HOMILY: Eighteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (A)

REFLECTION OF THE HEART
Eighteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (A)
Jesus Feeds Five Thousand Men (Matthew 14:13-21)
A Reflection: by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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FIRST READING: Isaiah 55:1-3

Thus says the LORD: All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk!

Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy? Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare.
Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life. I will renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured to David.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM: Psalms 145:8-9, 15-16, 17-18
Response: The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.

The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and of great kindness. The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R. The hand of, Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.

The eyes of all look hopefully to you,
and you give them their food in due season;
you open your hand
and satisfy the desire of every living thing.
R. The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.

The LORD is just in all his ways
and holy in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call upon him,
to all who call upon him in truth.
R. The hand of the Lord feeds us; he answers all our needs.

SECOND READING: Romans 8:35, 37-39

Brothers and sisters:
What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?
No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.

For; I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers,

nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Alleluia – Matthew 4:4B
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
One does not live on bread alone,
but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GOSPEL: Matthew 14:13-21
When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns.

When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick.

When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.”

Jesus said to them, “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.”

But they said to him, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.”

Then he said, “Bring them here to me, ”

and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds.

They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over twelve wicker baskets full.

Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children.

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REFLECTION

Looking deeply into the heart of Jesus, we’ll surely understand the meaning of these words – selflessness and genuine love. In so many ways, Jesus has shown himself as the ultimate example of selflessness and genuine love. In Mark 10:45 Jesus said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” But I’d like also to clarify that in the mind of our Lord Jesus, selflessness and genuine love are not only giving sacrifice and service to others but it is actually doing the will of the Father. God wills that we love others as we love ourselves. Selflessness and genuine love, therefore, involve not only putting others first; but it is actually putting God first. As Christians, we are being called to live selflessly and to be a living example of what genuine love really is.

Yes, selflessness and genuine love are the two things that are remarkably manifested in the person of Jesus in today’s Gospel text. The Gospel relates to us that our Lord Jesus wanted to snatch a little time to rest awhile away from the crowd. He was carrying with him some heavy burdens. He was actually in deep sorrow over the loss of a beloved friend and cousin, John the Baptist. Considering the fact, that John the Baptist’s death was so tragic. He was beheaded in the hands of Herod. But seeing the crowd that followed him, He felt nothing but compassion towards them, describing them as sheep without a Shepherd. And so, He immediately taught them many things to satisfy their spiritual hunger and he healed the sick to take care of their personal needs. And not only that, but he was also concerned about their physical needs. Very vivid in today’s Gospel our Lord being sensitive not only to the spiritual needs but also to the physical needs of the people. So Jesus did something wonderful. A miracle of the multiplication of the bread took place. This multiplication of bread, aside from the resurrection of Jesus, was the only miracle related in all four Gospels. Thus telling us of its utmost importance. The four Evangelists related the story in a slightly different manner but all of them concluded the same – ” All were filled and were satisfied.” One can reflect on it in a more profound way – “The only one who can satisfy the human heart is the one who made it.”

To imagine Jesus’ grief is beyond me. How could he still think of other people when he himself was in such an overwhelming situation? His own people rejected him, his teachings were not understood, the religious authorities plotted something against him and he was aware of his impending suffering and death. But all he thinks of is to serve by teaching, healing the sick, calling men and women to repentance and revealing to them his Father and his kingdom. Yet, this deep loneliness did not hinder Jesus from doing his mission and that is to do the will of the Father.

I am deeply touched by this Sunday’s Gospel simply because it reminds me that we have a compassionate Lord. It was out of compassion that he gave us an amazing miracle – the multiplication of bread. As for me, it was not only bread that was multiplied but more so, it was mercy, compassion, and love that was multiplied. If God reveals his mercy in Jesus, why can’t we manifest that love to others too?

This is the message of Jesus that we should always remind ourselves of, especially during these tough and uncertain times. We should never be afraid of anything despite our experience of this pandemic realizing that God is bigger than the many challenges we encounter nowadays. Today’s Gospel assures us of the fact that we have a God we can rely on. Jesus assures us of the necessary mercy and hopes we desperately need today.

Homily: 17th Sunday In Ordinary Time (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.”

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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 in 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 showing 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 for 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 in this world are only means to an end, which is the Kingdom of God.

Homily: 16th Sunday In Ordinary Time (A)

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

First Reading: Wisdom 12:13, 16-19

There is no god besides you who have the care of all, that you need show you have not unjustly condemned.

For your might is the source of justice; your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all.
For you show your might when the perfection of your power is disbelieved; and in those who know you, you rebuke temerity.

But though you are master of might, you judge with clemency, and with much lenience you govern us; for power, whenever you will, attends you.

And you taught your people, by these deeds, that those who are just must be kind; and you gave your children good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins.

Responsorial Psalm – Psalms 86:5-6, 9-10, 15-16

Response: Lord, you are good and forgiving.

You, O LORD, are good and forgiving,
abounding in kindness to all who call upon you.
Hearken, O LORD, to my prayer
and attend to the sound of my pleading.

R. Lord, you are good and forgiving.

All the nations you have made shall come
and worship you, O LORD,
and glorify your name.
For you are great, and you do wondrous deeds;
you alone are God.

R. Lord, you are good and forgiving.

You, O LORD, are a God merciful and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in kindness, and fidelity.
Turn toward me, and have pity on me;
give your strength to your servant.

R. Lord, you are good and forgiving.

Second Reading – Romans 8:26-27

Brothers and sisters: The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.

And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit because he intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will.

Alleluia Matthew 11:25
R. Alleluia, alleluia. Blessed are you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth;
you have revealed to little ones the mysteries of the kingdom.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GOSPEL: MATTHEW 13:24-43

Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying:
“The kingdom of heaven may be likened
to a man who sowed good seed in his field.
While everyone was asleep his enemy came
and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off.
When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well.
The slaves of the householder came to him and said,
‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field?
Where have the weeds come from?’
He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’
His slaves said to him,
‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
He replied, ‘No if you pull up the weeds
you might uproot the wheat along with them.
Let them grow together until harvest;
then at harvest time, I will say to the harvesters,
“First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning;
but gather the wheat into my barn.”‘”

He proposed another parable to them.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed
that a person took and sowed in a field.
It is the smallest of all the seeds,
yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants.
It becomes a large bush,
and the ‘birds of the sky come and dwell in its branches.’”

He spoke to them another parable.
“The kingdom of heaven is like yeast
that a woman took and mixed with three measures of wheat flour
until the whole batch was leavened.”

All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables.
He spoke to them only in parables,
to fulfill what had been said through the prophet:
I will open my mouth in parables,
I will announce what has lain hidden from the foundation
of the world.

Then, dismissing the crowds, he went into the house.
His disciples approached him and said,
“Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”
He said in reply, “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man,
the field is the world, the good seed, the children of the kingdom.
The weeds are the children of the evil one,
and the enemy who sows them is the devil.
The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire,
so will it be at the end of the age.
The Son of Man will send his angels,
and they will collect out of his kingdom
all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.
They will throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”
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REFLECTION:

The world is replete of both beautiful and ugly, holy and profane, and good and evil. One can find these combinations of realities anywhere in the world. These realities are present in our country, in society, in our Government, at home, at our Church, and, our own personal being. We see something good and something bad all around. If only because we live in an imperfect world. This reality is what today’s Gospel text is trying to present to us. Life, therefore, is always a battle between Good and Evil. Every day we experience something good and something bad. Every day we meet good and bad people. We deal with them daily. But before we are tempted to put the blame on other people, let us take a look at ourselves. For within our hearts is a battle between these two things also. We find in us an amount of good as well as bad. Each one of us is an imperfect being. There was a holy man who, every time, he sees a sinner would say to himself, “There goes me except by God’s grace.” It means that no one has the right to be judgmental of others. The problem is that some people tend to see themselves better or holier than others. But in the end, we are all saints and sinners at the same time.

The Gospel of St. Matthew presents to us three parables -The Parables of the Weeds and Wheat, the Mustard Seed, and the Yeast. On this Sunday, allow me to focus my reflection on the first parable i.e.The parable of the Weed and Wheat. This parable answers the following questions. How is it possible that God who is pure love and good allows evil to exist? Where did evil come from? Who created them? How do we deal with them as well as how do we deal with the sinners?

Just like, The Parable of the Sower, our Lord Jesus again provided us an explanation of today’s Parable.”He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man,
the field is the world, the good seed, the children of the kingdom.
The weeds are the children of the evil one,
and the enemy who sows them is the devil.” From this parable, we learned that Evil did not come from God, it came from the enemy Satan. The pulling of the weeds at an early stage could affect the growth of the wheat. Here we see the wisdom of God at work. We see here how God deals with sinners. God deals with them with the utmost patience. We learned that God may have allowed the Weed (the bad) and the Wheat (the good) to grow together because there is an appropriate time for dealing with the weeds. Man is a mixture of weed and wheat. A certain Eric Burdon once said, “Inside each of us, there is the seed of both good and evil. It is a constant struggle as to which one will win.

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Story: A story is told about Satan and his minions. One day, they had a conference in Hell. They discussed among themselves that more and more people now believe in Jesus. That more people now are doing their best to live a holy life. Satan and his minions were alarmed. “What are we gonna do now to turn people away from God?” Much discussion ensued among them until one of them suggested “Let us make people suffer. We need to make them suffer and make them curse God and die.”
But one of them disagreed saying, “Now, listen, you knuckleheads, we already tried that. And it didn’t work. Remember Job? Remember how we made him suffer? But in the end, suffering only brought Job closer to God. Job just went on trusting God. It’s not a good idea.”
So they think and think of new ways where they could make people sin. When alas Satan said, “I got a better idea. I know now what to do. We’ll get people to destroy themselves with evil.”
To which one of them asked, “Well what do you mean? People aren’t stupid you know. How are we gonna do that?”
And Satan replied, “It’s simple really! Very simple…All we have to do is make the evil look good.” (Author Unknown)
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People sin because sin is always perceived as something good and pleasurable. If they do not look good, people will not be attracted to it. People commit sins because they perceive them as something pleasurable. To overcome them, we must first recognize and acknowledge it as evil. Pope Pius XII said, “The sin of the century was the loss of the sense of sin.” This is the worst that could happen to a man i.e. the moment he lost that sense of sin. To someone like that, repentance would not be possible. Acknowledging one’s fault is the start of repentance. Yes, we are all sinners, for we are imperfect but we are also saints for we are capable of being perfect.”Do not be conquered by evil,” says St. Paul, “but conquer evil with good” (Romans 12:21). Antoine St. Exupery once said, “It seems that perfection is attained not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing more to remove.” Saints are sinners who have achieved perfection. Our goal is to achieve perfection. It may not be easy that is why we need Jesus’ assistance and guidance. Let us seek God’s grace every day.

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

GOSPEL REFLECTION: FIFTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (A)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*
GOSPEL: MATTHEW 13:1-23
On the same day, Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea. 2 And great multitudes were gathered to Him so that He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole multitude stood on the shore.
3 Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. 6 But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. 8 But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
10 And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them, it has not been given. 12 For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 13 Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:
‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
and seeing you will see and not perceive; 15
for the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
so that I should heal them.’
16 But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; 17
or assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
18 Therefore, hear the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. 20 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. 22 Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful, 23 But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
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REFLECTION:
Our Lord Jesus relates a parable using imageries so common and generally familiar i.e. The Parable of the Sower. Someone explains that a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Jesus uses ordinary things to explain about the Kingdom of God in a manner that could be easily understood. He makes the comparison to make sure that the lesson he wanted to impart to his listeners is expressed clearly. Now, this Sunday’s particular parable is one of the few that Jesus himself provides an explanation. But no matter how much Jesus makes it simple to each of us yet only those who accept the truth of the Kingdom will be blessed with a profound understanding. The truth will always be hidden to those who rejected the Gospel and its message. Thus Jesus said “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them, it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” This Sunday, we are invited to reflect on a parable about a Sower, about seeds, and about different types of soil. We learned from Jesus himself that the Sower represents God, the seed is the Word of God and we are the different types of soil. I believe every one of us knows how does a seed grows. As Jesus explained to us, the parable tells us more about the soil than the Sower.
In this parable, we learned that in matters of Faith and Spirituality, we are not given a finished product. We are given seeds that we plant, cultivate and nurture. We help make it grow. God can only send us the necessary graces, but we are free to accept or to reject them. God respects our freedom. If we are to love Him, then we love Him freely.“ Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said “God does not force us to believe in Him, but draws us to Himself through the truth and goodness of his incarnate Son. Love, in fact, always respects freedom,” In this regard that our Lord Jesus likens us to a different type of soil.
“Some seed fell by the wayside, and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (Matthew 13:4-8)
“The seed that fell on good soil produced a hundredfold,” says the response in our Responsorial Psalm
The question is – Are we the type of good soil that we let the word of God grow in our hearts? Our hearts, by the way, are a fertile place and whatever we plant in it will surely grow. A spiritual writer once said that we should be careful what you plant in it.
“If you plant honesty, you will reap trust.
If you plant goodness, you will reap friends.
If you plant humility, you will reap greatness.
If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment
If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective.
If you plant hard work, you will reap success.
If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation.
If you plant faith in Christ, you will reap a harvest.
So, be careful what you plant now; it will determine what you will reap later” (Source unknown)
Likewise, if you plant hatred, evil deeds, and desires, then evil you shall reap. It is better that we plant good things, then we shall reap goodness and happiness in life.
There are ways where we could make our hearts like fertile soil. We cultivate and nurture it by our frequent reception of the Sacrament of the Eucharist, also by our reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation where we experience God’s forgiveness and healing. Our communion with God through prayer also helps us establish a deeper relationship with him. Our daily practice of Charity helps improve our spirituality.
Deep faith in God doesn’t just happen all by itself. We have to cultivate and nurture it that it may grow and yield a hundredfold.

Homily: 12th Sunday In Ordinary Time (A)

REFLECTION OF THE HEART
12th Sunday In Ordinary Time (A)
Matthew 10:26-33
A Reflection: by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

Matthew 10: 26-33

“So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

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REFLECTION:

In the movie “First Knight,” there was a conversation between King Arthur (played by Sean Connery) and Lancelot (played by Richard Gere) that struck me. King Arthur said to Lancelot:

“A man who fears nothing is a man who loves nothing.
And if you love nothing,
what joy is there in your life? “

I like the fact that ‘fear’ is given a connection with ‘love.’ We could probably say that love and fear are not totally in contrast with one another. It is therefore possible for love and fear to harmoniously coexist. Someone said that we cannot feel both at the same time. But I say, it is possible. For instance, I am afraid of death simply because I do not leave behind those people that I love. I am afraid to disobey my parents simply because I love them. Or I am afraid to get sick simply because I love to serve. I agree, therefore, with King Arthur that ‘a man who fears nothing is a man loves nothing.’ We all have fears because we all have someone or something we love. There is actually nothing wrong with being afraid of something. Being afraid is an emotion. It is something that we feel and we have no control over it. It’s funny since even though I am a frequent flyer yet every time I get on a plane I still have this fear in me. I always need to convince myself that it’s the safest means of transportation. And that I need to put my trust that everything’s gonna be alright.

In today’s Gospel text, our Lord Jesus is talking about ‘Fear.’ Several times did our Lord Jesus mentions the word ‘Fear.’ “Fear no one; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered.”
“Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body.”
“Do not be afraid, you are of more value than many sparrows.”
Jesus was not actually saying that it is wrong to be afraid of something or someone. If we really analyze his words deeply, we can conclude that he was actually saying that it is alright to have fear but in the proper context. “Do not fear those who kill the body…but rather fear him….” If we have to fear something or someone, we need to put that fear in the proper place. We are afraid of something and someone for a reason. But sometimes we create fear for no reason at all. Therefore, if we are to be afraid of something and someone be sure that it is for the right reason. Jesus said, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul, rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body.” Sometimes, people are more afraid of another human being who can only destroy our body and that ended him up to please another man rather than pleasing God. If we are, to be honest, whom are we really afraid of? Are we more afraid of another human or God? Like, what is it that keeps you holding back in defending the truth and to promulgate justice? Most of the time people just simply close their eyes even amidst injustices and corruption that is going around for fear of those who are in the present power. Thus, a lot of people chose to be silent than to speak out and stand for what is right. So Jesus reminded us to “Fear no one; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered.”

No matter who we are, rich or poor, weak or strong, young or old, educated or not, there is always something that we are afraid of. The question is, What or whom are you most afraid of? Many people are afraid of death, some are afraid of pain and suffering, others are afraid of poverty or financial insecurity. Still, others are afraid of loneliness, rejection, and being unloved. It is good for us to recognize our fears, yet it is way better that we recognize that the only way to conquer them is to put our trust completely in God.

We live in the most challenging time. We are confronted with fears. The world is in panic. We’ve been hit with a single mortar and that caused a lot of suffering in the world. COVID 19 is an unseen enemy. But we believe that absolute hope is found in our complete trust in a loving God. In our journey through life, what gives us the strength to go on is our limitless trust in God no matter how difficult the road is to us. We are rest secured in a God who will never abandon us and who loves us immensely,

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.