HOMILY: Epiphany Of The Lord by Rev.Fr.Allen Baclor Abadines

Epiphany1

GOSPEL REFLECTION: EPIPHANY OF THE LORD
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL: Matthew 2:1-12

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel.’[b]”
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
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The Gospel Of The Lord/ Praise To You Lord, Jesus Christ.
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REFLECTION:
Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord. Epiphany comes from the Greek word which literally means appearance or manifestation. The name suggests that something was revealed. Something was manifested to bring enlightenment. God manifested himself in the person of Jesus.It is an important celebration in a sense that God has revealed himself to mankind. In a way, we now have a tangible understanding of who God is, in the person of Jesus.

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

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

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

The Church Father Origen said that Gold, as to a King, Myrrh as to the one who was mortal and incense, as to a God. The gifts, therefore, are Theological in nature. It tells us that Christ is King, human and divine.

The encounter with King Herod also tells us something. Herod was an evil king who killed his wife, his mother-in-law, his two brothers-in-law and murdered even his three children on suspicion that they were planning something against him. It is not surprising why the news about the birth of Jesus served as a threat to him. He wanted the child Jesus dead even to the extent of sacrificing innocent lives.

Now, these incidents tell us about the reality that many people will hate Jesus and will do anything to destroy him. But there are also many who will become faithful to him and will even sacrifice their lives for that love.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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HOMILY: Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

Holy Family - father- final

 

GOSPEL REFLECTION: Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

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GOSPEL: LUKE 2:22-40

When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses. Joseph and Mary took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God saying:
“Now Master you may let your servant go in peace according to your word for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory for your people Israel.”
The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about him, and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel and to be a sign that will be contradicted – and you yourself a sword will pierce – so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.She was advanced in year’s having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. And coming forward at the very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.
When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong filled with wisdom, and the favor of God was upon him.

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

REFLECTION:

On Christmas day we rejoice in the fact that Jesus entered a human family. Our Lord Jesus, although Divine, entered a human family. God for sure intended a family. It is, therefore, most appropriate that we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family on Sunday after the celebration of the birth of Jesus. The Feast of the Holy Family should be very much a part of the Christmas season so that we may continue to reflect on this very mystery of the birth of our Lord Jesus. As we give insights on the Holy Family – the family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph- we are also being invited to look into our own family. Family life indeed is important in our spiritual life. It is said that our home is a small Church. Family and family life, therefore, are integral parts of building up a more intimate and more profound relationship with God. Every family is supposed to be a holy family. This is the same reason why on this Sunday, the Church has put before us the Holy Family to be a model for our families. Thus this Sunday’s liturgy invites us to reflect on the family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph and on the importance of family and family life.
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It is safe for me to say that there is no such thing as “perfect family.” We all have shares of flaws, shortcomings, eccentricities, and mistakes. We all have trials, challenges, struggles, and tribulations. Family conflict seems inevitable too. Members at times argue, fight, and hurt each other. In fact, it is said that those people who hurt us the most are people who should love us the most – they are oftentimes members of our own family. Healthy arguments are sometimes necessary in order to know each other deeply that may eventually help build a stronger relationship. And at the end of the day, one may realize that family is family and they are related for better or for worse. Indeed, it takes a lot of hard work to make family relationships really work. You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them. Each family should strive for holiness and to build up strong family ties.
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The Holy Family also had their struggles just like our own family. They were not free from worries, stress, and problems. If in life you feel heavily burdened and ready to give up, think of the family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Even at the very beginning, the Holy Family had to experience so many struggles and hardships. Consider the fact that Jesus was born in a manger. And at such a young age, our Lord’s life was already endangered. Herod considered Jesus as a threat to his kingship. He intended to kill the child, Jesus. And so feeling unsafe Joseph and Mary with Jesus had to flee to Egypt. An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream to warn him of the child’s imminent danger – “Get up, take the child and his mother with you and escape into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you because Herod intends to search for the child and do away with him.” (Mt. 2:13) My point herewith, therefore, is that our Lord Jesus although the Son of God wasn’t free from hardships and difficulties.
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In my ministry as a priest, oftentimes I am invited to visit certain families. And I can easily tell whether they have a good family relationship by the way they relate with one another especially during meal time. Oh, how I love to see families say grace together and exchange pleasantries. Saying grace is never an old fashion thing. Praying together as a family indeed is important. My mother used to say that having mealtime together is sacred. It is the time when we rejoice, appreciate and celebrate our being a family united in love and mutual respect. And by the time that members of a family stop eating together and trying to avoid each other, but when they do every conversation will end up to a heated argument, then their family is in trouble. It is hard to win any conflict without hard feelings. But each one should learn to reach out and learn to forgive just as you are a family despite the differences and shortcomings. You are a family when you learn to put your arms around each other and love each other even when you are not so lovable.
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Story: (from an unknown source)
When I was a kid, my mom liked to make breakfast food for dinner every now and then. And I remember one night in particular when she had made dinner after a long, hard day at work. On that evening so long ago, my Mom placed a plate of eggs, sausage and extremely burned biscuits in front of my dad. I remember waiting to see if anyone noticed! Yet all dad did was reach for his biscuit, smile at my Mom and ask me how my day was at school. I don’t remember what I told him that night, but I do remember watching him smear butter and jelly on that biscuit and eat every bite!
When I got up from the table that evening, I remember hearing Mom apologize to my dad for burning the biscuits. And I’ll never forget what he said: “Honey, I love burned biscuits.”
Later that night, I went to kiss Daddy good night and asked him if he really liked his biscuit burned. He wrapped me in his arms and said, “Your Momma put in a hard day at work today and she’s really tired. And besides- a little-burned biscuit never hurt anyone.
Moral lesson: Life is full of imperfect things and imperfect people. To learn to accept each other’s faults – and choosing to celebrate each other’s differences – is one of the most important keys to creating a healthy, growing, and lasting relationship.
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The love in the family is important than anything else this world has to offer. When Michael J. Fox was asked his opinion about a family, he said- “Family is not an important thing. It is everything!” It is said that “Charity must begin at home, and in case if it does not …at least it must come home.”
Father Patrick Peyton popularized this slogan to promote the importance of family life – “The family that prays together stays together.” For indeed it is so. Prayer and faith in God play important roles in family life. If families are rooted in faith and love of the Lord then there are more chances for the society to achieve proper order.
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May the Holy Family be our inspiration, guidance, and strength so that our families will triumph all the challenges of life through Love, mutual respect and deep faith in God.

HOMILY: 32nd Sunday In Ordinary Time (A) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

32nd A

GOSPEL REFLECTION: 32nd Sunday In Ordinary Time (A)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL: Matthew 25:1-13

Jesus spoke this parable to the disciples: “The Kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept.

“But at midnight there was a shout, “Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him! Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out!” But the wise replied, “No! There will not be enough for you and for us, you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.” And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet: and the door was shut.

“Later the other bridesmaids came also saying, “Lord, Lord, open for us.”: But he replied, “Truly I tell you, I do not know you.” Keep awake, therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
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REFLECTION:

Sometimes cramming becomes a habit to many students. Like, when we were studying in high school and in College, we developed a habit of putting off studying for the exam until the last minute. Then we stayed overnight without enough sleep in an attempt to have the last minute preparation for the next day’s exam. To some cramming may be effective. But most of the times, it could be a disaster, for the student lacks the much-needed sleep for the Test.The result shows, however, that those who came for the exam prepared always did very good.The bottom line, therefore, is to be always prepared. Life is teaching us an important lesson and that is to be prepared all the time.To be always vigilant for we do not wanna miss it when opportunities come.

Jesus in today’s Gospel text gave us the Parable of the Ten Virgins to teach us important lessons about being prepared and vigilant for the Parousia.Parousia means the coming of our Lord on Judgment day. Certainly, Jesus is coming on the last day. Like the bridesmaids in the Parable, it is our duty to wait patiently for the bridegroom’s return. Being prepared is of utmost importance in the waiting. And since nobody knows the exact time of the coming of the Bridegroom, it would be wise to have sufficient oil for the lamp.It would be a stupid thing to do to be without enough oil for the waiting.
Thus we are shown in today’s parable the contrast between waiting wisely to waiting foolishly. Five of the bridesmaids were wise and five of them were foolish.

When the Bridegroom arrived at an unexpected hour, those five wise virgins were able to join the entourage while the five foolish ones were left out.

I think there is wisdom why the exact time of the Parousia is not known to us.Matthew 22:35-37 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away. No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be at the coming of the Son of Man.…” God wants us to be always prepared. The seemingly delayed of the Lord’s coming should encourage us to live wisely. Living wisely is to be spiritually prepared for the arrival of the Lord. The time of waiting is a time to be able to get rid of anything that is not pleasing in the eyes of our Lord.

Something tragic had happened to those five foolish virgins. The Parable concluded that they were pleading for an admission but to no avail.They were totally banned from entering the wedding banquet. No matter how much they pleaded, the decision for them is with finality. They won’t be able to enter and join the party simply because of their foolishness. Its message serves as a warning to us all i.e to be always prepared. In the Kingdom of God, an opportunity missed will have a final consequence. In the story of Lazarus and the rich man, the rich man was given an opportunity to be compassionate and kind to the beggar Lazarus. But he failed. As a consequence, he was sent to an eternal punishment. And so begged Abraham for a little comfort.
Luke 16:25-26 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

Being vigilant is to live our lives in accordance with the will of the Father. His will for us is to always bring sufficient oil for our lamps – Sufficient desire to serve those in need, Sufficient will to live a holy life, and sufficient love in our hearts.
Be wise! Do not settle for less! It would be tragic if, in the end, we’ll fail to achieve our reward which is heaven.

HOMILY: 29th Sunday In Ordinary Time (A) “Render To Caesar” by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

29th A3

GOSPEL REFLECTION: 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
by REV.FR. ALLEN BACLOR ABADINES

First Reading: Isaiah 45:1,4-6
Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5ab
Gospel: Matthew 22:15-21
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GOSPEL:

The Pharisees went and plotted to entrap Jesus in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?”
But Jesus aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius.
Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title? They answered, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
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REFLECTION:

Everybody needs a little affirmation. Some people have this tendency to like being complimented. And who doesn’t want to hear good things said about themselves? Of course, we always want to feel good about ourselves. But we need to be careful. One should be able to distinguish a sincere compliment to a plain flattery.People who are most susceptible to flattery are either those people who are too proud or those people who are lacking in self-esteem. It is important that we be more complimentary of others. But the bottom line is for us to be always honest and sincere in dealing with people. We should help build people up and to offer deserving compliments and encouragement.One should avoid flattery. To be a flatterer is hypocritical. For it is always done with malicious and evil intent.

In today’s Gospel text, our Lord Jesus encounters people just like that in the persons of the Pharisees along with the Herodians. Even though these two groups of people were opposed to each other yet they joined against Christ. It proves therefore that when people have the same enemies they became allies. We see them in today’s Gospel united in wanting to put Jesus down. To present a different tact, they started everything with a praise to trap Jesus. “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.” Then they asked Jesus this question, “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?” The question posed to Jesus was a trick. Jesus sensed that it was not answerable by a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ If Jesus says ‘yes’ then he alienates himself from his poor Jewish countrymen who are suffering under the Roman tax. It was a betrayal of his own countrymen. But if he says ‘no’ he will be arrested and imprisoned by the Romans. But no one can outsmart Jesus. And so he took a coin and uttered that timeless phrase: “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto God, the things that are God’s” This particular phrase has become very controversial. And for me, often misinterpreted. Some People use this to keep religion out of politics and government, thus they say that Jesus intended a separation of Church and State. But let us not forget that Jesus said the phrase to escape from a trap. Jesus framed his answer in such enigmatic language that it wouldn’t be easy for either the Pharisees or the Herodians to trap him. It is foolish to think that Jesus’ statement about “render to Caesar” is Jesus’ version of separation of Church and State. In fact, is there anything that does not belong to God? Everything belongs to God. The coin belongs to God. Even Caesar belongs to God.Nothing in this world that does not belong to God. “Give to God what belongs to God,” therefore doesn’t mean separation. God created the institution of the family. God created the institution of the Church. God created the institution of society. God created the institution of government.Jesus’ answer simply implies the truth- that our life comprised two realities i.e. the worldly and the spiritual. We are in the world and so are bound by the rules of the world, and we are spiritual and so are bound by the laws of God as well. We need to observe and respect the government and we need to pay service to God. Again, this particular text is not about the separation of Church and State.
As I tell you what it is not.Allow me to tell you what it is all about.It is all about our love and loyalty to God. “Give to God what belongs to God.” It is putting God first in our lives. Is God our priority? Jesus is telling us to get our priorities right. Look at what really matters. Give to God what He truly deserves, the gift of our whole hearts.Loving God with all our hearts means giving him our whole heart, not holding anything back. This love that we are called to is a choice. We choose freely and joyfully. Jesus doesn’t want only our passive admiration or a shallow devotion, He wants our whole heart.1 Samuel 16:7 “Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart, I will glorify your name forever.”

Can we honestly say “I am truly in love with God.” The problem with us is that we give our heart out to things that cannot love us back, like material things. But if we seek God with all our heart, we will certainly find God. Jesus must call your heart home. He must dwell in your heart. A sign that He is dwelling in our heart is that there is a desire in us to have a deeper relationship with Him.By receiving Him in the Sacrament, by knowing Him in the Scripture, by establishing a deeper relationship through communication in prayer and by practicing in our own life his example of love by doing charity to others.

Have you ever wondered why some couples start to look like each other after years of marriage? You may have seen an older couple and thought they looked just alike.The more marital happiness a couple reported, the greater their increase in facial resemblance. The longer they live together and know each other, they eat the same food, breathe the same air, face the same challenges, they eventually look like each other. Similarly, the more we talk to Jesus, the more we think of Him, the more we share our troubles, the more we imbibe in us the image of Jesus and eventually we become like Him.

“Render to God the things that belong to God,” means making Him our priority in life. St. Theresa of Avila says “Let nothing trouble you, let nothing frighten you. All things are passing; God never changes. Patience obtains all things. Whoever possesses God lacks nothing, God alone suffices.”

To God be all the glory!

HOMILY: 27th Sunday In Ordinary Time (A) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

27th Sunday 3

GOSPEL REFLECTION: 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
Matthew 21:33-43
by Rev.Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*GOSPEL: Matthew 21:33-43
Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people: “Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a winepress in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country.
“When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way.
“Finally, he sent his son to them saying, “They will respect my son.” But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.” So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
“Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.”
Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes?”
“Therefore I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produce the fruits of the Kingdom.”
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REFLECTION:
How do we measure God’s love? God’s love is beyond measure. God’s love is unfathomable. God’s love is not even easy to comprehend. Despite man’s infidelity, his love never fails. We can never measure it. We cannot simply understand it. We only need to experience it.This Sunday, we are again invited to contemplate on God’s love and fidelity against the background of man’s sinfulness and ingratitude as Jesus relates to us another parable: The Parable of the Wicked Tenants
The Parable of the Wicked Tenants serves to be prophetic of what might be the plight of the Son of man. It is a story of man’s salvation. Actually, it was intended to the chief priests and Pharisees who condemned our Lord Jesus to death. We see parallelisms of this parable to the sacrifice made by our Lord Jesus. We get a clear picture, that God is represented by the landowner, the prophets are the messengers, the vineyard represents Israel, the tenants are the Israelites whom God expected righteousness in return for his goodness, and Jesus is the son. The Gospel could, therefore, be summarized this way: God who is expecting a produce from His people sent messengers after messengers to remind them of their responsibilities.But they were so ungrateful that they seized, beat and killed them.Finally, he sent his only son to collect thinking that “they will respect my son.” But the son suffered the same fate.In the end, the tenants were punished for their actions.
This parable best illustrates the abundance of God’s love for us. It reveals to us the extent of His love by sending messengers after messengers and ultimately his only son.The sacrifice of His only begotten Son is unimaginable. Indeed, it proves that loving requires risk and great sacrifice.
Webster Dictionary defines “Ingratitude” as forgetfulness of or poor return for, kindness received. We received countless blessings from God, but do we remember to offer Him thanks.
The wicked tenants are a reminder of the Israelites in the Old Testament. After 430 years of bondage in the hands of the Egyptians, the Israelites were freed. God, through Moses, led them to a promised land of milk and honey. But as soon as they experienced hardships despite the fact that they were showered by God with so many blessings, they murmured, grumbled and complained against Moses, against Aaron, and against God. “Did God send us here to die, was it not better for us to return to Egypt?” Their ingratitude was indeed ignominious. God said, “How long shall I bear with this evil generation, which murmurs against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which murmurs against me.” Despite all these, God manifested only his love and fidelity. Psalm 103 says, “The love of the Lord is everlasting.” God’s fidelity and love for his people were manifested completely in Christ Jesus, His love surpassed man’s ingratitude and rejection. Indeed, nothing can separate us from the love of God, not even sin, God will never give up on people. That’s good news. Of course, His very nature is love. But lest we forget that this love demands a response from us. And it is for our own sake. God demands good works from us, just as the landowner expected to produce. Those tenants forgot that they were merely stewards, not owners. It is easy for us to judge those tenants in the parable. But somehow that is the same danger that we faced i.e. Ingratitude! Some people think that God owes them something. That they deserve something from Him. Many of us receive favours and gifts from Him, yet people forget to return these two words, “Thank you!” How many of us only come to Jesus in times of needs and troubles? And when we receive what it is we need and want, how many of us still approach him in thanksgiving? Indeed, there is wisdom in the old adage which says, “He who thinks, thanks!’
Let us always guard ourselves with gratitude. Like I could still be thankful despite life’s adversities knowing completely that God is in every step of the way. I could bear the pain and be thankful for the process if , in the end, it means healing. I could be thankful for my hardships and sacrifices if it is for the benefits of others and to glorify God. That means I could suffer from meaning and be thankful at the same time especially if it is done in the spirit of love.
But gratitude is not just a noun. It is an action word. How do we thank God? Well, simply by obeying His will.
But what happens if we have a grateful heart? God is glorified. And we have a spirit-filled life. And therefore, all the more we are blessed. The more grateful we are, the more we will experience a gracious and a loving God. Our Life, therefore, should be an endless expression of gratitude to God.

HOMILY: 20th Sunday In Ordinary Time (A) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

20th Sunday A3

GOSPEL REFLECTION: TWENTIETH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – YEAR A
Matthew 15:21-28 -The Faith of the Canaanite Woman
Sunday, 20th August 2017
REV. FR. ALLEN BACLOR ABADINES
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GOSPEL: MATTHEW 15:21-28

At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out,
“Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!
My daughter is tormented by a demon.”
But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her.
Jesus’ disciples came and asked him,
“Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”
He said in reply,
“I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
But the woman came and did Jesus homage, saying, “Lord, help me.”
He said in reply,
“It is not right to take the food of the children
and throw it to the dogs.”
She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps
that fall from the table of their masters.”
Then Jesus said to her in reply,
“O woman, great is your faith!
Let it be done for you as you wish.”
And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.
*
The Gospel of the Lord / Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

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REFLECTION

This Sunday’s Gospel text should be read and interpreted with extra care. We are used to seeing Jesus in the Gospels to be always caring, compassionate and loving. Were not these the contexts of all his teachings? However, in today’s Gospel text we see an apparent different side of Jesus. This is where we see a seemingly inconsiderate, insensitive and uncaring Jesus, by the way, He treated a woman in need who was a foreigner. The picture of Jesus here is far from the image of the one who taught us how to be a good Samaritan to the needy regardless of who the person is. But at a closer look at today’s Gospel, we realize that our Lord here was just trying to make a point. The Canaanite woman’s faith was just put to the test.
Let us examine closely this particular Gospel text as related to us by St. Matthew. It was the encounter of Jesus and a Canaanite woman.Matthew narrates to us that a certain woman approached Jesus with a plea – “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David. My daughter is tormented by a demon.” (Mt. 15:22) But there was no response from Jesus. The woman received a silent treatment from our Lord. But this didn’t stop her from presenting her case. For the second time, she begged him and yer the reply she got was – “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Mt 15:24) As if things weren’t enough she prostrated and begged for the third time but Jesus replied, ” It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” (Mt 15:26) If you were in the shoes of the woman, what would be your reaction? Probably, you will be upset and say to Jesus – “How dare you insult me, even comparing me to the dogs?” But surprisingly the woman was not offended. In fact, she gave our Lord the most humble yet sincere and clever answer that earned her so much admiration from the Lord. “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” (Mt.15:27) The scene was very moving for me. The words of the woman showed an exceptional humility. Well, it came from a mother. And a mother would do everything for the welfare of her child. And so in the end, the woman was rewarded – her persistence and humility were met by Jesus’ admiration and compassion – “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that hour. (Mt 15:28) Obviously, the woman passed the test!
The faith of the woman is teaching us important lessons in life i.e, persistence and humility. Some people thought that when we approach God in prayer it should always be a petition. People only come to Him especially when they needed something from the Lord. Worst is that people even demand and expect God to grant their every request. As if God owes them something. When they didn’t get what they want they rebelled against God. I know of a somebody who stopped going to Church only because her prayer apparently was not answered.The Canaanite woman showed us the right attitude when we approach God in prayer i.e. humility and a total trust in the Lord. Let us bear in mind that God didn’t owe us anything. We deserved nothing from Him. And everything is but grace from the abundance of His love despite our unworthiness. So when we pray, we should say “Lord, I am not worthy to have you under my roof but only say a word and I shall be healed.” God never ignore a prayer done out of humility and love. His mercy knows no boundaries and partiality. He always answers our prayers but of course, in the way, He knows what is best for us.Let us reflect in the words of an unknown author who says “God looks not at the oratory of our prayers, how eloquent they are ; nor at their geometry , how long they are ; nor at their arithmetic , how many they are ; nor at their logic , how methodical they are ; but He looks at their sincerity, how spiritual they are.”
I came across an interesting prayer written by an unknown soldier:

I asked God for strength, that I might achieve.
I was made weak that I might obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things.
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for the riches that I might be happy.
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men.
I was given a weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life.
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I received nothing that I asked for, but all I had hoped for.
My prayer was answered, I am most richly blessed.

God in His wisdom knows what is best for us. Our faith demands a total trust in Him. Indeed, in prayers, it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart. St. Theresa of Avila said that “Prayers is a lifting up of our minds and hearts to God.”

HOMILY: 15th Sunday In Ordinary Time (A) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

sower5

 

GOSPEL REFLECTION: FIFTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (A)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
*
GOSPEL: MATTHEW 13:1-23
On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea. 2 And great multitudes were gathered to Him, so that He got into a boat and sat down; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.
3 Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: “Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. 6 But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. 8 But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
10 And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” 11 He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. 12 For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. 13 Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:
‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
and seeing you will see and not perceive; 15
for the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
so that I should heal them.’
16 But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; 17
or assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
18 Therefore, hear the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. 20 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. 22 Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful, 23 But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
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REFLECTION:
Our Lord Jesus relates a parable using imageries so common and generally familiar i.e. The Parable of the Sower.Someone explains that a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Jesus uses ordinary things to explain about the Kingdom of God in a manner that could be easily understood. He makes the comparison to make sure that the lesson he wanted to impart to his listeners is expressed clearly. Now, this Sunday’s particular parable is one of the few that Jesus himself provides an explanation. But no matter how much Jesus makes it simple to each of us yet only those who accept the truth of the Kingdom will be blessed with a profound understanding. The truth will always be hidden to those who rejected the Gospel and its message. Thus Jesus said “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them, it has not been given. For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” This Sunday, we are invited to reflect on a parable about a Sower, about seeds, and about different types of soil. We learned from Jesus himself that the Sower represents God, the seed is the Word of God and we are the different types of soil.I believe every one of us knows how does a seed grow. As Jesus explained to us, the parable tells us more about the soil than the Sower.
In this parable, we learned that in matters of Faith and Spirituality, we are not given a finished product. We are given seeds that we plant, cultivate and nurture. We help make it grow. God can only send us the necessary graces, but we are free to accept or to reject them. God respects our freedom. If we are to love Him, then we love Him freely.“ Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said “God does not force us to believe in Him, but draws us to Himself through the truth and goodness of his incarnate Son. Love, in fact, always respects freedom,” In this regard that our Lord Jesus likens us to a different type of soil.
“Some seed fell by the wayside, and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (Matthew 13:4-8)
“The seed that fell on good soil produced a hundredfold,” says the response in our Responsorial Psalm
The question is – Are we the type of good soil that we let the word of God grow in our hearts? Our hearts, by the way, is a fertile place and whatever we plant in it will surely grow.A spiritual writer once said that we should be careful what you plant in it.
“If you plant honesty, you will reap trust.
If you plant goodness, you will reap friends.
If you plant humility, you will reap greatness.
If you plant perseverance, you will reap contentment
If you plant consideration, you will reap perspective.
If you plant hard work, you will reap success.
If you plant forgiveness, you will reap reconciliation.
If you plant faith in Christ, you will reap a harvest.
So, be careful what you plant now; it will determine what you will reap later” (Source unknown)
Likewise, if you plant hatred, evil deeds and desires, then evil you shall reap. It is better that we plant good things, then we shall reap goodness and happiness in life.
There are ways where we could make our hearts like a fertile soil. We cultivate and nurture it by our frequent reception of the Sacrament of the Eucharist, also by our reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation where we experience God’s forgiveness and healing. Our communion with God through prayer also helps us establish a deeper relationship with him. Our daily practice of Charity helps improve our spirituality.
A deep faith in God doesn’t just happen all by itself. We have to cultivate and nurture it that it may grow and yield a hundredfold.