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.

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Homily:6th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B) by Pater Allen Baclor Abadines

6th Sunday pater

GOSPEL REFLECTION: 6th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL: Mark 1:40-45

A man with leprosy came to Jesus begging him, and kneeling said to Jesus, “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately leprosy left him, and he was made clean.

After sternly warning him Jesus sent him away at once, saying to him, “See that you say nothing to anyone but go, show yourself to the priest, and offer for your cleansing what Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

But the man went out and began to proclaim it freely and to spread the word so that Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed out in the country; people came to Jesus from every quarter.
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REFLECTION

There’s nothing more pitiable than the plight of people with leprosy during the time of our Lord Jesus. Leprosy during Jesus’ time was considered by the Jews as God’s punishment as it was openly associated with sin.People who contracted leprosy were not allowed to mingle with other people since they are regarded unclean. This is the reason why they were thrown out of their homes and out of their community. Whenever they come near people they need to shout “unclean, unclean!” so as to give warning that they may be avoided. Since there was no cure for leprosy during that time, they were considered as the living dead. Theirs was a hopeless case. Lepers didn’t have a family to cling to, and not even a community where they could ask for help. They were on their own. They just try to continue living while waiting for the time to die. They were literally stripped off of their rights and dignity. Getting near people can even put them to risk. Most of them were even stoned to death should they come near people. They received no pity nor compassion. It was a law then not to get near a lepper because it would make one ceremonially unclean.

Today’s Gospel text comes as a surprise. The man with leprosy dared to come near Jesus. It was such a bold act. He took the risk even with the knowledge that it might cost him his life. It shows us how desperate that man must be.Probably the man must have heard something about Jesus. And so realizing that Jesus was just nearby, he did not let such opportunity pass by. He knew that Jesus was his only hope. He had great needs. His needs must be satisfied whatever it takes.And he believed that Jesus was the answer to his need. He had faith in Jesus and he had faith in God.

Something is admirable in the way the man approach our Lord Jesus.It reveals not only his courage and his faith but he also shows us great humility. He did not demand. He did not directly ask Jesus. He felt unworthy to present his request. He only said to him “If you choose, you can make me clean.” Here we learned an important lesson in life i.e. if we need something from God, we should ask him in humility, realizing that everything is but out of God’s goodness. We do not demand anything but we only rely on God’s compassion and grace. And so our Lord Jesus was filled with love to the man when he said: “I do choose, be made clean.” And not only that Jesus stretched out his hands and touched him. He was not afraid to touch the man. He was not even afraid to violate the prescribed rule during that time. Jesus was so focused on his love for the man.  His main preoccupation at that very moment is to let him feel the love of God.And so the man not only experienced the healing touch of Jesus but the healing compassion of God.

There may be times in our lives that we may have experienced the same way like the leper in the Gospel. There may be times that we too must have felt desperate, hopeless and alone. Some people may have felt cast out, alienated and abandoned. But do not ever believe that we are totally alone. God is with us, reaching out to us and touching us.

In the Eucharist, every time we receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, haven’t we feel God’s healing touch through Jesus? Every time, I receive Jesus in the Eucharist I feel peace, comfort, and assurance for my soul. The Eucharist gives me healing and strength. I feel so fortunate that even in my weakness and insecurities Jesus is there comforting and reassuring me.

If we look around we see sufferings of every kind. A lot of people need comfort and healing.Many are suffering physically, emotionally and spiritually. May we be instrumental in revealing the depth of God’s compassion to each and everyone we come in contact with.Let everyone know how much God loves us.
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Homily: 5th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B) by Pater Allen Baclor Abadines

5th Sunday re1

GOSPEL REFLECTION: 5th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL: Mark 1:29-39

As soon as Jesus and his disciples left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her and she began to serve them.

That evening at sunset, they brought to Jesus all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases and cast out many demons and he would not permit the demons to speak because they knew him.

In the morning, while it was still very dark, Jesus got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, “Everyone is searching for you.”

He answered, “Let us go to the neighbouring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also, for that is what I came out to do.” And Jesus went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

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REFLECTION:

In today’s Gospel text, the evangelist St. Mark relates to us that it was such a busy day for our Lord Jesus – preaching, curing the sick, expelling demons from possessed people. Yet despite a hectic and tiresome schedule, our Lord Jesus still managed to give time to pray. “In the morning, while it was still very dark, Jesus got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. This particular text reveals to us that Jesus is indeed a man of prayer. We have seen so many occasions that our Lord Jesus will always find time to pray i.e.  to seek peace, to rest, to contemplate, and to commune with his Father. Thus the Gospel text gives us an important lesson in life i.e. no matter how busy we are with our life we should always find time to pause awhile, to reflect and to pray. A good examination of life is worth it in order for us to have a clearer direction as we contemplate our journey through life. The Philosopher Socrates puts it beautifully, “An unreflected life is not worth living.”

Today, therefore, I’d like to talk about the importance of prayer. Every one of us knows what prayer is all about. Prayer is our direct line with heaven. A prayer is a form of communication that allows us to converse with God. Making it simple, Prayer is talking to God. It may be simple as it sounds, but to some, it could be a struggle. Some people find prayer as a challenge. Well, it’s a busy world, it’s a complicated world. And therefore, there are people who find prayer complicated too.

But to pray for me is a privilege. Can you imagine, when we pray we are making a personal audience with God? Prayer is man’s opportunity to appear before God and therefore such a huge honor on the part of man. Like, if you are invited to the Vatican to have an audience with the Pope…wouldn’t you feel privileged? Yes, because not everybody has the chance to be up close and personal to a somebody like the Pope. If you are invited for a personal audience with Queen Elizabeth, wouldn’t you feel the same way too? If you feel privileged having such opportunities with personalities like the Pope or Queen Elizabeth, how much more should you feel privileged to have a personal encounter with God? Prayer is like that. The good news is that we don’t have to arrange for an appointment. We don’t bother to go somewhere else. You can have a personal audience with God anytime and anywhere we want. That’s the best part of it.

Some people would say ‘I don’t feel like praying.’ Prayer is not a matter of feeling. We don’t pray only when we feel like praying. Like we don’t eat only when we feel like eating. Prayer is essential in our lives like eating our meals. How can we live without our communion with God? Our Lord tells us to pray without ceasing.

When we pray, we should pray like talking to a loved one or to your best friend. We become more confident knowing that God is a loved one or a best friend to us, a someone who loves us unconditionally. God is not a distant God. This is the very reason of God’s incarnation in the person of Jesus. Jesus reveals to us the kind of love God has for us.

In the First Reading of this Sunday, we encounter Job. Job’s life and example are worth our contemplation. Job was severely tested. He experienced extreme tribulations in his lifetime yet his faith never wavered. He trusted and trusted all the way. When we pray, therefore, we should have Job’s faith in a loving God.

When we feel some kind of aridity in our prayer and spiritual life, ask the Lord for strength. The disciples humbly admitted that they didn’t know everything that led them to ask Jesus – “Lord, teach us how to pray.” We should humbly ask the same thing too.

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

3rd Sunday Ord B1

GOSPEL REFLECTION: Third Sunday In Ordinary Time (B)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL: Mark 1:14-20

After John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news.”
As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea – for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of people.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him.
As Jesus went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them: and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.
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REFLECTION:

Last Sunday, the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time, we were invited to reflect on “discipleship.” This Third Sunday in Ordinary Time we continue to reflect on discipleship but this time with a twist, for we got an insight from the Readings of today the need for an urgency to respond. This response to a call is best described by Psalm 95 “If today you hear his voice harden not your heart.” We are all being called to be Jesus’ disciples in so many different ways. What would be our response? In last Sunday’s Gospel text Jesus said to the disciples of John the Baptist to “Come and see.” It is an invitation to be a witness to the life Jesus lives. The invitation reverberates even to this day and is now addressed to each one of us. We should then respond quickly and not delay.

In the First Reading of today, we encounter a very interesting character in the person of Jonah. Jonah is known to us now as the reluctant prophet. He was asked by God to go and preach “repentance” to Nineveh (a place Jonah hates so much). Instead of obeying God, Jonah went to the other direction opposite Nineveh to escape from responsibility. But God didn’t give up on Jonah. He insisted on the task entrusted to him. To make the story short, Jonah finally agreed and despite his hesitation, Jonah delivered God’s message to Nineveh the need to repent, to change their ways, and to accept God’s offer of love. To his utter surprise, Nineveh repented. Jonah preached and Nineveh listened. Jonah obeyed and trusted God and an amazing thing took place.

Nowadays, there are still so many Jonahs around. We often hear people say, when I retire and I got nothing to do, that’s the time that maybe I could concentrate on serving the Lord. But the time to serve the Lord is the ‘here and now.’ The problem lies not on having more time but on the desire and the willingness to serve the Lord. Or some people say when I get rich like if I am going to win a lottery I will help the needy.But the time to help the needy doesn’t wait. “No one is so poor that he cannot give now.” We do not dilly dally in serving the Kingdom of God. May we learn from the experience of Jonah, we only have to listen, to obey and to trust God.

The best response is given to us by the disciples in today’s Gospel text. In today’s Gospel, Jesus saw Simon and his brother Andrew. And Jesus said to them “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of people.” The text says “Immediately they left their nets and followed him.” The word “immediately” is important in our reflection. It reflects the need for an urgency to respond. Simon and his brother Andrew did not ask Jesus where are we going.But instead, they immediately left their nets. The same as in the case of the other disciples, the brothers James and John, they left their father Zebedee for the mission.

Following Jesus, therefore, means a life changed – from a life sans Jesus to a life with Jesus. Jesus has become one’s priority. St. Paul says (Galatians 2:20) “No longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” It is tantamount to say that the life I live now is the life in complete service of God and his Kingdom.

Following Jesus means taking the risk and trying something different and something new for the sake of God’s Kingdom. The disciples were fishermen and were untrained for the mission. But they took the risk. They may not be knowledgeable about the task yet what was important was that they were willing to try and to learn.

Following Jesus comes at a price. It involves sacrifice and pain for Jesus’ way is the way of the Cross. Following him, therefore, is carrying our own crosses.Following Jesus is walking not our own path but Jesus’ path. It means living the life of Jesus. Serving as Jesus serves. Healing as Jesus heals. Forgiving as Jesus forgives. Loving as Jesus loves.

Homily: 4th Sunday Of Advent (B) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

4th Advent

GOSPEL REFLECTION:4th Sunday of Advent (B)
A Season Of LOVE
by Rev.Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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READINGS:
First Reading:2 Samuel 7:1-5,8b-12,14a,16
Responsorial Psalm:(Psalm 89) Forever I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord.
Second Reading: Romans 16:25-27
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GOSPEL: Luke 1:26-38
The Angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
And he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
The Angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.
“He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom will be no end.”
Mary said to the Angel, “How can this be since I am a virgin?” The Angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.
“And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word.” Then the Angel departed from her.
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REFLECTION
Story: (unknown source)
There was once a man who was shipwrecked and stranded on an island. Every day he prayed asking God to send someone to rescue him, but to his disappointment, no one ever came.
Months passed and this man learned how to survive on the island. During this time, he accumulated things from the island and stood them in a hut that he constructed. One day after hunting for food and returning back to his hut, much to his dismay he saw that his hut was on fire along with everything else he owned.
All of his possessions were going up in smoke! The only thing he had left were the clothes on his back. Initially, he was in shock, and then he was consumed with anger and rage! In his fury, he threw a fist into the air and began cursing God and yelling, “God, how could you let this happen to me? I’ve been praying every day for months about being rescued and no one has come, and now everything that I have is on fire! How could you do this to me? Why did you let this happen?
Later, the man on his hands and knees weeping heavily when he happened to look up and catch sight of a ship coming in his direction. The man was rescued and as they were heading back to civilization the man asked the captain, “How were you able to find me?” The captain responded, “We were voyaging across the ocean when we noticed on the horizon a column of smoke going up. We decided to go check it out and we did, that’s when we found you.
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The man in the story obviously lacked something very important i.e. a complete trust in God. Surely, we all have trials and setbacks in life but it pays to put all our trust in a loving and providential God even in the midst of all adversities. What if our misfortunes in life may not be what it looks like? What if they are indeed blessings in disguise? Just like to a man in the story. He was in great distress for no one came to his rescue and to further add to his misfortunes all of his possessions were consumed by fire. But as the story goes, it turned out to be more of a blessing than a curse.
This season of Advent, the call to everyone is to trust God completely in our lives i.e to put our entire lives in God’s hands. No matter what our struggles may be or no matter how bad things may seem, we need to trust God. Simply believing in God is not enough. If we acknowledge Jesus as our Lord and Saviour then a confident faith and trust in him should be our way of life.
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Mary our mother is our role model of a profound faith in God. And so on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, our focus of reflection is on the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Gospel of today relates to us the event when the Angel Gabriel announced unto Mary that she would be the Mother of God. It must be a great surprise to Mary considering the fact that she was very young then. Biblical scholars believe Mary was just a teenager when Angel Gabriel visited her with a Divine message. But Mary’s reaction and how she accepted God’s mission for her truly revealed to us how deep was her faith. She knew that to be a mother of the Messiah will not be that easy.The task that is being entrusted to her was as huge as the world itself and therefore requires huge responsibilities. She may not completely understand what was revealed to her by the Angel, but she trusted completely.She questioned the Angel, but it was a question of faith not really doubt. “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” Mary may have special creation but she too enjoyed freedom. She had the freedom to say “yes” or “no” to the Angel. But in her great humility she said her “Fiat” – “Here I am Lord, let it be done unto me according to your word.” St. Augustine tells us that the Blessed Mother conceived Jesus first in faith then in her body. A belief that God would be true to His promise, that the word spoken through His messenger preceded motherhood. It was this faith that gave Mary the strength in her many ordeals since the birth of Jesus. Mary trusted and she trusted all the way to Calvary. What an amazing faith, what an amazing mother.
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We learn so much from our Blessed Mother. In our struggles and challenges in life, may our faith be as unwavering and as deep as Mary’s. John 14:1, Jesus says, “Let not your heart be troubled, you believe in God, believe also in me.” What it means to trust God? Trust in God means believing in God’s unconditional love for us. It is believing that God is in control. It is a belief that God will always come to our rescue and he will always help us in times of trouble. That He is always there for us – He is Emmanuel (God is with us) That God is good all the time. And that we are confident that God loves each one of us and knows us individually and personally.Oftentimes, we are used to trusting ourselves and or the people around us like our family and friends. But they too are imperfect. Therefore, if we can entrust ourselves to those who are far from perfect, can we not put our trust in God who is perfect? Proverb 3:5-6 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him. And He shall direct your paths.”
Like to a child, we come to Jesus whose birth we celebrate and we say to him – “Lord, I offer myself to you, all my joys, my worries, and my pains. Grant me a pure and sincere heart that I may be able to say with deep and profound faith – Jesus, I trust in you!’

HOMILY:3rd Sunday Of Advent (B) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

3rd Advent final father

 

GOSPEL REFLECTION: 3rd Sunday of Advent (B)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL: John 1:6-8,19-28

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.
This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him. “Who are you?” He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.”
Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord,” as the Prophet Isaiah said.
Now they had been sent from the Pharisees. They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know, the one who is coming after me, I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.” This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.
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REFLECTION:

We now celebrate the Third Sunday of Advent. And the third candle of Advent which symbolizes JOY is now lit. Today’s Liturgical color which is rose is significantly different to give emphasis on the joyous anticipation of the Lord’s coming. The third Sunday of Advent is called Gaudete, a Latin word meaning “Rejoice.” We rejoice because the Lord is near. And our salvation, therefore, is drawing nearer. We joyfully await the coming of the Lord.
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On this Sunday’s Liturgy, we are being invited to rejoice. God wills us to be happy. If we have no joy in our hearts, then something is wrong with our spirituality because ours is a religion of joy. In John 15:11 Jesus said: “I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” It is safe to say that Jesus was a joyful person. He attended dinners. In fact, the very first miracle Jesus performed in his ministry here on earth happened at a wedding at Cana where he transformed water into wine.
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But how can we rejoice amidst the many sufferings we see in the world? Well, the joy that Jesus was talking about is much more than superficial and fleeting happiness or pleasure. Having fun is different from having joy. Joy is something that is inside our hearts. It is a way of life. Joy is a pilgrim. It is a journey. Pope Francis said that Christian joy is something we cannot buy because it is a gift from God. The Pope likened this experience of joy to that of a mother embracing her baby after childbirth because it is a joy “purified” by suffering from labor. The joy of Christians, he said, is a “joy in hope.” Therefore, when life’s trials are severe, our hope seems dim and our future dismal, we can still have that Christian joy which can be found in our deep sense of trust in God – that everything is going to be alright. A certain Leslie Weatherhead says “The opposite of joy is not sorrow, It is lack of trust (or unbelief). It was the joy before him that allowed Jesus to endure the suffering of the cross. Likewise, it is also our deep sense of joy that will allow us to overcome whatever trials and tribulations we encounter in life. Joy is not only there in happy times. It is the strength within in the most trying times. For St. Paul joy is possible even amidst adverse circumstances, like suffering and persecution. The second reading from the 1 Thessalonians says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Real joy is found in the presence of God and on how solid is our trust in Him.
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Today’s Gospel tells us that joy starts from within. We find joy when we allow ourselves to have a real conversion of the heart. This is what St. John the Baptist is trying to impart to us. A pure and a contrite heart brings real joy in us. When we make the presence of God felt not only within us but also in our caring and compassion for others we become harbingers of God’s joy.
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Story (Author Unknown)
Reggie’s brother gave him a car as a Christmas present. On Christmas eve Reggie came out of his office and saw a boy admiring his shiny new car. “Is this your car, Mister?” he asked. Reggie nodded in affirmation, “My brother gave it to me for Christmas.” The boy was surprised. “You mean your brother gave it to you and it didn’t cost you anything? Boy, I wish….” The boy hesitated. Reggie knew what he was going to wish for. He was going to wish he had a brother like the one Reggie has. But what the lad said was far beyond Reggie’s expectation. “I wish,” the boy went on, “that I could be a brother like that.”
For a few seconds words failed Reggie and then he impulsively added, “Would you like to take a ride in my car?”
“Oh yes, I’d love that.” After a short ride, the boy turned towards Reggie. His eyes were glowing and he said, “Mister, would you mind driving in front of my house?” Reggie smiled a little. He thought he understood what the boy wanted. He wanted to show it off to his neighbors that he could ride home in a big car. But Reggie was wrong again.
“Will you stop where those two steps are?” the boy asked. He ran up the steps. In a little while Reggie, heard him coming back, but he wasn’t coming fast. He was carrying his little brother who was physically challenged. He sat him down on the bottom step, then sort of squeezed up against him and pointed to the car. “There she is, Buddy, just like I told you upstairs. His brother gave it to him for Christmas and it didn’t cost him a cent. And someday I’m going to give you one just like it…then you can see for yourself all the pretty things in the Christmas windows that I’ve been trying to tell you about.
Reggie got out and lifted the boy to the front seat of his car. His brother whose eyes were gleaming with joy climbed in beside him and the three of them embarked on a memorable Christmas ride.
That Christmas Eve, Reggie learned many lessons from the boy. Now he understood what Jesus meant when he said, “It is more blessed to give.” It is only when we put others first before us that we’ll find real joy. After all, JOY means. Putting J-esus as our priority. O-thers come second before Y-ourself.

HOMILY: 1st Sunday Of Advent (A) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

1st Advent - talagang final na

 

GOSPEL REFLECTION: First Sunday of Advent (B)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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Readings: First Reading- Isaiah 63:16b-17; 64:1,3-8
Responsorial Psalm: Restore us, O God, let your face shine, that we may be saved.
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9
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GOSPEL: MARK 13:33-37

Jesus said to his disciples: “Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.
“It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and put his slaves in charge, each with a particular task, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly.
“And what I say to you I say to all: keep awake.”
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REFLECTION:

Story: A famous football coach once rebuked an overconfident player who said that their team would win because it had the will to win. “Don’t fool yourself,” said the coach. “The will to win is not worth a nickel unless you have the will to prepare.”
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What the coach meant was that – Success in any endeavor in life depends upon how much preparation we make. It is not enough that we have the will to succeed, for everything requires hard work and preparation. Like, a professional singer needs to rehearse to be assured of a good performance. A student, no matter how intelligent he may be, needs to study his lesson. An actor needs to read and study his script first before taking center stage. Indeed, preparation is important in our practical life as well as spiritual life. Christ exhorts us in today’s Gospel message to be always prepared. And it comes as a warning as he said:” Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come.”
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The call to be spiritually prepared is of utmost importance as we enter a new Liturgical year. Advent is the beginning of our new spiritual journey. It invites us to embark on a journey as we reflect on the life of Jesus anew. Traditionally, Advent is considered a preparation for the coming of Christ.
The word Advent originates from the Latin word “Adventus” meaning “coming.” I call Advent season as a celebration of the past, present, and future.A celebration of the Past because the ‘first coming’ had already taken place. It happened 2,000 years ago on the first Christmas – the birth of our Lord Jesus. It is a celebration of the Present because we also experience Jesus’ daily coming into our life – like in the celebration of the Eucharist where we encounter Jesus in the form of Bread and Wine. We also experience His presence in Scripture as we contemplate his words. We encounter His presence in one another as we gather in faith and in prayer.”For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in their midst.” (Matthew 18:20) And it is also a celebration of the Future because the second coming is yet to come. It will be at the end of time. Jesus came, who will come, and who constantly comes.
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The celebration of Advent would make sense if we understand the importance and the need to prepare, to be vigilant. To highlight his message of preparedness and vigilance, Jesus relates to us in today’s Gospel the parable of the master who went on a journey and puts his slaves in charge. With this admonition to be always “on your guard, stay awake, because you never know when the time will come. (Mark 13:33) Preparation is what the life of discipleship is all about, before, during and after the season of Advent. Life, therefore, should be a constant observance of the Advent season. Saint John Paul 11 says “The whole of our life must be an ‘Advent’, a vigilant of the final coming of Christ.” So what must we do? To answer this question, let me share with you another story that we may ponder upon.
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Story (from The Next 500 Stories by Frank Mihalic, SVD)
A young man dreamt that he had walked into a store where an angel was standing behind the counter. He hastily asked the angel, “What do you sell in this store?”
“Anything. You name it,” said the angel.
So the young man began, saying, “I would like to order the following; a democratic government in Chile, an end to all the wars in the world, a better deal for the marginal nations, the removal of all squatter settlements in South America.”
At this point, the angel interrupted and said, “Excuse me, young man, you did not understand me correctly. We don’t sell fruits and finished products in this store. We sell only seeds.”
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Advent is a time of expectancy for a special and wonderful event -i.e. the coming of Christ. While we wait for this final event, there is a need for us to plant the seed, that we may benefit in the harvest time. Our life here on earth is but a preparation of our life in heaven.Are we making the necessary preparation? Have we planted the seeds of goodness and holiness? If so, then this expectancy should bring us joy rather than fear. Only then that we recognize that God’s judgment should be looked upon not of condemnation but of moments of mercy and grace. John 3:17 “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”