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.
*
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.”

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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
*

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
*
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.
*

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.”

HOMILY: Nativity of John the Baptist by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

john the baptist - pater

NATIVITY OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
A REFLECTION
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

GOSPEL: Luke 1:57-66,80

When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child
she gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors and relatives heard
that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her,
and they rejoiced with her.
When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child,
they were going to call him Zechariah after his father,
but his mother said in reply,
“No. He will be called John.”
But they answered her,
“There is no one among your relatives who has this name.”
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.
He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,”
and all were amazed.
Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed,
and he spoke blessing God.
Then fear came upon all their neighbors,
and all these matters were discussed
throughout the hill country of Judea.
All who heard these things took them to heart, saying,
“What, then, will this child be?”
For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.
The child grew and became strong in spirit,
and he was in the desert until the day
of his manifestation to Israel.
_______________________________

REFLECTION:

Today we celebrate the Nativity of John the Baptist. Perhaps, the question would be, why was the birth of John the Baptist so much given special importance by the Church. Well, John the Baptist was no ordinary person. He was to play such a huge role in the salvation history. “You, child, shall be called the Prophet of the Most High: for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways.” (Luke 1:76) This is the reason why today we are being invited by the Church to reflect on the importance of John the Baptist’s ministry, his role and the values he imparted us by his life.

Who was John the Baptist? John was a unique and a special kind of person. We could see that he was a different kind of person considering the circumstances surrounding his birth. He was the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth. They were both advanced of age and considering that Elizabeth was barren, the birth of John the Baptist was seen as but Divine intervention. It tells us that with God nothing is impossible. John’s birth was even announced by an angel. This is the reason why the Blessed Virgin Mary became aware of it, hence, made that famous visitation to her cousin Elizabeth. Such encounter is worthy of reflection for even in the wombs of the two mothers, our Lord and John already encounter each other.

There are two things that I so admire in the person of John i.e. Discipline and incredible Humility.

First, Discipline, because even at a young age he knew his role, He was to prepare the way of the Lord. His awareness of his role paves the way to his life of great discipline – physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. Like, he lived a simple life, dressed in camel’s hair, eating nothing but locusts and wild honey. He was not afraid to preach the truth. We remember John for his bold and courageous preaching against the self-righteous Pharisees that cost him a great price i.e. his own life.

And second, an incredible Humility because he took no credit for himself. To John the Baptist, his mission was just to prepare the way of the Lord. When he was asked whether he is the Messiah or not, he replied: “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals.” (Mark 1:7) He knew his mission and purpose in life. “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight his path.” – John 1:23. John’s finger was pointing at Jesus. John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” “He must increase, I must decrease.” John 3:30. This is the lesson we learned from the life of John the Baptist. A life that is centered on Jesus. As modern-day disciples of Jesus, we are being called to do just the same i.e. to be courageous and make Jesus known.

The name John was announced by Angel Gabriel, it means “Gift of God” “Graced by God” and or “God is gracious” Just like John the Baptist, may our lives be instruments heralding God’s graciousness.

INSIGHTS: God’s Abundant Love & Mercy by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

reconciliation

INSIGHTS – God’s Abundant Love and Mercy
(On the Sacrament Of Reconciliation)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

It seems so unfair that we too have to suffer from the matter of consequences of what Adam and Eve did in paradise. They disobeyed God and as result, we inherited the original sin. Our parents pass along the original guilt of Adam and Eve. Romans 5:12 clearly says “Just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people because all sinned.” Shall we, then, blame Adam and Eve for our present plight? Not at all, let us not be too judgmental of them. In fact, if we were in the place of Adam and Eve, I am certain that we would have done the same. Whether we admit it or not, we too are weak. And just as, at present, we continue to commit sins, we have no one to blame but ourselves. We are all responsible for our own actions. We always hear people say, “Nobody’s perfect!” So true! We all have our shortcomings and weaknesses. Romans 3:23 says “For everyone has sinned, we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”

But the good news is that God looks into our hearts. We may have our flaws. But God knows that still there is goodness in our hearts. As a matter of fact, there was purity and innocence before the fall of Adam and Eve. It was actually our original state before the fall. Everything in us was good. Because we were created in the image and likeness of him who is pure goodness and beauty. “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.’ . . . God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:26–27) Man, therefore, is not evil in nature. Still, there is goodness in everyone’s heart. We only have to search the heart of each individual. I think it is safer to say that man is by nature weak but not evil.

This is the reason why every year we enter into our Lenten journey i.e. to spend the time to reflect and to contemplate. This is the time when we search our hearts. Where are we now when it comes to our spiritual life? Are we advancing or regressing? The season of Lent provides us an opportunity to humble ourselves before the Lord so that we may come to terms with true repentance and conversion. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is an invitation for each one of us to come home. It is a beautiful Sacrament where we experience God’s forgiveness and his healing touch. This is the reason why God in His abundant Love and Mercy instituted the Sacrament of Penance, so that we may always make a fresh start. That we may always obtain forgiveness of our sins and reconcile with God and His Church.

John 20:21-23 ” Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” It was Easter when Jesus uttered these words, it was like telling his apostles “I have authority to forgive sin, now you may do the same with one another. Thus Jesus wants us to confess our sins to a priest in the Sacrament of Penance.The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a visible sign that our sins are forgiven.

How often should I go to Confession?

I should say, as often as there is a need.

Catholic who has committed mortal (grave) sin is obliged to seek God’s forgiveness in this sacrament as soon as possible.

From the Catholic Teachings:
The Catechism of the Catholic Church statement, “after having attained the age of discretion, each of the faithful is bound by an obligation faithfully to confess serious sins at least once a year” (CCC 1457), includes a footnote reference to the Code of Canon Law: “After having reached the age of discretion, each member of the faithful is obliged to confess faithfully his or her grave sins at least once a year” (CIC 989).

As we continue our Lenten journey in anticipation of the joy of Easter, let us humble ourselves. Let us avail of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and find peace and solace in the loving embrace of a merciful and compassionate God.
We are fortunate because, despite our sinfulness, God is always ready to forgive. As what St. Paul says “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

GOSPEL REFLECTION: Palm Sunday by Rev. Fr. Allen Bclor Abadines

Palm Sunday - Pater

GOSPEL REFLECTION
PALM SUNDAY OF THE PASSION OF THE LORD (B)
March 25,2018
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

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GOSPEL: Mark 15:22-39
The soldiers brought Jesus to the place of Golgotha – which is translated into Place of the Skull. They gave him wine drugged with myrrh, but he did not take it. Then they crucified him and divided his garments by casting lots for them to see what each should take. It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read: “The King of the Jews.” With him, they crucified two revolutionaries, one on his right and one on his left. Those passing by reviled him, shaking their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself by coming down from the cross. Likewise, the chief priests, with the scribes, mocked him among themselves and said, “He saved others, he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe. Those who were crucified with him also kept abusing him.
At noon darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three o’clock Jesus cried out in a loud voice. “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Some of the bystanders who heard it said, “Look, he is calling Elijah.” One of them ran, soaked a sponge with wine, put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink saying, “Wait, let us see if Elijah comes to take him down.” Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.
The veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from the top to bottom. When the centurion who stood facing him saw how he breathed his last he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God.”

*
REFLECTION:
Story: (Unknown source) Most Important Part Of The Body
My mother used to often ask me what the most important part of the body was. Young as I was, I thought the sound was very important to us humans. So I’d say, “My ears, mommy!” “No!” she would say. “There are so many people who are deaf! But you keep thinking and I will ask you again soon.” And so it went until several years passed before she asked me again. Since making my first attempt, I contemplate the correct answer. Or so I thought I had! So this time I told her, “Mommy, sight is very important to everybody, so it must be our eyes.” She looked at me and told me, “You are learning fast, but the answer is not correct because there are many people who are blind.”
Stumped again, I continued my quest for knowledge and after a few years, mother asked me a couple of times more and always her answer was, “No, But you are getting smarter every year, my child.”
Then one year, my grandfather died. Everybody was upset and everybody was crying.
Even my father wept I remember that, especially because that was only the second time in my life that I had ever seen him cry.
My mom looked at me when it was our turn to say our final goodbye to grandpa, she asked me, “Don’t you know the most important body part yet, my dear?” I was shocked when she asked me this now. I always thought this was a game between her and me. She saw the confusion on my face and told me, “This question is very important. It shows that you have really lived in your life. For every body part you gave as the answer in the past, I have told you, was wrong, even giving you the reason why. But today is the day you need to learn this important lesson.” She looked down at me as only a mother can. I saw her eyes welling up with tears. She said, “My dear, the most important part of the body is your shoulder.”
“Why? Is it because it holds up my head?” I asked.
“No,” she replied,”it is because it can hold the head of a friend or a loved one when they cry/ Everybody needs a shoulder to cry on sometimes in life, my dear. On our shoulder, we can show compassion for others. On our shoulder, we can share with them their sorrow and their tears. Therefore, have your shoulders always ready for a friend and or a loved one to cry on when they need it.”
The most important body part is not a selfish one. It is being sympathetic to the pain of others. Likewise, on His shoulder, Jesus carried the cross. We are that cross.On his shoulders Jesus carried us. For the cross was Jesus’ ultimate service for mankind. On his shoulder rest the salvation of mankind. His cross revealed Christ’ compassion and a love immeasurable.
Today, we celebrate Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord. Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week. Palm Sunday is inviting us to reflect on the importance of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. The people welcomed Jesus with joy. John 12:13 “So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord- the King of Israel.” It was a welcome fitted to a King. Among the crowds were probably some of the people whom Jesus served, some of them may have received physical healing, some of them may have listened to the preaching of our Lord and they were spiritually touched, some of them may have witnessed Jesus’ miracles and or probably among them Jesus had fed.
A little boy once asked me this question, but Father, why did Jesus choose to ride on a donkey? I said, riding on a donkey means royalty. So, when Jesus instructed his disciples to get the donkey, it was like a proclamation of him being King and of his divinity. The donkey, however, symbolized the kind of Jesus’ Kingship – It’s a Kingdom of Peace and of Love! John 18:36 Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my Kingdom is not from the world.” There was a great rejoicing when Jesus entered Jerusalem. But I wonder what was going on in his mind as he enters Jerusalem? Our Lord Jesus was certain of what He was going to face in the city of Jerusalem. Entering Jerusalem means his hour has come. Jesus is now about to face his death. Therefore in the midst of that great rejoicing, there was sadness in his heart. He knew that those people glorifying him will also be the same people who would cry out for his death. Sic transit gloria hominae.(Thus passes the glory of men!) Jesus’ image of a King as he entered Jerusalem is like a lamb ready and willing to be slaughtered. All these, out of his great trust, obedience, and love of the Father.
Today we are to bless those palms, symbols of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem, symbols of his Kingship and Divinity, symbols of his sacrifice and great love. We will keep those blessed palms at home until they all wither. On Ash Wednesday, we will burn them.The ashes will be imposed on our forehead by the priest reminding us of our mortality. “You are dust and unto dust, you shall return. Death to us no longer has a final say. For Christ emerged victoriously.And his victory is also our victory.”Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17) There may be sadness now in our heart as we reflect on the passion of our Lord, yet we anticipate the joy of Easter. 1 Corinthians 15:57 “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!”

HOMILY: Fifth Sunday Of Lent (B) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

5th Lent B1

FiFTH SUNDAY OF LENT (B)
GOSPEL REFLECTION
18th March 2018
by REV. FR. ALLEN BACLOR ABADINES

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GOSPEL: John 12: 20-33
Among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. The person who loves their life loses it, and the person who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
“Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.
“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say-‘Father, save me from this hour? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.”
Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”
The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An Angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.
The Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.

*
REFLECTION
Story: In a retreat, the Priest was sharing an inspiring story to the children.He said, “A father, his son, and a friend of his son were sailing off the Pacific coast when a fast approaching storm blocked any attempt to get back to shore. The waves were so high that, even though the father was an experienced sailor, he could not keep the boat upright, and the three were swept into the ocean as the boat capsized.
Grabbing a rescue line, the father had to make the most excruciating decision of his life: to which the boy he would throw the other end of the lifeline. He only had seconds to make the decision. The father knew that his son was a good Christian, and he also knew that his son’s friend was not.The agony of a decision could not be matched by the torrent of the waves. As the father yelled out,”I love you, son.” he threw out the lifeline to the son’s friend. By the time the father had pulled the friend back to the capsized boat, his son had disappeared beneath the raging swells into the black of night. His body was never recovered.
The father made that decision because he knew his son would step into eternity with Jesus, and he would not bear the thought of his son’s friend stepping into an eternity without Jesus. Therefore, He sacrificed his son to save the son’s friend.”
One of the children who was listening to the priest said, “Father, that was a nice story but I don’t think it was very realistic for a father to give up his only son’s life in hopes that the other boy would become a Christian. For me, it was unthinkable for a father to sacrifice his son that others may live.”
And the priest said, “That is precisely the point, it is also unthinkable for God to sacrifice his only-begotten son that we might live. But that’s the mystery of God’s love for us.”
And the boy further said to the priest,”And how could the father be so sure that his son’s friend would become a believer of Jesus Christ? And that despite the sacrifice he made, how could the father be so sure that his son’s friend would even manifest his gratitude to him. Isn’t it a risk?”
The priest said,”Yes, indeed a risk…God took that risk when He sent us his Son. Despite the fact that there was no assurance that man will respond back to His love. ” The priest further said to the boy, “And you know my child…I am that son’s friend in the story. If the father of my friend did not choose me, then you won’t have a pastor now speaking to you.”

Today’s Gospel text is like preparing us for our reflection for the Holy Week. The Gospel ushers us into our reflection of the Passion of Christ. It was like we are being invited to stand at the foot of the Cross asking Jesus why do you have to suffer for us? Why did the Father have to sacrifice his only begotten Son for the salvation of all? Who are we to be given such immense importance by God? To answer these questions, Jesus uses the image of a grain of wheat. “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” The grain of wheat must fall to the ground and die so that it can produce fruit. Jesus was talking about his own death. He was talking about the Cross that he had to bear. Jesus’ salvific mission cannot be accomplished without the Cross. Our reflection this Sunday, therefore, should be focused on the Cross of Christ as a symbol and means of salvation.The love of God is manifested in the Cross. In Romans 5:8, it says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This mystery reveals the great love which God has for us. Our Lord Jesus was rejected and crucified by man. But precisely in this rejection on our part that God manifested to us his fidelity and unconditional love. Nothing could stop God from loving us – not even sin. God will never give up on us despite the hardness of our hearts. God will keep on loving us, seeking us, calling us to come to Him, revealing us a God of great mercy. God, in fact, has not sent His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world may be saved through him. Therefore, in today’s Gospel text our Lord Jesus is telling us that his death indeed is necessary to achieve his mission to save us – “if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

However, our Lord Jesus was also talking about our own death. Death is necessary for us to achieve eternal life. He was talking about dying to oneself. “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:24) Life, in order to be meaningful, involves sacrifices. When we die to self we realize the value of sacrifice. We set aside our personal wants and desires but we learn to be more kind, generous, accepting and loving of others. Although dying to oneself may not only be about sacrifice, it is more on seeking God’s will. It is motivated by love. When we experience trials, sufferings, and setbacks in life, and if is done as a process of seeking the Lord, then we suffer with meaning. Suffering, as they say, is a way of purification to achieve redemption. We are not to despair and lose hope – for remember “The nightingale always sings sweetest at the darkest hour.”

As we reach the last Sunday of Lent, let us ask God to give us the will and the strength to imitate Christ in his love and sacrifice and that we may always seek God’s holy will. “God, not my will, but thy will be done.

Homily: Fourth Sunday of Lent (B) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

4th Lent pater

 

FOURTH SUNDAY OF LENT (B)
GOSPEL REFLECTION
By Rev. Fr.Allen Baclor Abadines
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Readings:
First Reading: 2 Chronicles 36:14-17a,19-23
Responsorial Psalm: Let my tongue cling to my mouth if I do not remember you!
Second Reading: Ephesians 2:4-10
Gospel: John 3:14-21
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GOSPEL: John 3:14-21
Jesus said to Nicodemus:”Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life,
“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. The one who believes in him is not condemned, but the one who does not believe is condemned already; for not having believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God.
“And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God.
The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ
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REFLECTION
In today’s Gospel text, we encountered a very interesting figure in the person of Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a Pharisee. He was a teacher and held a very important position among religious leaders. Most of the religious leaders hated Jesus so much. Probably, they were jealous because of Jesus’ growing popularity among the people. People came to Jesus to listen to him. They came to Jesus to seek spiritual and physical healing. They came to Jesus because of his holiness. For sure, Nicodemus must have heard a lot about Jesus, and eventually, he became a silent admirer of him despite the growing opposition from among his associates. He wanted to know Jesus more…there was a growing desire in him to listen to Jesus about God and His Kingdom. But he was afraid for his reputation and status as a Pharisee. He was afraid that his associates might condemn him. And so Nicodemus came to Jesus in secret under the cover of darkness of the night to avoid being seen. I am not really a fan of Nicodemus. For to me, if we really love Jesus and have faith in him then we should be courageous enough to come out in the open to profess our faith in him. Either we are for Jesus or are against him. Either we are for righteousness or for sin. Either we are in the light or we are in the dark. Either we are for the love of God or for the evil one. There should be nothing in between. Our love for Jesus should be complete.But one thing good about Nicodemus was that at least he still approached Jesus and he listened to him. Despite his fears, he still sought Jesus.
The concept of a loving and a forgiving God was not easy for the Jewish people to comprehend. God for them is the God of the law. That God was a God who will judge and will give punishment to the sinners. That God is angry and unforgiving of the unrighteous. So Jesus took this opportunity to explain to Nicodemus, that he may be enlightened and may have a different concept of who God really is. He said,”Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”
In other words, Jesus in today’s Gospel was telling Nicodemus and us, how great is the love of God for us. God loves and saves us. We may not be worthy of His love …it is actually a privilege gained through pure grace and not on merit. Because of this love that Jesus allowed himself to be lifted up as Moses lifted a bronze serpent so that all those bitten by the deadly serpent of sin might look up to him for healing and redemption. Jesus imparts on us that God is interested more about man’s salvation rather than condemnation. While reflecting on today’s Gospel message, it feels to me that Jesus was like telling me personally – “I love you no matter what. I am not here to punish you nor to judge you. I am here to save you and offer you, love. All I ask of you is to remain in my love.”
The Fourth Sunday of Lent is called Laetare Sunday. Laetare means to rejoice. We rejoice in the fact that God loves us. This is precisely the message of this Sunday’s liturgy – it’s LOVE! If we pondered deeply in the readings of today, the first reading (2 Chronicles), the second reading (Ephesians), and the Gospel, they shared something in common. It is just like reading a love letter from God. Do we really know how much God loves us? Do we really know how lavishly God wants to bestow his love upon us? God loves us so much that this love leads him to even sacrifice his only-begotten Son. Real love always involved sacrifice. We would know how deep is the love given by what it cost him. Jesus has proven the depth of his love of the Father and mankind for being obedient even unto death. John 15:13 “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Jesus further said – You are my friends. And he stretched out his hands and died on the cross.
Having realized the depth of God’s love, it should lead us to grow in our love of God and our fellowmen, It should lead us to a more profound faith in him. That we should learn to love God deeply and to love our fellowmen sincerely.
An old priest was about to retire, and in his farewell party, a parishioner asked him this question. “Father, in your ministry as a priest, you have delivered countless of homilies. I should say, I don’t remember any of them. Would you give me your most important message that I should remember?” And the priest said, “You may not remember any of my words, it’s alright. But this I ask you not to forget – that You are loved! You are loved unconditionally by a greater love than you can ever imagine. God loves you now and forever. What should be your response to this love?”