The Lord Is My Chef Simbang Gabi Recipe-1 for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II Wednesday, Advent Week-III, 16 December 2020 Isaiah 56:1, 3a, 6-8 >><)))*> + >><)))*> + >><)))*> John 5:33-36
At the start of our “Simbang Gabi” also known as Misa de Gallo and Misa de Aguinaldo, let me confess to you first how I have been a “Scrooge” for sometime, but, not exactly like that character in Charles Dickens’ novel “A Christmas Carol”.
Yes, I have always “hated” and avoided playing those popular Christmas songs that have commercialized and trivialized this blessed celebration. They really get to my nerves when I hear those songs portraying Christmas as the time to have a girlfriend or boyfriend or worst, that Christmas will never be complete without a ham or “quezo de bola”. That is why here in our parish, I have totally banned the playing and singing of many commercial Christmas songs both English and Filipino except those sung in our Masses.
Thanks to COVID-19! In my efforts to brighten my life this pandemic, I have been listening again to some, real Christmas songs we grew up with like those by Bing Crosby, Jerry Vale and our all-time favorite, the Ray Conniff band that my parents used to play on the phonograph not so long ago. One song that stands out these past days with me is Crosby’s “Do You Hear What I Hear” that speaks so well of our gospel scene today when John sent two of his disciples to ask Jesus if he was the one “who is to come or should they look for another?” (Lk.7:18).
And Jesus said to them in reply, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”Luke 7:22-23
Christmas is accepting the unexpected
“And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”
That final sentence by Jesus speaks so much also for us during this time of pandemic when we have to “expect the unexpected” or simply accept things we do not expect.
Most likely you must have seen and even shared this very popular quotation above that has gone viral at Facebook. It is so true! Just be thankful with what you have, especially the people dearest to you, the gift of life, and of course Jesus Christ whom we do not recognize coming in our lives.
We have decided in our parish to have simple and less Christmas decors inside our church this year to show the people that we need to learn having only the essentials in life by removing the many trimmings of Christmas so we may rediscover Jesus Christ in our simplicity and emptiness.
I have been saying Christmas 2020 will definitely be the most difficult Christmas we shall ever have – maybe the darkest, the bleakest but at the same time, the most meaningful! There may be less of material things this Christmas but more of God and spiritual things like love and kindness, mercy and forgiveness, joy and peace. See https://lordmychef.com/2020/11/23/surely-there-will-be-christmas-2020/
Surely there will always be Christmas every year but after 2020, may our Christmas be for real: less hugging and kissing but more loving and caring; less laughing and merrymaking but more of rejoicing and comforting; less having and buying more giving and sharing; more sacrificing more striving for justice and peace; less clapping, less "liking", less "trending" more praying, more kneeling to Jesus our Savior and everything!
Quality vs. quantity
The key is vigilance — of being alert not only of the coming of Jesus but of his very presence among us even amid this pandemic and many difficulties of this year. Jesus is telling us on this first day of our Simbang Gabi like what he told the disciples of John to be alert, observe how in the midst of this pandemic so many good things still happen among us that cannot be measured in quantity but felt deep in quality.
Every time somebody feels better, rediscovers his/her sense of meaning in life and mission while going through a difficult illness, that’s Jesus present among us!
When neighbors start to forgive and be kind to one another, that is Jesus among us!
If people start to come together and break all artificial barriers among them like race, color, creed, status, or whatever – that is Jesus among us!
Most of all, when we in the parish, in this church gather as one in faith, hope and love making this truly the house of the Lord as Isaiah prophesied, offering the Jesus we have in our hearts with each other, then the Lord has truly come!
Let us examine our selves, our lives how God has blessed us this difficult year. Stop whining, stop complaining of so many things that are so superficial. Go deeper for that is truly Christmas. Then, we shall know the meaning of Christ telling us, “And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me” which, I think, is also not far from what Bing Crosby was singing in 1963:
Do you hear what I hear? Said the night wind to the little lamb Do you see what I see? (Do you see what I see?) Way up in the sky, little lamb Do you see what I see? (Do you see what I see?) A star, a star, dancing in the night With a tail as big as a kite With a tail as big as a kite
*Piece of trivia from wikipedia about this song: “Do You Hear What I Hear?” is a song written in October 1962, with lyrics by Noël Regney and music by Gloria Shayne. The pair, married at the time, wrote it as a plea for peace during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Regney had been invited by a record producer to write a Christmas song, but he was hesitant due to the commercialism of Christmas. It has sold tens of millions of copies and has been covered by hundreds of artists.