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
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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)

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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.

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

6th Sunday pater

GOSPEL REFLECTION: 6th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL: Mark 1:40-45

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If we look around we see sufferings of every kind. A lot of people need comfort and healing.Many are suffering physically, emotionally and spiritually. May we be instrumental in revealing the depth of God’s compassion to each and everyone we come in contact with.Let everyone know how much God loves us.
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Homily: 5th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B) by Pater Allen Baclor Abadines

5th Sunday re1

GOSPEL REFLECTION: 5th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL: Mark 1:29-39

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

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

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

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

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REFLECTION:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4th sunday ordfinal

 

GOSPEL REFLECTION: 4th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL: Mark 1:21-28

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

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REFLECTION:

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

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

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

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

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

3rd Sunday Ord B1

GOSPEL REFLECTION: Third Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL: Mark 1:14-20

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HOMILY: Solemnity of Mary, Holy Mother of God by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

Mary - New Year2

HOMILY: Solemnity Of Mary, The Holy Mother Of God
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL: LUKE 2:16-21

The shepherds went with haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.

But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.

The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

After eight days had passed, it was time to circumcise the child; and he was called Jesus, the name given by the Angel before he was conceived in the womb.
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REFLECTION:

We are gathered here to celebrate the beginning of New Year. Significantly, at the very first day of the Year, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God.The question is: How then is the celebration of New Year somehow connected with the celebration of the Motherhood of Mary?

When we think of New Year, it is always associated with new beginnings and making a fresh start. New Year could also instill in our hearts a renewed hope. Likewise, when we reflect on the Motherhood of Mary, we also think of a new beginning. When Mary said her “Fiat” – her “Yes!” to the angel, it was the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s saving action. Her Motherhood brings Hope to mankind. It is but appropriate that we celebrate Mary on the first day of the year as we reflect on God’s immense love for mankind and to ponder on the mystery of our redemption.

To reflect on the Motherhood of Mary is to come to a realization that indeed Man is in God’s plan of redemption. We are therefore grateful that despite our unworthiness and infidelity, God never gives up on us. He sent his only begotten Son to be like us in all things but sin. All these were made possible with the cooperation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Even in the Book of Genesis, God somehow revealed that salvation is coming through a woman as he said to the tempter: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers, he will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.” Mary, therefore, played an important role in the fulfillment of God’s promise of salvation. We are indebted also to Mary in that sense. It is but fitting that we give Mary reverence and thanksgiving.

As a human being, Mary is also subject to free will. Meaning she could just simply say “No!” to the angel. with the knowledge that the task entrusted to her was so great. To be the Mother of God requires great responsibility. God respects Man’s free will. He will never force anyone to submit to his will. But it was Mary’s faith, her humility, and obedience that made her say “Yes!” Certainly, it was her faith, humility, and obedience – those qualities of Mary that are worth pondering. We learned many lessons from Mary.In life, we may have experience sufferings and tribulations. But Mary too had them all.Even since those events surrounding the birth of Jesus, Mary and Joseph have had experience trials. And they passed the test, all because of their faith, humility, and obedience. Even at the foot of the Cross, Mary trusted. She trusted all the way.

Here we see Mary as an instrument connecting the Old and the New Testament. In the Old Testament, we have seen the fall of Mankind through our first parents Adam and Eve. Eve played a crucial role in the fall of mankind. It was her who first disobeyed God. And now Mary became the new Eve. In contrast to Eve’s disobedience were Mary’s Faith and obedience. From her obedience in the Annunciation to the Crucifixion of her Son, Mary became a role model to us all. And so in her Magnificat, Mary declares “For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed.” (Luke 1:48).

Yes, Jesus is our Lord and Savior. And Jesus alone can offer a perfect sacrifice for our salvation. 1 Timothy 2:5 says “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus.” But Mary played a crucial role in salvation history. Her title “Co-redemptrix” says it all.
“Mary’s participation in salvation history as Mother of Christ and Mother of Christians does not diminish the unique mediation of Christ; rather, it points to Christ’s unique mediation and reveals its power (Lumen Gentium [LG] 60.

Mary is the Mother of Jesus and therefore the Mother of God. We are fortunate because we are also given a Mother in her.
John 19:25-27 “Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your Son.”
Then he said to the disciple, “Behold your mother.”
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.”

Now that we are about to embark a new chapter of our life as we celebrate New Year, we need Mary’s maternal care. Mary’s role as a Mother didn’t end at the Crucifixion of her Son. She continues to be a mother to us all. We now have a direct intercessor to God. Thus we pray, “Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.”

“O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”

“O Maria sine labe concepta, ora pro nobis, qui confugimus ad te.