Homily: 5th Sunday In Ordinary Time (B) by Pater Allen Baclor Abadines

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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.

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

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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.”

HOMILY: 33rd Sunday In Ordinary Time (A) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

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GOSPEL REFLECTION: Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL: Matthew 25:14-30

Jesus spoke this parable to his disciples: “For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.
The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
After a long time, the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying,’Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
“And the one with two talents also came forward, saying, ‘Master, you handed over to me two talents, see, I have made two more talents. His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
“Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward saying, ‘Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’
“But his master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return, I would have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'”
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REFLECTION

Story: Three pelicans were flying to a popular lake. As they traveled, they were each lost in thought.
The first pelican thought to himself, “I love my beak. It’s magnificent. No other bird has a beak quite like mine. When I get to the lake, I am going to parade along the bank, showing off my beautiful beak and all of the other birds will be jealous.
The second pelican thought to himself, “I love my beak and I need to protect it. I can’t afford for it to get damaged, so I am going to only catch small fish in shallow waters. I know that I can do more, but it is too risky.”
The third pelican thought to himself, “I love my beak. It is a beauty and I am going to push the limits and get the most out of it. I am going to become the best catcher of fish in the lake. I’ve been given this beak for a reason, so I am going to work hard and catch the biggest fish out there. (Source unknown)
I like this story. It is teaching us some realities of life. Like, each one of us has received talents, blessings, and potentials for a reason. Not to brag about it and to show off just like the first pelican.Nor to hide it just like the second pelican. But to fully develop and make use of them to their maximum capacity just like what the third pelican did. Each one of us is blessed with so many gifts that we may use to share and make this world a better place.
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The Gospel of this Sunday has a similar message. It relates to us a simple story so easy to understand yet it has a powerful message with eternal relevance. Anyone can relate to its significance. Jesus tells the story of a man who gives talents to three of his servants. The first servant received five talents. The second servant received two talents. And the third servant received one talent. The first and the second servant went out at once and used the money to buy and trade things and ended up making even more money. But the third one didn’t want to take the risk out of fear of losing the money he was given that he went and buried it to keep it safe.It happened that upon the return of the master, they were summoned for an accounting. As what was expected the first and the second servant were praised by the master. But he finds to his dismay that the third slave to whom he entrusted one talent had simply buried the wealth and had garnered neither gain nor interest. And for that reason, the third servant was punished.
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Like many of Jesus’ parables, he tells this one, in particular, to teach us an important lesson i.e. God doesn’t want us to hide our gifts and blessings. Instead, He wants us to make use of them to the fullest. God created each of us with special gifts and He expects us to use those gifts for the purpose for which he gave them to us. This is the challenge of today’s Gospel. Our Lord Jesus is telling us that in the end, the Master will come for an accounting. There should be no excuse for us to come with a report that would not be pleasing to the Master. Our Lord intends that we multiply, increase, expand our gifts for our own good and the good of others. And to help build the Kingdom of God.
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So what holds the people back to show, develop and share their talents. Let me give you some reasons:
1) Insecurity – Some people may feel inferior to other people.They are always intimidated by people who are more talented.
2) Lack of confidence – They thought that their talents are not good enough.They do not see their importance. They would rather keep their talents to themselves rather than to use and share them with others. They forgot that those are gifts from God and therefore precious to God.
3) Fear of rejection. A lot of people are afraid of being rejected, ridiculed and or laughed at by others. But we have to first and foremost appreciate ourselves in order for us to be appreciated by others. People who are successful started out from a humble beginning, but what separates them from the rest is their boldness and readiness to take the risk. Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton said, “With ordinary talents and extraordinary perseverance, all things are attainable.” You may have the skills and abilities. You may not feel it particularly great, but it may be better than you think. If you don’t use it, you lose it! Talents that are not used are like Sundial in the shade.
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Let me end my reflection with another inspiring story. It is a story of a man who had real talent.
This particular man played piano in a bar. He was a good piano player. People came out just to hear him play. But one night a customer wanted him to sing a particular song. The pianist declined. But the customer was persistent. He talked to the bartender: “I am tired of listening to the piano. I want that guy to sing.” The bartender shouted across the room to the piano player. “Hey, buddy! If you want to get paid sing the song! The customers are asking you to sing.”
So he did. He sang a song. A jazz piano player who had not sung much in public, sang a song that changed his career, for nobody had ever heard “Sweet Lorraine” sung the way it was sung that night by a pianist – his name was Nat King Cole!
All along he had talent hidden and undiscovered.
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Luke 11:33- “No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.”
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Homily:23rd Sunday In Ordinary Time (A) by Rev.Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

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GOSPEL REFLECTION (23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – A)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL (Matthew 18:15-20) On Fraternal Correction

Jesus spoke to his disciples, “If your brother or sister sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If he or she listens to you, you have regained your brother or sister. But if the person does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If the person refuses to listen to them, tell it to the Church; and if that person refuses to listen even to the Church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
“Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.”
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REFLECTION:

(Story) There’s a Spanish story of a father and son who had become estranged. The son ran away, and the father set off to find him. He searched for months to no avail. Finally, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in a Madrid newspaper. The ad read: Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father. On Saturday 800 Pacos showed up, looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers. (Source unknown)

I find this short story poignant. It tells us a reality that there are so many people out there in need of understanding, forgiveness, and love. There are so many people who are hurting. There are so many broken relationships.
There is no such thing as perfect relationships simply because there are no perfect people. We all have our flaws. We all commit mistakes. In any relationship – be it family relationships, relationships between friends or relationships among people in society, at our work place, at school and even in the Church, there will always be conflicts. No matter how much people try to have peace all the time – arguments, misunderstandings, disagreements, and even fights will always transpire along the way even when you least expect it. Having relationship issues, therefore, are inevitable. Good relationships don’t just happen. It takes a lot of hard work to make relationships really work. It takes a lot of patience, humility and the will for people to truly want to build a good relationship.Yes, there are no perfect relationships, it’s how you deal with it that makes a relationship perfect. It means, therefore that a successful relationship is not impossible despite our differences and idiosyncrasies.

But how can we have a successful relationship? Well. this is what this Sunday’s Gospel text is trying to teach us. Jesus in today’s Gospel is teaching us a lesson on what to do every time some issues occur in any relationship. Jesus is teaching us a lesson on fraternal correction. Jesus said, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.” But how do we correct one another? How do we encourage one another to do what is right? As for me, the very first thing to do is to look into our hearts, analyze our actions like whose fault is it really? So many times that we cannot admit our faults. Because of pride at times instead of accepting our own mistakes, we would do anything within our means to prove others wrong. Most of the times, we think we are always right. It is easier for us to judge other people. And even if we realized we’re wrong, apologizing wouldn’t be easy to do. That creates more tensions and more conflicts. Have this always in mind – Something is more important than just being always right and i.e. being compassionate. It’s actually a choice whether we wanna be always right or we wanna be always compassionate.

Since conflicts are inevitable in any relationship. Allow me to share with you some guidelines we should consider in order for us to be able to contribute to creating a successful relationship:

First, Humility. Pope Francis spoke of the importance of humility in order to dialogue with a brother or a sister. Fraternal correction, therefore, should be done in the spirit of humility. A humble person is never judgmental.We can learn a lot of lessons from Pope Francis who said: “Who am I to judge?” Judge not lest we are judged! There is one journey that we as Christians have to make i.e. a journey from pride to humility, from self-centered to Christ-centered.

Second, Forgiveness. Learn to forgive. Find ways to be reconciled and reach out. Pope Francis said that whenever there’s conflict look for peace as soon as possible. Always find a solution. He emphasized the need to build bridges rather than walls, like the one that divided Berlin for so many years. The Pope further says that “even in our heart there is the chance to become the Berlin wall to others. I am afraid of these walls that grow every day and foster resentment. And hate.”

Third, Love. We always have to find ways to love. In any conflict, find ways to love. Even if we feel oppressed, find ways to love. Even if we are hurt or we feel something unjust is done to us, we should find ways to love. True love means not to give up on each other. This would be our identity as Christians i.e LOVE! They’ll know we are Christians by our love. We opted to love, as Christ as our model, despite the fact that in so many cases it is never easy to do so. This is God’s greatest commandment that we should love our fellow men – sinner or saint. But who says loving is easy? Finding love especially to the unlovable is never easy.It is easier said than done. Even among members of our own family. Mother Teresa once said “It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start.”

One time, I blessed a couple in their 50th Wedding Anniversary. The husband shared the many challenges in their married life.He said that part of their married life is the many fights, and arguments but they followed the lesson they learned from a passage from the Ephesians 4:26 which says “If you are angry let it be without sin, the sun must not go down on your wrath.” There’s wisdom in it, whenever conflict occurs, do not wait till tomorrow to patch up things

Homily: 22nd Sunday In Ordinary Time (A) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

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GOSPEL REFLECTION (22nd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – A)
Matthew 16:21-27 On Jesus’ Passion and Discipleship
3rd September 2017
by REV.FR. ALLEN BACLOR ABADINES
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GOSPEL: MATTHEW 16:21-27

Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised. 2Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does but as human beings do.”
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct.
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REFLECTION:

Does God want us to suffer? Does He enjoy our pain? Of course NOT! But why is it that the world is filled with people who are suffering? Suffering has become a part of human existence. It happens to all of us in life, to have some suffering and pain – like every time we encounter problems, when we are sick, when we are dealing with rebellious sons or daughters, when we are in a financial trouble etc. All these bring us pain and suffering. It could happen to anyone. Every one of us can experience loneliness and suffering. It could happen also to famous, rich and powerful people. Wealth, fame, status in life are never guaranteed to make us happy.Yes, there’s no such thing as suffering-free existence. No one is spared.It’s only how we deal with it that makes the difference. Some people wallow in bitterness, hate, anger and regret while others seek meaning and purpose in it. It is our choice!

In today’s Gospel text, our Lord Jesus was talking about his passion and death. If you still remember last Sunday’s Gospel text, Peter was praised by Jesus for giving the right answer when Jesus asked this question – “Who do you say that I am?” Peter said, “You are the Messiah!” But it’s different in today’s Gospel, Peter was rebuked by Jesus because he objected to his prediction of his sufferings (Mt. 16:23) “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” Thus Peter was called Satan and an obstacle. Because he is thinking not as God does but as human beings do. Jesus further said, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” This reminds me of a someone’s reaction when one time I was discussing this particular text to a certain group of people, one of them reacted -“Why do we have to take up a cross to follow Jesus?” The question is similar to this “Why do we have to suffer?” “Can we not live our lives free from suffering?” This reminds me of a story. A story is told about a someone who approached Jesus with a question: “Why do you allow sufferings like famine, war, disease, crime, homelessness, despair etc. exist in our world?” To which Jesus replied,”Interesting that you should bring that up as I was about to ask you the exact same question.” Some people thought that “God wills us to suffer!” No, God did not want us to suffer. But suffering in the world is a consequence of man’s sinfulness. When Jesus said “If anyone wants to follow me let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me,” our Lord was just being realistic. He knew that following him is not gonna be easy considering that his way is a way of the cross. So why do we need to carry our cross?The question was of course as valid as it is relevant. To answer this -We need to understand the meaning of what true Discipleship is.True Discipleship means “laying something down.” – let him deny himself. Denying oneself means following the examples set forth by Jesus himself.True Discipleship demands of us ‘to pick something up’ – take up your cross. But what do we mean by the Cross? The Cross that Jesus was talking about does not necessarily mean bearing difficulties and pains of life.

There are people who interpret “Cross” as some burden they must carry in their lives, like our hardships, challenges, and struggles in life. But when Jesus was talking about his cross, he was not only talking about hardships and pain. He was actually talking about DEATH! Therefore, when Jesus carried his cross, it was not meant only to carry a burden – but the cross meant only one thing i.e. death. Which means taking up your cross is our willingness to die in order to follow Jesus. This is called “dying to oneself”, an ultimate sacrifice and a complete surrender to the will of God.I know the demands are tough but the rewards, in the end, are priceless i.e. eternal bliss and the heavenly glory. Some people want only the reward without the cross. There’s truth in the saying “No pain, no gain!” Suffering, as they say, is a way of purification in order for us to achieve perfection. Yes, following Jesus may not be easy. Following him is easy when life runs smoothly but our true commitment and fidelity to Christ are revealed most especially during trials. Discipleship demands sacrifice. When he invited us to come follow him, he never sugar-coated things. Jesus never hid the cost.But the reward is worth the price.
When we are called to carry our cross, we don’t have to carry it perfectly.In his agony in the garden, Jesus said: “Let this cup pass from me.” And remember Simon of Cyrene, was only forced to carry the cross, he actually didn’t want to help, but he did anyway. On his way to Calvary, Jesus fell several times. But He carried it out of his perfect love and obedience to the Father.Carrying the cross means obeying the will of God. A complete trust in His divine providence and design.Love makes things bearable. Let us, therefore, carry our crosses with LOVE.

 

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

17th A

GOSPEL REFLECTION 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
THE GREATEST TREASURE
by Rev.Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL: MATTHEW 13:44-52

Jesus said to his disciples:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field,
which a person finds and hides again,
and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant
searching for fine pearls.
When he finds a pearl of great price,
he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea,
which collects fish of every kind.
When it is full they haul it ashore
and sit down to put what is good into buckets.
What is bad they throw away.
Thus it will be at the end of the age.
The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous
and throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

“Do you understand all these things?”
They answered, “Yes.”
And he replied,
“Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven
is like the head of a household
who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.”

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REFLECTION:

In his book, The Next 500 Stories, Frank Mihalic, SVD relates to us that in 1922, some of the world’s successful businessmen held a special meeting in Chicago. They were a group of high-powered specialists who knew the secret of making money. There was no doubt about where their altar was.Thus their main preoccupation was on making lots of money.But let’s take a look at what happened to some of those men 27 years later:
-Charles Schwab, president of the largest independent steel company, died bankrupt and lived on borrowed money the last years of his life.
-Samuel Insull, president of the greatest utility company, died a fugitive from justice, penniless in a foreign land.
-Howard Hopson, president of the largest gas company, was insane.
-Arthur Cutler, the greatest wheat speculator, died abroad in poverty.
-Richard Whitney, president of the New York stock exchange, was sitting in Sing Sing prison.
-Albert Fall, a member of the President’s cabinet, was pardoned from prison so he could die at home.

Frank Mihalic concluded that all these men knew how to make money, but none of them knew how to live. I like this story. It has a powerful message that we may ponder upon. For me, this story is not to condemn riches nor it is something against being rich. I think there’s nothing wrong with material possession. What is in question here concerns man’s values and priorities. What are the values and priorities we “treasure” in life? Is God our first priority or we give more importance to something or someone else? What is the deepest and most important value in our lives? Do we see God as that value? Do we value more the things that the world has to offer? To say that material things are not important in life is hypocritical. Of course, we need money to survive. However, we should never overlook our greatest treasure i.e. God and his Kingdom. “Set your hearts on his Kingdom first…and all those other things will be given you as well” (Matthew 6:33).

In today’s Gospel, our Lord Jesus made his point clear to us that the Kingdom of God is of utmost importance by telling us a couple of parables – the parable of the hidden treasure and the parable of precious pearl. Jesus said – “The Kingdom of God is like treasure hidden in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field” (Mt. 13:44) In order to attain, therefore, that treasure one has to sell everything he has to take possession of the field, thus he has shown how much he values that treasure.

“Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.” (Mt. 13:45) Therefore, one cannot possess the pearl of great price unless one sells all that he has, thus to show how much the pearl is important to that person.
This reminds me of that rich young man in the Gospel who claimed to be righteous, and so he wanted to know what thing to do to guarantee eternal life. Our Lord Jesus challenges him to sell everything and give them to the poor and follow him. But he cannot! The instruction to sell all and follow Christ was designed to reveal that the man treasured his earthly possessions more than the heavenly hope, that he would rather maintain his lifestyle than becoming a follower of Christ.

Pope Francis says that the only treasures we should be storing up are the ones that have value in “the handbag of Heaven.” We are but stewards of earth’s riches; when we are so blessed with it, it doesn’t mean that we selfishly keep them to ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with material possessions, but if we are blessed with it, then we should realize that there is a real joy when we improve our sense of charity and service. We do not just live for ourselves, but the best human existence is that when we live it in the service of others.

I could only admire Solomon in the First Reading today(1 Kings 3:5:7-12). Solomon was given an opportunity to ask something from God. It was a chance of a lifetime. He could have asked God for material possessions and earthly happiness. But instead, he asked for wisdom, understanding and right judgment. If like Solomon we are also given a chance to ask whatever God could grant us, what are we gonna ask God for?

One thing is sure, our response will reveal which we value most. In the end, if we remain faithful to God and his Kingdom heaven will be our reward. This is the message of the third parable – the parable of the dragnet.It tells us that everyone is being invited to his Kingdom – good or bad alike. But man is free. “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink,” as the saying goes. Only when we constantly thirst to be one with God can we achieve our goal. Our goal should be with God forever -to be part of the Kingdom of God. Therefore, in our journey through life, we need to prioritize this. And all other things of this world are only means to an end, which is the Kingdom of God.

 

HOMILY: TWELFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (A) by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

sparrows3

 

GOSPEL REFLECTION: TWELFTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (A)
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
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GOSPEL: MATTHEW 10:26-33

Jesus said to the Twelve:
“Fear no one.
Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed,
nor secret that will not be known.
What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light;
what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.
And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul;
rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy
both soul and body in Gehenna.

Are not two sparrows sold for a small coin?
Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s knowledge.
Even all the hairs of your head are counted.
So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Everyone who acknowledges me before others
I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.
But whoever denies me before others,
I will deny before my heavenly Father.”
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REFLECTION:

We are all afraid of something. Fear is so much part of human existence. No one is totally fearless. As long as we have feelings, we have fears for it is man’s basic emotion. Although being afraid of something is not totally negative at all as one can simply perceive it to be. It could also result in something positive. We need to be afraid of something to remind us to be careful at all times. It can protect us because fears make us cautious and alert. There are so many kinds of fears. Love and fear are two realities in us but actually contrasting emotions. When we are depressed, lonely and sad, we have fears in us. It is something we create. While when we are happy and joyful, there is love. We choose love therefore than fear.

In today’s Gospel text, our Lord Jesus strongly said to his disciples “Do not be afraid.” Several times we hear the words “fear” and “afraid” in today’s Gospel. Thus, we can be sure that this is the message that Jesus is trying to make a point. Is there a reason for the disciples to be afraid of? Yes, Jesus knew that there is a valid reason for them to be afraid of. The disciples were given a task of spreading the Good News. Given that particular task means persecution and rejection. Not everyone will simply embrace the Gospel message. It may cost the messenger hardships, difficulties, sacrifice and it may cost him life. Many missionaries have lost their lives on account of spreading the Good News. But Jesus says “Fear no one; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered.” “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Jesus never sugarcoated nor water down his message. Yes following him and heeding the Gospel message could be extremely difficult. But Jesus readily assures us of his presence, guidance, and support. He will never abandon us. If only because we are of so much value to him. In effect, he said “Look at the sparrow. They may be the cheapest species of birds because of their abundance.Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” Sparrows to some maybe insignificant creatures. But not in the eyes of God. They are important creatures, no matter how insignificant they may seem. And Jesus said, ” Every single one of them is of significant value.” And here comes the best part, Jesus further said: “You are of more value than many sparrows.” If God cares about sparrows, how much more does He care about us humans? There may be times that we feel discouraged and disappointed in life. There may be times that we want to give up. But God is giving us the strength and the courage to go on. We only have to trust God especially during those moments that we need to stand for the truth and the Gospel message.”Be not afraid! God cares!” You know, reading today’s Gospel message is like reading a love letter from a someone. It was a profession of God’s immense love for mankind. God knows even the minute details of our lives. Jesus said, “Even the hairs of your head are counted.” But if that is how much he cares and loves us. He wants us to reciprocate to that love. How? By loving one another. Let me elaborate this point by telling you a story:

A story is told of an old Father and his son. One morning, they were sitting on a bench in their backyard. Suddenly a sparrow flies across them. The old father asks his son, “What is that?” To which the son replies “A sparrow” and looks back into his newspaper. After awhile his father once again asks him “What is that?” The son is a little annoyed and says “I just told you, father, it’s a sparrow!”

Then, the sparrow flies to the other side and sits there. The father repeats his question “What is that?” This time, the son is really upset and yells at his father “A sparrow father, a sparrow…s-p-a-r-r-o-w…” And when the father tries to repeat his question, the son is really furious and says “Why are you doing this father? How many times will I tell you it’s a sparrow!!!”

The Father is hurt and in silence, he goes inside their house. When he comes back, he is holding a diary. He turns the page and asks his son to read aloud. It reads: “Today, my youngest son, who a few days ago turn three was sitting with me at the park when a sparrow sat in front of us. My son asked me 21 times “What is that?” and I answered each one of them without getting annoyed or impatient. I hugged him each time he asked me the same question again and again and again. I did not get mad but I was full of compassion, patience, understanding, and love of this innocent little boy.”

The son realizes his mistakes, full of remorse, hugs, and kisses his father and says, “I’m sorry Dad, I love you!”
When we were young, we need care, protection, guidance, and love from our parents. As we and our parents get older there’s reversal of the situation. We become self-sufficient and parents need care and love.

Sometimes in life, we easily forget. We forget the times when we were the one who needs care and help. We forget especially when we become strong and independent. We forget just as because we can now stand on our own.

But there is one who will never forget and who will never abandon us – God. Nothing can separate us from God, not even our own weaknesses. For when we come to him with a sincere and a contrite heart, He is ready to forgive.God loves us so much that He even sacrifice his only begotten Son for the salvation of the world.