Homily:24th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B) by Rev. Fr.Allen Baclor Abadines

24th Sunday B Pater2

A REFLECTION: 24th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)
16th September 2018
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL: MARK 8:27-35

Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him. Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly.

And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.

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

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REFLECTION:

The Gospel of this Sunday centers on the identity of Jesus. The Gospel text relates to us an encounter of Jesus with his disciples at Caesarea Philippi. On the way to a village called Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked this question, “Who do people say I am?” And they responded some say John the Baptist, others, Elijah, still others one of the prophets. ” Caesarea Philippi, by the way, is a village which actually became the center of worship of false gods for thousand years, hence, this may inspire Jesus to ask his Disciples such question. He wanted to know how people regarded him. They were so wrong to think that Jesus was John the Baptist, or Elijah or one of the prophets. Jesus was of course not satisfied with the response he got, but that was to be expected. People really did not know him that well. They must have heard very little of him, except for the fact that they were amazed at his teachings as well as the so many miracles he performed. But what is of a more important and more relevant to Jesus is the understanding of his disciples. For quite a while, they had been with Jesus. They have heard Jesus’ teachings. They were first-hand witnesses to the so many wonderful works of Jesus. They were witnesses to how Jesus lived, they experienced Jesus’ spirituality. And so turning to his disciples he directed the crucial question, “But how about you…who do you say that I am?”. Jesus’ question offers them an opportunity to clarify in their hearts how well do they know the Lord. That question has become life’s ultimate question, for I believe, it was not only directed to the disciples but it is the same question that is being asked of us. “Who do you say that I am?” How are we gonna respond? How well do we really know Jesus? Well, it may be easy for us to respond now based on what we’ve learned from our Catechesis.But Jesus wants a personal, honest response. Knowing Jesus is different from knowing something about Jesus. In the Gospel, Peter replied, “You are the Messiah” Peter must be very proud of his answer. He got it right! But not so fast! For when Jesus began to explain to them that the ‘Son of man would have to suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and by the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again,’ it was way beyond them. They cannot comprehend a suffering Messiah. Peter must have answered correctly – Jesus is the anointed one, the promised Messiah, but Messiah in his mind is a someone who would rescue Israel from the Romans. But Jesus’ mission is more than saving Israel. His mission is to save mankind from sin, to assure man of eternal life, to teach us how to live and to reveal to us God’s love. God’s love is a mystery. It is indeed a mystery why in the very first place he willed that his only begotten Son, must suffer persecution and death. If the disciples will not be able to accept the suffering Messiah, then it will not be possible also to accept their own suffering for Jesus’ sake. This is the same reason why there are people who lose sight of a loving God whenever they experience suffering in their lives. In the midst of trials, pains and hardships they eventually lose their faith in God. People are most especially tempted to doubt God’s fidelity when they experience setbacks in their lives. This is why getting to know Jesus deeply is indeed important. Let me elaborate this point by telling you a story:

A Father’s Protection (Author Unknown)

A father takes his son into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone. He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. He cannot cry out for help to anyone. Once he survives the night, he is a MAN. He cannot tell the other boys of this experience, because each lad must come into manhood on his own. The boy is naturally terrified. He can hear all kinds of noises. Wild beasts must surely be all around him. Maybe even some human might do him harm. The wind blew the grass and earth and shook his stump, but he sat stoically, never removing the blindfold. It would be the only way he could become a man! Finally, after a horrific night, the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold. It was then that he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him. He had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm. We, too, are never alone. Even when we don’t know it, God is watching over us, Sitting on the stump beside us. When trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to Him. Moral of the story: Just because you can’t see God, Doesn’t mean He is not there. “For we walk by faith, not by sight!!!
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We come to know the love of God through our experience of the love of Jesus. Getting to know Jesus deeply, therefore, is to get to know God deeply in our lives. How would this be possible? It is by heeding his invitation “to come and follow me!” We come to know him personally only in living the lives he lived. To know Jesus is to walk with him. Following him is to imitate Jesus’ ways – his service, his sacrifice, his suffering, and his love.

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

23rd Sunday B pater

GOSPEL REFLECTION: 23rd Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)
Sunday, 9th September 2018
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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READINGS:
First Reading: Isaiah 35:4-7
Responsorial Psalm: Praise the Lord, O my soul!
Second Reading: James 2:1-5
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GOSPEL: Mark 7:31-37
Returning from the region of Tyre, Jesus went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis.
They brought to him a man who was deaf and who had an impediment in his speech, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. Jesus took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is “Be opened.” And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly.
Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one: but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”
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The Gospel of the Lord/ Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

REFLECTION:
As I reflect on the Gospel message of this Sunday i.e. St. Mark’s account of Jesus’ healing of a deaf and mute man, I am reminded of the story of a certain Vinicio Riva. If you are familiar with his name, Vinicio Riva was the man with a disfigured face whom Pope Francis hugged and kissed. Vinicio Riva is suffering from a non-infectious genetic disease, neurofibromatosis type 1. It has left him completely covered from head to toe with growths, swelling, and itchy sores. Because of his condition, he has long been accustomed to the unkindness of strangers. For instance, a few years ago he boarded a public bus in the northern Italian town of Vicenza. He went toward the nearest vacant seat but before he could sit down the man in the adjacent seat snapped, “Go away! Don’t sit next to me.” So he decided to stand all throughout the travel. There were lots of people on the bus, and they heard it all, but no one said a word,” said Vinicio.
One time, Vinicio traveled with his aunt and dozens of others from northern Italy to Vatican City, where they attended a morning public audience held by Pope Francis. Vinicio was in a wheelchair. Although the group was not expecting that they were so close to the Pope yet they were ushered in a corner in a front row. And when the Pope came close to Vinicio, he was surprised. He thought that Pope Francis would only give his hand for a handshake. But he did more than that. He embraced him tightly and kissed him. It was a moment Vinicio will never forget. The Pope showed no fear of his illness. Vinicio’s physical appearance is so grotesque that it takes great love to be able to do what Pope Francis did. That gesture from the Pope created an impact in his life. Later on , in an interview, Vinicio said, “when Pope Francis caressed me all over my face, I felt only love.” I believe, this is what today’s Gospel text is trying to give us as a lesson. It is an invitation for us to be compassionate just as Jesus is compassionate. If we really want to imitate Jesus then we should start with being compassionate with one another.
Today’s Gospel text relates to us, that some people brought Jesus a man who was deaf and who had an impediment in his speech. There are several lessons that this particular text gave me. First of all, the concern of people who presented the man to Christ taught us a lesson on compassion and service. Bringing the man to Christ shows a willingness to pay the cost – it would mean taking time and effort and or maybe some sacrifice. They want the man to receive healing from Christ. They were thinking of his well-being and that is kindness, generosity, a concern of others, service and yes, Love!
Second, we see here the compassion of Jesus. Here Jesus attends to the need of the man personally and individually. “Jesus took him aside in private away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue.” It was a personal encounter of the deaf and mute man with Jesus. An encounter he will never forget considering the fact that as deaf and mute he had no way of communicating with Jesus. But Jesus communicates with him in a personal manner i.e. through touch. Jesus touches him. His touch is powerful and transforming. The healing touch of Jesus demonstrates his power over everything including sickness, diseases, evil spirits, all sorts of affliction as well as sins. Jesus is never afraid to touch anyone even the lepers. He will never turn away nor reject anyone. He will always reach out and touch people. And his touch is consoling, healing and liberating. We can be the healing touch of Jesus to others. We can reach out and touch in love those people in need and suffering. A touch can convey a message of hope and encouragement. When we touch something we are becoming intimately involved with that thing. For example, a simple pat on the shoulder on a someone who lost a loved one could bring consolation. We can bring healing to a lonely soul. Jesus’ healing touch is always rooted in love and compassion.
Third, In the Gospel, the people recognized Jesus as more than a healer, that he was not an ordinary healer. That is why the last sentence of the Gospel tells us – “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.” Could he be the long-awaited Messiah Isaiah prophesied? The people begin to wonder whether Jesus could be the Messiah. This is the reason why Jesus ordered them to tell no one. It was not the right time yet for Jesus to reveal who he truly is.
At the heart of this particular healing account is a beautiful message conveyed to us in one word – “Ephphatha!” which means “Be opened!” The deaf and mute had never heard a sound before and that was the very first words that he heard – Ephphatha! For me, Ephphatha is an invitation for us to be open to God and to trust him completely. It also invites us to be open to one another. Just as Jesus brings healing and comfort we should also be instrumental in this healing to other people. Like to the prayer of St. Francis – “Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.

Homily: 22nd Sunday In Ordinary Time(B) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

22nd Sunday B pater

GOSPEL REFLECTION
22nd Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)
Sunday, 2nd September 2018
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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READINGS:
First Reading: Deuteronomy 4:1-2,6-8
Responsorial Psalm: O Lord, who may abide in your tent?
Second Reading: James 1:17-18,21-22,27
Gospel Acclamation: Alleluia. Alleluia. The Father gave us birth by the word of truth, that we would become first fruits of his creation. Alleluia.
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GOSPEL: Mark 7:1-8,14-15,21-23
When the Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with defiled hands, that is, without washing them. For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless they thoroughly wash their hands, thus observing the tradition of the elders; and they do not eat anything from the market unless they wash it; and there are also many other traditions that they observe, the washing of cups, pots, and bronze kettles. So the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not live according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?”
Jesus said to them, “Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘ These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.’ You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition.”
Then Jesus called the crowd again and said to them. “Listen to me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile them, but the things that come out of a person are what defile them.
“For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.
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The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
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Reflection:

The evangelist, St. Mark, in today’s Gospel text relates to us that once again Jesus and his disciples received criticism from the Pharisees and some of the scribes. They accused Jesus’ disciples of impurity since they did not follow the ritual washing before meals. It was part of the tradition during Jesus’ time to perform the ritual washing of the hands before eating. Actually, this is not the first time that they accused Jesus of something. The Scribes and Pharisees were watching closely Jesus’ every move so that they may put up something against him Like, they accused Jesus of blasphemy. They accused Jesus of being a glutton and a drunkard. They accused Jesus of associating with sinners and tax collectors. They accused Jesus of doing his ministry of healing by the power of the devil. And they accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath law. The Scribes and the Pharisees were always out to find fault with what Jesus does. This is the very reason why they noticed even a simple neglect of the observance of the law such as washing of hands before meals. They made the issue some kind of a big deal. But Jesus turns on them and gave them a lesson they won’t forget. For Jesus, they should not be so particular about something that is coming from the outside. What is truly wrong are those things that come from within the person. “There is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile them, but the things that come out of a person are what defile them.” I don’t think our Lord Jesus was against the ritual of the washing of the hands per se. Good practices of hygiene are, of course, essential in our lives. Which means that washing your hands before preparing or eating food is indeed important. But what turned Jesus off about the Scribes and Pharisees is their hypocrisy. In Matthew 23:27, Jesus said, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of bones of the dead and everything unclean.” What was being condemned, therefore, in this particular Gospel text is hypocrisy.

What is hypocrisy? Hypocrisy comes from a Greek word – hipokrites- which literally means a theater actor, like a performer acting under a mask. Hypocrisy is a strong word, nobody wants to be called a hypocrite. A hypocrite is someone who puts his best foot forward while hiding his real self. They are those who hide their true characters behind a mask of righteousness to receive the praise of others. Hypocrisy is when one supposedly cares and sacrifices for others while exploiting them. Some people say that people who do not practice what they preach are perfect examples of a hypocrite. But I think, it is more than that. Part of being human is that we commit mistakes. We have our weaknesses and shortcomings. Even St. Paul lamented, “Why do I do the things I hate.” Hypocrisy, therefore, consists not only of failing to practice what we preach but in not believing what we preach. Let me elaborate this point by telling you a story:
In a small town in America, a person decided to open up a bar business, which was right opposite to a church. The church and its congregation started a campaign to block the bar from opening with petitions and prayed daily against his business.

Work progressed. However, when it was almost complete and was about to open a few days later, a strong lightning bolt struck the bar and it was burnt to the ground. The church folks were rather smug in their outlook after that, till the bar owner sued the church authorities for $2 million on the grounds that the church through its congregation & prayers was ultimately responsible for the demise of the bar shop, either through direct or indirect actions or means.

In its reply to the court, the church vehemently denied all responsibility or any connection that their prayers were reasons for the bar shop’s demise. In support of their claim, they referred to the
Benson study at Harvard that stated; “intercessory prayer had no impact !”

As the case made its way into court, the judge looked over the paperwork and at the hearing, he made these comments:

“I don’t know how I am going to decide this case, but it appears from the paperwork, we have a bar owner who believes in the power of prayer and we have an entire church and its devotees that does not.”
Today’s Gospel text serves as a warning to everyone. Jesus knew that there is a tendency for anyone to be a hypocrite. In Luke 20:46: Jesus said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the marketplaces, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets.” In contrast to the hypocrisy of the Scribes and Pharisees is the person of Jesus. Jesus is our model for Christian life – his love, his obedience to the father, his service, his being truthful and his humility. The antidote to hypocrisy lies in the practice of humility. In Matthew 11:29 Jesus said: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart.” Let us always ask the Lord to grant us the purity and humility of the heart. “For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” O Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like yours. Amen.

 

Homily:21st Sunday In Ordinary Time (B) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

21st Sunday B Pater

GOSPEL REFLECTION: 21st Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)
For Sunday, 26th August 2018
The conclusion of the Bread of Life Discourse
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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READINGS:
First Reading: Joshua 24:1-2a,15-17,18b
Responsorial Psalm: Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Second Reading: Ephesians 4:32-5:1-2, 21-32
Gospel Acclamation: Alleluia, Alleluia. Your words, Lord, are spirit and life; you have the words of eternal life. Alleluia.
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GOSPEL: John 6:53,60-69
Jesus said to the people: “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”
When many of his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you, there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him.
And he said, “For this reason, I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted them by my Father.”
Because of this many of his disciples turned back, and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

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REFLECTION:

We have now come to the conclusion of our little sojourn on the Bread of Life Discourse of Jesus as related to us in Chapter 6 of St. John. We have seen here that our Lord Jesus spoke at length about him being the Bread that came down from heaven. This is the reason why for the past several Sundays we’ve been reflecting on this particular theme. Leaving us the impression that this is a message of utmost importance. I was actually expecting some kind of a “fairy tale like” ending- “and they live happily ever after.” Like, after Jesus had given so much effort to explain about the Bread of Life, I was hoping that St. John will conclude that the people accepted the teachings of Jesus wholeheartedly. Considering the fact that they have witnessed the many wonders that Jesus did – his words and his deeds, not to mention the miracles he performed. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a happy ending here. On the contrary, St. John gave us a sad conclusion – “Many of his disciples turned back, and no longer went about with him.” One by one, they abandoned our Lord Jesus simply because Jesus’ teachings were way beyond their comprehension. I could feel the sadness that Jesus must have felt at that time. It must be very frustrating. What he was offering was something of great value. He was offering them the truth. He was offering them life. Yet, it was rejected. A parent could probably relate to the experience of Jesus when there are times like after giving a litany of advice and reminders to a son or a daughter for guidance, the child would not listen but instead go on with his/her own selfish ways. It must be so frustrating to a parent when after trying to teach their child the right way, but he/she will go on his/her way ruining him/herself, leading his/her life on the road to perdition.

Our Lord Jesus, in great sadness and disappointments, watched each one of the disciples leaving one by one, going back to their former ways of life. And so he asked the Twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” To which Peter replied, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life?”

Did our Lord Jesus feel like it was just a waste of time and effort talking to people who wouldn’t listen anyway? Not at all! The good news is that our Lord will never give up on people no matter how much he was rejected. He will never get tired. He will keep on teaching, serving, showing us the way, forgiving, healing, giving and loving until the message might have reached the human heart. But Jesus could only invite. He will never stop us if we abandon him. He will never force us to accept him and his teachings. A man has the freedom to choose what he desires. There is a saying that “we can only lead a horse to water but we cannot make it drink.” Jesus will only show us the right way, but we are free to choose. A man should realize that our Lord is like a GPS, no matter how congested the traffic maybe or how unorganized the street layout maybe, but if you follow the direction it gives, still it will lead you home. And like to a loving Father, Jesus will never get tired waiting for us to come home. Remember what lesson our Lord gave us in the story of the Prodigal Son?

Have you ever realized that the best gift that God gave us is freedom? Man is free! In our human existence, we are always confronted with a choice i.e. a choice from life or death, light or darkness, good or bad, God or the evil one. If a man is not free then we could only be likened to an automaton. If we are to love God, we love him freely. It should be coming from the heart not out of fear, not an imposition nor just an obligation. At one point, Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” It was a reminder that even Peter abandoned our Lord when he needed him most. And so Jesus is asking of us the same question, “Do you love me more than these?” There comes a time in everyone’s life when a decision must be made.

I admire Peter’s response to our Lord when they were asked, “Do you also wish to go away?” Peter replied, “Lord to whom shall we go, you have the words of eternal life?” It was like telling our Lord Jesus, “Yes Lord, we are also struggling. We have our weaknesses and shortcomings. But we recognized your authority. You spoke the truth. We recognized that you are the Holy One, the Son of God. We may not comprehend things completely but we open our hearts to know the truth. We are here to listen to you and to learn from you. Help our unbelief.” To our Lord, that would be enough that we are opening our hearts to accept the truth and to learn from him. Faith is a grace-filled choice. It’s a personal choice. Have you made your choice?

Homily: 20th Sunday In Ordinary Time(B) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

20th Sunday B Pater

GOSPEL REFLECTION: 20th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)
19th August 2018
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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READINGS:
First Reading: Proverbs 9:1-6
Responsorial Psalm: Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Second Reading: Ephesians 5:15-20
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GOSPEL: John 6:51-58

Jesus said to the people: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever: and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
The people then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in them.
“Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”

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

Story: A little boy was preparing for his First Communion. In one of their seminars, the Priest explained to the children the importance of the Eucharist. The Priest said to them that ‘whoever receives the Body of Christ will go to heaven and will live forever.’ Although the parents of that little boy were Catholics they were not good at practicing their faith. They did not go to Church on Sundays to receive the Holy Communion. And the little boy was aware of that. And so when the little boy got home, he talked to his parents. He said, “Mom, Dad, today the Priest explained to us the importance of the Holy Communion. He said that receiving Communion will give us eternal life, it will take a person to Heaven one day. On Sunday, I will be receiving Communion for the very first time. I want you to receive Communion with me. If I am going to Heaven, I want you to come with me. I don’t want to go there alone by myself.” That day the parents went to the Priest for Confession and the next Sunday, they received Communion with their son. From then on, they went to Church on Sundays as a family to receive Jesus, the Bread of Life. All because of the request of their only son.

It has been for the past several Sundays that our Liturgy is inviting us to reflect on the Bread of Life Discourse of our Lord Jesus. This Gospel text is of utmost importance that is why for several weeks now we are being invited to reflect on this teaching of our Lord about him being the Bread of Life. And in today’s Gospel, St. John relates to us that Jesus’ listeners were once again stunned at his teachings. Jesus said that one day he will give them a special bread and that in reality, this bread is his own flesh. And so the people reacted and said, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus knew that it won’t be easy for the people to simply accept this teaching. There are people who expressed doubts in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. It has been a challenge, even among us Catholics. To some people, it is irrational to think that bread changes to become the body of Jesus. But in order for us to believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, we have to look not just with our eyes but with the eyes of faith. And to comprehend not only with our mind but with our heart. At the Last Supper, Jesus said “This is my Body…This is my Blood.” Now, we know that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist flesh and blood, soul and divinity!

Every time we celebrate the Eucharist we are actually contemplating on God’s saving love for his people. Jesus in his love for us sacrificed himself on the Cross and likewise offered himself to us in the Eucharist to be our food, giving us the strength that we may win heaven someday. Our pope, Pope Francis said, “The whole journey of life is a journey of preparation for heaven.” Heaven is home, it is our ultimate goal. When Jesus said that he is giving us his ‘flesh and blood’, it means that he is giving himself totally to us. God loves us so much that he wants us to dwell with him for eternity. John 14:3 “I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, so where I am you shall be also.”

When we receive the Holy Eucharist we allow ourselves to be transformed. A frequent reception of Communion will eventually make us more and more like Jesus. We become more giving like our Lord Jesus did. We become more forgiving as Jesus forgives. With humility, there’s an urge for us to serve as our Lord humbly served. And most especially we become more loving as Jesus loves.

Homily:19th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

19th Sunday B Pater

 

GOSPEL REFLECTION: 19th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)
12th August 2018
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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READINGS:
First Reading: 1 Kings 19:4-8
Responsorial Psalm: Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Second Reading: Ephesians 4:30-5:2
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GOSPEL: John 6:41-51
The people began to complain about Jesus because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘ I have come down from heaven’?”
Jesus answered them, “Do not complain among yourselves. No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise that person up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father. Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes has eternal life.
“I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this will live forever, and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
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REFLECTION:
We now continue our reflection on the ‘Bread of Life Discourse’ of our Lord Jesus in the Gospel of John. For the Jews, to comprehend fully the teaching of our Lord about himself being the Bread of Life was quite a challenge. It was not easy for the people to accept Jesus as God. And it was equally not easy for them to comprehend Jesus as the bread that came down from heaven. That explains their reaction when once again Jesus declared “I am the Bread of Life!” What was amusing was the fact that prior to this incident, the people seemed impressed when Jesus multiplied the bread and they were fed. In fact, they sought Jesus. Jesus was right when he said in the Gospel of last Sunday, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” And in today’s Gospel text, the people complained and murmured with each other, “Is not this Jesus the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?” The people’s grumbling about Jesus’ teaching was a reminder of the reaction of the Jews toward Moses in the Old Testament. Even though God showed them compassion by sending them manna from heaven yet still they complained and grumbled simply because of their unbelief and lack of trust in God. The miracle of the manna from heaven was not enough “sign” for them that they may put their complete trust in a providential God. The same is true as in the case of the Jews during Jesus’ time. To comprehend Jesus as someone coming down from heaven was way beyond them. They may have witnessed the sign of the multiplication of loaves but that wasn’t enough for them to believe. Jesus stood his ground and in a literal meaning, he identifies himself as the Bread of Life. Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this will live forever, and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” Here Jesus revealed to us the mystery of the Eucharist i.e. our Lord is truly present in the form of bread and wine. The Gospel, therefore, is an invitation for us to reflect on the beauty and the mystery of the Holy Eucharist. The Eucharist is the most blessed of all the Sacraments because it is in this Sacrament that Christ presence is offered to us in the fullness of his person – in his body. But like to the Jews of Old, up to this date, many people, unfortunately, even among Catholics have expressed doubts and or struggling in accepting Jesus as truly present in the Eucharist – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.
I am reminded of a personal experience when I was celebrating a mass three years ago when during Communion a five-year-old boy approached me for communion as he extended his hands towards me. I said to the little boy, “but you have not received your First Communion yet!” To which the little boy responded, “but I want to receive Jesus now.” I smiled and said to him, “I am going to give you Jesus by giving you a blessing.” And he smiled back at me and said with conviction the word “Amen!” For me that was faith. Coming from a five-year-old boy, his faith was truly remarkable. I said to myself sometimes we need to see in the eyes of a child and to believe in the heart of a child.
If we are truly convinced that Christ is present in the Eucharist then we will receive him in the Holy Communion with love, with humility, with deep faith, and with right disposition. A spiritual preparation would be a good start. A clean and contrite heart is the best preparation. This is where the Sacrament of Reconciliation could help us prepare.
But why do we go to mass and why do we need to receive Jesus in the Eucharist?
First, God commanded us. The third of the Ten Commandments given to Moses by God is, “Remember to keep Holy the Sabbath day.” – Exodus 20:8
Second, Jesus commanded us. In Luke 22:14,19 – At the Last Supper, Jesus said, “This is my Body! This is my Blood! Do this in remembrance of me!”
Third, The Church commanded us. The Church teaches that we must fulfill the command of Jesus – Do this in memory of me. Receiving Jesus in The Eucharist sustains us, nourish us, give us the strength we need as we journey through life towards our ultimate destiny which is Heaven.
Being a Christian is not a private matter. We are called to be Christian together, worship together, gather together, journey together, celebrate together which is why Sunday Mass is so important. God wants us to gather as a community. Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in their midst.”
I remember so vividly when the very first time I received Jesus in the Holy Communion I said to myself, ‘from now on I will receive Jesus regularly in the Holy Communion. Since then I never fail to receive Jesus in the Eucharist. The Eucharist has become very much a part of my life. As if my life would never be complete and would be meaningless without Jesus.
Mother Teresa said “Jesus is my God, Jesus is my spouse, Jesus is my life, Jesus is my everything. Because of this, I am never afraid!”

A Reflection: 18th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

18th Sunday B Pater

GOSPEL REFLECTION: 18th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)
Sunday, 5th August 2018
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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READINGS:
First Reading: Exodus 16:2-4,12-15,31a
Responsorial Psalm: The Lord gave them the bread of heaven.
Second Reading: Ephesians 4:17,20-24
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GOSPEL: John 6:24-35
When the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were at the place where Jesus had given the bread, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus.
When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on him that God the Father has set his seal.”
Then they said to Jesus, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you?” What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, “He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”
Then Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven and gives life to the world.”
They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
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REFLECTION:
This Sunday’s Gospel text relates to us what happened the day after the miracle of the five loaves and two fishes took place. The next day, when the crowd did not find Jesus and his disciples at the place where Jesus had multiplied the bread, they went to Capernaum in search of Jesus. And when they found him, they said to Jesus, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” To which Jesus replied, “Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” Our Lord always tells the truth in a straightforward and direct way. He will never water down his words. He calls a spade a spade, so to speak. In other words, Jesus was like telling the people, “You are not looking for God, but you are here only for free lunch.” This reminded me of a conversation between two friends. One of them said to the other, “I came here to visit you, it’s been a while since the last time I saw you. I really miss you.” But to his surprise, the friend replied, “Oh cut the crap. Why are you here really? What do you want from me?” To which he responded, “I want to borrow money from you.” Some people remember you only when they need something from you. This was the reaction of our Lord Jesus in today’s Gospel text. He was telling the people, “You are looking for me not because you want to listen to the good news but because you had your fill. You are only after your physical needs and not for spiritual nourishment.” Therefore, today’s Gospel text serves as a challenge and an invitation for us to look beyond the material things. Jesus is inviting us to go beyond the physical needs, that we may focus our attention more on Christ, who is the real bread of life. That’s the reason why he was talking about the sign. “I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to me will never hunger, he who believes in me will never thirst.” Last week, we saw how Christ was able to feed the hungry crowd with physical bread in the miracle of the loaves and fish. Yes, Jesus can satisfy our physical needs. He is a compassionate God. But his challenge is for us to see a new level of understanding about the bread of life. Jesus is not only offering us an ordinary bread. He is offering us a bread that gives eternal life. Whilst he is concern about our physical well-being, Jesus is more concern about our spiritual well-being. This was the challenge he presented to the Samaritan woman at the well. John 4:10 – He said to the Samaritan woman, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that said to you, Give me to drink, you would have asked of him, and he would have given you living water.”
Jesus recognized the human flaws and weaknesses. A man has the tendency to be so short-sighted as to focus more on the satisfaction of physical needs. Indeed, he’s got an insatiable lust for material needs – wealth, power, fame and popularity. Until he realizes that there is a deeper inner longing, a hunger, thirst, a craving and emptiness that demands to be filled and satisfied. The question is what can satisfy your soul? It is Christ alone who can satisfy all our longings. The longings of the human heart can only be satisfied by our Lord Jesus. Psalm 107:9 – “For he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” St. Augustine recognized this truth as he said: “You have made me for yourself, O Lord, and my heart is restless until it finds its rest in you.”
Story: The story is told about four men adrift on the Atlantic Ocean near the equator. They were so thirsty that they were trying to squeeze moisture from the pieces of canvas on their small lifeboat. When the rescuers finally arrived, they found the men almost dying of dehydration. After gradually reviving them, the rescuers asked them, how come you are dying of dehydration when you are surrounded with potable water. The four men asked the rescuers, “What do you mean?” The rescuers explained, “As you see, you were afloat near the Amazon River, a river so huge that it pushes fresh water far out into the ocean. You could have dipped a bucket off the side of your boat and drawn out drinkable water.” The men realized that all the while they were fighting for a few drops of moisture, they had actually been floating on potable water.
Lesson: People recognized their thirst but they ignore the water that can satisfy them. People are thirsty but unaware of the readily accessible source of fresh water. We are like those four men if we continue to ignore Jesus in our lives. We will always be thirsty amidst fresh water. Jesus is the living water. Jesus is the bread of life. He could satisfy our inner longings- the cravings of souls. Sometimes, we will say to our Lord – “But Lord, my needs are deep, my worries are deep, my problems are deep, my flaws are deep. Can you handle that my Lord.” Jesus will invite us to come to him. For we will never know unless we experience his love personally. “I am the Bread of Life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”