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
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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!

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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.

GOSPEL REFLECTION: Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

Holy Thursday

GOSPEL REFLECTION: Evening Mass Of The Lord’s Supper
The Washing Of The Disciples’ Feet
HOLY THURSDAY
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL: JOHN 13:1-15
Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come
to pass from this world to the Father.
He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.
The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over.
So, during supper,
fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power
and that he had come from God and was returning to God,
he rose from supper and took off his outer garments.
He took a towel and tied it around his waist.
Then he poured water into a basin
and began to wash the disciples’ feet
and dry them with the towel around his waist.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him,
“Master, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“What I am doing, you do not understand now,
but you will understand later.”
Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered him,
“Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”
Simon Peter said to him,
“Master, then not only my feet but my hands and head as well.”
Jesus said to him,
“Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed,
for he is clean all over;
so you are clean, but not all.”
For he knew who would betray him;
for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
So when he had washed their feet
and put his garments back on and reclined at table again,
he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you?
You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am.
If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,
you ought to wash one another’s feet.
I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
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REFLECTION:

We are now at the height of our spiritual journey as we reflect deeply on the Paschal Mystery i.e. the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ. The Liturgy of today takes us on that particular night when our Lord Jesus was about to be betrayed by a someone whom he regarded a friend and or a brother. I wonder what’s going on in Jesus’ mind. There must be a deep-seated loneliness as the betrayal was coming from a someone dear to him.

Have you ever been betrayed? How does it feel like to be betrayed? Someone describe the feeling as a horrible burning sensation in the chest ready to explode. Considering the fact that betrayal could only be done by a someone close to you, a someone whom you trust like a family member, a friend, a husband, a wife, or a colleague. A harm done by someone not related to you is not betrayal. Only a someone you personally know, a person you trust or a person you love can betray you. You felt betrayed when someone you trusted stabbed you in the back or lied to.Betrayal occurs in a relationship when a someone cheats, lies, hurts and abuses you. Therefore, by the mere fact that the harm was done by a someone dear to you, the hurt could be that deep. Betrayal cuts like a double-edged knife.

Jesus was betrayed by one of His own. For a period of about three years, Jesus was with his disciples. He ate with them, slept with them, did the ministry of preaching and healing. During those years they came to know each other. Yet one of them – Judas – betrayed him. Jesus knew it. He had predicted the betrayal already in the past, and that night was different from other nights. For that’s the night when betrayal was to be unfolded. Judas had already arranged a plot with the authority. He sold our Lord for thirty pieces of silver.

But how did our Lord react to this? Did He plot something to stop it? Did he think of something and even plan something to exact some measure of revenge? No! Jesus was at peace …all there is in his heart is to do the will of the Father. At the Last Supper, we see Jesus’ humility and service. He did not wallow in despair and anger. He wasn’t even thinking of himself. He was thinking of his disciples, preparing them for a very imminent event i.e. his suffering and death. Yet at that moment of trials, he was even able to wash their feet with humility and love. And on top of it all…that very night, he instituted a wonderful Sacrament of the Eucharist. The Eucharist has become a sign of God’s Sacrifice, His immense Mercy and Forgiveness and His saving act. On the night of His betrayal, therefore, Jesus reconciled with us, He offered us forgiveness and even gave us himself in the institution of the Eucharist.

Now we are friends again with Jesus. We’ve been reconciled.Our identity is that we are God’s children. Being God’s children, however, requires responsibility i.e. to always heed his call. It’s a call to serve and to Love. Have you ever wondered why Holy Thursday is also called Maundy Thursday? Where did the word Maundy come from? The word Maundy comes from the Latin word “mandatum” which literally means “Commandment” or a mandate (an order). On Holy Thursday, therefore, Jesus gave us that commandment to Love – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34) This he showed us not only by mere words but he gave us an example of perfect love and service when he washed his disciples’ feet. He is Lord but he is not afraid to serve. By such gesture, we are reminded to serve as Jesus served and to love as Jesus loved. Jesus will, in turn, say “by this, they will know you are my disciples.”

“For I have set you an example, that you also do as I have done to you.”

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.”

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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.

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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?”

Homily: Second Sunday Of Lent (B) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

2nd Sunday of Lent1

GOSPEL REFLECTION: Second Sunday Of Lent (B)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL: Mark 9:2-10

Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.
And there appeared to them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”Peter did not know what to say, for they were terrified.
Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud, there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them anymore, but only Jesus.
And they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what this rising from the dead could mean.

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REFLECTION

A German Philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche once said that “To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.” It means to say that part of our human existence is suffering. One doesn’t have to be a Philosopher to prove this. You only have to look around and you’ll see all the sufferings in the world. We see how sick people suffer. We see people suffer because of poverty. We see people suffer because of the abuse from other people. We see people suffer because they feel unable to fit in. They feel like a misfit in the place they live in. That makes them extremely lonely. We also see people suffer because of rejection. We also see people suffer because of a broken relationship.There is in us a need to be accepted, to love and be loved. And when these desires are not met there occur extreme feelings of suffering.

Does God feel our pain? Is God a distant God who really doesn’t care even if we experience sufferings in life? How, then, can God relate to the human pain and challenges when he is God and therefore everything in him is good? This is the mystery that we are to contemplate as we read this Sunday’s Scriptural text. We are now on the Second Sunday of Lent. In today’s Gospel, we see Jesus transfigured before three of his apostles.
Mark 9:2-4 “Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus.”

The Transfiguration of our Lord Jesus is teaching us a profound
lesson in life. It tells us that just as we experience suffering in life
yet, in the end, the reward will be a share in his glory. We will all be
transfigured just as Jesus himself transfigured before his apostles.
The Apostles Peter, James, and John represent us all. Jesus
invited these apostles so that they may experience Christ’ glory in
preparation for the coming of great suffering in his life i.e.
persecution, crucifixion, and death. The Apostles should
understand that death is not the end because there would be
victory in the resurrection of Jesus.

There is one who understands Human Suffering completely. Jesus understands Human Suffering totally because he himself willingly accepted suffering…Luke 9:22 And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Yes, Jesus entered into the mystery of suffering, death, and resurrection in order for us to know that he totally understands our pain. Only a God who suffers is a God who truly loves.He knows our hardships and he responds accordingly. And so when our life is replete with hardships and pains and we are ready to give up, always remember that Jesus experienced extreme suffering long before we too have experienced it in life. Our faith tells us that we are never alone in our suffering. God is always with us, giving us consolation and peace.

Suffering, as they say, is a way of purification in order for us to achieve perfection. There are also benefits that could emerge in a seemingly negative reality in life like suffering. We know that suffering produces perseverance, and perseverance produces character, now character produces hope.
A certain Joel Fritz relates his personal experience, he said:
“I remember a crippled man in the hospital where I was the chaplain for a few years. He was unbelievably disfigured. His body was twisted like a corkscrew and all he could do was sit in bed, day and night. If someone came to visit him, he could not even turn his head enough to make eye contact.
Whenever I came around to visit him, my standard greeting would be,”Well, how are things today?”
And his answer was always the same: “Just fine, thank you.”
Now, deep down in my own heart, I knew that if I were answering for him, I could truthfully have said each time, “Well, things are a lot worse with me than with you,” and I could have understood.
But seeing this man suffering and hearing him answer so lightheartedly, always did something to me: I always left the room both humble and joyful.”

Suffering has also become a demand in following our Lord. Luke 9:23Then he said to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” We cannot be his disciples if we reject carrying our Cross because Jesus’ way is the way of the Cross.

We are ready to embrace our Crosses in life knowing deeply that God is very much present in all our sufferings. We experience the pain not out of despair but hope. God provides the necessary strength that we may persevere because in the end awaits victory. The Victory of Jesus who was triumphant on the Cross.