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
*

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.”
*
____________________________

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.
————————————————

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.

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

LENT -renewal

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

*

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.
*
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.
*
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.
*
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.
*

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.
*
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.
*
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

INSIGHTS: ASH WEDNESDAY by Pater Allen Baclor Abadines

ash wednesday5

ASH WEDNESDAY
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines*

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.
*
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.
*
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.
*
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.
*
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 on a mountain for forty days and nights.
And in the NT, Jesus spent forty days and nights praying and fasting.
*
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.
*
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

HOMILY: Palm Sunday Of The Passion Of The Lord by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

palm sunday

GOSPEL REFLECTION
PALM SUNDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD (A)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

GOSPEL: MATTHEW 27:11-54

Jesus stood before the governor, Pontius Pilate, who questioned him,
“Are you the king of the Jews?”
Jesus said, “You say so.”
And when he was accused by the chief priests and elders,
he made no answer.
Then Pilate said to him,
“Do you not hear how many things they are testifying against you?”
But he did not answer him one word,
so that the governor was greatly amazed.
Now on the occasion of the feast
the governor was accustomed to release to the crowd
one prisoner whom they wished.
And at that time they had a notorious prisoner called Barabbas.
So when they had assembled, Pilate said to them,
“Which one do you want me to release to you,
Barabbas, or Jesus called Christ?”
For he knew that it was out of envy
that they had handed him over.
While he was still seated on the bench,
his wife sent him a message,
“Have nothing to do with that righteous man.
I suffered much in a dream today because of him.”
The chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds
to ask for Barabbas but to destroy Jesus.
The governor said to them in reply,
“Which of the two do you want me to release to you?”
They answered, “Barabbas!”
Pilate said to them,
“Then what shall I do with Jesus called Christ?”
They all said,
“Let him be crucified!”
But he said,
“Why? What evil has he done?”
They only shouted the louder,
“Let him be crucified!”
When Pilate saw that he was not succeeding at all,
but that a riot was breaking out instead,
he took water and washed his hands in the sight of the crowd,
saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood.
Look to it yourselves.”
And the whole people said in reply,
“His blood be upon us and upon our children.”
Then he released Barabbas to them,
but after he had Jesus scourged,
he handed him over to be crucified.
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus inside the praetorium
and gathered the whole cohort around him.
They stripped off his clothes
and threw a scarlet military cloak about him.
Weaving a crown out of thorns, they placed it on his head,
and a reed in his right hand.
And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying,
“Hail, King of the Jews!”
They spat upon him and took the reed
and kept striking him on the head.
And when they had mocked him,
they stripped him of the cloak,
dressed him in his own clothes,
and led him off to crucify him.
As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon;
this man they pressed into service
to carry his cross.
And when they came to a place called Golgotha
— which means Place of the Skull —,
they gave Jesus wine to drink mixed with gall.
But when he had tasted it, he refused to drink.
After they had crucified him,
they divided his garments by casting lots;
then they sat down and kept watch over him there.
And they placed over his head the written charge against him:
This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.
Two revolutionaries were crucified with him,
one on his right and the other on his left.
Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying,
“You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days,
save yourself, if you are the Son of God,
and come down from the cross!”
Likewise the chief priests with the scribes and elders mocked him and said,
“He saved others; he cannot save himself.
So he is the king of Israel!
Let him come down from the cross now,
and we will believe in him.
He trusted in God;
let him deliver him now if he wants him.
For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”
The revolutionaries who were crucified with him
also kept abusing him in the same way.
From noon onward, darkness came over the whole land
until three in the afternoon.
And about three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice,
“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”
which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Some of the bystanders who heard it said,
“This one is calling for Elijah.”
Immediately one of them ran to get a sponge;
he soaked it in wine, and putting it on a reed,
gave it to him to drink.
But the rest said,
‘Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to save him.”
But Jesus cried out again in a loud voice,
and gave up his spirit.
Here all kneel and pause for a short time.
And behold, the veil of the sanctuary
was torn in two from top to bottom.
The earth quaked, rocks were split, tombs were opened,
and the bodies of many saints who had fallen asleep were raised.
And coming forth from their tombs after his resurrection,
they entered the holy city and appeared to many.
The centurion and the men with him who were keeping watch over Jesus feared greatly when they saw the earthquake
and all that was happening, and they said,
“Truly, this was the Son of God!”
*
___________________________________________

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.Direct from the Cross , our Crucified Lord is like telling each one of us “I love you with all my heart. You may forget me but I will never forget you. This is the promise I made , that is , to be with you till the end of time. And I will always be true to this love because you are mine. I will always whisper to your heart until you understand that my love for you is eternal.” 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.

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

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GOSPEL REFLECTION: FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT (A)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

GOSPEL: JOHN 11:1-45

Now a man was ill, Lazarus from Bethany,
the village of Mary and her sister Martha.
Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord with perfumed oil
and dried his feet with her hair;
it was her brother Lazarus who was ill.
So the sisters sent word to him saying,
“Master, the one you love is ill.”
When Jesus heard this he said,
“This illness is not to end in death,
but is for the glory of God,
that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
So when he heard that he was ill,
he remained for two days in the place where he was.
Then after this he said to his disciples,
“Let us go back to Judea.”
The disciples said to him,
“Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you,
and you want to go back there?”
Jesus answered,
“Are there not twelve hours in a day?
If one walks during the day, he does not stumble,
because he sees the light of this world.
But if one walks at night, he stumbles,
because the light is not in him.”
He said this, and then told them,
“Our friend Lazarus is asleep,
but I am going to awaken him.”
So the disciples said to him,
“Master, if he is asleep, he will be saved.”
But Jesus was talking about his death,
while they thought that he meant ordinary sleep.
So then Jesus said to them clearly,
“Lazarus has died.
And I am glad for you that I was not there,
that you may believe.
Let us go to him.”
So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples,
“Let us also go to die with him.”
When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus
had already been in the tomb for four days.
Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away.
And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary
to comfort them about their brother.
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming,
she went to meet him;
but Mary sat at home.
Martha said to Jesus,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.
But even now I know that whatever you ask of God,
God will give you.”
Jesus said to her,
“Your brother will rise.”
Martha said to him,
“I know he will rise,
in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus told her,
“I am the resurrection and the life;
whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,
and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?”
She said to him, “Yes, Lord.
I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,
the one who is coming into the world.”
When she had said this,
she went and called her sister Mary secretly, saying,
“The teacher is here and is asking for you.”
As soon as she heard this,
she rose quickly and went to him.
For Jesus had not yet come into the village,
but was still where Martha had met him.
So when the Jews who were with her in the house comforting her
saw Mary get up quickly and go out,
they followed her,
presuming that she was going to the tomb to weep there.
When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him,
she fell at his feet and said to him,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who had come with her weeping,
he became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said,
“Where have you laid him?”
They said to him, “Sir, come and see.”
And Jesus wept.
So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.”
But some of them said,
“Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man
have done something so that this man would not have died?”
So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb.
It was a cave, and a stone lay across it.
Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”
Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him,
“Lord, by now there will be a stench;
he has been dead for four days.”
Jesus said to her,
“Did I not tell you that if you believe
you will see the glory of God?”
So they took away the stone.
And Jesus raised his eyes and said,
“Father, I thank you for hearing me.
I know that you always hear me;
but because of the crowd here I have said this,
that they may believe that you sent me.”
And when he had said this,
He cried out in a loud voice,
“Lazarus, come out!”
The dead man came out,
tied hand and foot with burial bands,
and his face was wrapped in a cloth.
So Jesus said to them,
“Untie him and let him go.”
Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary
and seen what he had done began to believe in him.
*

The Gospel Of The Lord/ Praise To You, Lord Jesus Christ.

___________________________________________

REFLECTION:

This Sunday’s Gospel text reminds me of a funny story I heard years ago about a seriously ill ,selfish, wealthy husband who made a strange dying wish to his wife; that when he dies the wife will put inside his coffin all his money amounting to Ten million dollars to be buried with him. The selfish man thought that in the afterlife he could still bring with him his riches. So the man made the wife promise to heed to his will. The wife then made a solemn promise. The man eventually died. On his interment at the grave site, one of the widow’s best friends approached the woman and asked her. “Don’t tell me that you really kept your promise to your husband? ” But the woman replied: “I really did, I put inside his coffin the full amount of Ten million dollars.” The friend was shocked upon hearing it, “That’s very foolish of you for doing so!” To which the widow replied “Of course, you don’t break a promise to your husband’s last wish. And so I issued a Check in full amount of Ten million dollars in his name and put that inside his coffin.”

In the afterlife, our earthly riches will not make sense. Obviously, earthly wealth has no eternal value. We cannot bring with us any material things we accumulated in this world. Everyone dies – rich, poor, intelligent, educated , famous, ordinary people. But people end up the same. Everybody dies. No matter who you are, no matter how wealthy you are… you leave your wealth to others. The money that we have accumulated will be other people’s use when we die. The bottom line therefore is that, if you are wealthy in this life use your riches NOW! Use it now to make other people happy. Use it now for a worthy cause. You use it now to help other people in need. Use it now to affect poor people’s lives. We are here in this world to leave a mark by doing good to others. The love that we give to others will make us immortal.The right time to give and to share your blessings is NOW. Not when you die.

On this Fifth Sunday of Lent, the Gospel relates to us the raising of Lazarus. The name Lazarus is a Latin version of the Greek name “Eleazar” which means “God has helped” or “God is my help.” Lazarus was a man from Bethany. He was the brother of Martha and Mary. They were the so called Jesus’ close friends. At that time , Jesus learned that Lazarus was seriously ill. It was only after two days when our Lord Jesus was able to visit Lazarus. But when he got to their home he learned that Lazarus had died and was in the tomb for four days. Many neighbors gathered to console Martha and Mary. Martha then said to Jesus, “If you were here Lazarus would not have died.” But Jesus of course is the Lord of both the living and the dead. In the midst of great grief over the loss of a loved one, something wonderful was about to unfold. Jesus was deeply moved upon seeing where Lazarus was buried and He wept with them. Here we see the meaning of Compassion. Compassion means to suffer with. One feels the suffering of another. Jesus is a compassionate Lord. And with a loud powerful voice Jesus said “Lazarus come out!” Lazarus came out. And Jesus said “untie him…and let him go.”

We often hear this particular Gospel text read during Funeral services. This text about the Raising of Lazarus provides us some reflection on something that is eschatological in nature. The Raising of Lazarus prefigures our own resurrection with Jesus in the end of time.

But not only that, it also brings us to a realization of a compassionate God. That in our most trying moments, we have a God whom we can turn to. Martha and Mary turn to Jesus all the time. When Martha said to Jesus, ” Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” It was not an expression of disappointment of Jesus, nor helplessness or despair. It was actually a declaration of great faith because Martha added “But even now I know that whatever you ask of God,
God will give you.”
Jesus said to her,
“Your brother will rise.”
Martha said to him,
“I know he will rise,
in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus told her,
“I am the resurrection and the life;
whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,
and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?”
She said to him, “Yes, Lord.
I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,”

Martha had great faith in Jesus. We too are called upon to a profound faith in Jesus.
Raising of Lazarus therefore means to us now, that we should never fail sight of a loving and compassionate God. In times of difficulties and trials we could turn to God. Just like the name Lazarus (God’s assistance) let us always seek providence from a God who loves us unconditionally and infinitely.

 

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: Third Sunday Of Lent (A) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

3rd lent

GOSPEL REFLECTION: THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT (A)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

*
GOSPEL: JOHN 4:5-42
*
Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar,
near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.
Jacob’s well was there.
Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well.
It was about noon.
A woman of Samaria came to draw water.
Jesus said to her,
“Give me a drink.”
His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.
The Samaritan woman said to him,
“How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”
—For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.—
Jesus answered and said to her,
“If you knew the gift of God
and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink, ‘
you would have asked him
and he would have given you living water.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep;
where then can you get this living water?
Are you greater than our father Jacob,
who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself
with his children and his flocks?”
Jesus answered and said to her,
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again;
but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst;
the water I shall give will become in him
a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty
or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
Jesus said to her,
“Go call your husband and come back.”
The woman answered and said to him,
“I do not have a husband.”
Jesus answered her,
“You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’
For you have had five husbands,
and the one you have now is not your husband.
What you have said is true.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, I can see that you are a prophet.
Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain;
but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”
Jesus said to her,
“Believe me, woman, the hour is coming
when you will worship the Father
neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
You people worship what you do not understand;
we worship what we understand,
because salvation is from the Jews.
But the hour is coming, and is now here,
when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth;
and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him.
God is Spirit, and those who worship him
must worship in Spirit and truth.”
The woman said to him,
“I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ;
when he comes, he will tell us everything.”
Jesus said to her,
“I am he, the one speaking with you.”
At that moment his disciples returned,
and were amazed that he was talking with a woman,
but still no one said, “What are you looking for?”
or “Why are you talking with her?”
The woman left her water jar
and went into the town and said to the people,
“Come see a man who told me everything I have done.
Could he possibly be the Christ?”
They went out of the town and came to him.
Meanwhile, the disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat.”
But he said to them,
“I have food to eat of which you do not know.”
So the disciples said to one another,
“Could someone have brought him something to eat?”
Jesus said to them,
“My food is to do the will of the one who sent me
and to finish his work.
Do you not say, ‘In four months the harvest will be here’?
I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest.
The reaper is already receiving payment
and gathering crops for eternal life,
so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together.
For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps.’
I sent you to reap what you have not worked for;
others have done the work,
and you are sharing the fruits of their work.”
Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him
because of the word of the woman who testified,
“He told me everything I have done.”
When the Samaritans came to him,
they invited him to stay with them;
and he stayed there two days.
Many more began to believe in him because of his word,
and they said to the woman,
“We no longer believe because of your word;
for we have heard for ourselves,
and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”
*
The Gospel Of The Lord/ Praise To You, Lord Jesus Christ.
_________________________________________

REFLECTION:

“Is the glass half full or half empty?” It is an idiom to prove that people may see different things in the same situation. The optimistic will say that the glass is half full. But the pessimistic will say that it is half empty. The optimistic will always make use of what is presently available and rejoice.But the pessimistic will always be concerned of what was lacking and wallow in despair. Given a certain situation , one may look at the bright side , the other at the dark side.

This contrast is clearly manifested in the encounter between our Lord Jesus and the Samaritan woman. Here we see that the Samaritan woman, at first reacted negatively to the given situation, she asked our Lord , “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” But our Lord, instead of being offended for getting an indifferent response from a Samaritan woman took that as an opportunity to reach out and to teach the woman an important lesson. Thus he said to the woman, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

There’s a lesson to be learned in this encounter i.e. that we always look at the bright side in dealing with people. We set aside our prejudices and try to reach out. We cannot really fully understand individuals if we do not open ourselves and reach out to others. Hence by approaching the Samaritan woman, our Lord Jesus tries to break down the discrimination between Jews and Samaritans.

The story of Jesus and the Samaritan is our day to day story. All of us can relate to the given situation for we deal with different people daily. There are times that we encounter nice people around. But there are also times that we encounter people just like that of a Samaritan woman – rude, indifferent, bias and prejudice. How are we going to deal with them? Jesus shows us the way i.e not to be judgmental. For we do not personally know each one’s story. We do not know what other people are going through. Just like the Samaritan woman, Jesus knew that intrinsically the woman was suffering from a deep-seated loneliness.And if that loneliness could find understanding and sympathy , it may bring about healing and peace. Our Lord Jesus becomes a gift not only to the woman but to the whole Samaritan community for in her joy of encountering Jesus the woman spread the good news. And people came to faith. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”

Jesus presents himself to the Samaritan woman as the Eternal Living Water. By presenting to us an image of himself as the Living Water Jesus gives us a picture of how important He is in our lives. We cannot live without water. Without water there is no life. Living without Jesus is not living at all. Without Jesus, our life is a life devoid of hope and joy for Jesus is our hope and joy. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” (John 14:6) Therefore , without Jesus there is no real existence.

Prior to her encounter of our Lord, the Samaritan woman was living in guilt and angst. She knew of the mess she made out of her life. But her brief encounter with Jesus brings healing and peace. For she let the word of Jesus penetrate in her heart. She listened. She humbly admitted her faults and she opened herself to a real conversion. She found Jesus and she found joy. “Shared joy is a double joy, shared sorrow is half sorrow.”

Some of us maybe in the same situation just like the Samaritan woman. Some of us may feel restless and at a lost in our spiritual life. We may feel burdened by the guilt we bear. Let us come to Jesus who understands. Let us come to him who does not condemn but love. Let us come to him who heals and saves. Let us come to him who quenches our thirst. Let us come to him, our living water who gives us life. This Lenten season, let us avail of the Sacrament of Reconciliation where we encounter our Lord who forgives.

When St. Augustine received the gift of conversion, he declared “Restless is my heart, till it rests in thee.” There could be a never ending thirst in our soul. In us , there could also be a never ending search for satisfaction. But only Jesus can truly satisfy.