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
*

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?”

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HOMILY: 4th Sunday of Lent (A) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

4th lent2

GOSPEL REFLECTION: FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT (A)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*
GOSPEL: JOHN 9:1-41
As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.
His disciples asked him,
“Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents,
that he was born blind?”
Jesus answered,
“Neither he nor his parents sinned;
it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.
We have to do the works of the one who sent me while it is day.
Night is coming when no one can work.
While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
When he had said this, he spat on the ground
and made clay with the saliva,
and smeared the clay on his eyes,
and said to him,
“Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” —which means Sent—.
So he went and washed, and came back able to see.
His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said,
“Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?”
Some said, “It is, ”
but others said, “No, he just looks like him.”
He said, “I am.”
So they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?”
He replied,
“The man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes
and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’
So I went there and washed and was able to see.”
And they said to him, “Where is he?”
He said, “I don’t know.”
They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees.
Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath.
So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see.
He said to them,
“He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.”
So some of the Pharisees said,
“This man is not from God,
because he does not keep the sabbath.”
But others said,
“How can a sinful man do such signs?”
And there was a division among them.
So they said to the blind man again,
“What do you have to say about him,
since he opened your eyes?”
He said, “He is a prophet.”
Now the Jews did not believe
that he had been blind and gained his sight
until they summoned the parents of the one who had gained his sight.
They asked them,
“Is this your son, who you say was born blind?
How does he now see?”
His parents answered and said,
“We know that this is our son and that he was born blind.
We do not know how he sees now,
nor do we know who opened his eyes.
Ask him, he is of age;
he can speak for himself.”
His parents said this because they were afraid
of the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed
that if anyone acknowledged him as the Christ,
he would be expelled from the synagogue.
For this reason his parents said,
“He is of age; question him.”
So a second time they called the man who had been blind
and said to him, “Give God the praise!
We know that this man is a sinner.”
He replied,
“If he is a sinner, I do not know.
One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.”
So they said to him,
“What did he do to you?
How did he open your eyes?”
He answered them,
“I told you already and you did not listen.
Why do you want to hear it again?
Do you want to become his disciples, too?”
They ridiculed him and said,
“You are that man’s disciple;
we are disciples of Moses!
We know that God spoke to Moses,
but we do not know where this one is from.”
The man answered and said to them,
“This is what is so amazing,
that you do not know where he is from, yet he opened my eyes.
We know that God does not listen to sinners,
but if one is devout and does his will, he listens to him.
It is unheard of that anyone ever opened the eyes of a person born blind.
If this man were not from God,
he would not be able to do anything.”
They answered and said to him,
“You were born totally in sin,
and are you trying to teach us?”
Then they threw him out.
When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out,
he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered and said,
“Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
Jesus said to him,
“You have seen him,
the one speaking with you is he.”
He said,
“I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.
Then Jesus said,
“I came into this world for judgment,
so that those who do not see might see,
and those who do see might become blind.”
Some of the Pharisees who were with him heard this
and said to him, “Surely we are not also blind, are we?”
Jesus said to them,
“If you were blind, you would have no sin;
but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ so your sin remains.
*
The Gospel Of The Lord/ Praise To You, Lord Jesus Christ.
____________________________________________

REFLECTION:

“A frog in a well cannot conceive the ocean.” This saying is a warning to people against closing their minds to other possibilities. By doing so, we are limiting ourselves as we are not open to different ideas. We have to have a mind-set that there is more to life to be discovered. We need to get out of our comfort zone. Try something new and different. Discover what is out there.Just like that frog in a well, we do not just settle ourselves within the confines of a well. We need to get out and see the real world.Likewise a narrow minded person cannot discuss great ideas. He needs to get out of his narrowness and open himself to greater things. When we see our limitations and weaknesses , we recognize that there is something greater. Only when we humble ourselves that we acknowledge something greater to work out in our lives.

The man who had been blind from birth in today’s Gospel is like that frog in a well. He didn’t know what is meant by eyesight. He had not experience it in his entire life. This is the reason why the man was just contented of his situation. He was actually resolved to be asking alms from people the rest of his life. He actually did not ask our Lord for healing. But Jesus volunteered to restore his eyesight. “When he had said this, he spat on the ground
and made clay with the saliva,
and smeared the clay on his eyes,
and said to him,
“Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” —which means Sent—.
So he went and washed, and came back able to see”
Although, the man born blind did not ask for healing yet Jesus revealed to us what kind of Lord he is – that he is a compassionate God. He knows our pain and he responds accordingly. But like the man in the Gospel, we also need to do something and that is to cooperate with God’s grace. The man responded with faith. He did as he was told to do to effect the healing process. He took the opportunity to be healed. He did not hesitate. So he went to the Pool of Siloam. And he was healed. More than physical healing he also received the gift of faith. He believed Jesus and became a follower.

In contrast with the man born blind were the Pharisees. They may have eyesight yet they are worst than the man who was literally blind. The man was healed and they did not celebrate with him. Instead, they even looked for something to trap our Lord. It was on a Sabbath when Jesus healed the man, and they took that as something against him. Instead of seeing something good in what our Lord did, they used that to condemn our Lord for violating the Sabbath law. These Pharisees were like the “frog in a well” They were not open to other possibilities of observing the law. They follow the legalism of the Sabbath , yet they didn’t see that there is more important than its observance. In Matthew 9:13 Jesus said “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

It was such a great privilege of a man who was blind since birth to receive healing from Jesus himself. Yet more important than physical healing was his spiritual healing. He became a believer and that is of greater value than the physical one. It was the gift of faith that makes the miracle of the restoration of eyesight that makes it more meaningful. When we ask for physical healing we should also ask Jesus to heal our spiritual blindness. We may not be blind but still unable to see clearly. We are unable to see our own weaknesses. We are unable to see our own pride. We are unable to see our own flaws and mistakes but only see other peoples mistakes. We are unable to see the sufferings of other people. Sometimes we become incapacitated and insensitive to the needs of others because we only see our own needs.

It is not enough for us to say that we follow every rule for holiness. It is not enough for us to say that we come to Church every Sunday. It is not enough for us to say that we pray daily or that we come to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation every now and then. But our faith in God should be expressed in the concrete. Again , Jesus said , “It is mercy I desire and not sacrifice.” Which means that we learn how to forgive as Jesus forgives. To serve as Jesus serves. And to love as Jesus loves.

Prayer For Generosity
Lord, teach me to be generous,
to serve you as you deserve,
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labour and not to look for any reward,
save that of knowing that I do your holy will.
– Saint Ignatius Loyola
We are now on the Fourth Sunday of Lent. You may have noticed that I am wearing a rose-colored vestment. Just like on the Third Sunday of Advent which is Gaudete Sunday, this Fourth Sunday of Lent which is called Laetare Sunday symbolizes Joy. The Latin word Laetare means ‘rejoice.’ Today is an invitation for us to rejoice. The man born blind had discovered real joy when he received the gift of healing not only physically but spiritually. In this our Lenten journey let us ask for our own spiritual healing that we may find joy. We can honestly say that we were blind but now we see.

Homily: Ascension of the Lord (B) by Pater Allen Baclor Abadines

ascension

 

GOSPEL REFLECTION: Solemnity Of The Ascension of the Lord ( Year C)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*READINGS:FIRST READING :ACTS 1:1-11

In the first book, Theophilus,
I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught
until the day he was taken up,
after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit
to the apostles whom he had chosen.
He presented himself alive to them
by many proofs after he had suffered,
appearing to them during forty days
and speaking about the kingdom of God.
While meeting with the them,
he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem,
but to wait for “the promise of the Father
about which you have heard me speak;
for John baptized with water,
but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”

When they had gathered together they asked him,
“Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons
that the Father has established by his own authority.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
throughout Judea and Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth.”
When he had said this, as they were looking on,
he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.
While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going,
suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them.
They said, “Men of Galilee,
why are you standing there looking at the sky?
This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven
will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”
*
The Word Of The Lord/ Thanks Be To God.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM 47:2-3,6-7,8-9

R/ GOD HAS GONE UP WITH A SHOUT, THE LORD WITH THE SOUND OF A TRUMPET.
R/ ALLELUIA
*
All you peoples, clap your hands,
shout to God with cries of gladness,
For the LORD, the Most High, the awesome,
is the great king over all the earth.
R/ God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
or:
R/ Alleluia.
*
God mounts his throne amid shouts of joy;
the LORD, amid trumpet blasts.
Sing praise to God, sing praise;
sing praise to our king, sing praise.
R/ God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
or:
R/ Alleluia.
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For king of all the earth is God;
sing hymns of praise.
God reigns over the nations,
God sits upon his holy throne.
R/ God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
or:
R/ Alleluia.
*

SECOND READING: EPHESIANS 1:17-23

Brothers and sisters:
May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,
give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation
resulting in knowledge of him.
May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened,
that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call,
what are the riches of glory
in his inheritance among the holy ones,
and what is the surpassing greatness of his power
for us who believe,
in accord with the exercise of his great might,
which he worked in Christ,
raising him from the dead
and seating him at his right hand in the heavens,
far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion,
and every name that is named
not only in this age but also in the one to come.
And he put all things beneath his feet
and gave him as head over all things to the church,
which is his body,
the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.
*
The Word Of The Lord/ Thanks Be To God.
*

GOSPEL: LUKE 24:46-53
Jesus said to the disciples, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you-that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”
“And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised, so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and return to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the tempple blessing God.
*
The Gospel of the Lord/ Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
*
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REFLECTION
One of my greatest fears is the fear of heights. I am afraid to fly. Ironically, I am a frequent flyer. And I never get used to flying. Everytime I fly in an airplane, I still feel that fear inside. To overcome this fear, I just imagine myself flying with Jesus, much like the Ascension of the Lord. Thinking that Iam flying with Jesus works all the time.
Today we celebrate the Ascension of the Lord, this is the time when the Risen Lord ascended to heaven. Jesus leaves this mortal world to be with the Father. This is exactly what comes to mind when we think of the Ascension of the Lord. But Ascension has a more profound meaning than just reflecting on the fact that Jesus ascended to 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 it’s 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 his offering of his life on the cross. Like to a Lamb, Jesus willingly sacrifice 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 till 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 strenght. Be bold…be courageous in making the Love of Jesus known throughout the whole world.

 


 

Homily: EASTER SUNDAY by Pater Allen Baclor Abadines

easter

GOSPEL REFLECTION: EASTER VIGIL
RESURRECTION OF THE LORD
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

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GOSPEL: Mark 16:1-8
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James , and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint Jesus. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another; “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back.
As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised:he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him.
“But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

*
REFLECTION:
In the Exultet or Easter Proclamation, we heard the phrase “This is the night” several times. It also says, “O truly blessed night.” But why is this night different from all nights? This night is the holiest night of all nights, simply because this is the night when our Lord Jesus passed from death to life. Something great and wonderful had happened on this night. Christ has risen.Jesus is alive!
In a Sunday class, the priest asked the children about the meaning of Easter. What is Easter all about? And one little boy answered with pride – “Easter is all about egg hunts, Easter bunnies, and dressing up for Church” The priest further asked the boy,”And why are we going to Church?” To which the little boy replied: “We are going to Church to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus is alive.” And the priest with a sigh of relief said, ” Whew! Now ,you got it right, Kid. On Easter Sunday, we gathered in the Church in the fact that Jesus resurrected from the dead.”
Two things that we should do on Easter Sunday: First, we are here to celebrate. Easter is a time for celebration. We are gathered in the Church to celebrate Christ’ victory. For his victory is our victory. We are now assured that death is not our end. Our final destination now is heaven – there is life beyond the grave. Although , our mortal bodies must suffer decay, yet there is hope- for our soul will live forever with God. Christ’s resurrection tells us that someday we, too, will share His life in glory. Yesterday, we gathered at the Church with sadness in our hearts and we mourned collectively as we contemplate on the suffering and death of our Lord. But tonight, we are here again this time to celebrate in joyful songs of praise and thanksgiving.
Second, we are gathered here to thank and praise God. Our hearts are filled with gratitude. Christ’s resurrection brings us back our identity i.e. we are children of God. We also regained our dignity, we became sharers in the life of God. I am not alone. I no longer exist all by myself. I live now with Christ. St. Paul says (Galatians 2:20)” My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself to me.” Our life now has meaning and purpose. Our struggles are not anymore in vain. We now have directions, we are not lost. Heaven is our final and ultimate destination. The resurrection of Jesus gives us the necessary hope. It reveals to us our ultimate goal in life i.e. to prepare for the next life.
Christ has accomplished his mission.It is up to us now, if we want to remain free. Let us therefore be steadfast. St. Paul said to the Galatians (5:1) “When Christ freed us, He meant us to remain free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.”
When we look at the Risen Christ, he is just like telling us – “Now, I have done my part. I have forgiven you. And you now know how much I love you. All I ask of you is to remain in my love. I want you to sin no more. In life, I also want you to win. Heaven is your reward.”
John 14, “In my Father’s house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you. I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
*
Happy Easter everyone! – Pater Allen Baclor Abadines

 

 

Homily: Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion (B) by Pater Allen B. Abadines

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GOSPEL REFLECTION
PALM SUNDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD (B)
March 29,2015
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

*
GOSPEL: Mark 15:22-39
The soldiers brought Jesus to the place of Golgotha – which is translated Place of the Skull. They gave him wine drugged with myrrh, but he did not take it. Then they crucified him and divided his garments by casting lots for them to see what each should take. It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read: “The King of the Jews.” With him they crucified two revolutionaries, one on his right and one on his left. Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself by coming down from the cross. Likewise the chief priests, with the scribes, mocked him among themselves and said, “He saved others, he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe. Those who were crucified with him also kept abusing him.
At noon darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice. “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Some of the bystanders who heard it said, “Look, he is calling Elijah.” One of them ran, soaked a sponge with wine, put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink saying, “Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to take him down.” Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.
The veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from the top to bottom. When the centurion who stood facing him saw how he breathed his last he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God.”

*
REFLECTION:
Story: (Unknown source) Most Important Part Of The Body
My mother used to often ask me what the most important part of the body was. Young as I was, I thought sound was very important to us humans. So I’d say, “My ears, mommy!” “No!” she would say. “There are so many people who are deaf! But you keep thinking and I will ask you again soon.” And so it went until several years passed before she asked me again. Since making my first attempt, I contemplate the correct answer. Or so I thought I had! So this time I told her, “Mommy, sight is very important to everybody, so it must be our eyes.” She looked at me and told me, “You are learning fast, but the answer is not correct because there are many people who are blind.”
Stumped again, I continued my quest for knowledge and after a few years, mother asked me a couple of times more and always her answer was, “No, But you are getting smarter every year, my child.”
Then one year, my grandfather died. Everybody was upset and everybody was crying.
Even my father wept I remember that especially because that was only the second time in my life that I had ever seen him cry.
My mom looked at me when it was our turn to say our final good-bye to grandpa, she asked me, “Don’t you know the most important body part yet, my dear?” I was shocked when she asked me this now. I always thought this was a game between her and me. She saw the confusion on my face and told me, “This question is very important. It shows that you have really lived in your life. For every body part you gave as the answer in the past, I have told you, was wrong, even giving you the reason why. But today is the day you need to learn this important lesson.” She looked down at me as only a mother can. I saw her eyes welling up with tears. She said, “My dear, the most important part of the body is your shoulder.”
“Why? Is it because it holds up my head?” I asked.
“No,” she replied,”it is because it can hold the head of a friend or a loved one when they cry/ Everybody needs a shoulder to cry on sometimes in life, my dear. On our shoulder we can show compassion on others. On our shoulder we can share with them their sorrow and their tears. Therefore, have your shoulders always ready for a friend and or a loved one to cry on when they need it.”
The most important body part is not a selfish one. It is being sympathetic to the pain of others. Likewise, on His shoulder, Jesus carried the cross. We are that cross.On his shoulders Jesus carried us . For the cross was Jesus’ ultimate service for mankind. On his shoulder rest the salvation of mankind. His cross revealed Christ’ compassion and a love immeasurable.
Today, we celebrate Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord. Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week. Palm Sunday is inviting us to reflect on the importance of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The people welcomed Jesus with joy. John 12:13 “So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord- the King of Israel.” It was a welcome fitted to a King. Among the crowds were probably some of the people whom Jesus served, some of them may have received physical healing, some of them may have listened to the preaching of our Lord and they were spiritually touched, some of them may have witnessed Jesus’ miracles and or probably among them Jesus had fed.
A little boy once asked me this question, but father, why did Jesus choose to ride on a donkey? I said, riding on a donkey means royalty. So, when Jesus instructed his disciples to get the donkey, it was like a proclamation of him being King and of his divinity. The donkey, however, symbolized the kind of Jesus’ Kingship – It’s a Kingdom of Peace and of Love! John 18:36 Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my Kingdom is not from the world.” There was a great rejoicing when Jesus entered Jerusalem. But I wonder what was going on in his mind as he enters Jerusalem? Our Lord Jesus was certain of what He was going to face in the city of Jerusalem. Entering Jerusalem means his hour has come. Jesus is now about to face his death. Therefore in the midst of that great rejoicing there was sadness in his heart. He knew that those people glorifying him will also be the same people who would cry out for his death. Sic transit gloria hominae.(Thus passes the glory of men!) Jesus’ image of a King as he entered Jerusalem is like a lamb ready and willing to be slaughtered. All these, out of his great trust, obedience and love of the Father.
Today we are to bless those palms, symbols of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, symbols of his Kingship and Divinity, symbols of his sacrifice and great love. We will keep those blessed palms at home until they all wither. On Ash Wednesday, we will burn them.The ashes will be imposed on our forehead by the priest reminding us of our mortality. “You are dust and unto dust you shall return. Death to us no longer has a final say. For Christ emerged victorious.And his victory is also our victory.”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.” (John 3:17) There maybe sadness now in our heart as we reflect on the passion of our Lord, yet we anticipate the joy of Easter. 1 Corinthians 15:57 “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

 

Homily: Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion (C) by Pater Allen Baclor Abadines

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GOSPEL REFLECTION: PALM SUNDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD (C)
Sunday, 20th March 2016
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*
LUKE 22:33-43

When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one in his right, the other on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” They divided his garments by casting lots. The people stood by and watched, the rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said, ” He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God.” Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine, they called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of the Jews.”
Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” Then he said, “Jesus remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
*
REFLECTION:
Today marks the beginning of our spiritual sojourn through Holy Week to the celebration of Easter. We begin our reflection of Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion. The Liturgy of this Sunday allows us to experience both joy and sadness, success and failure, and victory and defeat. I would say that the Liturgy of the Word could be divided into two parts. The first part brings us joy and triumph as we reflect on the glorious entry of Jesus to Jerusalem. The traditional blessing of palms as well as the re-enactment of Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem bring us a sense of victory. As Jesus enters Jerusalem, the people gave him a welcome fitted to a King. With the waving of palms in their hands and the singing of ‘hosanna’ they praised God. “And as he was now drawing near, at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciple began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying ; ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest.'”
The second part , however , invites us to reflect on the passion and death of our Lord Jesus. This is the reason why, for me, Palm Sunday is both an experience of joy and pain. We are almost sure of what’s going on in Jesus’ mind as he enters Jerusalem. He knew that great suffering and death await him there. He had already predicted several times in the past his impending persecution and death; yet like to a lamb, he willingly welcomed and embraced his fate. The people of Jerusalem must be very excited, they must have heard how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. His preaching and the many miracles Jesus performed must have reached their ears. And so their singing of ‘hosanna’ as Jesus enters Jerusalem must be a declaration of their faith in Jesus as the coming Messiah. “Hosanna” literally means “I beg you to save us.” But soon their faith would be challenged. That old saying in Latin , “Sic transit gloria hominae” (Thus passes the glory of men) proved to be true. How easily for them to have a change of heart. For those very same people who were singing ‘hosanna’ were also the same people who will cry out for his death – ‘crucify him!’
The drama of Palm Sunday reflects the reality of life. Life as we know is replete both of an experience of joy and sorrow. In fact, we appreciate those moments of happiness because we too have experienced suffering. We rejoice in our victory because we also experienced the agony of defeat. But lest we only focus on suffering and death, the message of Palm Sunday is clear – that in the end is triumph , life and glory. The Christ who suffered and died is also the one who resurrected. And his triumphal entry into Jerusalem is a sign of his return in glory at the end of time. Jesus says , “In my Father’s house are many dwelling places, if it were not so, I would have told you, for I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2)
On Palm Sunday we are invited to reflect on the crucifixion and death of our Lord Jesus. The image of Jesus hanging on the Cross is a reflection of what is there deep inside the heart of God – it is filled with his love for mankind. We are unworthy but Christ in his obedience to the will of the Father took our place and died for us. The Cross of Jesus is a sign of Love and a sign of Life. As we enter Holy Week, we therefore enter into the very core of the heart of God. Our deepest longing should not only be a sense of gratitude but a profound desire to change our ways so that somehow we may be worthy of his love.

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Cross made out of palm fronds.

HOMILY: Fourth Sunday of Lent (C) by Pater Allen Baclor Abadines

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GOSPEL REFLECTION: Fourth Sunday of Lent (C)
LAETARE SUNDAY
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

FIRST READING: 1 JOSHUA 5:9a,10-12

The LORD said to Joshua,
“Today I have removed the reproach of Egypt from you.”

While the Israelites were encamped at Gilgal on the plains of Jericho,
they celebrated the Passover
on the evening of the fourteenth of the month.
On the day after the Passover,
they ate of the produce of the land
in the form of unleavened cakes and parched grain.
On that same day after the Passover,
on which they ate of the produce of the land, the manna ceased.
No longer was there manna for the Israelites,
who that year ate of the yield of the land of Canaan.
THE WORD OF THE LORD: THANKS BE TO GOD.
*

RESPONSORIAL PSALM: PSALM 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7

R./ TASTE AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS GOOD.

I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.
R./ TASTE AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS GOOD.

Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
R./ TASTE AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS GOOD.

Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.
R./ TASTE AND SEE THAT THE LORD IS GOOD.
*

SECOND READING: 2 CORINTHIANS 5:17-21

Brothers and sisters:
Whoever is in Christ is a new creation:
the old things have passed away;
behold, new things have come.
And all this is from God,
who has reconciled us to himself through Christ
and given us the ministry of reconciliation,
namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,
not counting their trespasses against them
and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
So we are ambassadors for Christ,
as if God were appealing through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God.
For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin,
so that we might become the righteousness of God .
THE WORD OF THE LORD: THANKS BE TO GOD.
*

GOSPEL ACCLAMATION: Luke 15:18
GLORY AND PRAISE TO YOU, LORD JESUS CHRIST.
I will get up and go to my Father and say to him:
Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you.
GLORY AND PRAISE T YOU, LORD JESUS CHRIST,
*

GOSPEL: LUKE 15:1-3, 11-32

Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus,
but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying,
“This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
So to them Jesus addressed this parable:
“A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father,
‘Father give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’
So the father divided the property between them.
After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings
and set off to a distant country
where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
When he had freely spent everything,
a severe famine struck that country,
and he found himself in dire need.
So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens
who sent him to his farm to tend the swine.
And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed,
but nobody gave him any.
Coming to his senses he thought,
‘How many of my father’s hired workers
have more than enough food to eat,
but here am I, dying from hunger.
I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him,
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I no longer deserve to be called your son;
treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’
So he got up and went back to his father.
While he was still a long way off,
his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion.
He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him.
His son said to him,
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you;
I no longer deserve to be called your son.’
But his father ordered his servants,
‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him;
put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Take the fattened calf and slaughter it.
Then let us celebrate with a feast,
because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again;
he was lost, and has been found.’
Then the celebration began.
Now the older son had been out in the field
and, on his way back, as he neared the house,
he heard the sound of music and dancing.
He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean.
The servant said to him,
‘Your brother has returned
and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf
because he has him back safe and sound.’
He became angry,
and when he refused to enter the house,
his father came out and pleaded with him.
He said to his father in reply,
‘Look, all these years I served you
and not once did I disobey your orders;
yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends.
But when your son returns
who swallowed up your property with prostitutes,
for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’
He said to him,
‘My son, you are here with me always;
everything I have is yours.
But now we must celebrate and rejoice,
because your brother was dead and has come to life again;
he was lost and has been found.’”
THE GOSPEL OF THELORD: PRAISE TO YOU, LORD JESUS CHRIST.
*

REFLECTION:
The Fourth Sunday of Lent is called Laetare Sunday. Laetare is a Latin word which means “Rejoice.” The word comes from Isaiah 66:10 – “Laetare, Jerusalem” – “Rejoice, O Jerusalem.” It has a counterpart in the celebration of Advent. The Third Sunday of Advent is called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is also a Latin word which means the same as in Laetare – “Rejoice.” The word comes from Philippians 4:4 “Gaudete in Domino semper.” – “Rejoice in the Lord always.” The celebration of Laetare Sunday, just like the Gaudete Sunday, to me, serves like an intermission. From a serious reflection of the Lenten messages , this time we are being invited to have a little break, to slow down a bit so that we may digest the message so well. It’s an invitation to rejoice! Amidst  sufferings and pains, we may find joy. With “Joy” as our theme for this Sunday, the Gospel seems most appropriate. Jesus in today’s Gospel gives us a parable that is considered as probably the most touching and greatest short story ever told i.e. The Parable of the Lost Son. When we reflect on this particular Gospel text what is prominent in the many lessons that it gives us is that there is ‘joy in forgiveness.’ There is joy when we experience being forgiven, likewise we also experience a profound joy when we learn to forgive from the heart. Forgiveness is the best gift that one can give as well as one can receive. Experience tells us that when we commit something wrong against a someone , we feel a tremendous guilt even when we are able to hide it. We can only be liberated once we get enough courage to acknowledge our mistakes and be able to seek forgiveness. Only then when one can experience healing. The best thing to do is to always acknowledge our faults and not to hide our iniquities.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son allows us to reflect on the need for us to always humble ourselves and seek forgiveness. It also invites us to reflect on the kind of love the Father has for us. In the parable , we are given three main characters. Each character gives us a profound insights that we may reflect upon. To this date this story is as relevant as it still holds the truth. The situation given is still a common experience. So many instances when a member of the family is the one who could bring trememdous pain in us. Members of family can hurt each other. How much pain it is for the Father in the Gospel when his son asked for an inheritance even while he still alive only to use the money in dissolute living? How could a father can still bestow forgiveness to a son like that? But at the heart of the Gospel message we find mercy, forgiveness and love.
To be able to forgive is probably one of the hardest things to do. It is much easier to hold grudges at someone. Of course, it depends upon the gravity of the sin committed against us. Simple and small offences are much easier to forgive.But what about grave offences? When we forgive, it is not only charity extended to an offender, but it is charity extended to oneself. When we hold grudges, it is not good for the soul. Our soul becomes restless and sad. Anger brings stress, anxiety, depression and it even causes us some physical , mental and emotional illnesses. But when we are able to forgive then healing comes almost instantaneously. Forgiveness is the virtue of the strong and not the weak. It takes a lot of courage to be able to forgive. It takes a strong person to be able to say “I’m sorry” and an even stronger person to be able to say “I forgive.” ” Somebody says it beautifully , “To love is to forgive. One who is incapable of forgiveness is incapable of love.”
Let me elaborate this point by sharing with you a true story.
A certain Pascale Kavanagh experienced domestic violence from no less than her own mother. She suffered physical abuse from her mother when she was a child. In an interview Pascale said that she never thought she would reconnect with her mother , her abuser when she was young.
However, in 2010, her mother suffered several strokes that left her unable to communicate or take care of herself. With no one else to help, Kavanagh began to sit by her mother’s bedside and read to her. Through this Kavanagh says the hate she had for her mother dissipated into forgiveness and love. She took care of her mother this time with the joy of forgiveness and love.
We Christians are joyful people because of our awareness that we’ve been forgiven. By the Cross of Christ, we now posses forgiveness. As in the word of St. Paul “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Chrst died for us” (Romans 5:8) .The more we are able to forgive, the more we understand the immensity of God’s love.
So what do we do when somebody hurts us?Life offers us just two options – either we hold on to grudges, resentment and even the thoughts of revenge – or be able to let go of bitterness and anger, to forgive and move on. Forgiveness like Love is a decision we make.