HOMILY: 17th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

17th Sunday B pater

SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (B)
A Reflection: by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL: JOHN 6:1-15

Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd followed him because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. The Jewish feast of Passover was near. When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He said this to test him because he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little. One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people recline.” Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples. Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” So they collected them and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat. When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.” Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain.

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

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REFLECTION:

Today’s Gospel text – the multiplication of loaves and fishes – indeed, is very important … so important that it is the only miracle account that is recorded by all four evangelists. The story may seem so simple. But it gives us a very profound insight. Something that we must ponder upon as it is ever relevant in our lives as Christians. Some spiritual writers reasoned out that there was no actual miracle that took place during the feeding of the multitude. They claimed that Jesus only inspired the spirit of sharing of what they have with one another. That made it appear to have a miracle of the multiplication of bread and fish. For them, that spirit of collective sharing and generosity was the real miracle. But that is not true …indeed, there was a miracle. Yes, there was a hungry crowd and Jesus moved with compassion asked Philip “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” The scripture explained to us that Jesus “said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do.” Jesus knew that he could perform wonders. Like he was able to turn water into wine, he walked on water, he cleansed the lepers, raised the dead and so why not feed the multitude? Jesus blessed the five loaves and two fish, distributed them to feed the huge crowd, they were satisfied and collected twelve wicker baskets of leftovers.

We need to see this miracle as a sign given by God. To dismiss this as a miracle will surely affect our understanding of the miracle of the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. This is the very reason why in today’s Gospel, St. John makes it clear to us that this miracle is a sign. Which means to say that it points beyond itself to a higher reality. This miracle of Jesus should go beyond “awe and amazement” at the miracle per se but it should lead us to a deeper understanding of who Jesus is. The sign should point to Jesus himself. It should lead us to the recognition that Jesus is our Lord and saviour. That Jesus came to provide us with food that will nourish for all eternity. That Jesus came to sustain us as we journey to our ultimate destiny which is heaven. The miracle of the feeding of the multitude is a sign whose meaning is realized at the Last Supper where Jesus instituted the Eucharist, and in which Jesus further gives meaning by his offering of himself on the Cross and which will be fully realized in the heavenly banquet. This is the place where Jesus wants to gather all his children. John 14:2 “In my Father’s house are many rooms: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” Ergo, if we deny the miracle that is contained in the feeding of the multitude, then how could we understand fully the miracle that is in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

The Gospel text reveals to us once again how much Jesus loves us. He is true to his word that he will be with us until the end of time nourishing us, sustaining us in our journey until we reach our ultimate destiny.

But what is this particular text trying to teach us? Actually, it highlighted Jesus compassion towards mankind. Jesus takes care not only of our spiritual needs but even our physical needs. He understands fully the human longings, sufferings, and needs. He gives us an image of a loving shepherd sustaining and nourishing our hunger. But just as we have a compassionate Lord, he also wants us to be compassionate with one another. He wants us to feel the suffering of our neighbor and do something about it. Let me elaborate this point by sharing with you a story:

Story (Willi Hoffsuemmer) There was once a very poor mother with three children. And next door lived a very rich lady, who also had three children. This lady was so stingy that she would never give anything to poor people.

It so happened that the poor mother was again all out of bread. Her children were very hungry. So she went to the rich lady and said, “Could you please give me just one loaf of bread for my poor children, who are almost starving?” “I don’t have any bread for myself,” said the rich lady. “So how can I give some to you?” “But,” said the poor lady, “you are so rich. I am sure that you must have a little bit of bread somewhere in your cupboard.” “No, I don’t. If I do, then may God change every bit of it into stone,” said the rich lady. So the poor lady went away crying. And the rich lady said to her children, “Now let’s go and make a nice jam and butter sandwich.” So she went to the cupboard to take out the bread. But all the bread had turned to stone.

The lady was shocked. Off she ran straight to the bakery and bought bread and cakes for the poor lady. And she also got some flour and meat and butter to go along with it. “Lady,” she said, as she handed over the gifts, “I will never again be selfish. God has turned all my bread into stones. If it would only turn back into bread so my children would have something to eat…”

Then she went back home and the stones in the basket turned back into bread. Since then the rich lady has become generous to poor people around her.

In our day to day life, we can also experience a miracle of the multiplication of bread. But that is if we like our Lord Jesus could feel the suffering of our poor brothers and sisters. If we have compassion like the compassion of our Lord towards our neighbors. Let us then multiply the bread of kindness, generosity, and love with one another.

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HOMILY: 14th Sunday In Ordinary Time by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

14th Sunday pater

 

 

GOSPEL REFLECTION
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)
Sunday, 8th July 2018
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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READINGS:
First Reading: Ezekiel 2:3-5
Responsorial Psalm: Our eyes look to the Lord until he has mercy upon us.
Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
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GOSPEL: Mark 6:1-6
Jesus came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the Sabbath, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
Then Jesus said to them, “A Prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown, and among his own kin, and in his own house.”
And Jesus could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And Jesus was amazed at their unbelief.
Then he went about among the villages teaching.
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REFLECTION:
The Gospel relates to us an account wherein Jesus visited his native place. While Jesus was born in Bethlehem, He grew up in Nazareth. For thirty years Jesus lived in this town. Nazareth, therefore, was for him his hometown. He had been visiting different places – doing his ministry of preaching about the Kingdom of God, administering to the sick, healing, and making wonders and so he thought why not his own hometown and his own folks and kin. Surely, he would be more welcomed in his own place. But far from what Jesus was expecting, we see in today’s Gospel text an obvious contradiction in their reaction to Jesus. They acknowledged Jesus’ wisdom, they were convinced of the miraculous nature of his deeds, they must have heard of some of the astonishing miracles and works of Jesus yet they rejected him. They “took offense at him” rejecting him personally, as well as by his friends and relatives. They rejected Jesus because they knew him personally. For them, Jesus was just the son of a carpenter from a poor family. “How could such wisdom and power come from this nobody we grew up with?” They could not accept. Jesus was unwanted. They thought they knew everything about Jesus. Indeed, “Familiarity breeds contempt!” There’s nothing more hurtful than to be rejected by your own family and people.
As I reflect on today’s Gospel text, one word kept ringing in my mind i.e. REJECTION!
What is Rejection? Rejection can be defined as the sense of being unwanted.
Have you ever experienced rejection? Have you ever feel the longing for acceptance and love from other people, yet you believe that they do not? Or you want to be part of the group, yet you feel excluded. Well, almost all of us, at one time or another, have experienced rejection even from people we loved the most or someone we respected and looked up to. Many of us have not understood its nature or its effects on other people’s lives. One’s rejection may have been relatively minor or it may have been so devastating that it affected one’s whole life. Rejection comes in a variety of forms. Some examples of simple rejection could be like – you invited a friend to your party yet he refused to come. Or you offered friendship to a someone yet it was not accepted. Some may have effects in your life like you were not accepted at the company you were applying saying that you didn’t have the qualifications they were looking for, or you did not get the promotion or a raise in your salary you were looking forward to getting. Others could be worse and painful like rejection coming from parents or someone dearest to you. Someone may have never felt the love from parents, or felt like an unfavored child or even abused. Experience such as these may leave permanent wounds. As for me rejection could either destroy or build you as a person. It could either make you a better person, make you stronger or make you bad or weak. Even great and famous people have experienced rejection. For instance, JK Rowling, creator of Harry Potter, she was rejected by 12 publishers before her work was published. Beethoven’s music teacher declared him ‘hopeless’ at composing. A teenager’s low popularity convinced her that she was unattractive. She became a top model, hailed by many as the most beautiful woman in the world. All those who had ignored her are now boasting that they had gone to school with Claudia Schiffer. It only tells us that for every “No” that you receive there could be a “Yes” just around the corner. Learn to love and appreciate yourself. Sometimes this could be the hardest thing to do. Never fear rejection but make it an opportunity to grow and to learn.
How do you cope with rejection? How do you react to rejection? How do you respond to rejection? The good news is – God never reject anyone. God offers us full acceptance. And God can heal us from the wounds that come from rejection. Jesus never rejects nor discriminate against anyone. Like he ate with sinners, tax collectors and women with ill repute. He touched the lepers, forgave their sins and made them whole. Jesus, therefore, will never reject anyone because of race, color, physical appearance, gender, status, and preference. Remember he himself had experienced rejection and so let us come to him who knows the pain of being rejected. No one but God is capable of giving perfect love at all times and in every circumstance. And amazingly enough, in spite of all rejection and indifference, God still and will always love us. 1 John 4:19 “We love because he first loved us.”

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.”

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

LENT -renewal

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

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

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

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

5th Sunday re1

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

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

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

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

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

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REFLECTION:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4th sunday ordfinal

 

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

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

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REFLECTION:

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

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

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

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

Homily: 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!’