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

17th Sunday B pater

SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (B)
A Reflection: by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL: JOHN 6:1-15

Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd followed him because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. The Jewish feast of Passover was near. When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He said this to test him because he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little. One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people recline.” Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples. Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” So they collected them and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat. When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.” Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain.

The Gospel of the Lord/ Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

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REFLECTION:

Today’s Gospel text – the multiplication of loaves and fishes – indeed, is very important … so important that it is the only miracle account that is recorded by all four evangelists. The story may seem so simple. But it gives us a very profound insight. Something that we must ponder upon as it is ever relevant in our lives as Christians. Some spiritual writers reasoned out that there was no actual miracle that took place during the feeding of the multitude. They claimed that Jesus only inspired the spirit of sharing of what they have with one another. That made it appear to have a miracle of the multiplication of bread and fish. For them, that spirit of collective sharing and generosity was the real miracle. But that is not true …indeed, there was a miracle. Yes, there was a hungry crowd and Jesus moved with compassion asked Philip “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” The scripture explained to us that Jesus “said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do.” Jesus knew that he could perform wonders. Like he was able to turn water into wine, he walked on water, he cleansed the lepers, raised the dead and so why not feed the multitude? Jesus blessed the five loaves and two fish, distributed them to feed the huge crowd, they were satisfied and collected twelve wicker baskets of leftovers.

We need to see this miracle as a sign given by God. To dismiss this as a miracle will surely affect our understanding of the miracle of the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. This is the very reason why in today’s Gospel, St. John makes it clear to us that this miracle is a sign. Which means to say that it points beyond itself to a higher reality. This miracle of Jesus should go beyond “awe and amazement” at the miracle per se but it should lead us to a deeper understanding of who Jesus is. The sign should point to Jesus himself. It should lead us to the recognition that Jesus is our Lord and saviour. That Jesus came to provide us with food that will nourish for all eternity. That Jesus came to sustain us as we journey to our ultimate destiny which is heaven. The miracle of the feeding of the multitude is a sign whose meaning is realized at the Last Supper where Jesus instituted the Eucharist, and in which Jesus further gives meaning by his offering of himself on the Cross and which will be fully realized in the heavenly banquet. This is the place where Jesus wants to gather all his children. John 14:2 “In my Father’s house are many rooms: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” Ergo, if we deny the miracle that is contained in the feeding of the multitude, then how could we understand fully the miracle that is in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

The Gospel text reveals to us once again how much Jesus loves us. He is true to his word that he will be with us until the end of time nourishing us, sustaining us in our journey until we reach our ultimate destiny.

But what is this particular text trying to teach us? Actually, it highlighted Jesus compassion towards mankind. Jesus takes care not only of our spiritual needs but even our physical needs. He understands fully the human longings, sufferings, and needs. He gives us an image of a loving shepherd sustaining and nourishing our hunger. But just as we have a compassionate Lord, he also wants us to be compassionate with one another. He wants us to feel the suffering of our neighbor and do something about it. Let me elaborate this point by sharing with you a story:

Story (Willi Hoffsuemmer) There was once a very poor mother with three children. And next door lived a very rich lady, who also had three children. This lady was so stingy that she would never give anything to poor people.

It so happened that the poor mother was again all out of bread. Her children were very hungry. So she went to the rich lady and said, “Could you please give me just one loaf of bread for my poor children, who are almost starving?” “I don’t have any bread for myself,” said the rich lady. “So how can I give some to you?” “But,” said the poor lady, “you are so rich. I am sure that you must have a little bit of bread somewhere in your cupboard.” “No, I don’t. If I do, then may God change every bit of it into stone,” said the rich lady. So the poor lady went away crying. And the rich lady said to her children, “Now let’s go and make a nice jam and butter sandwich.” So she went to the cupboard to take out the bread. But all the bread had turned to stone.

The lady was shocked. Off she ran straight to the bakery and bought bread and cakes for the poor lady. And she also got some flour and meat and butter to go along with it. “Lady,” she said, as she handed over the gifts, “I will never again be selfish. God has turned all my bread into stones. If it would only turn back into bread so my children would have something to eat…”

Then she went back home and the stones in the basket turned back into bread. Since then the rich lady has become generous to poor people around her.

In our day to day life, we can also experience a miracle of the multiplication of bread. But that is if we like our Lord Jesus could feel the suffering of our poor brothers and sisters. If we have compassion like the compassion of our Lord towards our neighbors. Let us then multiply the bread of kindness, generosity, and love with one another.

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HOMILY:13th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

13th Sunday pater

A REFLECTION
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)
Sunday, 1st July 2018
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READINGS:
First Reading: Wisdom 1:13-15;2;23-24
Responsorial Psalm: “I will extol you, Lord, for you have raised me up.
Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 8:7,9:13-15
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GOSPEL: Mark 5:21-43
When Jesus had crossed in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the synagogue leaders named Jairus came and when he saw Jesus, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” So Jesus went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.
Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, “Who touched me?”
He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. Jesus said to her daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease.” While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”
Jesus allowed no one to follow him. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him.
Then Jesus put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about for she was twelve years of age.
At this, they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
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REFLECTION:
Today’s Gospel text presents to us a beautiful literary style of the evangelist St. Mark. Mark gave us two miracle accounts. First, he introduced to us, a prominent figure, Jairus a synagogue official of some kind who came to Jesus to plead for the life of his daughter who was greatly ill and was dying. Then this account is interrupted to relate to us another character, a woman with hemorrhages for twelve years. Then we return to the daughter of the synagogue official. Certainly, this particular literary style of Mark sandwiching the cure of the woman with hemorrhage was done with a purpose. It was as if to prepare Mark’s readers of an even greater miracle that is to come. The woman came to Jesus and Jesus brought healing and peace. As if this account is not amazing enough, it was followed up by an even greater miracle – the raising of Jairus’ daughter. Jairus puts his complete trust in Jesus, and Jesus brought life where there once was death. The raising of Jairus’ daughter reminds us of the raising of Lazarus. It is meant to invite us to reflect on the realities of life and death and life after death. It brings us the necessary hope and joy. For it tells us that there is life after this our present state. It tells us that we are destined to immortality. If there is no life after this one, then life is meaningless. We see life as a journey, a pilgrimage towards our ultimate goal which is heaven. Reflecting on today’s Gospel brings us to the conclusion that in Jesus we experience peace and healing. In him, suffering ends and new life takes the place of death.
When we read in the Scripture the miracle accounts of Jesus, bear in mind that it is not the spectacular element that is important. What is important is the meaning or the message that’s contained in the miracle. In Mark’s Gospel text we see impossible cases. Mark presents to us each case as almost beyond help. For instance, last Sunday, Mark gave us an account of the calming of the storm. The disciples thought they were going to die in the storm (Mk 4:38) but Jesus was able to calm the storm with a simple command – Quiet, be calm! And now we reflect on the healing of the woman suffering for twelve years and the raising of Jairus’ daughter. These accounts tell us that in Jesus there is no such thing as a hopeless case. In Jesus there are no incurables, nothing is impossible in him. But we learn a lot from the example of Jairus and the woman in the Gospel. It was their faith that brought about healing and restoration of life. Today, we have seen two beautiful examples of faith. When the sick woman and Jairus were helpless and hopeless, Jesus was the answer.
The woman had an incredible faith. She was certain that Jesus could heal her. She knew that Jesus was so powerful so that if she could just touch even the hem of his clothes, she would be healed. Certainly, that’s faith.
And Jairus, considering that he was a figure of respect in his town manifested incredible faith also. He was an important man, which is why the crowd gave way enough to let him through. But Jairus set aside his prominence and importance. Here he behaves like a desperate man. Jairus didn’t worry about what other people might say or think about him. So he threw himself at Jesus’ feet and begged. He had only one thing in mind and that’s the well-being of his child. He was not ashamed to ask Jesus for help. His child is dying. Here we see a compassionate Jesus who agreed to come with him to see his child. But before they get very far, they received a disturbing news – “Your daughter is dead…why trouble the teacher any further.” But Jesus said, “Do not fear, only believe!” Jesus was like telling Jairus to have faith. When things, therefore, seem hopeless, come to Jesus. Jesus is full of compassion. He feels and knows our pain for he himself experienced suffering. He longs to help you. He has the power to help when no one else can. You should never be afraid to bring Jesus your needs. But always have faith. Faith is a free gift from the Father. If we are lacking in faith, just ask the Father and he will gladly give you the gift of faith.
Perhaps this story may further enlightened us in our reflection:
The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements and in which to store his few possessions. But then one day, after scavenging for food, he came to see his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened, everything was lost. He was stunned with grief and anger. “God how could you do this to me!” Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. The weary man asked his rescuers – “How did you know I was here?” They replied: “We saw your smoke signal.”
The lesson: It is easy to get discouraged when things are going bad. But we should never lose heart because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of our pain and suffering. Have faith in Jesus like the faith of Jairus and the sick woman. Whatever the circumstances may be, it is important to know that His divine providence will always be there for you and me.
Proverb 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.”

Homily: Ascension Of The Lord by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

ascension pater

GOSPEL REFLECTION: ASCENSION OF THE LORD
WORLD COMMUNICATIONS DAY
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL: MARK 16:15-20
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Go into the whole world
and proclaim the gospel to every creature.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved;
whoever does not believe will be condemned.
These signs will accompany those who believe:
in my name, they will drive out demons,
they will speak new languages.
They will pick up serpents with their hands,
and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.
They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them,
was taken up into heaven
and took his seat at the right hand of God.
But they went forth and preached everywhere,
while the Lord worked with them
and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.
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REFLECTION:

Here in Canada, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord this Sunday. Traditionally, the observance of the Ascension of the Lord is on Thursday, the 40th day after Easter. However, for pastoral reasons, the Church has obtained permission from the Vatican to move its observance on Sunday 43 days after Easter, for some countries like Canada. It is a Sunday before Pentecost. To celebrate it on Sunday actually, helps set the mood for our reflection in preparation for Pentecost.

Certainly, by its name itself, what comes to our mind as we reflect on this Sunday’s Liturgy is the fact that our Lord Jesus was lifted up to heaven. It must be a wonderful sightseeing Jesus ascended to heaven. His disciples were indeed so privilege having witnessed such spectacular event. But our reflection should not only be focused on Jesus’ leaving the earthly presence.

The observance of the Ascension of the Lord has a more profound meaning than just reflecting on the fact that Jesus ascended into heaven. In last Sunday’s Gospel text, the scene was set during the Last Supper wherein Jesus was saying his so-called Farewell Discourse. There was a tinge of sadness in Jesus’ words since he was actually saying goodbye to his apostles. He knew that his hour has come. He was fully aware of his impending death and suffering. But instead of thinking about himself, he was thinking of his apostles. He was giving them the strength that they may be able to bear the imminent suffering. Jesus offered them the gift of peace. He said let your hearts not be troubled. And he promised them that he would send an Advocate that would remind them of all that he has done. Jesus knew that the hour will come for him to depart from this world and go to the Father. His earthly mission is complete. This is the time for him to go back to the Father. And therefore today we celebrate this event of the Ascension. But what is it’s significance and how it is relevant to us today?

First, Ascension may mean the end of Jesus’ earthly mission. But it doesn’t mean just an end but rather it means more of a beginning. It is the beginning of the new chapter of the saving work which Jesus began. Now, it’s time for the apostles to continue this work and pass it on eventually to the Church and its members. In the first reading, Acts 1:8, Jesus admonished his disciples to continue his mission – “and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Second, Ascension means to glorify the Son of God. Jesus’ mission is fulfilled. The Son of God is triumphant in the offering of his life on the cross. Like to a Lamb, Jesus willingly sacrifices his life for the salvation of the world. Now is the time to give back his heavenly glory. The Father is well pleased and He exalted Jesus. This is best described in the second reading from the letter to the Ephesians, “God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places…”

Third, now that Jesus is exalted by the Father, it allows him to prepare a place for us. John 14:2, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”

As we reflect on the meaning of the Ascension of the Lord, the question now is – how is this relevant to us today?

First, It means that as followers and as children of God, our task now is to continue the mission of spreading the good news of the Kingdom of God. The mission is huge. There are times that we may feel unworthy. We should not worry – ‘let your hearts not be troubled.’ We only have to put our complete trust in Jesus. Jesus may not be with us physically but he never leave us orphans. He wants us to be able to carry this mission out and so he promised – “Behold, I am with you always until the end of the age.” He sent the Holy Spirit to empower us so that we be credible witnesses to the Gospel.

Second, the Ascension of the Lord tells us that we are but pilgrims here on earth and our final destination is heaven. After doing the task of spreading the Good News and that we remain faithful until the end, then heaven is our reward. Jesus wants us to succeed. He wants to gather his flock once again in his Kingdom.

The Apostles were here spreading the Good News of our Salvation 2000 years ago. The mission has been passed on to us. Now it is our turn to do the same. It is indeed a great responsibility. But let us do our part with great faith and great love. But do not forget to always ask the Holy Spirit for guidance, inspiration, and strength. Be bold…be courageous in making the Love of Jesus known throughout the whole world.

HOMILY: Epiphany Of The Lord by Rev.Fr.Allen Baclor Abadines

Epiphany1

GOSPEL REFLECTION: EPIPHANY OF THE LORD
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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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.
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REFLECTION:
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. Epiphany comes from the Greek word 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 a 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. Their 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 the 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 deceased loved ones. 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 a lot of 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 on the Words of God in the Scripture could help us know God intimately.

Second the gift of loving one’s neighbor., i.e. establishing a better relationship with other people.Learning to forgive those who have hurt us. Reconcile with them. Heal 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 on 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: 1st Sunday Of Advent (A) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

1st Advent - talagang final na

 

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

Readings: First Reading- Isaiah 63:16b-17; 64:1,3-8
Responsorial Psalm: Restore us, O God, let your face shine, that we may be saved.
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9
*
*

GOSPEL: MARK 13:33-37

Jesus said to his disciples: “Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.
“It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and put his slaves in charge, each with a particular task, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly.
“And what I say to you I say to all: keep awake.”
*

___________________________________________

REFLECTION:

Story: A famous football coach once rebuked an overconfident player who said that their team would win because it had the will to win. “Don’t fool yourself,” said the coach. “The will to win is not worth a nickel unless you have the will to prepare.”
*

What the coach meant was that – Success in any endeavor in life depends upon how much preparation we make. It is not enough that we have the will to succeed, for everything requires hard work and preparation. Like, a professional singer needs to rehearse to be assured of a good performance. A student, no matter how intelligent he may be, needs to study his lesson. An actor needs to read and study his script first before taking center stage. Indeed, preparation is important in our practical life as well as spiritual life. Christ exhorts us in today’s Gospel message to be always prepared. And it comes as a warning as he said:” Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.”
*
The call to be spiritually prepared is of utmost importance as we enter a new Liturgical year. Advent is the beginning of our new spiritual journey. It invites us to embark on a journey as we reflect on the life of Jesus anew. Traditionally, Advent is considered a preparation for the coming of Christ.
The word Advent originates from the Latin word “Adventus” meaning “coming.” I call Advent season as a celebration of the past, present, and future.A celebration of the Past because the ‘first coming’ had already taken place. It happened 2,000 years ago on the first Christmas – the birth of our Lord Jesus. It is a celebration of the Present because we also experience Jesus’ daily coming into our life – like in the celebration of the Eucharist where we encounter Jesus in the form of Bread and Wine. We also experience His presence in Scripture as we contemplate his words. We encounter His presence in one another as we gather in faith and in prayer.”For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in their midst.” (Matthew 18:20) And it is also a celebration of the Future because the second coming is yet to come. It will be at the end of time. Jesus came, who will come, and who constantly comes.
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The celebration of Advent would make sense if we understand the importance and the need to prepare, to be vigilant. To highlight his message of preparedness and vigilance, Jesus relates to us in today’s Gospel the parable of the master who went on a journey and puts his slaves in charge. With this admonition to be always “on your guard, stay awake, because you never know when the time will come. (Mark 13:33) Preparation is what the life of discipleship is all about, before, during and after the season of Advent. Life, therefore, should be a constant observance of the Advent season. Saint John Paul 11 says “The whole of our life must be an ‘Advent’, a vigilant of the final coming of Christ.” So what must we do? To answer this question, let me share with you another story that we may ponder upon.
*

Story (from The Next 500 Stories by Frank Mihalic, SVD)
A young man dreamt that he had walked into a store where an angel was standing behind the counter. He hastily asked the angel, “What do you sell in this store?”
“Anything. You name it,” said the angel.
So the young man began, saying, “I would like to order the following; a democratic government in Chile, an end to all the wars in the world, a better deal for the marginal nations, the removal of all squatter settlements in South America.”
At this point, the angel interrupted and said, “Excuse me, young man, you did not understand me correctly. We don’t sell fruits and finished products in this store. We sell only seeds.”
*

Advent is a time of expectancy for a special and wonderful event -i.e. the coming of Christ. While we wait for this final event, there is a need for us to plant the seed, that we may benefit in the harvest time. Our life here on earth is but a preparation of our life in heaven.Are we making the necessary preparation? Have we planted the seeds of goodness and holiness? If so, then this expectancy should bring us joy rather than fear. Only then that we recognize that God’s judgment should be looked upon not of condemnation but of moments of mercy and grace. John 3:17 “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

 

HOMILY: 33rd Sunday In Ordinary Time (A) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

33rd Sunday1

 

GOSPEL REFLECTION: Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL: Matthew 25:14-30

Jesus spoke this parable to his disciples: “For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.
The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
After a long time, the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying,’Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
“And the one with two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents, see, I have made two more talents. His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
“Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’
“But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return, I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'”
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REFLECTION

Story: Three pelicans were flying to a popular lake. As they traveled, they were each lost in thought.
The first pelican thought to himself, “I love my beak. It’s magnificent. No other bird has a beak quite like mine. When I get to the lake, I am going to parade along the bank, showing off my beautiful beak and all of the other birds will be jealous.
The second pelican thought to himself, “I love my beak and I need to protect it. I can’t afford for it to get damaged, so I am going to only catch small fish in shallow waters. I know that I can do more, but it is too risky.”
The third pelican thought to himself, “I love my beak. It is a beauty and I am going to push the limits and get the most out of it. I am going to become the best catcher of fish in the lake. I’ve been given this beak for a reason, so I am going to work hard and catch the biggest fish out there. (Source unknown)
I like this story. It is teaching us some realities of life. Like, each one of us has received talents, blessings, and potentials for a reason. Not to brag about it and to show off just like the first pelican.Nor to hide it just like the second pelican. But to fully develop and make use of them to their maximum capacity just like what the third pelican did. Each one of us is blessed with so many gifts that we may use to share and make this world a better place.
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The Gospel of this Sunday has a similar message. It relates to us a simple story so easy to understand yet it has a powerful message with eternal relevance. Anyone can relate to its significance. Jesus tells the story of a man who gives talents to three of his servants. The first servant received five talents. The second servant received two talents. And the third servant received one talent. The first and the second servant went out at once and used the money to buy and trade things and ended up making even more money. But the third one didn’t want to take the risk out of fear of losing the money he was given that he went and buried it to keep it safe.It happened that upon the return of the master, they were summoned for an accounting. As what was expected the first and the second servant were praised by the master. But he finds to his dismay that the third slave to whom he entrusted one talent had simply buried the wealth and had garnered neither gain nor interest. And for that reason, the third servant was punished.
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Like many of Jesus’ parables, he tells this one, in particular, to teach us an important lesson i.e. God doesn’t want us to hide our gifts and blessings. Instead, He wants us to make use of them to the fullest. God created each of us with special gifts and He expects us to use those gifts for the purpose for which he gave them to us. This is the challenge of today’s Gospel. Our Lord Jesus is telling us that in the end, the Master will come for an accounting. There should be no excuse for us to come with a report that would not be pleasing to the Master. Our Lord intends that we multiply, increase, expand our gifts for our own good and the good of others. And to help build the Kingdom of God.
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So what holds the people back to show, develop and share their talents. Let me give you some reasons:
1) Insecurity – Some people may feel inferior to other people.They are always intimidated by people who are more talented.
2) Lack of confidence – They thought that their talents are not good enough.They do not see their importance. They would rather keep their talents to themselves rather than to use and share them with others. They forgot that those are gifts from God and therefore precious to God.
3) Fear of rejection. A lot of people are afraid of being rejected, ridiculed and or laughed at by others. But we have to first and foremost appreciate ourselves in order for us to be appreciated by others. People who are successful started out from a humble beginning, but what separates them from the rest is their boldness and readiness to take the risk. Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton said, “With ordinary talents and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.” You may have the skills and abilities. You may not feel it particularly great, but it may be better than you think. If you don’t use it, you lose it! Talents that are not used are like Sundial in the shade.
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Let me end my reflection with another inspiring story. It is a story of a man who had real talent.
This particular man played piano in a bar. He was a good piano player. People came out just to hear him play. But one night a customer wanted him to sing a particular song. The pianist declined. But the customer was persistent. He talked to the bartender: “I am tired of listening to the piano. I want that guy to sing.” The bartender shouted across the room to the piano player. “Hey, buddy! If you want to get paid sing the song! The customers are asking you to sing.”
So he did. He sang a song. A jazz piano player who had not sung much in public, sang a song that changed his career, for nobody had ever heard “Sweet Lorraine” sung the way it was sung that night by a pianist – his name was Nat King Cole!
All along he had talent hidden and undiscovered.
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Luke 11:33- “No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.”
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HOMILY: 31st Sunday In Ordinary Time (A) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

31st Sunday A

 

GOSPEL REFLECTION: 31st Sunday In Ordinary Time (A)
A Warning Against Hypocrisy
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL: Matthew 23:1-12

1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries[a] wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by others.

8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
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REFLECTION

Hypocrisy is what really ticked Jesus off. This is the reason why he oftentimes criticized the Scribes and Pharisees. He characterized them as hypocrites, self-righteous, judgmental and blind guides. These are the people whose holiness is but an outside appearance but inside they are full of malice, lies and evil deeds. Jesus said in today’s Gospel text, “Do whatever the scribes and Pharisees teach you and follow it, but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach.” Jesus seemed to be more compassionate to sinners like the prostitutes and tax collectors who are open to repentance, contrition and conversion than to self-righteous and hypocrites religious leaders and experts of the law during his time.
Of course, Jesus didn’t hate anyone. But if Jesus is to choose one between the sinners and self-righteous people, certainly he would prefer the sinners. In fact, the religious leaders of his time accused him of associating with them. He ate and drank with them and even visited their homes. Jesus rationalized in the Gospel of Matthew 9:12 “Healthy people do not need a doctor, sick people do.” The Scribes and Pharisees because of their being self-righteous, it wouldn’t easy for them to acknowledge their flaws. They do not see the need for repentance and conversion. They were so blinded that they cannot see their need for a Messiah. It is true that only those who acknowledge that they are sick, who are in need of healing.
What is hypocrisy? It is a pretense. It is like someone who claimed to have a good moral standard yet his action does not conform.
The word “hypocrite” derives originally from the Greek “hypokrites’ which means “an actor” or a “stage player.” Therefore, a hypocrite is some playing a role of a somebody who is far from his real self. The Scribes and Pharisees are the perfect examples of what hypocrisy is. They boast about following the hundreds of laws by wearing phylacteries and tassels in their robes. But everything is all about that. It’s about showing off their holiness. It was a display of holiness guided by pride and evil deeds.
We are all in danger of becoming hypocrites simply because we are all sinners. That’s the bad news! But the good news is that we are also capable of repentance, as well as being holy. Apparently, Jesus is like telling us that it is better to acknowledge our sinfulness and weaknesses than to be dishonest about it. Only when we accept our shortcomings that we can be humble enough to beg for forgiveness and be open to change.