Homily: Baptism of the Lord ( Year C) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

baptism pater

A REFLECTION OF THE HEART
Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Year C)
A Reflection: by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah,

John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened,
and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you, I am well pleased.”

_____________________

Reflection:

Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This Feast concludes the celebration of the Christmas season. On Monday we are definitely back to the ordinary time. It is most appropriate that we end up the celebration of the Christmas season with the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord because it serves as an affirmation to our reflection of who this child was to us i.e. He is the Son of God.

One may wonder why is there a need for our Lord Jesus to approach John the Baptist for baptism. With our knowledge about the sacrament of baptism, we know that it is being conferred to a person that he may be freed from original sin. Therefore, Baptism is closely linked to the idea of the remission of sins. In the case of our Lord Jesus, however, there was no sin to be forgiven. Jesus, though human like us, is also Divine hence perfect. Why then Jesus asked John the Baptist for baptism?

Our Lord Jesus, in the Gospel of Matthew, provided us with an explanation himself. Matthew 3:15, when John the Baptist asked Jesus why he is coming to him for baptism when in fact he was the one who needs to be baptized by him, Jesus replied, “allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” It tells us that what Jesus was saying was that everything is in accordance with the will of the Father. The good news is that we are part of God’s plan and design. We are part of the whole equation. It was not by accident but it was planned. God in his infinite love and mercy wills that we all be saved.

Going back to the baptism of Jesus, it tells us something more profound. Jesus’ baptism is actually part of the Epiphany of our Lod. This is the time when Jesus’ true identity is revealed. At that time, the heavens opened, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove, and the voice of the Father was heard by everyone present that says, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) This text is very important because just as our Lord Jesus was to begin his public ministry, it is but fitting that he be introduced properly. Such an introduction should powerfully be declared by a someone who is an authority i.e. the Father himself. No less than the Father affirms Jesus is God. “He is my beloved Son, so listen to him.” It was God’s proclamation of Jesus’ divinity. He is no ordinary person. We now have a tangible idea of who God is in the person of Jesus. And for the first time, the presence of the Trinity was revealed to mankind. Jesus is a manifestation of God’s presence among us.

Now, how is the baptism of Jesus relevant to us today? The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord serves as an invitation to all of us to contemplate on the importance of our own baptism. The Sacrament of Baptism is God’s expression of his infinite mercy and unconditional love. We were given a chance. We were redeemed. Jesus commanded his disciples to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” We realized our worth. We are loved. God has restored the fullness of life in us. We gained our dignity back as persons. We regain our dignity as sons and daughters of God.

At the end of our lives, if we remain faithful to the will of the Father, God will say of us all, “These are my beloved children, whom I am well pleased.” Whilst Jesus will say to us all, “Come you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34)

Advertisements

Reflection: Epiphany of the Lord by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

epiphany pater finale

GOSPEL REFLECTION: EPIPHANY OF THE LORD
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

GOSPEL: Matthew 2:1-12

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’[b]”
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
*
The Gospel Of The Lord/ Praise To You Lord, Jesus Christ.

________________________________________________

REFLECTION:

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. Epiphany comes from the Greek word ἐπιφάνεια or epipháneia which literally means appearance or manifestation. The name suggests that something was revealed. Something was manifested to bring enlightenment. God manifested himself in the person of Jesus. It is an important celebration in the sense that God has revealed himself to mankind. In a way, we now have a tangible understanding of who God is, in the person of Jesus.

Some people considered the story of the Magi most fascinating considering the events surrounding the nativity of our Lord Jesus. It tells us of their arduous journey in search of a child, the guidance of a star and their offering of the gifts made the story indeed fascinating. But for me, the story is profound, highly symbolical and Theological.

Who were the magi? Very little is known about them. Biblical Scholars claimed they were not kings. They were most probably astrologers or wise men. We do not know how many of them really. People assumed that they were three corresponding to the gifts they offered the baby, Jesus. We do not exactly know the country of their origin except the fact that they were from the East. They were non-Jewish people. And being non-Jewish is highly symbolical too. It reveals to us the universality of salvation that is being offered. The Magi represent the people of the world. They represent each one of us which means that salvation is for everyone.

What about the gifts? What was in the gifts? What made them significant in the story? It was a strange gift for a child. They offered him gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Some people might think that the gifts were thoughtless and impractical. Normally, when we think of giving something for a newly born child, we probably consider something for the immediate use of the baby like clothing, baby foods or blankets. However, most Spiritual writers claimed that those gifts were actually appropriate considering the purpose of the gifts i.e. they came to worship. They recognized Jesus to be not an ordinary Child hence the gift to be extraordinary. We read in Matthew’s Gospel that Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.’” The gifts, therefore, were meant to honor, adore and give praise to the baby Jesus. These gifts represent spiritual symbols – Gold symbolizes Jesus Kingship. Gold is precious and expensive and fit for a king. Frankincense symbolizes his priestly role. Incense was used in the Temple by priests. The smoke is like prayers that are lifted up to heaven. That sweet smelling smoke was meant to honor God. It is like our offering of praises and thanksgiving to God. And Myrrh, a prefiguring of Jesus’ death and embalming. Myrrh is an expensive perfume used to anoint the body of a deceased loved one. The fact that it would cost them to possess it only to be used to the body of the deceased loved one will show how much they honor and give importance to the departed.
The Church Father Origen said that Gold, as to a King, Myrrh as to the one who was mortal and incense, as to a God. The gifts, therefore, are Theological in nature. It tells us that Christ is King, human and divine.

The encounter with King Herod also tells us something. Herod was an evil king who killed his wife, his mother-in-law, his two brothers-in-law and murdered even his three children on suspicion that they were planning something against him. It is not surprising why the news about the birth of Jesus served as a threat to him. He wanted the child Jesus dead even to the extent of sacrificing innocent lives.
Now, these incidents tell us about the reality that many people will hate Jesus and will do anything to destroy him. But there are also many who will become faithful to him and will even sacrifice their lives for that love.

We learned many lessons from the Magi. The Magi offered Jesus the best that they could offer. Let us also do the same. What gift could we offer him?

First, the gift of a renewed and intimate relationship with Him. How could we achieve this? By knowing him deeply. Reading and contemplating the Words of God in the Scripture could help us know God intimately.

Second the gift of loving one’s neighbor., i.e. establishing better relations with other people. Learning to forgive those who have hurt us. Reconcile with them. Heal broken relationship. It’s the gift of love towards the neighbor.

Third, the gift of oneself. The gift of sincere repentance. Let us acknowledge our own sinfulness. Avail of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Reconcile with God. It is a gift of the purity of our hearts.

The Magi offered the Child Jesus the best that they could give. As for me, it was not gold, frankincense, and myrrh that gave more meaning and value to the gifts. It was actually the gift of their time and self that made their gifts more precious and special. Likewise, we could turn ourselves to be a precious gift when we give ourselves wholeheartedly in the service of God and of our fellowmen.

The journey of the Magi prefigures our own journey. Like them, we are in an arduous journey here on earth. Our destiny is to be with our Lord Jesus. In the end, heaven will be our reward. At the end of our journey may we be able to say, just like in the words of St. Paul (2 Timothy 4:7) “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

INSIGHTS: TIME by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

time c

INSIGHTS: TIME
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*
What is time? Taking Aristotle’s definition of Time – Time is essentially connected to movement. Time is the measurement of movements. There is time because there is movement. Anything that moves, therefore, have time.
God doesn’t have to move for He is literally everywhere. God is infinite. Ergo, God is not subject to time. Even when we say, “God is the Alpha (the beginning) and the Omega (the end),” still we are limiting God. God has no beginning and end. Even the word “Infinite” and “Eternal,” could be limiting God. Many Philosophers have tried to explain God being ‘Timeless’ or outside of time and “Spaceless” or outside space. But the concept of Time and Space in connection with God is simply beyond human comprehension.
A man has no power over Time. As we have no power over change and movement. Thus the phrase “Time and tide wait for no man” indicates that people have no capacity to stop the passing of time. Whether we like it or not, Time goes on. No one has the power to stop the march of time. When Time passes, forever it is gone. It will never come back. Quotes: ” Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.” (Source Unknown)
Thus Time could be an enemy or a friend. It depends on how you look at it. It is a choice! Time could be your best friend or your worst enemy. It’s a “Quid pro quo” (a give and take) situation. What you give is what you take. Make friends with time because time is an enemy that cannot be defeated. Time only allows being conquered by a friend. To some, Time brings joy, healing, contentment, bliss, and peace. To others, Time brings suffering, agony, sorrow, boredom, worry, and pain.
“As soon as Man is born, he begins to die.” Each second, each minute is a subtraction to our Time. Each passing of a day is time closer to our penultimate destiny which is death. And therefore, Time should never be wasted. Time is God’s most precious gift. Pope Francis says “Our life is made up of time, and time is a gift from God, so it is important that it be used in good and fruitful actions.”
Spending Time means differently to different people. Do not let bitterness and hatred destroy your Time. When someone hurts you… you may either hold on to hatred and bitterness and to some extent to exact revenge …or to forgive and move forward. It’s a personal choice. Forgiveness like Love is a decision we make.
Life’s greatest challenge is to love even the unlovable, to love even those who hurt you or to some extent even to one’s enemy. It is a Christian challenge.
We are just pilgrims here on earth. One day our time will come. It is inevitable! It is not for us to decide how long or how short our personal journey could be. It is our destiny. One thing is certain though – If it is time for us to go, then off we go. But it is the Love we give away that will make us Immortal.

ECCLESIASTES 3:1-8
A TIME FOR EVERYTHING
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

A Reflection: Solemnity Of The Lord’s Birth by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

christmas 2018

A REFLECTION OF THE HEART
Solemnity Of The Lord’s Birth
A Reflection: by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

*
GOSPEL: Luke 2:1-16
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.
While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger because there was no place for them in the inn.
In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an Angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the Angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see – I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Christ, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the Angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”
When the Angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.
*
*
REFLECTION:
Christmas is a season that brings us magic and wonder. As a child, I was always fascinated by the Christmas story i.e. the birth of the child in a manger, the appearance of angels, the shepherds, the magi and the bright star. Listening to Christmas carols also bring me strange joy. Christmas decorations everywhere never fail to bring me a sense of awe. Indeed, Christmas is the happiest time of the year. I am not talking about happiness that is superficial but rather something that is more profound. And it is founded in the awareness of the real spirit that is unfolding before us. We rejoice because it is a season that centers on God, on the child Jesus, on love, and on redemption.
*
Christmas is about a God of love. God indeed is great. Can you imagine, despite man’s infidelity, God even sent his only begotten Son for the salvation of the world? ” Because of the birth of Jesus, the God who is not visible to us became visible. We experience the Father’s love through Jesus, We have come to know God deeply through Jesus. Jesus revealed who the Father is to us. Our hearts should be filled with gratitude for we received the most amazing gift of all i.e. the gift of His Son, Jesus. Isaiah 9:6 “For a child is born to us, and the government is upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called, wonderful, counselor, God the mighty, the father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace.
*
On this blessed night, when we approach the nativity scene adoring the infant Jesus, let us bear in mind that the image of the child Jesus is more than an adorable cute baby boy. That child grew up – the one who came to serve and not to be served, the one who brought healing to the sick, consolation and pardon to the sinners, the one who raised the dead, he proclaimed the good news, who was put to trial, abandoned by his friends, tortured and crucified, died and was buried. But on the third day rose again. All these in order to save us and all because of love. Philippians 2:6 gives us a more profound understanding of Christmas, the birth of Jesus, “Although he was in the form of God, he did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at, rather he emptied himself and taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death – even death on a cross.
*
Story: (from an unknown source) There is a legend of an African boy called Emmanuel, who was always asking questions. One day he asked the question, “What language does God speak?” No one could answer him. He traveled all over his country to find the answer but did not get a satisfactory answer. Eventually, he set out for distant lands to find the answer. For a long time, he had no success. At last, he came one night to a village called Bethlehem and as there was no room in the local inn, he went outside the village in search of a shelter for the night. He came to a cave and found that too was occupied by a couple and a child. He was about to turn away when the young mother spoke, “Welcome Emmanuel, we’ve been waiting for you.” The boy was amazed that the woman knew his name. He was even more amazed when she went on to say, “For a long time you have been searching the world over to find out what language God speaks. Well, now your journey is over. Tonight you can see with your own eyes what language God speaks. He speaks the language of LOVE!
*
My dear brothers and sisters, on the first Christmas eve 2000 years ago, God communicated to us in a language loud and clear His message of love. “For God so love the world, He gave us his only begotten Son.” And with joy in our hearts, let us proclaim these glad tidings as loud as possible to all the people. Let us bring Christ’ message of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.

INSIGHTS: All About Christmas by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

Christmas all about

ALL ABOUT CHRISTMAS
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

Nowhere in the Scripture where we could find the exact date of Jesus’ birth. Traditionally, we claim that Christ was born on the 25th of December. But as to its veracity is still debatable. Some argued that Jesus was born not on the month when the weather is as cold as that of December. Scholars believe that the month of December was chosen only to counteract the pagan Roman celebrations honoring their pagan gods i.e. Mithras (god of light) and Saturnus (the harvest god).
However, I believe that exact date of Jesus’ birth should not be of so much concern to anyone considering the fact that Christmas is a celebration of the Incarnation and not just a memorial of a specific date. Christmas is not just about the birth of Jesus. It doesn’t matter therefore even if we may not be celebrating Jesus’ birth on the exact date when he was born. The celebration of his birth should be contemplated in its deeper meaning and that is the mystery of Jesus’ incarnation. The Son of God became a man. In the Nicene Creed we profess, “For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit, he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary and was made a man.”

The word Christmas originates from the Old English “Cristes Maesse” literally translated “the Mass of Christ.” And therefore every time the Mass is celebrated and we receive Jesus in the Eucharist we are like celebrating Christmas. Christmas is all about Jesus becoming a man to be with us.

We celebrate Christmas Eve because it is believed that Jesus was born at midnight. Significantly, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, literally means “the house of bread.” In Hebrew, Beth-lehem is two words and means “house” (Beth as in Beth-el, “house of God”) and “bread” (lehem). While Jesus was laid in a manger. The manger in itself has its significance. The word “Manger” comes from the Latin word “Munducare” meaning “to eat.” It was, therefore, highly symbolic that Jesus was laid in a manger. We now have a more profound understanding of the Eucharist. The manger has become a sign that Jesus is sustenance for us. In the Eucharist, we become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4). We partake of Jesus in the form of Bread and Wine (His Body and Blood).

The story of Christmas is the story of God’s becoming a human being in the Person of Jesus Christ. But why would God wants to be with us? Well, because we need a Savior. We need redemption. And because God loves us so much. Celebrating Christmas is a celebration of God’s immense love for mankind. The real meaning of Christmas should be a celebration of God’s love with our family and friends. Make the celebration of Christmas more meaningful by imitating Christ in the giving of himself. Nowadays Christmas has become too commercialized. Have we lost the true meaning of Christmas? Let us put Christ back in the celebration of Christmas. Our focus should not be on material things that could only bring us fleeting and superficial happiness. One should seek the joy that Christmas brings. Christ alone could provide us that real joy. Let’s find more meaning in the giving than in receiving.
At this point, allow me to share with you my favorite Christmas story:

THE GIFT OF THE MAGI by O. Henry
O. Henry tells of a famous Christmas story. It is about a young married couple who were very much in love. Christmas was approaching and they wanted to give a present to one another. But they were very poor and had no money for presents. So each one, without telling the other, decided to sell his or her most precious possession. The girl prized above all else her long golden hair. She went to a hairdresser and had it cut off. She then sold it to buy a lovely watch chain for her husband’s watch.
He, in the meantime, went to a jeweler and sold the only watch he had to buy two beautiful combs for his beloved’s hair.
On Christmas, they exchanged their gifts. At first, they cried, then they laughed. There was no hair for the comb and no watch for the watch chain.
But there was something more precious and that was the idea behind their gifts: each had deprived self of the best to give to the other…
A gift is no gift if it does not cost us something if it does not contain a part of ourselves. (Frank Mihalic – The next 500 stories)
*
God gave us the most precious of all gifts – the gift of His Son, our Lord Jesus. It was the gift of his presence. Christmas is all about God wanting to be with us. He is Emmanuel, meaning God is with us. When we look at the manger, we do not only see a cute baby boy. That baby boy grew up and offered himself on the cross to save us. Christmas is therefore about Jesus and his saving love for us. It could thus be summarized (John 3:16) “For God so loved the world that he gave us His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but may have eternal life.”

Wishing everyone a grace-filled Christmas! All the best for 2019

 

Reflection: Fourth Sunday Of Advent (C) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

4th Advent 2018 pater1

A Reflection Of The Heart
Fourth Sunday Of Advent (C)
23rd December 2018
A Reflection: by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

READINGS:

FIRST READING: MICAH 5:2-5a

Thus says the LORD:
You, Bethlehem of Ephrathah
too small to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel;
whose origin is from of old,
from ancient times.
Therefore the Lord will give them up, until the time
when she who is to give birth has borne,
and the rest of his kindred shall return
to the children of Israel.
He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock
by the strength of the LORD,
in the majestic name of the LORD, his God;
and they shall remain, for now, his greatness
shall reach to the ends of the earth;
he shall be peace.
*
The Word Of The Lord/ Thanks Be To God.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM: PSALM 80

R. RESTORE US, O GOD: LET YOUR FACE SHINE, THAT WE MAY BE SAVED.

O shepherd of Israel, hearken,
from your throne upon the cherubim, shine forth.
Rouse your power,
and come to save us.
R. Restore us, O God: let your face shine, that we may be saved.

Once again, O LORD of hosts,
look down from heaven, and see;
take care of this vine,
and protect what your right hand has planted
the son of man whom you yourself made strong
R. Restore us, O God: let your face shine, that we may be saved,

May your help be with the man of your right hand,
with the son of man whom you yourself made strong.
Then we will no more withdraw from you;
give us new life, and we will call upon your name.
R. Restore us, O God: let your face shine, that we may be saved,
*

SECOND READING: Hebrews 10:5-10

Brothers and sisters:
When Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
in holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight.
Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll,
behold, I come to do your will, O God.’“

First, he says, “Sacrifices and offerings,
holocausts and sin offerings,
you neither desired nor delighted in.”
These are offered according to the law.
Then he says, “Behold, I come to do your will.”
He takes away the first to establish the second.
By this “will,” we have been consecrated
through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

The Word Of The Lord/ Thanks Be To God.
*

GOSPEL ACCLAMATION:
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Here am I, the servant of the Lord: let it be done to me according to your word.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
*

GOSPEL: Luke 1:39-45

Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”
*
The Gospel Of The Lord/ Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

REFLECTION:
We have now reached the final week of our sojourn in the Advent season. As we light the fourth candle of the Advent Wreath we are being invited to reflect on the love of God. The fourth candle of Advent symbolizes Love. And therefore this Fourth Sunday of Advent reminds us that God is love, that we were created out of love and that God brought salvation to humankind because of love, and now He wants to be born in our hearts. This should be our reflection as we await the coming of Christ in our celebration of Christmas. The birth of our Lord Jesus – his Incarnation is all about God’s love of mankind.
But why is there a need for us to contemplate on God’s love? When we contemplate on the depth of God’s love for us we are filled with awe and wonder. Psalm 8:4 “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them. You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands, you put everything under their feet.” The immensity of God’s love for us humbles us. Then we become grateful people. Our hearts are filled with a profound sense of gratitude. And for this, our response should be one that glorifies God. God is love, and therefore, we should emulate that love in us. So what must we do? In today’s Gospel, the two women, Mary and Elizabeth showed us a perfect example of what must we do. At that time, Mary had just received the news from the Angel that she was to be the mother of Christ. She also learned that her cousin Elizabeth was with a child in her old age. So she went in haste and set out on a journey to be with her cousin. It was such a manifestation of Mary’s great humility and love. Considering the fact that Mary had just received the news that she is to be the mother of Jesus and that the Holy Spirit will overshadow her. That news that she had just received from an angel was something way beyond human comprehension. Yet under such circumstances, she set aside her personal concerns and worries to take care of her cousin and in great humility she served. Both women have received immense grace from God, both of them have found joy in their hearts, both of them have learned to share that love of God with one another. Now both women have become models to us all. All of us, just like Elizabeth and Mary are being called to respond to God’s love. We do this by loving one another. Our love of God demands that we love our neighbor. As we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Advent and as we anticipate the celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus, let us be reminded of its real purpose and meaning which is God’s love. We are therefore being called to be people of love. At this point let me share with you one of my favorite Christmas stories:

Once upon a time, there was a man who worked very hard just to keep food on the table for his family. This particular year a few days before Christmas, he punished his little five-year-old daughter after learning that she had used up the family’s only roll of expensive gold wrapping paper.

As money was tight, he became even more upset when on Christmas Eve he saw that the child had used all of the expensive gold paper to decorate one shoebox she had put under the Christmas tree. He also was concerned about where she had gotten money to buy what was in the shoebox.

Nevertheless, the next morning the little girl, filled with excitement, brought the gift box to her father and said, “This is for you, Daddy!”

As he opened the box, the father was embarrassed by his earlier overreaction, now regretting how he had punished her.

But when he opened the shoebox, he found it was empty and again his anger flared. “Don’t you know, young lady,” he said harshly, “when you give someone a present, there’s supposed to be something inside the package!”

The little girl looked up at him with sad tears rolling from her eyes and whispered: “Daddy, it’s not empty. I blew kisses into it until it was all full.”

The father was crushed. He fell on his knees and put his arms around his precious little girl. He begged her to forgive him for his unnecessary anger.

An accident took the life of the child only a short time later. It is told that the father kept this little gold box by his bed for all the years of his life. Whenever he was discouraged or faced difficult problems, he would open the box, take out an imaginary kiss, and remember the love of this beautiful child who had put it there.

In a very real sense, each of us has been given an invisible golden box filled with unconditional love and kisses from our children, family, friends, and God. There is no more precious possession anyone could hold. (Author Unknown)

Today, let us thank God for giving us that certainty that we are loved. Despite our weaknesses, our sinfulness and shortcomings God will never give up on us – for we are loved unconditionally. That love should be enough a reason for us that we too become more loving of others. Let us love with the love of God.

A Reflection: Third Sunday Of Advent (C) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

3rd Advent 2018 pater

A Reflection Of The Heart
A REFLECTION: THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT (C)
GAUDETE SUNDAY
16th December 2018
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

READINGS:

FIRST READING: Zephaniah 3:14-18a

Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!
Sing joyfully, O Israel!
Be glad and exult with all your heart,
O daughter Jerusalem!
The LORD has removed the judgment against you
he has turned away your enemies;
the King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst,
you have no further misfortune to fear.
On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged!
The LORD, your God, is in your midst,
a mighty savior;
he will rejoice over you with gladness,
and renew you in his love,
he will sing joyfully because of you,
as one sings at festivals.
*
The Word of the Lord/ Thanks be to God.

RESPONSORIAL PSALM (ISAIAH 12)

R. Shout aloud and sing for joy: great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
With joy, you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation.
R. Shout aloud and sing for joy: great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name;
among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name.
R. Shout aloud and sing for joy: great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst
is the Holy One of Israel!
R. Shout aloud and sing for joy: great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.
*

SECOND READING: PHILIPPIANS 4:4-7

Brothers and sisters:
Rejoice in the Lord always.
I shall say it again: rejoice!
Your kindness should be known to all.
The Lord is near.
Have no anxiety at all but in everything,
by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,
make your requests known to God.
Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
*
The Word of the Lord/ Thanks be to God.

GOSPEL ACCLAMATION (LUKE 4:18)
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring glad tidings to the poor.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GOSPEL: Luke 3:10-18

The crowds asked John the Baptist,
“What should we do?”
He said to them in reply,
“Whoever has two cloaks
should share with the person who has none.
And whoever has food should do likewise.”
Even tax collectors came to be baptized and they said to him,
“Teacher, what should we do?”
He answered them,
“Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.”
Soldiers also asked him,
“And what is it that we should do?”
He told them,
“Do not practice extortion,
do not falsely accuse anyone,
and be satisfied with your wages.”

Now the people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
“I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor
and to gather the wheat into his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
Exhorting them in many other ways,
he preached good news to the people.
*
The Gospel Of The Lord/ Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

REFLECTION:

The celebration of the Third Sunday of Advent to me could be likened to an intermission of a play. An intermission in a play is important because it builds anticipation for what’s to come in the acts to follow, the break also gives the audience and the actors a little time to prepare for the next act. Likewise, the celebration of the Third Sunday of Advent serves as a little break in our journey of the season. Basically, our spiritual sojourn during Advent is a call to a repentance, conversion, and renewal. It encourages us to make some sacrifices, self-reflection, examination of conscience, self-denial to prepare ourselves for Christmas as well as in our anticipation of the coming of our Lord and Saviour at the end of time. The Advent message, therefore, is a serious business for us Catholics. We do not take things for granted. We heed to that call. But then in our Liturgy for this Sunday, we see a shift of moods i.e. from a call to repentance and renewal to an invitation to rejoice. Our readings proclaim the message of joy and jubilation. Thus the reason why the liturgical color also changed from purple to rose. We also light the rose-colored candle of the Advent wreath. Rose signifies Joy. The Third Sunday of Advent is also called Gaudete Sunday. Gaudete is a Latin word meaning “Rejoice.’ The word came from Philippians 4:4,5 “Gaudete in Domino Semper.” (Rejoice in the Lord always.)
At the heart of the Gospel message is an invitation for us to rejoice. This is the reason why God created us so that He may share with us His joy. Joy is also the reason for our existence. The joy that I am talking about is not something that is equated with just being happy. It is not something that is fleeting, superficial and external. It is something profound, lasting and real. A true follower of Christ seeks not just happiness but joy. Happiness is temporary but joy is permanent since it is founded in the Lord. One can experience joy even in the face of trials, sufferings, and tribulations. So do not be a mere happy person but a joyful person.
Contrary to the impression of some, embracing our Catholic belief should make us people of joy. Our religion is a religion of joy. Something must be wrong if our experience of religion is one of an experience of sadness. In John 15:11 Jesus said “I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.
Was our Lord Jesus joyful? People are used to having an image of a melancholic Jesus, a suffering Messiah. I am convinced that part of Jesus’ charisma was his being a joyful person. That was what made people of different walks of life being drawn to Jesus that includes the sinners and tax collectors. You won’t enjoy the company of someone who is not pleasant and joyful. So Jesus was a joyful and probably a humorous person. In fact, we even find something humorous in some of the Gospel texts. For example, in describing the Pharisees, Jesus said they are like blind leading a blind. In Matthew 9:13, when asked why he and the disciples didn’t fast, He said”Do wedding guests mourn while celebrating with the groom? Of course, not!” And in Beatitudes, Jesus shared with us the reasons to be joyful. We call the Beatitudes ” Be happy attitudes.” And lest we forget that the very first miracle Jesus performed here on earth transpired at a wedding at Cana. So Jesus mingled with the people. He enjoyed the company of the people. He laughed with them. He wept with them. It was a human experience. Jesus empathized with us completely and share with us in our joys and in our sadness.
In today’s Gospel, John the Baptist gives practical ways in which one could find joy. He tells them to be generous, to always do the right thing, not to cheat and to find contentment in life. When things are dark, when our life is beset with problems, do we become bitter and resentful? Today’s liturgy is a challenge and an invitation to “Rejoice always in the Lord.”
To conclude our reflection, let us reflect on the insights of the prophet Habakkuk:
Habakkuk 3:17-19
“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.”

(Story from an unknown source)

One rainy afternoon I was driving along one of the main streets of a town, taking those extra precautions necessary when the roads are wet and slick. Suddenly, my daughter, Aspen, spoke up from her relaxed position in her seat. “Dad, I’m thinking of something.”

This announcement usually meant she had been pondering some fact for a while and was now ready to expound all that her six-year-old mind had discovered. I was eager to hear.

“What are you thinking?” I asked.

“The rain!;” she began, “is like sin, and the windshield wipers are like God wiping our sins away.”

After the chill bumps raced up my arms I was able to respond. “That’s really good, Aspen.”

Then my curiosity broke in. How far would this little girl take this revelation? So I asked… “Do you notice how the rain keeps on coming? What does that tell you?”

Aspen didn’t hesitate one moment with her answer: “We keep on sinning, and God just keeps on forgiving us.” I will always remember this whenever I turn my wipers on.

In order to see the rainbow, you must first endure some rain.

The real joy is always found in the grace of a faithful, a loving and a forgiving God.