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

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

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

Mary - New Year2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!)

HOMILY: 32nd Sunday In Ordinary Time (A) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

32nd A

GOSPEL REFLECTION: 32nd Sunday In Ordinary Time (A)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL: Matthew 25:1-13

Jesus spoke this parable to the disciples: “The Kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept.

“But at midnight there was a shout, “Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him! Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out!” But the wise replied, “No! There will not be enough for you and for us, you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.” And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet: and the door was shut.

“Later the other bridesmaids came also saying, “Lord, Lord, open for us.”: But he replied, “Truly I tell you, I do not know you.” Keep awake, therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
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REFLECTION:

Sometimes cramming becomes a habit to many students. Like, when we were studying in high school and in College, we developed a habit of putting off studying for the exam until the last minute. Then we stayed overnight without enough sleep in an attempt to have the last minute preparation for the next day’s exam. To some cramming may be effective. But most of the times, it could be a disaster, for the student lacks the much-needed sleep for the Test.The result shows, however, that those who came for the exam prepared always did very good.The bottom line, therefore, is to be always prepared. Life is teaching us an important lesson and that is to be prepared all the time.To be always vigilant for we do not wanna miss it when opportunities come.

Jesus in today’s Gospel text gave us the Parable of the Ten Virgins to teach us important lessons about being prepared and vigilant for the Parousia.Parousia means the coming of our Lord on Judgment day. Certainly, Jesus is coming on the last day. Like the bridesmaids in the Parable, it is our duty to wait patiently for the bridegroom’s return. Being prepared is of utmost importance in the waiting. And since nobody knows the exact time of the coming of the Bridegroom, it would be wise to have sufficient oil for the lamp.It would be a stupid thing to do to be without enough oil for the waiting.
Thus we are shown in today’s parable the contrast between waiting wisely to waiting foolishly. Five of the bridesmaids were wise and five of them were foolish.

When the Bridegroom arrived at an unexpected hour, those five wise virgins were able to join the entourage while the five foolish ones were left out.

I think there is wisdom why the exact time of the Parousia is not known to us.Matthew 22:35-37 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away. No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be at the coming of the Son of Man.…” God wants us to be always prepared. The seemingly delayed of the Lord’s coming should encourage us to live wisely. Living wisely is to be spiritually prepared for the arrival of the Lord. The time of waiting is a time to be able to get rid of anything that is not pleasing in the eyes of our Lord.

Something tragic had happened to those five foolish virgins. The Parable concluded that they were pleading for an admission but to no avail.They were totally banned from entering the wedding banquet. No matter how much they pleaded, the decision for them is with finality. They won’t be able to enter and join the party simply because of their foolishness. Its message serves as a warning to us all i.e to be always prepared. In the Kingdom of God, an opportunity missed will have a final consequence. In the story of Lazarus and the rich man, the rich man was given an opportunity to be compassionate and kind to the beggar Lazarus. But he failed. As a consequence, he was sent to an eternal punishment. And so begged Abraham for a little comfort.
Luke 16:25-26 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

Being vigilant is to live our lives in accordance with the will of the Father. His will for us is to always bring sufficient oil for our lamps – Sufficient desire to serve those in need, Sufficient will to live a holy life, and sufficient love in our hearts.
Be wise! Do not settle for less! It would be tragic if, in the end, we’ll fail to achieve our reward which is heaven.

HOMILY: Solemnity Of All Saints by Rev. Fr.Allen Baclor Abadines

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GOSPEL REFLECTION: Solemnity Of All Saints
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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READINGS:

FIRST READING: REVELATION: 7:2-4,9-14

I, John, saw another angel come up from the East,
holding the seal of the living God.
He cried out in a loud voice to the four angels
who were given the power to damage the land and the sea,
“Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees
until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.”
I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal,
one hundred and forty-four thousand marked
from every tribe of the children of Israel.

After this, I had a vision of a great multitude,
which no one could count,
from every nation, race, people, and tongue.
They stood before the throne and before the Lamb,
wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.
They cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne,
and from the Lamb.”

All the angels stood around the throne
and around the elders and the four living creatures.
They prostrated themselves before the throne,
worshiped God, and exclaimed:

“Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving,
honor, power, and might
be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me,
“Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?”
I said to him, “My lord, you are the one who knows.”
He said to me,
“These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress;
they have washed their robes
and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.”

The Word of the Lord/ Thanks be to God.
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RESPONSORIAL PSALM: PSALM 24:1bc-2, 3-4ab, 5-6
R. (see 6) Lord, this is the people that long to see your face.

The LORD’s are the earth and its fullness;
the world and those who dwell in it.
For he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
R. Lord, this is the people that long to see your face.

Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
or who may stand in his holy place?
One whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain.
R. Lord, this is the people that long to see your face.

He shall receive a blessing from the LORD,
a reward from God his savior.
Such is the race that seeks him,
that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.
R. Lord, this is the people that long to see your face.
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SECOND READING: 1 JOHN 3:1-3
Beloved:
See what love the Father has bestowed on us
that we may be called the children of God.
Yet so we are.
The reason the world does not know us
is that it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God’s children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is.
Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure,
as he is pure.

The Word of the Lord/ Thanks be to God.
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GOSPEL ACCLAMATION: MATTHEW 11:28
Alleluia. Alleluia. Come to me, all you that are weary and heavy-burdened, and I will give you rest, says the Lord. Alleluia.
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GOSPEL: MATTHEW 5:1-12a

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain,
and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven.”

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

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REFLECTION:

Today’s Solemnity honors all the Saints known and unknown. The known Saints are those men and women who were recognized for their exemplary lives of holiness and were beatified and canonized by the Church. However, there are also men and women who lived lives of holiness unknown and unrecognized. We call them the unknown Saints. The Solemnity of all Saints, therefore, is to venerate on this one particular day all the Saints known and unknown.
We do not worship the Saints, we venerate them. Worship and Veneration are two different things. Only God is worthy of worship, adoration, and praise. Worship can be more completely defined as showing respect, love, reverence or adoration which should be attributed to God alone. While Veneration can be defined as respect or awe directed toward someone due to his /her value or greatness.
But why do we celebrate “All Saints’ Day?”
Let me give you at least three reasons:

First: The Celebration of All Saints is like a prefiguration of what our future would be i.e. we all belong to a communion of Saints. Heaven is our final destination. And therefore Holiness should ultimately be what we aspire for. As what Oswald Chambers said “Holiness, not happiness, is the chief end of man. For us who are still on a pilgrim on earth, we are hoping that with the grace of God we too will be one with the Saints.

Second: Since we are in the pursuit of Holiness…we need models. The lives of the Saints are worthy of our reflection that may inspire us to go on. We look up to Saints as models of holiness. Pope Benedict XVI said, “The example of the Saints encourages us to follow in their same footsteps and to experience the joy of those who trust in God, for the one true cause of sorrow and unhappiness for men and women is to live far from him.”

Third: The Celebration of All Saints serves to us all as a challenge. Nobody is born a saint. It is something you have to become …something for you to work out. The good news is that anyone can become a saint. You and I are candidates for sainthood. Sanctity is a choice – a product of our freedom. Our longings and aspirations in life should be perfection. Matthew 5:48 “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
How can we achieve perfection? How can we become Saints? Is perfection possible? Well, it is not easy, but it is possible. To be a saint is to understand the will of the Father, to keep them in our hearts and to do to the best of our capacities to realize them in our lives no matter what the costs may be. But it is not gonna be easy. Every day is a challenge. We are always like being pulled in two different directions i.e. to tread the path of righteousness or otherwise. St. Paul in his letter to the Romans presented us the same concern. Romans 7:15, St. Paul said “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

Story:
A man made a mess of his life. He got into a big trouble of drug addiction. As a result, he lost his job. His wife and children left him. His friends deserted him. His dad said he was on a path of destruction.
One day, his father visited him and asked him these questions. “Son, is this really the life you want? How many failed relationships will you have? Those questions made him think. And filled with guilt along with shame. He cried profusely. And he asked his father for help. That recognition of his faults led him into his conversion. He prayed and he embraced Jesus once again. Eventually, with the help of his father, he was rehabilitated. And he said to himself, “I made things right with God by receiving Jesus into my heart.”

Remember in our pursuit of holiness…we are not alone. God is always with us, inspiring us, giving us the strength to persevere, guiding us and leading us the way that we may succeed.
This is the reason why Jesus gave us the Beatitudes in today’s Gospel according to Matthew. The Beatitudes serve as our blueprint in our pursuit of holiness. Here Jesus challenges the values of the world. The values embodied in the Beatitudes are the values that we as a pilgrim Church are called to embrace to show that we are true disciples of Jesus. Once we are able to live according to these values to the end of our earthly pilgrimage we will be like those servants mentioned in today’s First Reading, robed in white, washed in the blood of the Lamb. The Beatitudes give us ways on how to live a life of holiness. Beatitudes are sometimes called “beautiful attitudes” or “be happy attitude.” For finding holiness is finding beauty and happiness.

To be holy is to be close to God. Holiness can be achieved by the kind of response we give to the grace of God.

Homily:23rd Sunday In Ordinary Time (A) by Rev.Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

23rd A3

 

GOSPEL REFLECTION (23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – A)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL (Matthew 18:15-20) On Fraternal Correction

Jesus spoke to his disciples, “If your brother or sister sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If he or she listens to you, you have regained your brother or sister. But if the person does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the person refuses to listen to them, tell it to the Church; and if that person refuses to listen even to the Church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
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REFLECTION:

(Story) There’s a Spanish story of a father and son who had become estranged. The son ran away, and the father set off to find him. He searched for months to no avail. Finally, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in a Madrid newspaper. The ad read: Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father. On Saturday 800 Pacos showed up, looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers. (Source unknown)

I find this short story poignant. It tells us a reality that there are so many people out there in need of understanding, forgiveness, and love. There are so many people who are hurting. There are so many broken relationships.
There is no such thing as perfect relationships simply because there are no perfect people. We all have our flaws. We all commit mistakes. In any relationship – be it family relationships, relationships between friends or relationships among people in society, at our work place, at school and even in the Church, there will always be conflicts. No matter how much people try to have peace all the time – arguments, misunderstandings, disagreements, and even fights will always transpire along the way even when you least expect it. Having relationship issues, therefore, are inevitable. Good relationships don’t just happen. It takes a lot of hard work to make relationships really work. It takes a lot of patience, humility and the will for people to truly want to build a good relationship.Yes, there are no perfect relationships, it’s how you deal with it that makes a relationship perfect. It means, therefore that a successful relationship is not impossible despite our differences and idiosyncrasies.

But how can we have a successful relationship? Well. this is what this Sunday’s Gospel text is trying to teach us. Jesus in today’s Gospel is teaching us a lesson on what to do every time some issues occur in any relationship. Jesus is teaching us a lesson on fraternal correction. Jesus said, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.” But how do we correct one another? How do we encourage one another to do what is right? As for me, the very first thing to do is to look into our hearts, analyze our actions like whose fault is it really? So many times that we cannot admit our faults. Because of pride at times instead of accepting our own mistakes, we would do anything within our means to prove others wrong. Most of the times, we think we are always right. It is easier for us to judge other people. And even if we realized we’re wrong, apologizing wouldn’t be easy to do. That creates more tensions and more conflicts. Have this always in mind – Something is more important than just being always right and i.e. being compassionate. It’s actually a choice whether we wanna be always right or we wanna be always compassionate.

Since conflicts are inevitable in any relationship. Allow me to share with you some guidelines we should consider in order for us to be able to contribute to creating a successful relationship:

First, Humility. Pope Francis spoke of the importance of humility in order to dialogue with a brother or a sister. Fraternal correction, therefore, should be done in the spirit of humility. A humble person is never judgmental.We can learn a lot of lessons from Pope Francis who said: “Who am I to judge?” Judge not lest we are judged! There is one journey that we as Christians have to make i.e. a journey from pride to humility, from self-centered to Christ-centered.

Second, Forgiveness. Learn to forgive. Find ways to be reconciled and reach out. Pope Francis said that whenever there’s conflict look for peace as soon as possible. Always find a solution. He emphasized the need to build bridges rather than walls, like the one that divided Berlin for so many years. The Pope further says that “even in our heart there is the chance to become the Berlin wall to others. I am afraid of these walls that grow every day and foster resentment. And hate.”

Third, Love. We always have to find ways to love. In any conflict, find ways to love. Even if we feel oppressed, find ways to love. Even if we are hurt or we feel something unjust is done to us, we should find ways to love. True love means not to give up on each other. This would be our identity as Christians i.e LOVE! They’ll know we are Christians by our love. We opted to love, as Christ as our model, despite the fact that in so many cases it is never easy to do so. This is God’s greatest commandment that we should love our fellow men – sinner or saint. But who says loving is easy? Finding love especially to the unlovable is never easy.It is easier said than done. Even among members of our own family. Mother Teresa once said “It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start.”

One time, I blessed a couple in their 50th Wedding Anniversary. The husband shared the many challenges in their married life.He said that part of their married life is the many fights, and arguments but they followed the lesson they learned from a passage from the Ephesians 4:26 which says “If you are angry let it be without sin, the sun must not go down on your wrath.” There’s wisdom in it, whenever conflict occurs, do not wait till tomorrow to patch up things