HOMILY: Feast of the Lord’s Baptism A by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

baptism pater 2020

REFLECTION OF THE HEART
The Feast Of The Baptism Of The Lord A
A Reflection: by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

FIRST READING: Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7
Thus says the LORD:
Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
upon whom I have put my spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
a bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
until he establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for his teaching.

I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
to open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM: Psalms 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.

Give to the LORD, you sons of God,
give to the LORD glory and praise,
Give to the LORD the glory due to his name;
adore the LORD in holy attire.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.

The voice of the LORD is over the waters,
the LORD, over vast waters.
The voice of the LORD is mighty;
the voice of the LORD is majestic.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.

The God of glory thunders,
and in his temple, all say, “Glory!”
The LORD is enthroned above the flood;
the LORD is enthroned as king forever.
R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.

SECOND READING: Acts 10:34-38
Peter proceeded to speak to those gathered
in the house of Cornelius, saying:
“In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.
Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly
is acceptable to him.
You know the word that he sent to the Israelites
as he proclaimed peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all,
what has happened all over Judea,
beginning in Galilee after the baptism
that John preached,
how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth
with the Holy Spirit and power.
He went about doing good
and healing all those oppressed by the devil,
for God was with him.”

GOSPEL: Matthew 3:13-17
Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan
to be baptized by him.
John tried to prevent him, saying,
“I need to be baptized by you,
and yet you are coming to me?”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us
to fulfill all righteousness.”
Then he allowed him.
After Jesus was baptized,
he came up from the water and behold,
the heavens were opened for him,
and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove
and coming upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens, saying,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

______________________

REFLECTION:

Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This Feast concludes the celebration of the Christmas season. On Monday we are definitely back to the ordinary time. It is most appropriate that we end up the celebration of the Christmas season with the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord because it serves as an affirmation to our reflection of who this child was to us i.e. He is the Son of God.

One may wonder why is there a need for our Lord Jesus to approach John the Baptist for baptism. With our knowledge about the sacrament of baptism, we know that it is being conferred to a person that he may be freed from original sin. Therefore, Baptism is closely linked to the idea of the remission of sins. In the case of our Lord Jesus, however, there was no sin to be forgiven. Jesus, though human like us, is also Divine hence perfect. Why then Jesus asked John the Baptist for baptism?

Our Lord Jesus, in the Gospel of Matthew, provided us with an explanation himself. Matthew 3:15, when John the Baptist asked Jesus why he is coming to him for baptism when in fact he was the one who needs to be baptized by him, Jesus replied, “allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” It tells us that what Jesus was saying was that everything is in accordance with the will of the Father. The good news is that we are part of God’s plan and design. We are part of the whole equation. It was not by accident but it was planned. God in his infinite love and mercy wills that we all be saved.

Going back to the baptism of Jesus, it tells us something more profound. Jesus’ baptism is actually part of the Epiphany of our Lod. This is the time when Jesus’ true identity is revealed. At that time, the heavens opened, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove, and the voice of the Father was heard by everyone present that says, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) This text is very important because just as our Lord Jesus was to begin his public ministry, it is but fitting that he be introduced properly. Such an introduction should powerfully be declared by someone who is an authority i.e. the Father himself. No less than the Father affirms Jesus is God. “He is my beloved Son, so listen to him.” It was God’s proclamation of Jesus’ divinity. He is no ordinary person. We now have a tangible idea of who God is in the person of Jesus. And for the first time, the presence of the Trinity was revealed to mankind. Jesus is a manifestation of God’s presence among us.

Now, how is the baptism of Jesus relevant to us today? The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord serves as an invitation to all of us to contemplate the importance of our own baptism. The Sacrament of Baptism is God’s expression of his infinite mercy and unconditional love. We were given a chance. We were redeemed. Jesus commanded his disciples to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” We realized our worth. We are loved. God has restored the fullness of life in us. We gained our dignity back as persons. We regain our dignity as sons and daughters of God.

At the end of our lives, if we remain faithful to the will of the Father, God will say of us all, “These are my beloved children, whom I am well pleased.” Whilst Jesus will say to us all, “Come you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34)

Homily: Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

epiphany pater 2020

A REFLECTION OF THE HEART
Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord
A Reflection: by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

GOSPEL: Matthew 2:1-12

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’[b]”
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
*
The Gospel Of The Lord/ Praise To You Lord, Jesus Christ.

________________________________________________

REFLECTION:

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. Epiphany comes from the Greek word ἐπιφάνεια or epipháneia which literally means appearance or manifestation. The name suggests that something was revealed. Something was manifested to bring enlightenment. God manifested Himself in the person of Jesus. It is an important celebration in the sense that God has revealed himself to mankind. In a way, we now have a tangible understanding of who God is, in the person of Jesus.

Some people considered the story of the Magi most fascinating considering the events surrounding the nativity of our Lord Jesus. It tells us of their arduous journey in search of a child, the guidance of a star and their offering of the gifts made the story indeed fascinating. But for me, the story is profound, highly symbolical and Theological.

Who were the magi? Very little is known about them. Biblical Scholars claimed they were not kings. They were most probably astrologers or wise men. We do not know how many of them really. People assumed that they were three corresponding to the gifts they offered the baby, Jesus. We do not exactly know the country of their origin except the fact that they were from the East. They were non-Jewish people. And being non-Jewish is highly symbolical too. It reveals to us the universality of salvation that is being offered. The Magi represent the people of the world. They represent each one of us which means that salvation is for everyone.

What about the gifts? What was in the gifts? What made them significant in the story? It was a strange gift for a child. They offered him gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Some people might think that those gifts were thoughtless and impractical. Normally, when we think of giving something for a newly born child, we probably consider something for the immediate use of the baby like clothing, baby foods or blankets. However, most Spiritual writers claimed that those gifts were actually appropriate considering the purpose of the gifts i.e. they came to worship. They recognized Jesus to be not an ordinary Child hence the gift to be extraordinary. We read in Matthew’s Gospel that Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.’” The gifts, therefore, were meant to honor, adore and give praise to the baby Jesus. These gifts represent spiritual symbols – Gold symbolizes Jesus Kingship. Gold is precious and expensive and fit for a king. Frankincense symbolizes his priestly role. Incense was used in the Temple by priests. The smoke is like prayers that are lifted up to heaven. That sweet-smelling smoke was meant to honor God. It is like our offering of praises and thanksgiving to God. And Myrrh, a prefiguring of Jesus’ death and embalming. Myrrh is an expensive perfume used to anoint the body of a deceased loved one. The fact that it would cost them to possess it only to be used to the body of the deceased loved one will show how much they honor and give importance to the departed.
The Church Father Origen said that Gold, as to a King, Myrrh as to the one who was mortal and incense, as to a God. The gifts, therefore, are Theological in nature. It tells us that Christ is King, human and divine.

The encounter with King Herod also tells us something. Herod was an evil king who killed his wife, his mother-in-law, his two brothers-in-law and murdered even his three children on suspicion that they were planning something against him. It is not surprising why the news about the birth of Jesus served as a threat to him. He wanted the child Jesus dead even to the extent of sacrificing innocent lives.
Now, these incidents tell us about the reality that many people will hate Jesus and will do anything to destroy him. But there are also many who will become faithful to him and will even sacrifice their lives for that love.

We learned many lessons from the Magi. The Magi offered Jesus the best that they could offer. Let us also do the same. What gift could we offer him?

First, the gift of a renewed and intimate relationship with Him. How could we achieve this? By knowing him deeply. Reading and contemplating the Words of God in the Scripture could help us know God intimately.

Second the gift of loving one’s neighbor., i.e. establishing better relations with other people. Learning to forgive those who have hurt us. Reconcile with them. Heal the broken relationship. It’s the gift of love towards the neighbor.

Third, the gift of oneself. The gift of sincere repentance. Let us acknowledge our own sinfulness. Avail of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Reconcile with God. It is a gift of the purity of our hearts.

The Magi offered the Child Jesus the best that they could give. As for me, it was not gold, frankincense, and myrrh that gave more meaning and value to the gifts. It was actually the gift of their time and self that made their gifts more precious and special. Likewise, we could turn ourselves to be a precious gift when we give ourselves wholeheartedly in the service of God and of our fellowmen.

The journey of the Magi prefigures our own journey. Like them, we are in an arduous journey here on earth. Our destiny is to be with our Lord Jesus. In the end, heaven will be our reward. At the end of our journey may we be able to say, just like in the words of St. Paul (2 Timothy 4:7) “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

HOMILY: Solemnity of Mary, The Holy Mother of God by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

mary 2020 pater

REFLECTION OF THE HEART
Solemnity Of Mary, The Holy Mother Of God
New Year 2020
A Reflection: by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*
FIRST READING: Numbers 6:22-27

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
“Speak to Aaron and to his sons, saying,
‘This is how you shall bless the children of Israel.’
You shall say to them:
‘The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face to shine on you,
and be gracious to you.
The Lord lift up his face toward you,
and give you peace.’
So they shall put my name on the children of Israel;
and I will bless them.”

Responsorial – Psalm 67.2-3, 5, 6, 8. Resp. 2a

R. May God be gracious to us and bless us.

May God be merciful to us, bless us,
and cause his face to shine on us.
That your way may be known on earth,
and your salvation among all nations,

R. May God be gracious to us and bless us.

O let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you rule the peoples with equity,
and govern the nations on earth.

R. May God be gracious to us and bless us.

Let the peoples praise you, God.
Let all the peoples praise you.
God will bless us.
All the ends of the earth shall fear him.

R. May God be gracious to us and bless us.

SECOND READING: Galatians 4.4-7

Brothers and sisters:
When the fullness of the time came,
God sent out his Son,
born to a woman, born under the law,
that he might redeem those who were under the law,
so that we might receive the adoption as sons.
And because you are sons,
God sent out the Spirit of his Son into your hearts,
crying, “Abba, Father!”
So you are no longer a slave, but a son;
and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

GOSPEL: Luke 2.16-21

The shepherds came with haste to Bethlehem,
and found both Mary and Joseph,
and the baby was lying in the manger.
When they saw this,
they publicized widely the message
which was spoken to them about this child.
All who heard it wondered
at the things which were spoken to them by the shepherds.
But Mary kept all these sayings,
pondering them in her heart.
The shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God
for all the things that they had heard and seen,
just as it was told to them.

When eight days were fulfilled for the circumcision of the child,
he was named Jesus, the name given by the angel
before he was conceived in the womb.

__________________

REFLECTION:

We are gathered here to celebrate the beginning of the New Year. Significantly, on the very first day of the Year, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. The question is: How then is the celebration of the New Year somehow connected with the celebration of the Motherhood of Mary?

When we think of New Year, it is always associated with new beginnings and making a fresh start. New Year could also instill in our hearts a renewed hope. Likewise, when we reflect on the Motherhood of Mary, we also think of a new beginning. When Mary said her “Fiat” – her “Yes!” to the angel, it was the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s saving action. Her Motherhood brings Hope to mankind. It is but appropriate that we celebrate Mary on the first day of the year as we reflect on God’s immense love for mankind and to ponder on the mystery of our redemption.

To reflect on the Motherhood of Mary is to come to a realization that indeed Man is in God’s plan of redemption. We are therefore grateful that despite our unworthiness and infidelity, God will never give up on us. He even sent his only begotten Son to be like us in all things but sin. All these were made possible with the cooperation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Even in the Book of Genesis, God somehow revealed that salvation is coming through a woman as he said to the tempter: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers, he will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.” Mary, therefore, played an important role in the fulfillment of God’s promise of salvation. We are indebted also to Mary in that sense. It is but fitting that we give Mary reverence and thanksgiving.

As a human being, Mary is also subject to free will. Meaning she could just simply say “No!” to the angel. with the knowledge that the task entrusted to her was so great. To be the Mother of God requires great responsibility. God respects Man’s free will. He will never force anyone to submit to his will. But it was Mary’s faith, her humility, and obedience that made her say “Yes!” Certainly, it was her faith, humility, and obedience – those qualities of Mary that are worth pondering. We learned a lot of lessons from Mary. In life, we may have experienced suffering and tribulations. But Mary too had them all. Even since those events surrounding the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph have had experience trials. And they passed the test, all because of their faith, humility, and obedience. Even at the foot of the Cross, Mary trusted. She trusted all the way.

Here we see Mary as an instrument connecting the Old and the New Testament. In the Old Testament, we have seen the fall of Mankind through our first parents Adam and Eve. Eve played a crucial role in the fall of mankind. It was her who first disobeyed God. And now Mary became the new Eve. In contrast to Eve’s disobedience were Mary’s Faith and obedience. From her obedience in the Annunciation to the Crucifixion of her Son, Mary became a role model to us all. And so in her Magnificat, Mary declares “For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed.” (Luke 1:48).

Yes, Jesus is our Lord and Savior. And Jesus alone can offer a perfect sacrifice for our salvation. 1 Timothy 2:5 says “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.” But Mary played a crucial role in salvation history. Her title “Co-redemptrix” says it all.
“Mary’s participation in salvation history as Mother of Christ and Mother of Christians does not diminish the unique mediation of Christ; rather, it points to Christ’s unique mediation and reveals its power (Lumen Gentium [LG] 60.

Mary is the Mother of Jesus and therefore the Mother of God. We are fortunate because we are also given a Mother in her.
John 19:25-27 “Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your Son.”
Then he said to the disciple, “Behold your mother.”
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.”

Now that we are about to embark on a new chapter of our life as we celebrate New Year, we need Mary’s maternal care. Mary’s role as a Mother didn’t end at the Crucifixion of her Son. She continues to be a mother of us all. We now have a direct intercessor to God. Thus we pray, “Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.”

“O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”

“O Maria sine labe concepta, ora pro nobis, qui confugimus ad te.

HOMILY: Solemnity of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph – A by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

holy family

REFLECTION OF THE HEART
Solemnity of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph A
A Reflection: by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

GOSPEL: Matthew 2:13-15,19-23

Now after the wise men had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.’ Then Joseph* got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I have called my son.’
When Herod died, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.’ Then Joseph* got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, ‘He will be called a Nazorean.’

________________________

REFLECTION:

On Christmas day we rejoice in the fact that Jesus entered a human family. Our Lord Jesus, although Divine, entered a human family. God for sure intended a family. It is, therefore, most appropriate that we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family on Sunday after the celebration of the birth of Jesus. The Feast of the Holy Family should be very much a part of the Christmas season so that we may continue to reflect on this very mystery of the birth of our Lord Jesus. As we give insights into the Holy Family – the family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph- we are also being invited to look into our own family. Family life indeed is important in our spiritual life. It is said that our home is a small Church. Family and family life, therefore, are integral parts of building up a more intimate and more profound relationship with God. Every family is supposed to be a holy family. This is the same reason why on this Sunday, the Church has put before us the Holy Family to be a model for our families. Thus this Sunday’s liturgy invites us to reflect on the family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph and on the importance of family and family life.
*
It is safe for me to say that there is no such thing as “perfect family.” We all have shares of flaws, shortcomings, eccentricities, and mistakes. We all have trials, challenges, struggles, and tribulations. Family conflict seems inevitable too. Members at times argue, fight, and hurt each other. In fact, it is said that those people who hurt us the most are people who should love us the most – they are oftentimes members of our own family. Healthy arguments are sometimes necessary in order to know each other deeply that may eventually help build a stronger relationship. And at the end of the day, one may realize that family is family and they are related for better or for worse. Indeed, it takes a lot of hard work to make family relationships really work. You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them. Each family should strive for holiness and to build up strong family ties.
*
The Holy Family also had their struggles just like our own family. They were not free from worries, stress, and problems. If in life you feel heavily burdened and ready to give up, think of the family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Even at the very beginning, the Holy Family had to experience so many struggles and hardships. Consider the fact that Jesus was born in a manger. And at such a young age, our Lord’s life was already endangered. Herod considered Jesus as a threat to his kingship. He intended to kill the child, Jesus. And so feeling unsafe Joseph and Mary with Jesus had to flee to Egypt. An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream to warn him of the child’s imminent danger – “Get up, take the child and his mother with you and escape into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you because Herod intends to search for the child and do away with him.” (Mt. 2:13) My point herewith, therefore, is that our Lord Jesus although the Son of God wasn’t free from hardships and difficulties.
*
In my ministry as a priest, oftentimes I am invited to visit certain families. And I can easily tell whether they have a good family relationship by the way they relate with one another especially during meal time. Oh, how I love to see families say grace together and exchange pleasantries. Saying grace is never an old fashion thing. Praying together as a family indeed is important. My mother used to say that having mealtime together is sacred. It is the time when we rejoice, appreciate and celebrate our being a family united in love and mutual respect. And by the time that members of a family stop eating together and trying to avoid each other, but when they do every conversation will end up to a heated argument, then their family is in trouble. It is hard to win any conflict without hard feelings. But each one should learn to reach out and learn to forgive just as you are a family despite the differences and shortcomings. You are a family when you learn to put your arms around each other and love each other even when you are not so lovable.
*
Story: (from an unknown source)
When I was a kid, my mom liked to make breakfast food for dinner every now and then. And I remember one night in particular when she had made dinner after a long, hard day at work. On that evening so long ago, my Mom placed a plate of eggs, sausage and extremely burned biscuits in front of my dad. I remember waiting to see if anyone noticed! Yet all dad did was reach for his biscuit, smile at my Mom and ask me how my day was at school. I don’t remember what I told him that night, but I do remember watching him smear butter and jelly on that biscuit and eat every bite!
When I got up from the table that evening, I remember hearing Mom apologize to my dad for burning the biscuits. And I’ll never forget what he said: “Honey, I love burned biscuits.”
Later that night, I went to kiss Daddy good night and asked him if he really liked his biscuit burned. He wrapped me in his arms and said, “Your Momma put in a hard day at work today and she’s really tired. And besides- a little-burned biscuit never hurt anyone.
Moral lesson: Life is full of imperfect things and imperfect people. To learn to accept each other’s faults – and choosing to celebrate each other’s differences – is one of the most important keys to creating a healthy, growing, and lasting relationship.
*
The love in the family is important than anything else this world has to offer. When Michael J. Fox was asked his opinion about a family, he said- “Family is not an important thing. It is everything!” It is said that “Charity must begin at home, and in case if it does not …at least it must come home.”
Father Patrick Peyton popularized this slogan to promote the importance of family life – “The family that prays together stays together.” For indeed it is so. Prayer and faith in God play important roles in family life. If families are rooted in faith and love of the Lord then there are more chances for the society to achieve proper order.
*
May the Holy Family be our inspiration, guidance, and strength so that our families will triumph all the challenges of life through Love, mutual respect and deep faith in God.

HOMILY: Solemnity of the Lord’s Birth (during the Day) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

 

Christmas 2019

REFLECTION OF THE HEART
Solemnity of the Lord’s Birth (Mass during the Day)
Christmas 2019
A Reflection: by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

READINGS:

FIRST READING: ISAIAH 52:7-10

How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings glad tidings,
announcing peace, bearing good news,
announcing salvation, and saying to Zion,
“Your God is King!”

Hark! Your sentinels raise a cry,
together they shout for joy,
for they see directly, before their eyes,
the LORD restoring Zion.
Break out together in song,
O ruins of Jerusalem!
For the LORD comforts his people,
he redeems Jerusalem.
The LORD has bared his holy arm
in the sight of all the nations;
all the ends of the earth will behold
the salvation of our God.
*
The Word Of The Lord/ Thanks Be To God.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM

R. (3c) ALL THE ENDS OF THE EARTH HAVE SEEN THE VICTORY OF OUR GOD.

Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
his right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.
R. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.

The LORD has made his salvation known:
in the sight of the nations, he has revealed his justice.
He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness
toward the house of Israel.
R. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.

All the ends of the earth have seen
the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands;
break into song; sing praise.
R. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.

Sing praise to the LORD with the harp,
with the harp and melodious song.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
sing joyfully before the King, the LORD.
R. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.

SECOND READING: HEBREWS 1:1-6

Brothers and sisters:
In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways
to our ancestors through the prophets;
in these last days, he has spoken to us through the Son,
whom he made heir of all things
and through whom he created the universe,
who is the refulgence of his glory,
the very imprint of his being,
and who sustains all things by his mighty word.
When he had accomplished purification from sins,
he took his seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
as far superior to the angels
as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

For to which of the angels did God ever say:
You are my son; this day I have begotten you?
Or again:
I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me?
And again, when he leads the firstborn into the world, he says:
Let all the angels of God worship him.
*
The Word Of The Lord/ Thanks Be To God.

GOSPEL ACCLAMATION
Alleluia, Alleluia.
A holy day has dawned upon us. Come you nations and adore the Lord. Today a great light has come down upon the earth.
Alleluia, Alleluia.
*

GOSPEL: JOHN 1:1-18

In the beginning, was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him, nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.
A man named John was sent from God.
He came for testimony, to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
He was not the light,
but came to testify to the light.
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world,
and the world came to be through him,
but the world did not know him.
He came to what was his own,
but his own people did not accept him.

But to those who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God,
to those who believe in his name,
who were born not by natural generation
nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision
but of God.
And the Word became flesh
and made his dwelling among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory as of the Father’s only Son,
full of grace and truth.
John testified to him and cried out, saying,
“This was he of whom I said,
‘The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me
because he existed before me.’”
From his fullness, we have all received,
grace in place of grace,
because while the law was given through Moses,
grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
No one has ever seen God.
The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side,
has revealed him.
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The Gospel of the Lord/ Praise to You Lord Jesus Christ.

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REFLECTION:
The celebration of Christmas should be the happiest season of the year. Ironically, for some, it could be one of the hardest times of the year. Some people experience Christmas as arduous instead of a celebration that brings joy in the heart. Many people are reported to be unhappy at Christmas. There are so many cases of depression, mental and emotional illness. This is also the time when crime shows the biggest rise of all seasons. In that case, something is not right in our celebration of Christmas. People say that too much commercialization in the celebration of Christmas causes unhappiness to some. The focus is on material things and too much emphasis on social feast and enjoyment. It makes some unhappy because unlike other people they don’t have money to buy for their children, for other family members, for friends and for themselves. Christmas to some means lots of money, gifts, decorations, glitters and lights, parties and food on the table. Thus it makes people unhappy realizing that other people have more and were blessed differently. This reminds me of the Peanut comic character, Charlie Brown- Charlie Brown says “I think there must be something wrong with me Linus. Christmas is coming but I’m not happy. I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel. I like getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I’m still not happy. I always end up feeling depressed.” People tend to focus their attention more on themselves rather than the real birthday celebrator – our Lord Jesus Christ. Until one recognizes that Jesus is the reason for the season, then there is no real celebration of Christmas. Everything else will only be a senseless, superficial holiday celebration.
Christmas should mean more than material things. It should be the time of real joy for the simple reason that God manifested his great love for mankind. Christmas is all about the birth of Jesus, our Lord, and Savior. His birth brought great rejoicing to the world. Just like the greetings of the angels to the shepherds on Christmas eve- “Fear not, for I bring you good news that shall give joy to all people. There is born for you this day, in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” “God loved us so much that he gave his only Son. (John 3:16) Real happiness than could be found in the mystery of the Incarnation. God comes to us and becomes human like us to save us – for this reason that he becomes our joy, our peace, our hope, and our redemption. The birth of Jesus brings the message of hope, peace, joy, healing, and love to the poor, the deprived, the oppressed and the marginalized. God humbles himself, he chose to join us in our lowliness and poverty. We are blessed, we don’t feel alienated now. We don’t have a distant God, but a God who is truly Emmanuel – “God is with us!”
Let us bring Christ back into Christmas that we may find real happiness. How? By not focusing on self but on the real birthday celebrator – our Lord Jesus Christ. Make some spiritual exercises seeking to grow in union with Christ – Pray, receive Sacraments especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation. Offer the Lord praise and thanksgiving. Learn to give and to be grateful always. Do some good deeds, practice charity as it is the real spirit of Christmas. And then share that joy and celebrate it with your family and friends.

INSIGHTS: All About Christmas by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

all about Christmas

ALL ABOUT CHRISTMAS
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

Nowhere in the Scripture where we could find the exact date of Jesus’ birth. Traditionally, we claim that Christ was born on the 25th of December. But as to its veracity is still debatable. Some argued that Jesus was born not in the month when the weather is as cold as that of December. Scholars believe that the month of December was chosen only to counteract the pagan Roman celebrations honoring their pagan gods i.e. Mithras (god of light) and Saturnus (the harvest god).
However, I believe that the exact date of Jesus’ birth should not be of so much concern to anyone considering the fact that Christmas is a celebration of the Incarnation and not just a memorial of a specific date. Christmas is not just about the birth of Jesus. It doesn’t matter therefore even if we may not be celebrating Jesus’ birth on the exact date when he was born. The celebration of his birth should be contemplated in its deeper meaning and that is the mystery of Jesus’ incarnation. The Son of God became a man. In the Nicene Creed we profess, “For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit, he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary and was made a man.”

The word Christmas originates from the Old English “Cristes Maesse” literally translated “the Mass of Christ.” And therefore every time the Mass is celebrated and we receive Jesus in the Eucharist we are like celebrating Christmas. Christmas is all about Jesus becoming a man to be with us.

We celebrate Christmas Eve because it is believed that Jesus was born at midnight. Significantly, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, literally means “the house of bread.” In Hebrew, Beth-lehem is two words and means “house” (Beth as in Beth-el, “house of God”) and “bread” (lehem). While Jesus was laid in a manger. The manger in itself has its significance. The word “Manger” comes from the Latin word “Munducare” meaning “to eat.” It was, therefore, highly symbolic that Jesus was laid in a manger. We now have a more profound understanding of the Eucharist. The manger has become a sign that Jesus is sustenance for us. In the Eucharist, we become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). We partake of Jesus in the form of Bread and Wine (His Body and Blood).

The story of Christmas is the story of God’s becoming a human being in the Person of Jesus Christ. But why would God wants to be with us? Well, because we need a Savior. We need redemption. And because God loves us so much. Celebrating Christmas is a celebration of God’s immense love for mankind. The real meaning of Christmas should be a celebration of God’s love with our family and friends. Make the celebration of Christmas more meaningful by imitating Christ in the giving of himself. Nowadays Christmas has become too commercialized. Have we lost the true meaning of Christmas? Let us put Christ back in the celebration of Christmas. Our focus should not be on material things that could only bring us fleeting and superficial happiness. One should seek the joy that Christmas brings. Christ alone could provide us that real joy. Let’s find more meaning in the giving than in receiving.
At this point, allow me to share with you my favorite Christmas story:

THE GIFT OF THE MAGI by O. Henry
O. Henry tells of a famous Christmas story. It is about a young married couple who were very much in love. Christmas was approaching and they wanted to give a present to one another. But they were very poor and had no money for presents. So each one, without telling the other, decided to sell his or her most precious possession. The girl prized above all else her long golden hair. She went to a hairdresser and had it cut off. She then sold it to buy a lovely watch chain for her husband’s watch.
He, in the meantime, went to a jeweler and sold the only watch he had to buy two beautiful combs for his beloved’s hair.
On Christmas, they exchanged their gifts. At first, they cried, then they laughed. There was no hair for the comb and no watch for the watch chain.
But there was something more precious and that was the idea behind their gifts: each had deprived self of the best to give to the other…
A gift is no gift if it does not cost us something if it does not contain a part of ourselves. (Frank Mihalic – The next 500 stories)
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God gave us the most precious of all gifts – the gift of His Son, our Lord Jesus. It was the gift of his presence. Christmas is all about God wanting to be with us. He is Emmanuel, meaning God is with us. When we look at the manger, we do not only see a cute baby boy. That baby boy grew up and offered himself on the cross to save us. Christmas is therefore about Jesus and his saving love for us. It could thus be summarized (John 3:16) “For God so loved the world that he gave us His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but may have eternal life.”

Wishing everyone a grace-filled Christmas! All the best for 2020.

Homily: Solemnity of the Lord’s Birth by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

nativity 2019

A REFLECTION OF THE HEART
Solemnity Of The Lord’s Birth
A Reflection: by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL: Luke 2:1-16
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.
While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger because there was no place for them in the inn.
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Christ, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
When the Angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.
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REFLECTION:
Christmas is a season that brings us magic and wonder. As a child, I was always fascinated by the Christmas story i.e. the birth of the child in a manger, the appearance of angels, the shepherds, the magi and the bright star. Listening to Christmas carols also brings me strange joy. Christmas decorations everywhere never fail to bring me a sense of awe. Indeed, Christmas is the happiest time of the year. I am not talking about happiness that is superficial but rather something that is more profound. And it is founded in the awareness of the real spirit that is unfolding before us. We rejoice because it is a season that centers on God, on the child Jesus, on love, and on redemption.
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Christmas is about a God of love. God indeed is great. Can you imagine, despite man’s infidelity, God even sent his only begotten Son for the salvation of the world? ” Because of the birth of Jesus, the God who is not visible to us became visible. We experience the Father’s love through Jesus, We have come to know God deeply through Jesus. Jesus revealed who the Father is to us. Our hearts should be filled with gratitude for we received the most amazing gift of all i.e. the gift of His Son, Jesus. Isaiah 9:6 “For a child is born to us, and the government is upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, God the mighty, the father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace.
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On this blessed night, when we approach the nativity scene adoring the infant Jesus, let us bear in mind that the image of the child Jesus is more than an adorable cute baby boy. That child grew up – the one who came to serve and not to be served, the one who brought healing to the sick, consolation and pardon to the sinners, the one who raised the dead, he proclaimed the good news, who was put to trial, abandoned by his friends, tortured and crucified, died and was buried. But on the third day rose again. All these in order to save us and all because of love. Philippians 2:6 gives us a more profound understanding of Christmas, the birth of Jesus, “Although he was in the form of God, he did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at, rather he emptied himself and taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross.
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Story: (from an unknown source) There is a legend of an African boy called Emmanuel, who was always asking questions. One day he asked the question, “What language does God speak?” No one could answer him. He traveled all over his country to find the answer but did not get a satisfactory answer. Eventually, he set out for distant lands to find the answer. For a long time, he had no success. At last, he came one night to a village called Bethlehem and as there was no room in the local inn, he went outside the village in search of a shelter for the night. He came to a cave and found that too was occupied by a couple and a child. He was about to turn away when the young mother spoke, “Welcome Emmanuel, we’ve been waiting for you.” The boy was amazed that the woman knew his name. He was even more amazed when she went on to say, “For a long time you have been searching the world over to find out what language God speaks. Well, now your journey is over. Tonight you can see with your own eyes what language God speaks. He speaks the language of LOVE!
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My dear brothers and sisters, on the first Christmas eve 2000 years ago, God communicated to us in a language loud and clear His message of love. “For God so love the world, He gave us his only begotten Son.” And with joy in our hearts, let us proclaim these glad tidings as loud as possible to all the people. Let us bring Christ’s message of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.