Friday, October 31, 2014

Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed

Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed 
2nd November 2014
by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

There is a tinge of sadness in my heart as I reflect on this Sunday's Gospel. This Sunday's Liturgy reminds of us of our loved ones who have passed on before us. We remember whom we love the most and whom we miss the most. When we lose a somebody we love so much,the pain will always linger. We can never move on. We only have to deal with it everyday of our lives. As we celebrate "All Souls Day," we commemorate our departed loved ones. Remembering them is like bringing back all the memories - the time we spent with them, all the joys, the laughter as well as the pains and struggles we've shared with them - all these can never be recreated. And that makes it all the more sad. But I find consolation in the very words of our Lord Jesus in today's Gospel. Jesus said, "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy; and my burden is light." It is an assurance that Jesus knew our hurts, our pains and troubles. And He invites us to come to Him and seek rest.

Today, not only that we remember our dead but also we are being reminded of our future - our final destination i.e. one day we too shall die. The inevitable will also come to us whether we like it or not. That is part of human existence , we were born, we live and we shall die. Today we are being reminded that the body is not immortal. "Memento mori," it is a Latin phrase which means "Remember that you have to die" or simply "Remember death!" The phrase is intended to remind us the transient and transitory nature of all earthly reality, our own very selves not excluded. On Ash Wednesday as the priest imposes ashes on our forehead , we were reminded of this reality as he said,"You are dust and unto dust you shall return." Do we really need to be reminded of this? Yes, actually we should be reminded of this most of the times, that we may not be distracted with things that are not essential on our journey, things that are passing but that we may focus more on the things that will last and that are immortal.

Every time I do funerals , I always remind the bereaved family that death is not the end but rather beginning. It is not defeat but victory. Death is only a parting for a little while - not a good-bye but only a see you later. One day we shall all meet again. And we believe that our beloved departed brothers and sisters are in good hand. Our faith tells us that wherever they are, they are enjoying eternal bliss with all the angels and saints. This is the promise our Lord Jesus gave to us. John 14:2 "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you."

Life is a journey.It is a journey that begins at birth and end with death that brings us to eternity. Therefore, we are only like pilgrims here on earth. Death is necessary for us to achieve higher kind of life. John 12:24 - "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." We are meant to be born out of this world to a higher level of our existence. Our life here on earth is but our preparation to a life eternal.. And so what must we do? Our Liturgy this Sunday reminds us to desire for the highest goal which is heaven. We can only achieve it by the life we live. Surely, nobody's perfect. But perfection should be our goal. Yesterday, we celebrated "All saints' Day" - it is a reminder of what should be our ultimate goal i.e. perfection. Saint Augustine puts it powerfully , he said, "The entire life of a good Christian is in fact an exercise of holy desire. You do not see what you long for, but the very act of desiring prepares you, so that when he comes you may see and be utterly satisfied." We should therefore do our best to intensify our desire and longing for God. In doing so, we affect and inspire the lives of other people too.

Allow me to end my reflection with a story:

A story is told of a man dying of AIDS at a hospital in Washington that was run by Missionaries of Charity. The man decided to receive the Sacrament of Baptism , and so he summoned a priest. But the priest said, "Before I baptize you I want to ask for some expression of faith from you." The dying man said to the priest, "All I know is that I am unhappy, and these sisters who are attending to me are very happy, even when I curse them and spit on them. Yesterday, I finally asked them why they were so happy despite everything i did to them. And they replied 'Jesus' Jesus makes them happy and that when they serve the needy like me , they see Jesus," and the man explained , "I want this Jesus so I can finally be happy."

While here on earth, let us be emissaries of the joy of Christ that we may affect the lives of others. Together we go hand in hand in our journey from here to eternity.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

GOSPEL REFLECTION: 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
19th October 2014

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

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."



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 country men who are suffering under the Roman tax. It was like a betrayal of his own country men. 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 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 belongs 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!


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Sim card replacement

Since my phone lost last September 30, I will talk more about it later because there are a lot of discoveries and lessons learn, while I am looking for a phone replacement I tried to work out to get a SIM or Subscriber Identity Module card of the same number I had before. The Telephone Company Smart, my mobile provider told me when I visited their office that as prepaid subscriber i can get my old number if they can see the old SIM card. I told them that my phone was stolen, it is still possible for two counts. First, if can found that holder of my old SIM card which contains the number of the SIM card. If this is not possible, the second option is to get an affidavit of loss. if the subscriber is a post paid, it will be easier because they can easily access their database.

At the moment, I am trying to find my SIM card case as time permits. Maybe I have forgotten where I placed it, It was been my number for more than a decade. Next time you buy a SIM card even if it is prepaid, store the card case and it might become handy later on. Though SIM card now are cheap and can easily be replaced but you can still use the old number with the same price just walked in the service centers of any phone providers to request it. The same is also applied for those who will be changing phones using SIM cards from standard SIM size to Micro ones.


Share me a part of yourself.

I am tired of people saying that the Internet is trash. I usually respond with the note "well you are not putting anything good at it". We know that the Internet is of a great potential for Evangelization. The Catholic Church is aware of this already but we have to encourage other to share their knowledge through the Internet.

Individual catholic relies on the institutional Church to lead on this endeavor, well we are not lag behind on this issue as the Church through the efforts of some dioceses, religious congregations, parishes and catholic bishop conferences of different nations as well as some Enterprises which carries catholic brand. However, this is not enough, individual must also share the faith received through the use of internet of which today is easily available though the internet providers are sometimes are too slow.

I am still encouraging my fellow clergyman to share their homily, reflection or any thoughts concerning the faith. I am still offering them to post their work either on their own website or blog site or simply to park here on this site. Rev. Fr. Allen Abadines have permitted me to post here his homily which he publishes on Facebook. I told him that it will also widen the scope of those might be able to read it especially those who do not have an account on Facebook. As I have said before I am extending the invitation for those who would like to share their knowledge and experiences of the faith in Jesus through the Internet to do so, and if they want me to help you to walk you through.

Video taping and publishes it through YouTube my daily masses have been for sometime a part of my routine not because I have a great speaker or homilist but because I would like to share of whatever I have that in somehow or another may help someone who may stumble of the said videos. 

Let us populate the internate with the message of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

GOSPEL REFLECTION: 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)
12th October 2014
by Rev.Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines

GOSPEL: (Matthew 22:1-14)
Once more Jesus spoke to the chief priests and Pharisees in parables: "The Kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come.
Again he sent other slaves, saying, "Tell those who have been invited: "Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet." But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city.

"Then he said to his slaves, "The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet." Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests.

But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him."Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?" And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, "Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." For many are called, but few are chose,"


During these past few Sundays, we were treated with some inspiring and powerful messages from the Gospel of Matthew. And they have something in common. All of them point to the Lord's invitation and how we respond to it.There is this idea of invitation and being invited which so implies that in the Kingdom of God no one indeed is forced to respond. It is always a choice and personal decision whether to respond freely and joyfully or simply ignore and or refuse the invitation.

In today's Gospel text, Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to a great wedding feast."The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son." The king sent forth his messengers to invite certain people, but none of them responded. And for the second time, he sent again a group of messengers to invite people, bu they not only reject the invitation, some of them even beat and killed the messengers. In which of course we were told that they suffered the consequences of their action. Finally, the king ordered his servants to invite everyone good or bad. So the hall was filled with guests.

The idea of the wedding banquet seemed so close to the heart of Jesus. In some cases, he even refers himself to a bridegroom waiting for his bride.It may be of significance too that the first miracle performed by our Lord Jesus here on earth transpired in a wedding banquet at Cana where he transformed water into wine. The wedding at Cana was considered as Jesus' first public ministry.
What then is this particular text telling us about? I'd like to give herewith two important insights.
First, God's invitation is for everyone. The invitations were sent out to everyone, good or bad, rich or poor, young or old, men or women - everyone without discrimination and exception.God never rejects anyone.That's good news. This invitation reflects a forgiving, accepting and a loving God. The problem lies therefore not on the part of God but on the part of men. While all are invited yet not everyone responded. Can you imagine the preparation made by the host to give a great feast only to be ignored and rejected? God is inviting us, an invitation that we couldn't refuse. It is an invitation to come to the feast (His Kingdom), to rejoice, to share in His happiness, to know him personally and to experience His love. It's an opportunity of a lifetime. Who wouldn't take that opportunity of knowing Jesus deeply and experience His love?

This reminds me of a story as told by Fr. Bel San Luis. There is a story about a learned master deliberating with his disciples on the difference between KNOWLEDGE and ENLIGHTENMENT.He said, "When you have knowledge, you use a torch to show the way."
"But when you are enlightened, you become the torch."

Likewise, When you have knowledge about Jesus you use it to show the way.
But when you are enlightened about Jesus, you become like Jesus." Knowing something about Jesus is different from knowing him personally. Our Lord's invitation is for us to come to know him deeply. It is about entering into an intimate communion with Him and in Him.

Second, Yes, indeed we are blessed that we are invited and we responded. But it is not enough that we responded. It demands responsibility on our part. In the Parable, the king noticed a man not wearing proper dress for the occasion. The man was thrown out of the wedding banquet. When one is invited to a party, there should be a proper dress code. It is always indicated in the invitation whether the guests are expected to come in casual or formal attire. And that should be respected. Coming to a wedding not properly dressed was to be considered an insult to the host as well as to the newly wedded couple. Everyone is welcome provided you are properly dressed for the occasion.There should be no excuse for not wearing an appropriate clothes. it only takes some efforts, maybe to borrow or to ask from the king himself who would be willing to buy clothing for the guests.

Why is the wedding garments important? What is its significance? I could see the connection of the wedding garments whenever I administer the sacrament of Baptism in which the priest say "Receive this white garment, the outward sign of your Christian dignity.You have become a new creation, and have clothed yourself in Christ. See in this white garment the outward sign of your Christian dignity. With your family and friends to help you by word and example, bring that dignity unstained into the everlasting life of heaven." To be properly dressed is to maintain our Christian dignity i.e. to clothe ourselves in Christ , to surround ourselves with holiness. Being properly dressed means living a good Christian lives. Holiness is our identity. We are a holy people of God. It is who we are and strive to be.

Our life here on earth is but a preparation to be meeting the bridegroom- Our Lord Jesus Christ. As we wait for the occasion we begin now to prepare our garment. We are all sinners. We may feel unworthy.But never be afraid of responding to this invitation of God. He will guide us, He will give us the strength and the graces to make us worthy of His Kingdom.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time (A)

Matthew 21:33-43
5th October 2014
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 wine press 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 produces the fruits of the Kingdom."

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, were 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 was 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 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 owe 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 ever step of the way. I could bear the pain and be thankful of the process if it in the end it means healing. I could be thankful of my hardships and sacrifices if it is for the benefits of others and to glorify God. That means I could suffer with meaning and be thankful at the same time specially 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.