HOMILY:13th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

13th Sunday pater

A REFLECTION
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)
Sunday, 1st July 2018
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READINGS:
First Reading: Wisdom 1:13-15;2;23-24
Responsorial Psalm: “I will extol you, Lord, for you have raised me up.
Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 8:7,9:13-15
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GOSPEL: Mark 5:21-43
When Jesus had crossed in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the synagogue leaders named Jairus came and when he saw Jesus, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” So Jesus went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.
Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, “Who touched me?”
He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. Jesus said to her daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease.” While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”
Jesus allowed no one to follow him. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him.
Then Jesus put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about for she was twelve years of age.
At this, they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
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REFLECTION:
Today’s Gospel text presents to us a beautiful literary style of the evangelist St. Mark. Mark gave us two miracle accounts. First, he introduced to us, a prominent figure, Jairus a synagogue official of some kind who came to Jesus to plead for the life of his daughter who was greatly ill and was dying. Then this account is interrupted to relate to us another character, a woman with hemorrhages for twelve years. Then we return to the daughter of the synagogue official. Certainly, this particular literary style of Mark sandwiching the cure of the woman with hemorrhage was done with a purpose. It was as if to prepare Mark’s readers of an even greater miracle that is to come. The woman came to Jesus and Jesus brought healing and peace. As if this account is not amazing enough, it was followed up by an even greater miracle – the raising of Jairus’ daughter. Jairus puts his complete trust in Jesus, and Jesus brought life where there once was death. The raising of Jairus’ daughter reminds us of the raising of Lazarus. It is meant to invite us to reflect on the realities of life and death and life after death. It brings us the necessary hope and joy. For it tells us that there is life after this our present state. It tells us that we are destined to immortality. If there is no life after this one, then life is meaningless. We see life as a journey, a pilgrimage towards our ultimate goal which is heaven. Reflecting on today’s Gospel brings us to the conclusion that in Jesus we experience peace and healing. In him, suffering ends and new life takes the place of death.
When we read in the Scripture the miracle accounts of Jesus, bear in mind that it is not the spectacular element that is important. What is important is the meaning or the message that’s contained in the miracle. In Mark’s Gospel text we see impossible cases. Mark presents to us each case as almost beyond help. For instance, last Sunday, Mark gave us an account of the calming of the storm. The disciples thought they were going to die in the storm (Mk 4:38) but Jesus was able to calm the storm with a simple command – Quiet, be calm! And now we reflect on the healing of the woman suffering for twelve years and the raising of Jairus’ daughter. These accounts tell us that in Jesus there is no such thing as a hopeless case. In Jesus there are no incurables, nothing is impossible in him. But we learn a lot from the example of Jairus and the woman in the Gospel. It was their faith that brought about healing and restoration of life. Today, we have seen two beautiful examples of faith. When the sick woman and Jairus were helpless and hopeless, Jesus was the answer.
The woman had an incredible faith. She was certain that Jesus could heal her. She knew that Jesus was so powerful so that if she could just touch even the hem of his clothes, she would be healed. Certainly, that’s faith.
And Jairus, considering that he was a figure of respect in his town manifested incredible faith also. He was an important man, which is why the crowd gave way enough to let him through. But Jairus set aside his prominence and importance. Here he behaves like a desperate man. Jairus didn’t worry about what other people might say or think about him. So he threw himself at Jesus’ feet and begged. He had only one thing in mind and that’s the well-being of his child. He was not ashamed to ask Jesus for help. His child is dying. Here we see a compassionate Jesus who agreed to come with him to see his child. But before they get very far, they received a disturbing news – “Your daughter is dead…why trouble the teacher any further.” But Jesus said, “Do not fear, only believe!” Jesus was like telling Jairus to have faith. When things, therefore, seem hopeless, come to Jesus. Jesus is full of compassion. He feels and knows our pain for he himself experienced suffering. He longs to help you. He has the power to help when no one else can. You should never be afraid to bring Jesus your needs. But always have faith. Faith is a free gift from the Father. If we are lacking in faith, just ask the Father and he will gladly give you the gift of faith.
Perhaps this story may further enlightened us in our reflection:
The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements and in which to store his few possessions. But then one day, after scavenging for food, he came to see his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened, everything was lost. He was stunned with grief and anger. “God how could you do this to me!” Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. The weary man asked his rescuers – “How did you know I was here?” They replied: “We saw your smoke signal.”
The lesson: It is easy to get discouraged when things are going bad. But we should never lose heart because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of our pain and suffering. Have faith in Jesus like the faith of Jairus and the sick woman. Whatever the circumstances may be, it is important to know that His divine providence will always be there for you and me.
Proverb 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.”

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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.
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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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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.
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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

Homily: 5th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B) by Pater Allen Baclor Abadines

5th Sunday re1

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

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

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

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

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

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REFLECTION:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3rd Sunday Ord B1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HOMILY: Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

Holy Family - father- final

 

GOSPEL REFLECTION: Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

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GOSPEL: LUKE 2:22-40

When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses. Joseph and Mary took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God saying:
“Now Master you may let your servant go in peace according to your word for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory for your people Israel.”
The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him, and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be contradicted – and you yourself a sword will pierce – so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.She was advanced in year’s having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. And coming forward at the very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.
When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong filled with wisdom, and the favor of God was upon him.

The Gospel of the Lord/ Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

REFLECTION:

On Christmas day we rejoice in the fact that Jesus entered a human family. Our Lord Jesus, although Divine, entered a human family. God for sure intended a family. It is, therefore, most appropriate that we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family on Sunday after the celebration of the birth of Jesus. The Feast of the Holy Family should be very much a part of the Christmas season so that we may continue to reflect on this very mystery of the birth of our Lord Jesus. As we give insights on the Holy Family – the family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph- we are also being invited to look into our own family. Family life indeed is important in our spiritual life. It is said that our home is a small Church. Family and family life, therefore, are integral parts of building up a more intimate and more profound relationship with God. Every family is supposed to be a holy family. This is the same reason why on this Sunday, the Church has put before us the Holy Family to be a model for our families. Thus this Sunday’s liturgy invites us to reflect on the family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph and on the importance of family and family life.
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It is safe for me to say that there is no such thing as “perfect family.” We all have shares of flaws, shortcomings, eccentricities, and mistakes. We all have trials, challenges, struggles, and tribulations. Family conflict seems inevitable too. Members at times argue, fight, and hurt each other. In fact, it is said that those people who hurt us the most are people who should love us the most – they are oftentimes members of our own family. Healthy arguments are sometimes necessary in order to know each other deeply that may eventually help build a stronger relationship. And at the end of the day, one may realize that family is family and they are related for better or for worse. Indeed, it takes a lot of hard work to make family relationships really work. You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them. Each family should strive for holiness and to build up strong family ties.
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The Holy Family also had their struggles just like our own family. They were not free from worries, stress, and problems. If in life you feel heavily burdened and ready to give up, think of the family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Even at the very beginning, the Holy Family had to experience so many struggles and hardships. Consider the fact that Jesus was born in a manger. And at such a young age, our Lord’s life was already endangered. Herod considered Jesus as a threat to his kingship. He intended to kill the child, Jesus. And so feeling unsafe Joseph and Mary with Jesus had to flee to Egypt. An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream to warn him of the child’s imminent danger – “Get up, take the child and his mother with you and escape into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you because Herod intends to search for the child and do away with him.” (Mt. 2:13) My point herewith, therefore, is that our Lord Jesus although the Son of God wasn’t free from hardships and difficulties.
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In my ministry as a priest, oftentimes I am invited to visit certain families. And I can easily tell whether they have a good family relationship by the way they relate with one another especially during meal time. Oh, how I love to see families say grace together and exchange pleasantries. Saying grace is never an old fashion thing. Praying together as a family indeed is important. My mother used to say that having mealtime together is sacred. It is the time when we rejoice, appreciate and celebrate our being a family united in love and mutual respect. And by the time that members of a family stop eating together and trying to avoid each other, but when they do every conversation will end up to a heated argument, then their family is in trouble. It is hard to win any conflict without hard feelings. But each one should learn to reach out and learn to forgive just as you are a family despite the differences and shortcomings. You are a family when you learn to put your arms around each other and love each other even when you are not so lovable.
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Story: (from an unknown source)
When I was a kid, my mom liked to make breakfast food for dinner every now and then. And I remember one night in particular when she had made dinner after a long, hard day at work. On that evening so long ago, my Mom placed a plate of eggs, sausage and extremely burned biscuits in front of my dad. I remember waiting to see if anyone noticed! Yet all dad did was reach for his biscuit, smile at my Mom and ask me how my day was at school. I don’t remember what I told him that night, but I do remember watching him smear butter and jelly on that biscuit and eat every bite!
When I got up from the table that evening, I remember hearing Mom apologize to my dad for burning the biscuits. And I’ll never forget what he said: “Honey, I love burned biscuits.”
Later that night, I went to kiss Daddy good night and asked him if he really liked his biscuit burned. He wrapped me in his arms and said, “Your Momma put in a hard day at work today and she’s really tired. And besides- a little-burned biscuit never hurt anyone.
Moral lesson: Life is full of imperfect things and imperfect people. To learn to accept each other’s faults – and choosing to celebrate each other’s differences – is one of the most important keys to creating a healthy, growing, and lasting relationship.
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The love in the family is important than anything else this world has to offer. When Michael J. Fox was asked his opinion about a family, he said- “Family is not an important thing. It is everything!” It is said that “Charity must begin at home, and in case if it does not …at least it must come home.”
Father Patrick Peyton popularized this slogan to promote the importance of family life – “The family that prays together stays together.” For indeed it is so. Prayer and faith in God play important roles in family life. If families are rooted in faith and love of the Lord then there are more chances for the society to achieve proper order.
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May the Holy Family be our inspiration, guidance, and strength so that our families will triumph all the challenges of life through Love, mutual respect and deep faith in God.

Homily: 4th Sunday Of Advent (B) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

4th Advent

GOSPEL REFLECTION:4th Sunday of Advent (B)
A Season Of LOVE
by Rev.Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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READINGS:
First Reading:2 Samuel 7:1-5,8b-12,14a,16
Responsorial Psalm:(Psalm 89) Forever I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord.
Second Reading: Romans 16:25-27
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GOSPEL: Luke 1:26-38
The Angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
And he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
The Angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.
“He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom will be no end.”
Mary said to the Angel, “How can this be since I am a virgin?” The Angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.
“And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word.” Then the Angel departed from her.
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REFLECTION
Story: (unknown source)
There was once a man who was shipwrecked and stranded on an island. Every day he prayed asking God to send someone to rescue him, but to his disappointment, no one ever came.
Months passed and this man learned how to survive on the island. During this time, he accumulated things from the island and stood them in a hut that he constructed. One day after hunting for food and returning back to his hut, much to his dismay he saw that his hut was on fire along with everything else he owned.
All of his possessions were going up in smoke! The only thing he had left were the clothes on his back. Initially, he was in shock, and then he was consumed with anger and rage! In his fury, he threw a fist into the air and began cursing God and yelling, “God, how could you let this happen to me? I’ve been praying every day for months about being rescued and no one has come, and now everything that I have is on fire! How could you do this to me? Why did you let this happen?
Later, the man on his hands and knees weeping heavily when he happened to look up and catch sight of a ship coming in his direction. The man was rescued and as they were heading back to civilization the man asked the captain, “How were you able to find me?” The captain responded, “We were voyaging across the ocean when we noticed on the horizon a column of smoke going up. We decided to go check it out and we did, that’s when we found you.
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The man in the story obviously lacked something very important i.e. a complete trust in God. Surely, we all have trials and setbacks in life but it pays to put all our trust in a loving and providential God even in the midst of all adversities. What if our misfortunes in life may not be what it looks like? What if they are indeed blessings in disguise? Just like to a man in the story. He was in great distress for no one came to his rescue and to further add to his misfortunes all of his possessions were consumed by fire. But as the story goes, it turned out to be more of a blessing than a curse.
This season of Advent, the call to everyone is to trust God completely in our lives i.e to put our entire lives in God’s hands. No matter what our struggles may be or no matter how bad things may seem, we need to trust God. Simply believing in God is not enough. If we acknowledge Jesus as our Lord and Saviour then a confident faith and trust in him should be our way of life.
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Mary our mother is our role model of a profound faith in God. And so on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, our focus of reflection is on the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Gospel of today relates to us the event when the Angel Gabriel announced unto Mary that she would be the Mother of God. It must be a great surprise to Mary considering the fact that she was very young then. Biblical scholars believe Mary was just a teenager when Angel Gabriel visited her with a Divine message. But Mary’s reaction and how she accepted God’s mission for her truly revealed to us how deep was her faith. She knew that to be a mother of the Messiah will not be that easy.The task that is being entrusted to her was as huge as the world itself and therefore requires huge responsibilities. She may not completely understand what was revealed to her by the Angel, but she trusted completely.She questioned the Angel, but it was a question of faith not really doubt. “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” Mary may have special creation but she too enjoyed freedom. She had the freedom to say “yes” or “no” to the Angel. But in her great humility she said her “Fiat” – “Here I am Lord, let it be done unto me according to your word.” St. Augustine tells us that the Blessed Mother conceived Jesus first in faith then in her body. A belief that God would be true to His promise, that the word spoken through His messenger preceded motherhood. It was this faith that gave Mary the strength in her many ordeals since the birth of Jesus. Mary trusted and she trusted all the way to Calvary. What an amazing faith, what an amazing mother.
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We learn so much from our Blessed Mother. In our struggles and challenges in life, may our faith be as unwavering and as deep as Mary’s. John 14:1, Jesus says, “Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in me.” What it means to trust God? Trust in God means believing in God’s unconditional love for us. It is believing that God is in control. It is a belief that God will always come to our rescue and he will always help us in times of trouble. That He is always there for us – He is Emmanuel (God is with us) That God is good all the time. And that we are confident that God loves each one of us and knows us individually and personally.Oftentimes, we are used to trusting ourselves and or the people around us like our family and friends. But they too are imperfect. Therefore, if we can entrust ourselves to those who are far from perfect, can we not put our trust in God who is perfect? Proverb 3:5-6 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him. And He shall direct your paths.”
Like to a child, we come to Jesus whose birth we celebrate and we say to him – “Lord, I offer myself to you, all my joys, my worries, and my pains. Grant me a pure and sincere heart that I may be able to say with deep and profound faith – Jesus, I trust in you!’

HOMILY: Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe (A) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

Christ the king final

 

GOSPEL REFLECTION: Solemnity of Christ the King (A)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL: Matthew 25:31-46

Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the Angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.
“Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you? And the King will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it to me.’
“Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’
“Then they also answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you? Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
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REFLECTION:

Story: A well-known speaker started off his seminar by holding up a $20. bill. In the room of 200, he asked, “Who would like this $20. bill? Hands started going up.
He said, “I am going to give this $20. to one of you but first, let me do this.” He proceeded to crumple the dollar bill up. He then asked, “Who still wants it?” Still, the hands were up in the air. “Well, ” he replied, “What if I do this?” And he dropped it on the ground and started to grind it into the floor with his shoe. He picked it up, now all crumpled and dirty. “Now who still wants it?” Still, the hands went into the air. And he said to them, “My friends, you have all learned a very valuable lesson. No matter what I did to the money you still wanted it. Why? Because it did not decrease in value! It was still worth $20. Likewise, Many times in our lives, we are dropped, crumpled, and ground into the dirt by the decisions we make and the circumstances that come our way. We feel as though we are worthless. But no matter what has happened or what will happen, you will never lose your value – you are special – you are a CHILD OF GOD.
Yes, this is our identity and our worth – that we are children of God. A God who is King. In the “Lord’s Prayer,” we say “Thy Kingdom come!” And as children of God, He welcomes us to enter His Kingdom. “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…” A Kingdom that is not in a palace or royalty but it is in the human heart.
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Today, we celebrate Christ the King.Why do we celebrate a feast that is inviting us to reflect on the image of Jesus as King? It is not easy for us to picture Jesus as King. During Jesus’ trial,Pilate asked Jesus “Are you a King?” To which Jesus replied, “I am a King, and I came into the world to bear witness to the truth.” The notion of Jesus as King is not that easy to reconcile with the kind of royalty we have in mind.For a start, Jesus was born in a stable. He was the son of a carpenter.Unlike, Caesar, Jesus did not have soldiers who were armed to protect him…no golden crown, no exquisite clothing, no palace, no throne or servants to wait on him. If ever his throne was the cross, his crown was thorns , his scepter was the lance that pierced his side.Christ Kingship therefore is far different from our secular understanding of royalty. In his trial he made it clear, “My Kingdom does not belong to this world- If my Kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my Kingdom is not here.” (John 18:36) What is this Kingdom that Jesus was talking about? How then do we look at the Kingship of Jesus? Jesus’ Kingship is sustained by a power that does not manipulate others but a power of love. Christ did not come to establish a political sovereignty. We have here a King who is not hungry for worldly power and fame but a King who loves the poor and the marginalized. A King who cares for the weak and the downtrodden.A king who did not come to be served but to serve. Christ Kingship is not of this world, for He is a King who rules not from a royal throne in glory but from service of the cross. It is a Kingdom of truth, justice, peace, service , compassion and love.
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Yes, Jesus is our King and our challenge is for us to imitate in our lives the way our King lived. Like Jesus our King, we are called to serve not to be served. To love as Jesus loved. To be compassionate especially to the poor, the oppressed , and the marginalized. And to give ourselves totally to the Father by loving our neighbor as ourselves.In the Gospel, Jesus said “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you gave me clothing. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me…For truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it to me.” William Barclay puts it beautifully, “Love always involves responsibility, and love always involves sacrifice. And we do not really love Christ unless we are prepared to face His task and to take up His Cross.”
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As we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King, there is a sense of gratitude in my heart. For I feel loved despite my weaknesses and shortcomings. I came to know my worth , I am a child of God. Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, “Though we are incomplete, God loves us completely. Though we are imperfect, He loves us perfectly. Though we may feel lost and without compass, God’s love encompasses us completely…He loves everyone of us, even those who are flawed, rejected, awkward, sorrowful or broken.”
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Let Christ reign in our hearts by being faithful to His will. Let us make his love known by our example and deeds. Let us help build his Kingdom here on earth knowing fully that Christ Kingship has at its heart, not power and wealth but compassion, service, selflessness and love. Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat! (Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ commands!)