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

17th Sunday B pater

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

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

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

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REFLECTION:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Reflection: 16th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

16th Sunday - Pater

GOSPEL REFLECTION: 16th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)
22nd July 2018
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

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READINGS:
First Reading: Jeremiah 23:1-6
Responsorial Psalm: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Second Reading: Ephesians 2:13-18
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GOSPEL: Mark 6:30-34
The Apostles returned from their mission. They gathered around Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught.
He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.
Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them. As Jesus went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things.
The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
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REFLECTION:
Have you ever experienced being too exhausted, stressed and burnout? If you experience constant stress, feeling helpless, feeling physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted then today’s Gospel text is for you to reflect upon.
The Gospel text for this Sunday is a continuation of last Sunday’s Gospel text. In last Sunday’s Gospel, St. Mark relates to us about the sending of the twelve apostles to a mission i.e. to preach the good news and to administer to the needs of the people – curing the sick, casting out demons. It was such a huge task for the apostles.
Now, in today’s Gospel text, St. Mark relates to us the return of the apostles from doing their mission. They reported to Jesus what they’ve accomplished. The apostles must be very tired. And so Jesus invites them to come away with him and rest. They were hoping to escape for just a little while to seek rest, to share the stories of their experiences and to debrief but the crowd followed them and arrived even ahead of them. When Jesus saw the crowd he had compassion towards them because “they were like sheep without a shepherd.” And Jesus attended to their needs.
Upon reflection on the Gospel, two things came up to my mind. First, Jesus recognized the need to rest. Second, Jesus is a compassionate God. He set aside his own personal needs and replaced it with a concrete need to minister to the people.
Let me, therefore, focus my reflection on these two particular points. When we are feeling a little weary amidst the busyness of life, or probably we’re wrung out or burnout, we should have in mind that even our Lord Jesus recognized the need to rest or to a retreat, After doing his ministry of preaching and healing and when he felt his strength waning, Jesus would steal away to a lonely place away from the crowd to pray.
There was once a lawyer whose main preoccupation was to make money. His ultimate goal was to get rich. So he worked hard for that, finding no time to be with his family, no time for leisure and no time to pray. For him time is gold and he should not waste time on the less important matter. And he became successful in life. But his relationship with his family suffered. He got separated from his wife and his only son got imprisoned for drugs and other crimes. When the father visited his son in prison he asked his son this question – ” Why? What happened to your son? Where did I go wrong, son?” To which the son replied, “It’s all because you really did not care about us. All your concern was to make money. You did not even find time to be with mom and me”
The man in the story did not know that a good and successful life should be a balance between work and rest and prayer. A Philosopher Socrates once said, “An unreflected life is not worth living.”
In today’s Gospel, Jesus affirms the importance of rest and renewal. Jesus invites to come away with him and to rest. This is what we seek and find in our life of prayer. Life is full of changes and challenges. As soon as we get finished with one, there is another one in our path. Thus a great temptation to make ourselves with so much work and not finding time to rest. But there is a saying – “A person who wants to sing always find a song; likewise, a person who wants to pray always find the time.” When was the last time you spend quality time to pray? Prayer is not a waste of time. When we pray we learn, we experience healing. How we pray reveals a lot about our soul, just like how we spend money says so much about what we value. Jesus, therefore, is like telling us in today’s Gospel the need for us to rest not only for physical renewal but also for spiritual refreshment through reflection. When I say rest, I do not mean only to pray but also to reconnect with the inner self. To find time to stop and smell the flowers. To find time to appreciate the beauty of nature. To find quality time to bond with the people around most especially with your family.
The last part of the Gospel reveals Jesus’ compassion. “As Jesus went ashore, he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd.” Jesus was hoping to spend quality time with his disciples but something comes up unexpectedly and so Jesus set aside his own personal needs. We can practically relate to the experience of Jesus. For example, a doctor, in the middle of the night and sleep got an emergency call of duty. A good doctor will comply at once. Similarly, a good priest responds quickly and joyfully to an emergency call to administer to the sick. There are times when we feel that we have already given so much and yet we are asked to give even more. That is compassion. Compassion literally means ” to suffer with another.” In our most trying moments, remember that we have a compassionate Lord. We only have to trust in his great love who invites us to “come to him, all you that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

GOSPEL REFLECTION: 15th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

15th Sunday B - Pater

GOSPEL REFLECTION: 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)
Sunday, 15th July 2018
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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READINGS:
First Reading: Amos 7:12-15
Responsorial Psalm: Show us your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation.
Second Reading: Ephesians 1:3-14
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GOSPEL: Mark 6:7-13
Jesus called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics.
Jesus said to them, “Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.”
So the twelve went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.
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REFLECTION:
In today’s Gospel text, St. Mark relates to us that Jesus summoned his twelve apostles to send them to a mission i.e. to preach the Good News, cure the sick, cast out demons and to ask people to repent. I could almost imagine how the apostles must have felt at that time. After they were trained and have witnessed the marvelous works of Jesus, now they were being sent to do the same. Some of them, maybe anxious to do their mission, others might be so excited and still, others might be somewhat apprehensive. Yes, they had listened to Jesus’ preaching. They had seen him performed healing. They had witnessed Jesus casting demons out of people. But to do them by themselves must have been for the apostles a bit overwhelming. Yet, they trusted Jesus completely. They knew that Jesus had confidence that they could carry out the mission entrusted to them.
But how is this account of commissioning the apostles relevant to us today? Well, it tells us that the work of evangelization must continue till today. It would be erroneous to think that the mission to evangelize is only for the clergy, bishops, religious and missionaries. Every baptized person has a duty to spread the good news. In fact, at home, parents should be the first missionaries to their children. It is their obligation to bring their children to the faith. The Church teaches that lay people have a distinct and very real role in the spreading of the Gospel. The Church also teaches that in dignity laity are absolutely equal to the ordained ministers as far as carrying out the duty to evangelize is concerned.
It is quite interesting to reflect on the instructions Jesus gave to his apostles as they set out to do the mission. First, the apostles were sent two by two. There must be something special about the number two. Jesus did not send them one by one, but two by two. The number two for me indicate the importance of community. Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there am I in their midst.”
Then Jesus ordered them not to take anything with them but a staff, no food, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. I think not only did Jesus wants for his apostles to travel light, but he also wants them to learn to trust God completely who would provide them for everything they need, even their basic needs. Jesus wants them also to learn to trust in the goodness of the people.
Doing Jesus’ mission is not gonna be easy. A missionary should never expect to always receive a positive response from the people. Some people will reject us because we represent Jesus on earth. And Jesus knew this reality that is why he instructed the apostles, “If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” Jesus did not say that we should condemn those who reject his word. He only said to shake the dust off our feet. Shaking the dust off for me means to move forward. Shaking off the dust means to leave the place quietly, to forget everything and not to be disappointed. Indeed, many people will reject yet somewhere there are people who will listen, accept and embrace the faith. If as a missionary you are rejected then just shake off the dust from that village, do not bring a souvenir not even the dust that is on your feet, then move on and make a fresh start. Never dwell too long on your disappointments. And do not let failure let you down. Remember the captain of the ship is Jesus. We are only his servants.
Luke 10:2 “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest.”
Will you allow God to use you to carry out the mission for the salvation of the world? Are you willing to make the difference?
As God’s Worker in his vineyard, I could only pray with the prayer of St. Francis:
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Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. 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.
O , Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

HOMILY:13th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

13th Sunday pater

A REFLECTION
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
13th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)
Sunday, 1st July 2018
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READINGS:
First Reading: Wisdom 1:13-15;2;23-24
Responsorial Psalm: “I will extol you, Lord, for you have raised me up.
Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 8:7,9:13-15
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GOSPEL: Mark 5:21-43
When Jesus had crossed in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the synagogue leaders named Jairus came and when he saw Jesus, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” So Jesus went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease.
Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, “Who touched me?”
He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. Jesus said to her daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease.” While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.”
Jesus allowed no one to follow him. When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him.
Then Jesus put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about for she was twelve years of age.
At this, they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
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REFLECTION:
Today’s Gospel text presents to us a beautiful literary style of the evangelist St. Mark. Mark gave us two miracle accounts. First, he introduced to us, a prominent figure, Jairus a synagogue official of some kind who came to Jesus to plead for the life of his daughter who was greatly ill and was dying. Then this account is interrupted to relate to us another character, a woman with hemorrhages for twelve years. Then we return to the daughter of the synagogue official. Certainly, this particular literary style of Mark sandwiching the cure of the woman with hemorrhage was done with a purpose. It was as if to prepare Mark’s readers of an even greater miracle that is to come. The woman came to Jesus and Jesus brought healing and peace. As if this account is not amazing enough, it was followed up by an even greater miracle – the raising of Jairus’ daughter. Jairus puts his complete trust in Jesus, and Jesus brought life where there once was death. The raising of Jairus’ daughter reminds us of the raising of Lazarus. It is meant to invite us to reflect on the realities of life and death and life after death. It brings us the necessary hope and joy. For it tells us that there is life after this our present state. It tells us that we are destined to immortality. If there is no life after this one, then life is meaningless. We see life as a journey, a pilgrimage towards our ultimate goal which is heaven. Reflecting on today’s Gospel brings us to the conclusion that in Jesus we experience peace and healing. In him, suffering ends and new life takes the place of death.
When we read in the Scripture the miracle accounts of Jesus, bear in mind that it is not the spectacular element that is important. What is important is the meaning or the message that’s contained in the miracle. In Mark’s Gospel text we see impossible cases. Mark presents to us each case as almost beyond help. For instance, last Sunday, Mark gave us an account of the calming of the storm. The disciples thought they were going to die in the storm (Mk 4:38) but Jesus was able to calm the storm with a simple command – Quiet, be calm! And now we reflect on the healing of the woman suffering for twelve years and the raising of Jairus’ daughter. These accounts tell us that in Jesus there is no such thing as a hopeless case. In Jesus there are no incurables, nothing is impossible in him. But we learn a lot from the example of Jairus and the woman in the Gospel. It was their faith that brought about healing and restoration of life. Today, we have seen two beautiful examples of faith. When the sick woman and Jairus were helpless and hopeless, Jesus was the answer.
The woman had an incredible faith. She was certain that Jesus could heal her. She knew that Jesus was so powerful so that if she could just touch even the hem of his clothes, she would be healed. Certainly, that’s faith.
And Jairus, considering that he was a figure of respect in his town manifested incredible faith also. He was an important man, which is why the crowd gave way enough to let him through. But Jairus set aside his prominence and importance. Here he behaves like a desperate man. Jairus didn’t worry about what other people might say or think about him. So he threw himself at Jesus’ feet and begged. He had only one thing in mind and that’s the well-being of his child. He was not ashamed to ask Jesus for help. His child is dying. Here we see a compassionate Jesus who agreed to come with him to see his child. But before they get very far, they received a disturbing news – “Your daughter is dead…why trouble the teacher any further.” But Jesus said, “Do not fear, only believe!” Jesus was like telling Jairus to have faith. When things, therefore, seem hopeless, come to Jesus. Jesus is full of compassion. He feels and knows our pain for he himself experienced suffering. He longs to help you. He has the power to help when no one else can. You should never be afraid to bring Jesus your needs. But always have faith. Faith is a free gift from the Father. If we are lacking in faith, just ask the Father and he will gladly give you the gift of faith.
Perhaps this story may further enlightened us in our reflection:
The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements and in which to store his few possessions. But then one day, after scavenging for food, he came to see his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened, everything was lost. He was stunned with grief and anger. “God how could you do this to me!” Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. The weary man asked his rescuers – “How did you know I was here?” They replied: “We saw your smoke signal.”
The lesson: It is easy to get discouraged when things are going bad. But we should never lose heart because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of our pain and suffering. Have faith in Jesus like the faith of Jairus and the sick woman. Whatever the circumstances may be, it is important to know that His divine providence will always be there for you and me.
Proverb 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.”

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
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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.
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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.

GOSPEL REFLECTION: EASTER VIGIL (B) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

Easter1

GOSPEL REFLECTION: EASTER VIGIL (B)
THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*

GOSPEL: Mark 16:1-8

Jesus Has Risen
16 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”

8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone because they were afraid.

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REFLECTION:

In the Exultet or Easter Proclamation, we heard the phrase “This is the night” several times. It also says, “O truly blessed night.” But why is this night different from all nights? This night is the holiest night of all nights, simply because this is the night when our Lord Jesus passed from death to life. Something great and wonderful had happened on this night. Christ has risen.Jesus is alive!

In a Sunday class, the priest asked the children about the meaning of Easter. What is Easter all about? And one little boy answered with pride – “Easter is all about egg hunts, Easter bunnies, and dressing up for Church” The priest further asked the boy,”And why are we going to Church?” To which the little boy replied: “We are going to Church to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus is alive.” And the priest with a sigh of relief said, ” Whew! Now, you got it right, Kid. On Easter Sunday, we gathered in the Church in the fact that Jesus resurrected from the dead.”

Two things that we should do on Easter Sunday: First, we are here to celebrate. Easter is a time for celebration. We are gathered in the Church to celebrate Christ’ victory. For his victory is our victory. We are now assured that death is not our end. Our final destination now is heaven – there is life beyond the grave. Although, our mortal bodies must suffer decay, yet there is hope- for our soul will live forever with God. Christ’s resurrection tells us that someday we, too, will share His life in glory. Yesterday, we gathered at the Church with sadness in our hearts and we mourned collectively as we contemplate on the suffering and death of our Lord. But tonight, we are here again this time to celebrate in joyful songs of praise and thanksgiving.

Second, we are gathered here to thank and praise God. Our hearts are filled with gratitude. Christ’s resurrection brings us back our identity i.e. we are children of God. We also regained our dignity, we became sharers in the life of God. I am not alone. I no longer exist all by myself. I live now with Christ. St. Paul says (Galatians 2:20)” My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself to me.” Our life now has meaning and purpose. Our struggles are not anymore in vain. We now have directions, we are not lost. Heaven is our final and ultimate destination. The resurrection of Jesus gives us the necessary hope. It reveals to us our ultimate goal in life i.e. to prepare for the next life.

Christ has accomplished his mission.It is up to us now, if we want to remain free. Let us, therefore, be steadfast. St. Paul said to the Galatians (5:1) “When Christ freed us, He meant us to remain free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.”

When we look at the Risen Christ, he is just like telling us – “Now, I have done my part. I have forgiven you. And you now know how much I love you. All I ask of you is to remain in my love. I want you to sin no more. In life, I also want you to win. Heaven is your reward.”

John 14, “In my Father’s house are many mansions. I go to prepare a place for you. I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”

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Happy Easter everyone!

Gospel Reflection: Good Friday (Celebration of the Lord’s Passion) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

Good Friday

GOSPEL REFLECTION: GOOD FRIDAY
Celebration of the Lord’s Passion
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

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GOSPEL: John 18:1-19,42
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I thirst.” There was a vessel filled with common wine. So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth. When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.” And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.
Now since it was preparation day, in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath, for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one, the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken and they be taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out.

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REFLECTION
On Good Friday, we do not celebrate the Sacrament of the Eucharist, instead, we have the Liturgy of the Word, the Veneration of the Cross and Communion Service. This is the one day that the Church omits the celebration of Mass when She commemorates the Passion as it really happened in time. The commemoration of the Passion on Good Friday, the reality of the sacrifice is presented to us, not as a sacrament (i.e. not through the Mass) but “as it was really accomplished.” The Church invites us to once again reflect on the Passion of our Lord i.e. to be a witness and experience the saving work of Christ. That is why today we don’t celebrate a Mass, instead, we mourn the death of our Lord. And we give reverence to the Cross on which our salvation was achieved.
I was contemplating on the seven last words of Jesus.What struck me was the very last words of Jesus – “It is finished.” “Consummatum est!” It was Jesus’ very important last words. John 19:30 “When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.” But what does Jesus’ words “It is finished” really mean?To understand this clearly, we should bear in mind that Jesus did not say “I am finished” or “I am done” It was not a cry of despair nor defeat. But rather, it was a declaration of victory. It was just like reporting to the commander-in-chief – “My task is done, it is mission accomplished.” When the servant had finished his work, when the job was completed, the servant would say to his master – it is finished! The master will say to the servant “well done!” I am pretty sure that the Master i.e. the Father is so pleased with the work that is done. “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Jesus had always said that He came not to do his own will but that of the Father. He had a mission and work to do directly from the Father and is now completed. The work is done. It was perfect. Salvation is accomplished. Redemption is attained through Jesus death and resurrection. The debt of sin was paid.
What a sacrifice! It was God’s revelation of His immeasurable love for mankind. He gave us His only Son. We call Jesus as the Lamb of God. In professing that Jesus is the Lamb of God in our celebration of the Mass, we are recalling His sacrificial death on the Cross. This precisely is our focus on today’s reflection.
At this point, allow me to share with you a story: Two brothers lived together in the same apartment. The elder brother was an honest, hardworking and God-fearing man, while the younger was dishonest, gun totting substance abusing rogue. Many a night the younger brother would come back into the apartment late, drunk and with a lot of cash – and the elder brother would spend hours pleading him to mend his ways and live a decent life. But the younger brother would not listen.
One night, the younger brother came running into the house with a smoking gun and his clothes were bloodstained. “I killed a man,” he announced. In a few minutes, the house was surrounded by police and two brothers knew there was no escape. “I did not mean to kill him,” stammered the younger brother, “and I don’t want to die.” By now the police was knocking at the door.” The elder brother had an idea. He exchanged his clothes with blood-stained clothes of his killer brother. The police arrested him, tried him and he was condemned to death. What a great sacrifice. He died for his younger brother out of his love for him.
In the same manner, that Jesus sacrifices himself that we may live out of his love for us. He took upon himself our guilt. For our sake, he suffered and died on the Cross. All these, because he loves us immensely.”There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friend.”
“It is love to the end.” (John 13:1) We come to realize his love by what it costs him. But may this love of Christ that we have come to realize be a reason for us to become more loving people. Realizing the depth of His love should make us grow more of our love of God and our fellowmen.