Homily: First Sunday Of Lent (B) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

temp2

GOSPEL REFLECTION: First Sunday of Lent (B)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

GOSPEL: Mark 1:12-15

After Jesus was baptized, the Spirit drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan: and he was with the wild beasts, and the Angels waited on him.
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

*
____________________________

REFLECTION:

Last Wednesday, the Season of Lent has begun starting with the celebration of Ash Wednesday. Thus my personal spiritual journey has officially commenced. I always make the season of Lent an opportunity to have a forty day self-directed personal retreat. In the same manner that it should also be a season for everyone to take extra steps for some spiritual growth.The ashes that were imposed on our forehead is sending us a strong message i.e. that this time we really mean business. It is time for us once again to show some seriousness in our spiritual life. Thus we are being called to a sincere repentance. “Turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel.” The message of Ash Wednesday is tough since we are being reminded also of our mortal nature.”Remember, man, you are dust, and unto dust, you shall return.” It means to tell us that” One day we shall die.” And therefore there is a need to prepare for the inevitable. We are but pilgrims here on earth. We have our final destination.Heaven should be our goal and our reward. In the end, if we wanna succeed in this journey then there is a need for us to heed the Lenten call. It is a challenge to all of us – i.e. to repent and to change our ways. The word “metanoia” should be on our mind. It is a Greek word which means a radical change of mind and heart.
To make metanoia possible in us, we need to go to the basic.The First stage should be a recognition of our sinfulness and weaknesses. The second stage should be an avoidance of anything that could lead us to sin. In the “Lord’s Prayer,” we say “And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.”

What is Temptation? It is an occasion of enticement. A seduction to commit sin. It is a deception trying to present something to be good when in fact it is not. Sin is presented to us as something pleasurable and harmless, thus we find committing them so attractive.

Is it a sin to be tempted? Have we committed sin when we were tempted?

The temptation is NOT a sin per se. Even our Lord Jesus allowed himself to be tempted by the devil, but he did not sin. There’s a common misconception that one commits sin when he is tempted. But no, the person is just being enticed to sin. It only becomes sin when one entertained it and took pleasure in it.

The good news is that no one can make us sin. Not even the devil. They can only seduce us into committing sin. But it is an entirely personal choice. It is a decision that we make. “You can lead the horse to water but you cannot make it drink,” so to speak.The bad news, however, is that man is weak. We all have our weaknesses and shortcomings. We all commit mistakes. Nobody’s perfect. Even St. Paul struggles, “I do not understand what I do. There are good things that I want to do but I do not do. Yet there are evil that I hate, but I do.” And therefore we need help. Before the Lord, we should humble ourselves and admit that on our own, we can not make things possible. We need God’s help as we say, “Lead us not into temptation.”

In the face of the Test, Jesus wants us to succeed. He wants us to pass the test. This is the very reason why in today’s Gospel text our Lord Jesus showed us the way to stay strong when we face temptation.
The Gospel relates to us that after a forty day of Prayer and Fasting in the wilderness, our Lord Jesus was tempted by Satan. The evangelist St. Mark in today’s Gospel text did not tell us how Jesus was tempted but St. Matthew gave us a detailed account i.e. Satan challenged our Lord to do three different things.

The First Temptation is to turn the stones into loaves. “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But Jesus said, “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

The Second Temptation was meant to test God himself. “If you are the Son of God throw yourself down, for it is written, He will command his angels concerning you.”. But Jesus said, “Do not put your God to the test.”

And Third Temptation concerns power and wealth. “All these I will give you if you fall down and worship me.’ But Jesus said, “Away with you Satan, for it is written, worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.”
*
____________________________

Story (by Bruno Hagspiel) Once upon a time the devil decided to go out of business. He offered all of his tools for sale. He attractively displayed the whole bad looking lot: Malice, Hatred, Envy, Jealousy… Each was marked with a price tag.
Apart from them lay a harmless looking wedge-shaped tool, very much worn out, but priced higher than any of the others. Someone asked the devil what tool that was.
“That’s discouragement, “he replied.
“But why is it priced so high?”
“Because,” answered the devil, “discouragement is more useful to me than all the others. With discouragement, I can pry open and get inside a person’s conscience, when I cannot get near him with any other tools. And once I’m inside his conscience, I can use him in any way that suits me best. It is so much worn because I can use it with nearly anybody since very few people know that it belongs to me.”
A person is never weaker than when he or she is fed-up, is down in the dumps. He or she couldn’t care less about anything.. and then anything can happen.. and usually does.
————————————————

Yes, Bruno was right! When a person feels so discouraged and when he is ready to give up, that’s the time when he is easily tempted. I notice that I am most vulnerable when I am lonely and feeling so low. But when I am happy and contented, that’s the time that I am spiritually strong. The bottom line, therefore,e is to be always spiritually joyful. A joyful person cannot be easily tempted.

There are essential elements we need to be able to succeed in the face of Temptations – I call these the three “Ps” – Perseverance, Prayers, Providence. Saints had to persevere and not to give up. Persevere and not to lose heart. We may be imperfect but our perseverance could lead us to perfection. Practice makes perfect. Then Pray, we need to pray. For when we ask God for the strength he will never fail us. Lastly, believe in God’s Providence and grace. A recognition that we are weak may help but we also need to recognize that God provides us the grace that we could be strong.
Remember, Temptations can only have power over us if we let them in.

In his letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul advises, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

Advertisements

LENT (A Season of Renewal) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

LENT -renewal

LENT (A Season of Renewal)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

*

To me, Ash Wednesday which is the beginning of Lent is a personal sojourn where I could spend time for my reflection, my personal discipline and sacrifices, and contemplation on the will of God. Yes, it should be spent in a way so that one can make room for some spiritual growth in their lives. Thus making this season an opportunity for self-examination, indeed, is of paramount importance. Our main goal should be to improve our personal relationship with God. This could be done by a sincere repentance of our sins, a recognition that we are flawed and our willingness to allow God’s grace to work in us with the resolve to change our ways to be better Christians. On Ash Wednesday, ergo, my spiritual journey has begun.
*
It is so called Ash Wednesday simply because of the traditional imposition of ashes on the forehead reminding us of our mortality. It is a recognition that God did not intend for us to stay here on earth for all eternity. We have a beginning and precisely our existence here on earth will come to an end. We are all gonna die! Memento mori (Remember, that you have to die.) Mindful of this truth could lead to a reality that we should not be short-sighted. There are so many temptations for a man to give more weight on the matters here on earth that matters in heaven; on things that are passing rather than things that are eternal. Thus Genesis 3: 19 reminds us, “Remember, man, you are dust and unto dust, you shall return.” We do not settle for less. We should aim for something great.
*
Where did those Ashes come from? The ashes are usually the burnt Palm leaves which were used and blessed during the previous celebration of Palm Sunday. In our case, every year we ask our parishioners to collect those dried palm leaves they took home from last year.
*
The imposition of Ashes on our forehead is highly symbolical. It is not only a reminder of our mortality but it is also a sign of our humility.
*

The word Lent comes from the Old English word “Lencten” which means “Springtime.” or “Lengthen” which has something to do with the changing of the season in which the days are getting longer. Spring gives us an imagery of new life, a new beginning, and growth hence Lenten season gives us the same idea, it’s about making a fresh start and or renewal.
Lent is considered a forty-day observance regardless of the fact that the whole Lenten season is more than forty days (46 days). It is because we do not count Sundays during the Lenten season.
Biblically, the number forty has its own significance. Like, during the time of Noah, there was a great flood. It rained for forty days and nights (Gen. 7:4)
The Israelites wandered in the desert and ate Manna for forty years.
In Exodus 24:18, We saw Moses in communion with God in a mountain for forty days and nights.
And in the NT, Jesus spent forty days and nights praying and fasting.
*
On Ash Wednesday, we create a spirit of repentance and penance. We observe on this day Fasting and Abstinence. This is a one day, besides Good Friday when we strictly observe Fasting and Abstinence. The Law of Fasting binds those who are 18 years of age until 59. The Law of Abstinence binds those who are 14 years old and older. A sincere observance makes a good preparation for Easter.
*
An observance of spiritual sacrifices like Fasting and Abstinence is not meant to show off and to brag about it. It is most pleasing to the Lord when it is done with sincerity and humility.

We, therefore, ask God for a sincere and contrite heart. So that in our journey through life we can always create a pure and clean heart

Homily:6th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B) by Pater Allen Baclor Abadines

6th Sunday pater

GOSPEL REFLECTION: 6th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

GOSPEL: Mark 1:40-45

A man with leprosy came to Jesus begging him, and kneeling said to Jesus, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately leprosy left him, and he was made clean.

After sternly warning him Jesus sent him away at once, saying to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

But the man went out and began to proclaim it freely and to spread the word so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; people came to Jesus from every quarter.
*

________________________________________________

REFLECTION

There’s nothing more pitiable than the plight of people with leprosy during the time of our Lord Jesus. Leprosy during Jesus’ time was considered by the Jews as God’s punishment as it was openly associated with sin.People who contracted leprosy were not allowed to mingle with other people since they are regarded unclean. This is the reason why they were thrown out of their homes and out of their community. Whenever they come near people they need to shout “unclean, unclean!” so as to give warning that they may be avoided. Since there was no cure for leprosy during that time, they were considered as the living dead. Theirs was a hopeless case. Lepers didn’t have a family to cling to, and not even a community where they could ask for help. They were on their own. They just try to continue living while waiting for the time to die. They were literally stripped off of their rights and dignity. Getting near people can even put them to risk. Most of them were even stoned to death should they come near people. They received no pity nor compassion. It was a law then not to get near a lepper because it would make one ceremonially unclean.

Today’s Gospel text comes as a surprise. The man with leprosy dared to come near Jesus. It was such a bold act. He took the risk even with the knowledge that it might cost him his life. It shows us how desperate that man must be.Probably the man must have heard something about Jesus. And so realizing that Jesus was just nearby, he did not let such opportunity pass by. He knew that Jesus was his only hope. He had great needs. His needs must be satisfied whatever it takes.And he believed that Jesus was the answer to his need. He had faith in Jesus and he had faith in God.

Something is admirable in the way the man approach our Lord Jesus.It reveals not only his courage and his faith but he also shows us great humility. He did not demand. He did not directly ask Jesus. He felt unworthy to present his request. He only said to him “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Here we learned an important lesson in life i.e. if we need something from God, we should ask him in humility, realizing that everything is but out of God’s goodness. We do not demand anything but we only rely on God’s compassion and grace. And so our Lord Jesus was filled with love to the man when he said: “I do choose, be made clean.” And not only that Jesus stretched out his hands and touched him. He was not afraid to touch the man. He was not even afraid to violate the prescribed rule during that time. Jesus was so focused on his love for the man.  His main preoccupation at that very moment is to let him feel the love of God.And so the man not only experienced the healing touch of Jesus but the healing compassion of God.

There may be times in our lives that we may have experienced the same way like the leper in the Gospel. There may be times that we too must have felt desperate, hopeless and alone. Some people may have felt cast out, alienated and abandoned. But do not ever believe that we are totally alone. God is with us, reaching out to us and touching us.

In the Eucharist, every time we receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, haven’t we feel God’s healing touch through Jesus? Every time, I receive Jesus in the Eucharist I feel peace, comfort, and assurance for my soul. The Eucharist gives me healing and strength. I feel so fortunate that even in my weakness and insecurities Jesus is there comforting and reassuring me.

If we look around we see sufferings of every kind. A lot of people need comfort and healing.Many are suffering physically, emotionally and spiritually. May we be instrumental in revealing the depth of God’s compassion to each and everyone we come in contact with.Let everyone know how much God loves us.
..

INSIGHTS: ASH WEDNESDAY by Pater Allen Baclor Abadines

ash wednesday5

ASH WEDNESDAY
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines*

To me, Ash Wednesday which is the beginning of Lent is a personal sojourn where I could spend time for my reflection, my personal discipline and sacrifices, and contemplation on the will of God. Yes, it should be spent in a way so that one can make room for some spiritual growth in their lives. Thus making this season an opportunity for self-examination, indeed, is of paramount importance. Our main goal should be to improve our personal relationship with God. This could be done by a sincere repentance of our sins, a recognition that we are flawed and our willingness to allow God’s grace to work in us with the resolve to change our ways to be better Christians. On Ash Wednesday, ergo, my spiritual journey has begun.
*
It is so called Ash Wednesday simply because of the traditional imposition of ashes on the forehead reminding us of our mortality. It is a recognition that God did not intend for us to stay here on earth for all eternity. We have a beginning and precisely our existence here on earth will come to an end. We are all gonna die! Memento mori (Remember, that you have to die.) Mindful of this truth could lead to a reality that we should not be short-sighted. There are so many temptations for a man to give more weight on the matters here on earth that matters in heaven; on things that are passing rather than things that are eternal. Thus Genesis 3: 19 reminds us, “Remember, man, you are dust and unto dust, you shall return.” We do not settle for less. We should aim for something great.
*
Where did those Ashes come from? The ashes are usually the burnt Palm leaves which were used and blessed during the previous celebration of Palm Sunday. In our case, every year we ask our parishioners to collect those dried palm leaves they took home from last year.
*
The imposition of Ashes on our forehead is highly symbolical. It is not only a reminder of our mortality but it is also a sign of our humility.
*
Lent is considered a forty-day observance regardless of the fact that the whole Lenten season is more than forty days (46 days). It is because we do not count Sundays during the Lenten season.
Biblically, the number forty has its own significance. Like, during the time of Noah, there was a great flood. It rained for forty days and nights (Gen. 7:4)
The Israelites wandered in the desert and ate Manna for forty years.
In Exodus 24:18, We saw Moses in communion with God on a mountain for forty days and nights.
And in the NT, Jesus spent forty days and nights praying and fasting.
*
On Ash Wednesday, we create a spirit of repentance and penance. We observe on this day Fasting and Abstinence. This is a one day, besides Good Friday when we strictly observe Fasting and Abstinence. The Law of Fasting binds those who are 18 years of age until 59. The Law of Abstinence binds those who are 14 years old and older. A sincere observance makes a good preparation for Easter.
*
An observance of spiritual sacrifices like Fasting and Abstinence is not meant to show off and to brag about it. It is most pleasing to the Lord when it is done with sincerity and humility.

We, therefore, ask God for a sincere and contrite heart. So that in our journey through life we can always create a pure and clean heart

Homily: 5th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B) by Pater Allen Baclor Abadines

5th Sunday re1

GOSPEL REFLECTION: 5th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

GOSPEL: Mark 1:29-39

As soon as Jesus and his disciples left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her and she began to serve them.

That evening at sunset, they brought to Jesus all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases and cast out many demons and he would not permit the demons to speak because they knew him.

In the morning, while it was still very dark, Jesus got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.”

He answered, “Let us go to the neighbouring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also, for that is what I came out to do.” And Jesus went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

______________________________

REFLECTION:

In today’s Gospel text, the evangelist St. Mark relates to us that it was such a busy day for our Lord Jesus – preaching, curing the sick, expelling demons from possessed people. Yet despite a hectic and tiresome schedule, our Lord Jesus still managed to give time to pray. “In the morning, while it was still very dark, Jesus got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. This particular text reveals to us that Jesus is indeed a man of prayer. We have seen so many occasions that our Lord Jesus will always find time to pray i.e.  to seek peace, to rest, to contemplate, and to commune with his Father. Thus the Gospel text gives us an important lesson in life i.e. no matter how busy we are with our life we should always find time to pause awhile, to reflect and to pray. A good examination of life is worth it in order for us to have a clearer direction as we contemplate our journey through life. The Philosopher Socrates puts it beautifully, “An unreflected life is not worth living.”

Today, therefore, I’d like to talk about the importance of prayer. Every one of us knows what prayer is all about. Prayer is our direct line with heaven. A prayer is a form of communication that allows us to converse with God. Making it simple, Prayer is talking to God. It may be simple as it sounds, but to some, it could be a struggle. Some people find prayer as a challenge. Well, it’s a busy world, it’s a complicated world. And therefore, there are people who find prayer complicated too.

But to pray for me is a privilege. Can you imagine, when we pray we are making a personal audience with God? Prayer is man’s opportunity to appear before God and therefore such a huge honor on the part of man. Like, if you are invited to the Vatican to have an audience with the Pope…wouldn’t you feel privileged? Yes, because not everybody has the chance to be up close and personal to a somebody like the Pope. If you are invited for a personal audience with Queen Elizabeth, wouldn’t you feel the same way too? If you feel privileged having such opportunities with personalities like the Pope or Queen Elizabeth, how much more should you feel privileged to have a personal encounter with God? Prayer is like that. The good news is that we don’t have to arrange for an appointment. We don’t bother to go somewhere else. You can have a personal audience with God anytime and anywhere we want. That’s the best part of it.

Some people would say ‘I don’t feel like praying.’ Prayer is not a matter of feeling. We don’t pray only when we feel like praying. Like we don’t eat only when we feel like eating. Prayer is essential in our lives like eating our meals. How can we live without our communion with God? Our Lord tells us to pray without ceasing.

When we pray, we should pray like talking to a loved one or to your best friend. We become more confident knowing that God is a loved one or a best friend to us, a someone who loves us unconditionally. God is not a distant God. This is the very reason of God’s incarnation in the person of Jesus. Jesus reveals to us the kind of love God has for us.

In the First Reading of this Sunday, we encounter Job. Job’s life and example are worth our contemplation. Job was severely tested. He experienced extreme tribulations in his lifetime yet his faith never wavered. He trusted and trusted all the way. When we pray, therefore, we should have Job’s faith in a loving God.

When we feel some kind of aridity in our prayer and spiritual life, ask the Lord for strength. The disciples humbly admitted that they didn’t know everything that led them to ask Jesus – “Lord, teach us how to pray.” We should humbly ask the same thing too.

HOMILY: Fourth Sunday In Ordinary Time (B) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

4th sunday ordfinal

 

GOSPEL REFLECTION: 4th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

GOSPEL: Mark 1:21-28

The disciples went to Capernaum: and when the Sabbath came, Jesus entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out. “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.”
But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing the man and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching – with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”
At once Jesus’ fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.

_____________________

REFLECTION:

At a glance, one may think that this Sunday’s Gospel text is about the casting out of an unclean spirit. But reflecting deeper, one realizes that there’s more to it than meets the eye. It is not just about the healing of a man possessed by evil spirit nor it is in demonic possession.The text actually gives us an insight into Jesus’ authority. Like, it tells us that the disciples were astonished at Jesus’ teaching “for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” Even the unclean spirit not only recognized Jesus’ authority but his identity as well – “I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” And the people around him were also amazed at his authority “and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching- with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”

Obviously, our point of reflection this Sunday is about Jesus’ authority. The authority of Jesus is what threatens his opponents. They knew Jesus to be different from those prophets ahead of him. Those prophets who came ahead of him spoke only by the authority coming from someone else. Yet Jesus manifested such authority as coming from God. And God’s authority is his. It was of Divine authority when he taught at the synagogue with a different proclamation than the Scribes and Pharisees. It was proclaimed with a self-evident truth. It was of Divine authority when he ordered the unclean spirit to come out of a man. It was of Divine authority when Jesus calmed the storm “and the wind and the seas obey him.” It was of Divine authority when he forgave sinners, when he healed the sick and when he raised the dead. Peter was spirit-filled about Jesus’ authority so as to think that he could also walk on the water should Jesus tell him to do so.The Blessed Virgin Mary, his mother, also recognized his authority when she simply told Jesus that “there was no more wine” at a wedding at Cana. Jesus showed that Divine authority clearly even before Pilate – So Pilate said to Him, “Do You refuse to speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You and authority to crucify You?” Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me unless it were given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of greater sin.”…(John 19:10-11) Such absolute authority was made clear to us at the Calvary when he said to one of the condemned thieves “Today you will be with me in paradise.”

How then is our recognition of Jesus’ authority relevant and important to us today? We should understand that the word “authority” denotes power and control. Jesus’ authority speaks to us about his power and that Jesus being God is in control. Therefore, its recognition in our daily lives brings us some sense of comfort, inspiration, strength, and hope knowing God is in control.We now rely on the power of a loving and providential Lord in our lives. In times of trouble, Jesus’ authority will be our refuge. In our trials, Jesus will be our protector. In moments of guilt, Jesus will bring us forgiveness. In our sickness, Jesus will heal us. And in moments of death, Jesus will be our salvation. In Matthew 28:18 “All authority is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” Let this recognition of the authority of Jesus resonates in all of us. Let us listen to Jesus. And let us obey his words daily in our lives.

Here on earth, men seek authority. But more often than not the authority men seek is to Lord it over. Men have this insatiable lust for power. But let it be known that Christ’ authority is founded in Truth, in Humility, and in Love. Real power, therefore, is the power to LOVE.

HOMILY: Third Sunday In Ordinary Time (B) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

3rd Sunday Ord B1

GOSPEL REFLECTION: Third Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

GOSPEL: Mark 1:14-20

After John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news.”
As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea – for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him.
As Jesus went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
*

_________________________
REFLECTION:

Last Sunday, the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, we were invited to reflect on “discipleship.” This Third Sunday in Ordinary Time we continue to reflect on discipleship but this time with a twist, for we got an insight from the Readings of today the need for an urgency to respond. This response to a call is best described by Psalm 95 “If today you hear his voice harden not your heart.” We are all being called to be Jesus’ disciples in so many different ways. What would be our response? In last Sunday’s Gospel text Jesus said to the disciples of John the Baptist to “Come and see.” It is an invitation to be a witness to the life Jesus lives. The invitation reverberates even to this day and is now addressed to each one of us. We should then respond quickly and not delay.

In the First Reading of today, we encounter a very interesting character in the person of Jonah. Jonah is known to us now as the reluctant prophet. He was asked by God to go and preach “repentance” to Nineveh (a place Jonah hates so much). Instead of obeying God, Jonah went to the other direction opposite Nineveh to escape from responsibility. But God didn’t give up on Jonah. He insisted on the task entrusted to him. To make the story short, Jonah finally agreed and despite his hesitation, Jonah delivered God’s message to Nineveh the need to repent, to change their ways, and to accept God’s offer of love. To his utter surprise, Nineveh repented. Jonah preached and Nineveh listened. Jonah obeyed and trusted God and an amazing thing took place.

Nowadays, there are still so many Jonahs around. We often hear people say, when I retire and I got nothing to do, that’s the time that maybe I could concentrate on serving the Lord. But the time to serve the Lord is the ‘here and now.’ The problem lies not on having more time but on the desire and the willingness to serve the Lord. Or some people say when I get rich like if I am going to win a lottery I will help the needy.But the time to help the needy doesn’t wait. “No one is so poor that he cannot give now.” We do not dilly dally in serving the Kingdom of God. May we learn from the experience of Jonah, we only have to listen, to obey and to trust God.

The best response is given to us by the disciples in today’s Gospel text. In today’s Gospel, Jesus saw Simon and his brother Andrew. And Jesus said to them “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of people.” The text says “Immediately they left their nets and followed him.” The word “immediately” is important in our reflection. It reflects the need for an urgency to respond. Simon and his brother Andrew did not ask Jesus where are we going.But instead, they immediately left their nets. The same as in the case of the other disciples, the brothers James and John, they left their father Zebedee for the mission.

Following Jesus, therefore, means a life changed – from a life sans Jesus to a life with Jesus. Jesus has become one’s priority. St. Paul says (Galatians 2:20) “No longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” It is tantamount to say that the life I live now is the life in complete service of God and his Kingdom.

Following Jesus means taking the risk and trying something different and something new for the sake of God’s Kingdom. The disciples were fishermen and were untrained for the mission. But they took the risk. They may not be knowledgeable about the task yet what was important was that they were willing to try and to learn.

Following Jesus comes at a price. It involves sacrifice and pain for Jesus’ way is the way of the Cross. Following him, therefore, is carrying our own crosses.Following Jesus is walking not our own path but Jesus’ path. It means living the life of Jesus. Serving as Jesus serves. Healing as Jesus heals. Forgiving as Jesus forgives. Loving as Jesus loves.