GOSPEL REFLECTION: EASTER VIGIL (B) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

Easter1

GOSPEL REFLECTION: EASTER VIGIL (B)
THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL: Mark 16:1-8

Jesus Has Risen
16 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”

8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone because they were afraid.

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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.”

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Happy Easter everyone!

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GOSPEL REFLECTION: Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

Holy Thursday

GOSPEL REFLECTION: Evening Mass Of The Lord’s Supper
The Washing Of The Disciples’ Feet
HOLY THURSDAY
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL: JOHN 13:1-15
Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come
to pass from this world to the Father.
He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.
The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over.
So, during supper,
fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power
and that he had come from God and was returning to God,
he rose from supper and took off his outer garments.
He took a towel and tied it around his waist.
Then he poured water into a basin
and began to wash the disciples’ feet
and dry them with the towel around his waist.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him,
“Master, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“What I am doing, you do not understand now,
but you will understand later.”
Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered him,
“Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”
Simon Peter said to him,
“Master, then not only my feet but my hands and head as well.”
Jesus said to him,
“Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed,
for he is clean all over;
so you are clean, but not all.”
For he knew who would betray him;
for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
So when he had washed their feet
and put his garments back on and reclined at table again,
he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you?
You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am.
If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,
you ought to wash one another’s feet.
I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
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REFLECTION:

We are now at the height of our spiritual journey as we reflect deeply on the Paschal Mystery i.e. the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ. The Liturgy of today takes us on that particular night when our Lord Jesus was about to be betrayed by a someone whom he regarded a friend and or a brother. I wonder what’s going on in Jesus’ mind. There must be a deep-seated loneliness as the betrayal was coming from a someone dear to him.

Have you ever been betrayed? How does it feel like to be betrayed? Someone describe the feeling as a horrible burning sensation in the chest ready to explode. Considering the fact that betrayal could only be done by a someone close to you, a someone whom you trust like a family member, a friend, a husband, a wife, or a colleague. A harm done by someone not related to you is not betrayal. Only a someone you personally know, a person you trust or a person you love can betray you. You felt betrayed when someone you trusted stabbed you in the back or lied to.Betrayal occurs in a relationship when a someone cheats, lies, hurts and abuses you. Therefore, by the mere fact that the harm was done by a someone dear to you, the hurt could be that deep. Betrayal cuts like a double-edged knife.

Jesus was betrayed by one of His own. For a period of about three years, Jesus was with his disciples. He ate with them, slept with them, did the ministry of preaching and healing. During those years they came to know each other. Yet one of them – Judas – betrayed him. Jesus knew it. He had predicted the betrayal already in the past, and that night was different from other nights. For that’s the night when betrayal was to be unfolded. Judas had already arranged a plot with the authority. He sold our Lord for thirty pieces of silver.

But how did our Lord react to this? Did He plot something to stop it? Did he think of something and even plan something to exact some measure of revenge? No! Jesus was at peace …all there is in his heart is to do the will of the Father. At the Last Supper, we see Jesus’ humility and service. He did not wallow in despair and anger. He wasn’t even thinking of himself. He was thinking of his disciples, preparing them for a very imminent event i.e. his suffering and death. Yet at that moment of trials, he was even able to wash their feet with humility and love. And on top of it all…that very night, he instituted a wonderful Sacrament of the Eucharist. The Eucharist has become a sign of God’s Sacrifice, His immense Mercy and Forgiveness and His saving act. On the night of His betrayal, therefore, Jesus reconciled with us, He offered us forgiveness and even gave us himself in the institution of the Eucharist.

Now we are friends again with Jesus. We’ve been reconciled.Our identity is that we are God’s children. Being God’s children, however, requires responsibility i.e. to always heed his call. It’s a call to serve and to Love. Have you ever wondered why Holy Thursday is also called Maundy Thursday? Where did the word Maundy come from? The word Maundy comes from the Latin word “mandatum” which literally means “Commandment” or a mandate (an order). On Holy Thursday, therefore, Jesus gave us that commandment to Love – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34) This he showed us not only by mere words but he gave us an example of perfect love and service when he washed his disciples’ feet. He is Lord but he is not afraid to serve. By such gesture, we are reminded to serve as Jesus served and to love as Jesus loved. Jesus will, in turn, say “by this, they will know you are my disciples.”

“For I have set you an example, that you also do as I have done to you.”

GOSPEL REFLECTION: Palm Sunday by Rev. Fr. Allen Bclor Abadines

Palm Sunday - Pater

GOSPEL REFLECTION
PALM SUNDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD (B)
March 25,2018
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

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GOSPEL: Mark 15:22-39
The soldiers brought Jesus to the place of Golgotha – which is translated into 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.”

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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 the 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 goodbye 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 for 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 victoriously.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 may be 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: 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.

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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: 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: 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.

LENT (A Season of Renewal) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

LENT -renewal

LENT (A Season of Renewal)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

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To me, Ash Wednesday which is the beginning of Lent is a personal sojourn where I could spend time for my reflection, my personal discipline and sacrifices, and contemplation on the will of God. Yes, it should be spent in a way so that one can make room for some spiritual growth in their lives. Thus making this season an opportunity for self-examination, indeed, is of paramount importance. Our main goal should be to improve our personal relationship with God. This could be done by a sincere repentance of our sins, a recognition that we are flawed and our willingness to allow God’s grace to work in us with the resolve to change our ways to be better Christians. On Ash Wednesday, ergo, my spiritual journey has begun.
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It is so called Ash Wednesday simply because of the traditional imposition of ashes on the forehead reminding us of our mortality. It is a recognition that God did not intend for us to stay here on earth for all eternity. We have a beginning and precisely our existence here on earth will come to an end. We are all gonna die! Memento mori (Remember, that you have to die.) Mindful of this truth could lead to a reality that we should not be short-sighted. There are so many temptations for a man to give more weight on the matters here on earth that matters in heaven; on things that are passing rather than things that are eternal. Thus Genesis 3: 19 reminds us, “Remember, man, you are dust and unto dust, you shall return.” We do not settle for less. We should aim for something great.
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Where did those Ashes come from? The ashes are usually the burnt Palm leaves which were used and blessed during the previous celebration of Palm Sunday. In our case, every year we ask our parishioners to collect those dried palm leaves they took home from last year.
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The imposition of Ashes on our forehead is highly symbolical. It is not only a reminder of our mortality but it is also a sign of our humility.
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The word Lent comes from the Old English word “Lencten” which means “Springtime.” or “Lengthen” which has something to do with the changing of the season in which the days are getting longer. Spring gives us an imagery of new life, a new beginning, and growth hence Lenten season gives us the same idea, it’s about making a fresh start and or renewal.
Lent is considered a forty-day observance regardless of the fact that the whole Lenten season is more than forty days (46 days). It is because we do not count Sundays during the Lenten season.
Biblically, the number forty has its own significance. Like, during the time of Noah, there was a great flood. It rained for forty days and nights (Gen. 7:4)
The Israelites wandered in the desert and ate Manna for forty years.
In Exodus 24:18, We saw Moses in communion with God in a mountain for forty days and nights.
And in the NT, Jesus spent forty days and nights praying and fasting.
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On Ash Wednesday, we create a spirit of repentance and penance. We observe on this day Fasting and Abstinence. This is a one day, besides Good Friday when we strictly observe Fasting and Abstinence. The Law of Fasting binds those who are 18 years of age until 59. The Law of Abstinence binds those who are 14 years old and older. A sincere observance makes a good preparation for Easter.
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An observance of spiritual sacrifices like Fasting and Abstinence is not meant to show off and to brag about it. It is most pleasing to the Lord when it is done with sincerity and humility.

We, therefore, ask God for a sincere and contrite heart. So that in our journey through life we can always create a pure and clean heart