Pope Francis says that the only treasures we should be storing up are the ones that have value in “the handbag of Heaven.” We are but stewards of earth’s riches; when we are so blessed with it, it doesn’t mean that we selfishly keep them to ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with material possessions, but if we are blessed with it, then we should realize that there is a real joy when we improve our sense of charity and service. We do not just live for ourselves, but the best human existence is that when we live it in the service of others.

I could only admire Solomon in the First Reading today(1 Kings 3:5:7-12). Solomon was given an opportunity to ask something from God. It was a chance of a lifetime. He could have asked God for material possessions and earthly happiness. But instead, he asked for wisdom, understanding and right judgment. If like Solomon we are also given a chance to ask whatever God could grant us, what are we gonna ask God for?

One thing is sure, our response will reveal which we value most. In the end, if we remain faithful to God and his Kingdom heaven will be our reward. This is the message of the third parable – the parable of the dragnet.It tells us that everyone is being invited to his Kingdom – good or bad alike. But man is free. “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink,” as the saying goes. Only when we constantly thirst to be one with God can we achieve our goal. Our goal should be with God forever -to be part of the Kingdom of God. Therefore, in our journey through life, we need to prioritize this. And all other things of this world are only means to an end, which is the Kingdom of God.