HOMILY: Nativity of John the Baptist by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

john the baptist - pater

NATIVITY OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
A REFLECTION
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL: Luke 1:57-66,80

When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child
she gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors and relatives heard
that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her,
and they rejoiced with her.
When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child,
they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,
but his mother said in reply,
“No. He will be called John.”
But they answered her,
“There is no one among your relatives who has this name.”
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.
He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,”
and all were amazed.
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed,
and he spoke blessing God.
Then fear came upon all their neighbors,
and all these matters were discussed
throughout the hill country of Judea.
All who heard these things took them to heart, saying,
“What, then, will this child be?”
For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.
The child grew and became strong in spirit,
and he was in the desert until the day
of his manifestation to Israel.
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REFLECTION:

Today we celebrate the Nativity of John the Baptist. Perhaps, the question would be, why was the birth of John the Baptist so much given special importance by the Church. Well, John the Baptist was no ordinary person. He was to play such a huge role in the salvation history. “You, child, shall be called the Prophet of the Most High: for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways.” (Luke 1:76) This is the reason why today we are being invited by the Church to reflect on the importance of John the Baptist’s ministry, his role and the values he imparted us by his life.

Who was John the Baptist? John was a unique and a special kind of person. We could see that he was a different kind of person considering the circumstances surrounding his birth. He was the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth. They were both advanced of age and considering that Elizabeth was barren, the birth of John the Baptist was seen as but Divine intervention. It tells us that with God nothing is impossible. John’s birth was even announced by an angel. This is the reason why the Blessed Virgin Mary became aware of it, hence, made that famous visitation to her cousin Elizabeth. Such encounter is worthy of reflection for even in the wombs of the two mothers, our Lord and John already encounter each other.

There are two things that I so admire in the person of John i.e. Discipline and incredible Humility.

First, Discipline, because even at a young age he knew his role, He was to prepare the way of the Lord. His awareness of his role paves the way to his life of great discipline – physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. Like, he lived a simple life, dressed in camel’s hair, eating nothing but locusts and wild honey. He was not afraid to preach the truth. We remember John for his bold and courageous preaching against the self-righteous Pharisees that cost him a great price i.e. his own life.

And second, an incredible Humility because he took no credit for himself. To John the Baptist, his mission was just to prepare the way of the Lord. When he was asked whether he is the Messiah or not, he replied: “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals.” (Mark 1:7) He knew his mission and purpose in life. “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight his path.” – John 1:23. John’s finger was pointing at Jesus. John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” “He must increase, I must decrease.” John 3:30. This is the lesson we learned from the life of John the Baptist. A life that is centered on Jesus. As modern-day disciples of Jesus, we are being called to do just the same i.e. to be courageous and make Jesus known.

The name John was announced by Angel Gabriel, it means “Gift of God” “Graced by God” and or “God is gracious” Just like John the Baptist, may our lives be instruments heralding God’s graciousness.

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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
*

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.

INSIGHTS: God’s Abundant Love & Mercy by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

reconciliation

INSIGHTS – God’s Abundant Love and Mercy
(On the Sacrament Of Reconciliation)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

It seems so unfair that we too have to suffer from the matter of consequences of what Adam and Eve did in paradise. They disobeyed God and as result, we inherited the original sin. Our parents pass along the original guilt of Adam and Eve. Romans 5:12 clearly says “Just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people because all sinned.” Shall we, then, blame Adam and Eve for our present plight? Not at all, let us not be too judgmental of them. In fact, if we were in the place of Adam and Eve, I am certain that we would have done the same. Whether we admit it or not, we too are weak. And just as, at present, we continue to commit sins, we have no one to blame but ourselves. We are all responsible for our own actions. We always hear people say, “Nobody’s perfect!” So true! We all have our shortcomings and weaknesses. Romans 3:23 says “For everyone has sinned, we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”

But the good news is that God looks into our hearts. We may have our flaws. But God knows that still there is goodness in our hearts. As a matter of fact, there was purity and innocence before the fall of Adam and Eve. It was actually our original state before the fall. Everything in us was good. Because we were created in the image and likeness of him who is pure goodness and beauty. “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.’ . . . God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:26–27) Man, therefore, is not evil in nature. Still, there is goodness in everyone’s heart. We only have to search the heart of each individual. I think it is safer to say that man is by nature weak but not evil.

This is the reason why every year we enter into our Lenten journey i.e. to spend the time to reflect and to contemplate. This is the time when we search our hearts. Where are we now when it comes to our spiritual life? Are we advancing or regressing? The season of Lent provides us an opportunity to humble ourselves before the Lord so that we may come to terms with true repentance and conversion. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is an invitation for each one of us to come home. It is a beautiful Sacrament where we experience God’s forgiveness and his healing touch. This is the reason why God in His abundant Love and Mercy instituted the Sacrament of Penance, so that we may always make a fresh start. That we may always obtain forgiveness of our sins and reconcile with God and His Church.

John 20:21-23 ” Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” It was Easter when Jesus uttered these words, it was like telling his apostles “I have authority to forgive sin, now you may do the same with one another. Thus Jesus wants us to confess our sins to a priest in the Sacrament of Penance.The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a visible sign that our sins are forgiven.

How often should I go to Confession?

I should say, as often as there is a need.

Catholic who has committed mortal (grave) sin is obliged to seek God’s forgiveness in this sacrament as soon as possible.

From the Catholic Teachings:
The Catechism of the Catholic Church statement, “after having attained the age of discretion, each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year” (CCC 1457), includes a footnote reference to the Code of Canon Law: “After having reached the age of discretion, each member of the faithful is obliged to confess faithfully his or her grave sins at least once a year” (CIC 989).

As we continue our Lenten journey in anticipation of the joy of Easter, let us humble ourselves. Let us avail of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and find peace and solace in the loving embrace of a merciful and compassionate God.
We are fortunate because, despite our sinfulness, God is always ready to forgive. As what St. Paul says “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

HOMILY: Fifth Sunday Of Lent (B) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

5th Lent B1

FiFTH SUNDAY OF LENT (B)
GOSPEL REFLECTION
18th March 2018
by REV. FR. ALLEN BACLOR ABADINES

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GOSPEL: John 12: 20-33
Among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. The person who loves their life loses it, and the person who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
“Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.
“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say-‘Father, save me from this hour? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”
Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”
The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An Angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.
The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.

*
REFLECTION
Story: In a retreat, the Priest was sharing an inspiring story to the children.He said, “A father, his son, and a friend of his son were sailing off the Pacific coast when a fast approaching storm blocked any attempt to get back to shore. The waves were so high that, even though the father was an experienced sailor, he could not keep the boat upright, and the three were swept into the ocean as the boat capsized.
Grabbing a rescue line, the father had to make the most excruciating decision of his life: to which the boy he would throw the other end of the lifeline. He only had seconds to make the decision. The father knew that his son was a good Christian, and he also knew that his son’s friend was not.The agony of a decision could not be matched by the torrent of the waves. As the father yelled out,”I love you, son.” he threw out the lifeline to the son’s friend. By the time the father had pulled the friend back to the capsized boat, his son had disappeared beneath the raging swells into the black of night. His body was never recovered.
The father made that decision because he knew his son would step into eternity with Jesus, and he would not bear the thought of his son’s friend stepping into an eternity without Jesus. Therefore, He sacrificed his son to save the son’s friend.”
One of the children who was listening to the priest said, “Father, that was a nice story but I don’t think it was very realistic for a father to give up his only son’s life in hopes that the other boy would become a Christian. For me, it was unthinkable for a father to sacrifice his son that others may live.”
And the priest said, “That is precisely the point, it is also unthinkable for God to sacrifice his only-begotten son that we might live. But that’s the mystery of God’s love for us.”
And the boy further said to the priest,”And how could the father be so sure that his son’s friend would become a believer of Jesus Christ? And that despite the sacrifice he made, how could the father be so sure that his son’s friend would even manifest his gratitude to him. Isn’t it a risk?”
The priest said,”Yes, indeed a risk…God took that risk when He sent us his Son. Despite the fact that there was no assurance that man will respond back to His love. ” The priest further said to the boy, “And you know my child…I am that son’s friend in the story. If the father of my friend did not choose me, then you won’t have a pastor now speaking to you.”

Today’s Gospel text is like preparing us for our reflection for the Holy Week. The Gospel ushers us into our reflection of the Passion of Christ. It was like we are being invited to stand at the foot of the Cross asking Jesus why do you have to suffer for us? Why did the Father have to sacrifice his only begotten Son for the salvation of all? Who are we to be given such immense importance by God? To answer these questions, Jesus uses the image of a grain of wheat. “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” The grain of wheat must fall to the ground and die so that it can produce fruit. Jesus was talking about his own death. He was talking about the Cross that he had to bear. Jesus’ salvific mission cannot be accomplished without the Cross. Our reflection this Sunday, therefore, should be focused on the Cross of Christ as a symbol and means of salvation.The love of God is manifested in the Cross. In Romans 5:8, it says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This mystery reveals the great love which God has for us. Our Lord Jesus was rejected and crucified by man. But precisely in this rejection on our part that God manifested to us his fidelity and unconditional love. Nothing could stop God from loving us – not even sin. God will never give up on us despite the hardness of our hearts. God will keep on loving us, seeking us, calling us to come to Him, revealing us a God of great mercy. God, in fact, has not sent His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world may be saved through him. Therefore, in today’s Gospel text our Lord Jesus is telling us that his death indeed is necessary to achieve his mission to save us – “if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

However, our Lord Jesus was also talking about our own death. Death is necessary for us to achieve eternal life. He was talking about dying to oneself. “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:24) Life, in order to be meaningful, involves sacrifices. When we die to self we realize the value of sacrifice. We set aside our personal wants and desires but we learn to be more kind, generous, accepting and loving of others. Although dying to oneself may not only be about sacrifice, it is more on seeking God’s will. It is motivated by love. When we experience trials, sufferings, and setbacks in life, and if is done as a process of seeking the Lord, then we suffer with meaning. Suffering, as they say, is a way of purification to achieve redemption. We are not to despair and lose hope – for remember “The nightingale always sings sweetest at the darkest hour.”

As we reach the last Sunday of Lent, let us ask God to give us the will and the strength to imitate Christ in his love and sacrifice and that we may always seek God’s holy will. “God, not my will, but thy will be done.

Homily: Fourth Sunday of Lent (B) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

4th Lent pater

 

FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT (B)
GOSPEL REFLECTION
By Rev. Fr.Allen Baclor Abadines
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Readings:
First Reading: 2 Chronicles 36:14-17a,19-23
Responsorial Psalm: Let my tongue cling to my mouth if I do not remember you!
Second Reading: Ephesians 2:4-10
Gospel: John 3:14-21
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GOSPEL: John 3:14-21
Jesus said to Nicodemus:”Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life,
“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. The one who believes in him is not condemned, but the one who does not believe is condemned already; for not having believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.
“And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.
The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ
*
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REFLECTION
In today’s Gospel text, we encountered a very interesting figure in the person of Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a Pharisee. He was a teacher and held a very important position among religious leaders. Most of the religious leaders hated Jesus so much. Probably, they were jealous because of Jesus’ growing popularity among the people. People came to Jesus to listen to him. They came to Jesus to seek spiritual and physical healing. They came to Jesus because of his holiness. For sure, Nicodemus must have heard a lot about Jesus, and eventually, he became a silent admirer of him despite the growing opposition from among his associates. He wanted to know Jesus more…there was a growing desire in him to listen to Jesus about God and His Kingdom. But he was afraid for his reputation and status as a Pharisee. He was afraid that his associates might condemn him. And so Nicodemus came to Jesus in secret under the cover of darkness of the night to avoid being seen. I am not really a fan of Nicodemus. For to me, if we really love Jesus and have faith in him then we should be courageous enough to come out in the open to profess our faith in him. Either we are for Jesus or are against him. Either we are for righteousness or for sin. Either we are in the light or we are in the dark. Either we are for the love of God or for the evil one. There should be nothing in between. Our love for Jesus should be complete.But one thing good about Nicodemus was that at least he still approached Jesus and he listened to him. Despite his fears, he still sought Jesus.
The concept of a loving and a forgiving God was not easy for the Jewish people to comprehend. God for them is the God of the law. That God was a God who will judge and will give punishment to the sinners. That God is angry and unforgiving of the unrighteous. So Jesus took this opportunity to explain to Nicodemus, that he may be enlightened and may have a different concept of who God really is. He said,”Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”
In other words, Jesus in today’s Gospel was telling Nicodemus and us, how great is the love of God for us. God loves and saves us. We may not be worthy of His love …it is actually a privilege gained through pure grace and not on merit. Because of this love that Jesus allowed himself to be lifted up as Moses lifted a bronze serpent so that all those bitten by the deadly serpent of sin might look up to him for healing and redemption. Jesus imparts on us that God is interested more about man’s salvation rather than condemnation. While reflecting on today’s Gospel message, it feels to me that Jesus was like telling me personally – “I love you no matter what. I am not here to punish you nor to judge you. I am here to save you and offer you, love. All I ask of you is to remain in my love.”
The Fourth Sunday of Lent is called Laetare Sunday. Laetare means to rejoice. We rejoice in the fact that God loves us. This is precisely the message of this Sunday’s liturgy – it’s LOVE! If we pondered deeply in the readings of today, the first reading (2 Chronicles), the second reading (Ephesians), and the Gospel, they shared something in common. It is just like reading a love letter from God. Do we really know how much God loves us? Do we really know how lavishly God wants to bestow his love upon us? God loves us so much that this love leads him to even sacrifice his only-begotten Son. Real love always involved sacrifice. We would know how deep is the love given by what it cost him. Jesus has proven the depth of his love of the Father and mankind for being obedient even unto death. John 15:13 “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Jesus further said – You are my friends. And he stretched out his hands and died on the cross.
Having realized the depth of God’s love, it should lead us to grow in our love of God and our fellowmen, It should lead us to a more profound faith in him. That we should learn to love God deeply and to love our fellowmen sincerely.
An old priest was about to retire, and in his farewell party, a parishioner asked him this question. “Father, in your ministry as a priest, you have delivered countless of homilies. I should say, I don’t remember any of them. Would you give me your most important message that I should remember?” And the priest said, “You may not remember any of my words, it’s alright. But this I ask you not to forget – that You are loved! You are loved unconditionally by a greater love than you can ever imagine. God loves you now and forever. What should be your response to this love?”

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

2nd Sunday of Lent1

GOSPEL REFLECTION: Second Sunday Of Lent (B)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL: Mark 9:2-10

Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.
And there appeared to them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”Peter did not know what to say, for they were terrified.
Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud, there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them anymore, but only Jesus.
And they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean.

___________________

REFLECTION

A German Philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche once said that “To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.” It means to say that part of our human existence is suffering. One doesn’t have to be a Philosopher to prove this. You only have to look around and you’ll see all the sufferings in the world. We see how sick people suffer. We see people suffer because of poverty. We see people suffer because of the abuse from other people. We see people suffer because they feel unable to fit in. They feel like a misfit in the place they live in. That makes them extremely lonely. We also see people suffer because of rejection. We also see people suffer because of a broken relationship.There is in us a need to be accepted, to love and be loved. And when these desires are not met there occur extreme feelings of suffering.

Does God feel our pain? Is God a distant God who really doesn’t care even if we experience sufferings in life? How, then, can God relate to the human pain and challenges when he is God and therefore everything in him is good? This is the mystery that we are to contemplate as we read this Sunday’s Scriptural text. We are now on the Second Sunday of Lent. In today’s Gospel, we see Jesus transfigured before three of his apostles.
Mark 9:2-4 “Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.”

The Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus is teaching us a profound
lesson in life. It tells us that just as we experience suffering in life
yet, in the end, the reward will be a share in his glory. We will all be
transfigured just as Jesus himself transfigured before his apostles.
The Apostles Peter, James, and John represent us all. Jesus
invited these apostles so that they may experience Christ’ glory in
preparation for the coming of great suffering in his life i.e.
persecution, crucifixion, and death. The Apostles should
understand that death is not the end because there would be
victory in the resurrection of Jesus.

There is one who understands Human Suffering completely. Jesus understands Human Suffering totally because he himself willingly accepted suffering…Luke 9:22 And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Yes, Jesus entered into the mystery of suffering, death, and resurrection in order for us to know that he totally understands our pain. Only a God who suffers is a God who truly loves.He knows our hardships and he responds accordingly. And so when our life is replete with hardships and pains and we are ready to give up, always remember that Jesus experienced extreme suffering long before we too have experienced it in life. Our faith tells us that we are never alone in our suffering. God is always with us, giving us consolation and peace.

Suffering, as they say, is a way of purification in order for us to achieve perfection. There are also benefits that could emerge in a seemingly negative reality in life like suffering. We know that suffering produces perseverance, and perseverance produces character, now character produces hope.
A certain Joel Fritz relates his personal experience, he said:
“I remember a crippled man in the hospital where I was the chaplain for a few years. He was unbelievably disfigured. His body was twisted like a corkscrew and all he could do was sit in bed, day and night. If someone came to visit him, he could not even turn his head enough to make eye contact.
Whenever I came around to visit him, my standard greeting would be,”Well, how are things today?”
And his answer was always the same: “Just fine, thank you.”
Now, deep down in my own heart, I knew that if I were answering for him, I could truthfully have said each time, “Well, things are a lot worse with me than with you,” and I could have understood.
But seeing this man suffering and hearing him answer so lightheartedly, always did something to me: I always left the room both humble and joyful.”

Suffering has also become a demand in following our Lord. Luke 9:23Then he said to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” We cannot be his disciples if we reject carrying our Cross because Jesus’ way is the way of the Cross.

We are ready to embrace our Crosses in life knowing deeply that God is very much present in all our sufferings. We experience the pain not out of despair but hope. God provides the necessary strength that we may persevere because in the end awaits victory. The Victory of Jesus who was triumphant on the Cross.

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

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GOSPEL REFLECTION: First Sunday of Lent (B)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL: Mark 1:12-15

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

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REFLECTION:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Third Temptation concerns power and wealth. “All these I will give you if you fall down and worship me.’ But Jesus said, “Away with you Satan, for it is written, worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.”
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Story (by Bruno Hagspiel) Once upon a time the devil decided to go out of business. He offered all of his tools for sale. He attractively displayed the whole bad looking lot: Malice, Hatred, Envy, Jealousy… Each was marked with a price tag.
Apart from them lay a harmless looking wedge-shaped tool, very much worn out, but priced higher than any of the others. Someone asked the devil what tool that was.
“That’s discouragement, “he replied.
“But why is it priced so high?”
“Because,” answered the devil, “discouragement is more useful to me than all the others. With discouragement, I can pry open and get inside a person’s conscience, when I cannot get near him with any other tools. And once I’m inside his conscience, I can use him in any way that suits me best. It is so much worn because I can use it with nearly anybody since very few people know that it belongs to me.”
A person is never weaker than when he or she is fed-up, is down in the dumps. He or she couldn’t care less about anything.. and then anything can happen.. and usually does.
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Yes, Bruno was right! When a person feels so discouraged and when he is ready to give up, that’s the time when he is easily tempted. I notice that I am most vulnerable when I am lonely and feeling so low. But when I am happy and contented, that’s the time that I am spiritually strong. The bottom line, therefore,e is to be always spiritually joyful. A joyful person cannot be easily tempted.

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

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