The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 31 January 2021
Glad to be back with our Sunday blog on music and the Gospel which speaks today of the people of Capernaum so amazed with Jesus speaking with authority as he preached to them and exorcised a man possessed by an unclean spirit (Mark 1:21-28).
We usually think of authority as having power over people, of subjugating and controlling them for our selfish motives. So often, the word and concept of authority is something we take with disdain and suspicion.
That is exactly the meaning of John Cougar Mellencamp’s Authority Song from his 1983 album called Uh-Huh.
The song is so typical of Mellencamp’s rebel attitude that made his music artistic and unique, making him the leading figure of the second generation of “heartland rockers” in the mid-80’s.
A very interesting part of this song whose video portrayed Mellencamp as a boxing underdog fighting for the ordinary people against the rich and powerful says something about authority’s real essence so close to our gospel this Sunday:
I call up my preacher I say, “Give me strength for round 5” He said, “You don’t need no strength, you need to grow up son” I said, “Growin’ up leads to growin’ old and then to dyin’ Ooo, and dyin’ to me don’t sound like all that much fun” And so I’ll say
I fight authority, authority always wins Well, I fight authority, authority always wins Well, I’ve been doing it since I was a young kid I come out grinnin’ Well, I fight authority, authority always wins
From the Latin verb augere, augeribus which is to make something to increase, authority implies making things and persons better because in essence it is service. A person in authority is actually vested with powers to serve and help others become better by en-abling and em-powering them.
That’s the authority of Jesus, so powerful in bringing out the giftedness of everyone.
Jesus comes to us with authority to set us free from darkness and sins, fears and anxieties, angers and resentments that hinder us from appreciating the beauty of life and of being alive. He came with all authority from the Father to enable us to become the true persons God wanted us to be (https://lordmychef.com/2021/01/30/the-authority-of-jesus/).
At least, Mellencamp fought the wrong concept of authority; in his music video, it is implied he had lost but the kid who admired him so much was portrayed at the end as pulling his sleeves to indicate of continuing Mellencamp’s fight.
That kid represents us too, that we must continue to fight this wrong concept of authority as power to control people than serve as Jesus had shown us in the gospel.
Enjoy your Sunday with family and friends in Jesus!
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul
Fourth Week in Ordinary Time, Cycle B, 31 January 2021
Deuteronomy 18:15-20 + 1 Corinthians 7:32-35 + Mark 1:21-28
As Jesus began his public ministry last week by the shores of the Lake of Galilee calling his first disciples, Mark presents us beginning today some glimpses into the life and person of the Lord in Capernaum where he grew up and would temporarily base himself.
Then they came to Capernaum, and on the sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit… All were amazed and asked one another, “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.
Mark 1:21-23, 27-28
First thing we notice with Jesus is his devotion to Judaism, his going to the synagogue at sabbath to worship God his Father; later we find how during major feasts he would also come to the temple at Jerusalem. What a beautiful reminder that personal faith and relationship with God has to be expressed and lived in a community like in our parishes.
In this glimpse into a typical sabbath day in the life of Jesus, we also find the reason why he launched his ministry from the province of Galilee and not at the center of Israel which is Jerusalem: and that is to serve the poor and marginalized, those neglected with nothing in life who always felt left out and forgotten by everyone.
That is no longer true as we heard him declared last Sunday, “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk.1:15).
A new teaching, proclaimed with authority
Mark tells us twice in our short gospel this Sunday how the people experienced Christ’s having authority in the way he spoke that was so unlike their scribes. Most of all, the people were amazed at his authority and power of words that expelled an “unclean spirit” from a man at their synagogue.
It was definitely something totally new and different that they wondered if it were a new kind of teaching, not knowing it was already God right in their midst in Jesus Christ, the Word who became flesh!
Today Jesus is teaching us the real meaning of power, his power of authority that actualizes persons and communities. Like the first disciples he had called last week, the people at the synagogue felt his words affecting them within. Their hearts must have been stirred and moved that they felt so good, moving them to share it with everyone that they all shared in the joy of hearing something new, something fresh and uplifting.
And it did not stop there.
The people then witnessed Jesus how drove away with his words an unclean spirit from a possessed man. They were amazed more upon seeing the possessed man freed from unclean spirit that “His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.”
Such was the impact Jesus made on that day of sabbath at Capernaum that continues to our day especially when we gather for the Sunday Eucharist if we can only share in his authority.
Authority as power is always a service that sets people free.
The word authority came from the Latin verb augere, augeribus meaning “to make something increase” or become better. Akin to the word authority is also the word “author” as in the writer of a book or of a document whose words are regarded as true and correct, worth listening and following.
Therefore, real authority is not just having the power over the people to rule and subjugate them as most of us would always think.
Authority in the real sense is service, the power to enable and empower people so that they may become better persons, that they may mature and transcend themselves to grow as persons with so much potentials for change and development.
True authority always leads people to freedom from darkness and sins, sickness and evil that brings out their giftedness as beloved children of God.
That is the authority of Jesus who declared that he had come to serve and not to be served by giving his life as a ransom for many (Mt.20:28) so that we may all have life in him as our good shepherd, a life in abundance (Jn.10:10).
Jesus is the prophet promised by God to Moses in the first reading who shall come to his people to speak to them his very words of life. And by tracing our being prophets with authority to Moses, the first reading gives us too the only criterion for recognizing the true spokesperson of God: he must always speak the word of God that is always actualizing when spoken with humility and sincerity.
Notice how in our language and culture the close linkages of words and authority are so clearly pronounced and recognized: we call people with authority as “mga taong may sinasabi” because people who wield power always have a say in everything.
But what are they saying? What words would always come out of their mouths? Are they life-giving or inducing death, glorifying evil?
So many times, people say so many things that are nothing and senseless. Ang dami-daming sinasabi wala namang sinabi! That is how we call people without impact and true authority: walang sinabi.
How sad these recent years, we priests and bishops complain so often how people would no longer listen to usin the Church.
We say so many things but fall on deaf ears, no impact, no life at all because they are not the words of Christ whom we have long forgotten.
Worst, how tragic when we impose our own words, insisting our authority on the people that most often is self-serving, far from true and loving service of Jesus Christ.
Whatever happened to that ideal of lay-empowerment when we would not let people speak or at least listen to their voices and thoughts in running their parish?
Before we can make people listen to the words of God, we in the Church must be the first to listen to his words that come to us in a life of prayer and devotion to the Eucharist. What a hypocrisy on our part when we who are supposed to be unmarried and celibate who are “anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord” (1Cor.7:32) would not even spend time to pray and listen to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament daily.
Every day especially in every celebration of the Mass, Jesus comes to us in his authority to set us free from our fears and anxieties, sickness and sins, anger and resentments, compulsions and addictions among other things that hinder us from truly experiencing the beauty of this life.
Let us all pray today for us to have a share in the authority of Jesus Christ to set us free from our being deaf and dumb, blind and lame in the Church that is also his Body. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop, 11 November 2020
Titus 3:1-7 >><)))*> + <*(((><< Luke 17:20-25
Glory and praise to you, O God our almighty Father, the Supreme Authority over the whole universe. As we celebrate the Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, one of your most glorious saints of the fourth century, we are reminded today by this former soldier of the important relationship of obedience and authority.
St. Paul in the first reading tells us:
Beloved: Remind them to be under the control of magistrates and authorities, to be obedient, to be open to every good enterprise.
Teach us, O God, how obedience and authority always go together, never apart from each other. May we see that obedience is not a virtue when authority is taken for granted and not rooted in you, our loving Father. At the same time, authority is corrupted when exercised without obedience to higher authority.
Your Son Jesus Christ had taught us so well that he spoke with authority, even the evil spirits obey his words; however, he had always insisted though that even if all authority has been given to him, all his life is a YES and obedience to you, God our Father.
Like St. Martin of Tours who had lived obedient to you O God all his life through his superiors and the people, may we live our obedience in authority in Jesus Christ our Savior while at the same time, may we live our authority in obedience to him by trusting in you alone.
We pray that we do not fall to the trap of the nine lepers healed by Jesus who obeyed him to present themselves to the priests after being healed; they were obedient but were not rooted in God, so mechanical in their obedience, unmindful of the authority of Jesus who healed them.
Instead, may we imitate the Samaritan who upon realizing his healing, returned to thank Jesus: here is a man whose obedience is not only rooted in you, O God, but most of all, whose exercise of authority will surely be in obedience to you for he is full of gratitude.
From being a soldier of the State into being a soldier of God, pray for us St. Martin of Tours to remain rooted in God so that in our obedience to authority as well as exercise of authority in obedience, may we begin and end in him. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Week XXIX-A in Ordinary Time, 18 October 2020
Isaiah 45:1, 4-6 ><)))*> + <*(((>< 1 Thessalonians 1:1-5 ><)))*> + <*(((>< Matthew 22:15-21
People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges.
“I Like You Just Because” by Albert J. Nimeth, OFM
We live in a world with so many divisions of our own making. Most of the time we are divided on the things we possess not only of things like properties and borders, inheritance, and toys but also of persons like in child custody and “trading” players in sports! So many times these divisions have caused harm and destruction among us as nations and as individuals.
Sad to say, these divisions come from within us in our hearts where we always try to divide our lives between God and our very selves, especially in the realm of religion and civic life.
The Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech. They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying, “Tell us, then, what is your opinion: Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?”
Matthew 22:15-16, 17
When our possessions possess us.
Today and next Sunday, Jesus is confronted by his enemies who have increased their efforts in finding faults against him in his speech to charge him with serious cases and get rid of him; but, more than dispatching his enemies with his brilliant answers to their question, Jesus brought to the fore the real score of the great divide within us.
In our gospel scene today, we can see clearly how divided within were the enemies of Jesus like the Pharisees and Herodians who joined forces to put Jesus down despite their being poles apart in their beliefs: the former who were against the Romans taking control in Israel while the latter were members of a faction supportive of the occupying forces.
As they sought the Lord’s opinion on the perceived deep divisions many still believe to exist up to this day between “Caesar” and God, Jesus brought to the open how divided inside were his enemies after all —- just like us today when we have been possessed by our very own possessions!
Knowing their malice, Jesus said, “Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? Show me the coin that pays the census tax.” Then they handed handed him the Roman coin. He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?” They replied, “Caesar’s.” At that he said to them, “Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”
Jesus is not proposing a compromise in his answer but rather trying to heal the false divisions we have created inside us.
Aside from the silly alliance of the Pharisees and Herodians, Jesus bared how divided within they have always been when they gave him a coin used to pay taxes to the Caesar that has an image of the emperor and the inscription that says “son of god” – something that was clearly against the First Commandment of God that in fact, they should have not been carrying at all when in the temple area!
They have been divided inside because they have been possessed by their possessions like money. In telling them, and us today, to “repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar”, Jesus reminds us that what belongs to Caesar are inanimate objects that are external to the heart of things. When a young man asked Jesus one day to tell his brother to give him his share of inheritance, the Lord stressed that he had not come to settle our disputes about money and properties (Lk.12:13). Today, Jesus is telling us that it is our responsibility and not for him to decide for us how to settle our political and other problems.
Our undivided hearts are God’s alone.
Jesus clearly points out that what belongs to God is our whole selves, our whole hearts undivided by pride, hypocrisy, and selfishness. While we must give back to Caesar what is due them as further taught by St. Paul and St. Peter in their letters to the early Christians, Jesus directly tells us that our duties to God bind all, everywhere and all the time.
Unlike the image of the Caesar found on coins, we are stamped with the image and likeness of God who created us out of his immense love. It is our duty and moral obligation to always ensure that this image of God in us is never destroyed and always upheld.
Here falls the sensitive – and false issue of “separation of Church and state” in our time like the payment of Roman tax raised by the Pharisees and Herodians. Nowhere does the concept forbid us priests nor the Church as an institution not to speak out when the very image of God is destroyed among men and women with injustice, violence and abject poverty.
What the separation of Church and state forbids is the support and endorsement of a state religion; in a sense, it promotes more harmony and unity among government and religions in their exercise of their true freedom among peoples.
Even God himself works within our own settings in this world to fulfill his plans for us. Trust him because everything works best for those who have believe wholly in God.
In the first reading from the prophet Isaiah we find the most amusing bit of history of how God had used a pagan ruler, Cyrus the king of Persia or Iran today to become his anointed savior or messiah of Israel then in their Babylonian exile. Imagine how God used an outsider, an unbeliever to free his chosen people from one of their darkest moments in history to show us that God is the master of history because everything is his.
May we heed St. Paul’s words to the Thessalonians and to us today to never doubt it was God in Jesus Christ who called us out of darkness and sin to be his new chosen people. Everything in our lives specially in our ministries and apostolate are the initiatives of God – may our hearts be undivided in giving him back everything through Jesus Christ, our life and meaning. Amen.
Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-30 ng Hulyo, 2020
Hindi normal sa gitna nitong pandemya
mayroong mga nagpapasasa sa kayamanan
at luho sa katawan habang karamihan
naghihikahos at pilit idinaraos bawat araw
maski mamalimos dahil kabuhayan nila ay naubos.
Hindi normal sa gitna nitong pandemya
nakukuha ng iba na matuwa at magsaya
kapag mga kumpanya ay naipasara o nagsara
gayong ito ang panahon kay hirap kumita
di nila alintana pighati at dalamhati ng masawi.
Hindi normal sa gitna nitong pandemya
sariling kapakanan inaatupag ng mga congressman
lahat ng panggugulang at kabalastugan
naiisipan habang buong bayan nahihirapan
ni walang masakyan sa pupuntahan at uuwian.
Hindi normal sa gitna nitong pandemya
na daanin sa biro at masasakit na salita
patutsada laban sa kapwa maging maralita
na bantad sa banta ng gutom at kamatayan
simula umaga hanggang makatulugan na lang..
Hindi normal sa gitna nitong pandemya
kawalan ng katarungan kung saan
ang mga makapangyarihan di kakitaan ng
kabutihan at pagka-uliran sa pagsunod sa mga
patakaran habang mga nasasakupan pinarurusahan.
Hindi normal kahit walang pandemya
ano pa mang katuwiran sabihin ninuman
ito ang panahon ng new normal dahil hindi
kailanman nababago ang normal
na siyang pamantayan ng kalakaran.
Kaya inyo nang tigilan
pagturing sa umiiral na takbo ng buhay
sa gitna ng pandemya bilang "new normal"
dahil ang karamihan kailanman
ay hindi pa man naranasan tinuturing nating
normal na pamumuhay;
sa tuwing ating ginigiit itong "new normal"
lalo nang nababaon, nagigipit at naiipit mga maliliit.
Baguhin mga pananaw at kaisipan
ng umiiral na sitwasyon upang mapabuti
kalagayan ng mga kinalimutan ng lipunan
ngayon natagpuan kanilang dangal at kahalagahan.
Huwag nating hintaying dumating ang panahon
masahol pa sa sinapit natin ngayon
na kung kailan sadyang kakalusin ang salop
na ating napuno ng kalabisan
ng kawalan natin ng pakialam sa mga maling umiiral
sa ating lipunan at pamahalaan, simbahan at pamayanan
lalot higit sa ating tahanan at puso't kalooban.
*Mga larawan sa itaas ay mula kay G. Raffy Tima ng GMA-7 News maliban sa una at huling larawan na mula sa GMA News.
Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-15 ng Hulyo 2020
Sa gitna nitong mga balita
sa garapal at walang kahihiyang
ginawa ng pitumpung mambabatas
na nagkait ng prangkisa sa Kapamilya
aking naalala sa Banal na Bibliya
kuwento ni San Lucas na ebanghelista
nang ang Panginoong Hesus humirang noon
pitumpung alagad o pitumput-dalawa
na sinugo Niya ng dala-dalawa
sa bawat pook at bayan na patutunguhan Niya.
Sinabi Niya sa kanila
"Sagana ang aanihin, ngunit kakaunti
ang mga manggagawa... Humayo kayo!
Sinusugo ko kayong parang mga kordero
sa gitna ng mga asong-gubat.
Huwag na kayong magdala ng lukbutan,
supot, o panyapak. Huwag na kayong titigil
sa daan upang makipagbatian kaninuman.
Pagpasok ninyo sa alinmang bahay,
batiin ninyo ng kapayapaan;
Manatili kayo sa inyong tinutuluyan,
huwag kayong magpalipat-lipat ng bahay.
Pagalingin ang mga may karamdaman
sa bawat bayan na inyong pupuntahan
mga taumbayan ay sabihang nalalapit na
ang paghahari ng Diyos sa tanan."
Inyong tingnan sa Banal na Kasulatan
ito ay malalaman, matatagpuan sa Lucas 10:1-12
kahanga-hangang misyon ng pitumpung alagad
ng ating Panginoon noong unang panahon
hatid sa tao pag-asa at pag-ahon;
inyong tingnan ngayon mga pahayagan
pakinggan mga balita ng labis na kasamaan
kawalan ng kahihiyan ni pakundangan
nitong pitumpung nilalang
turing sa sarili at mga kasamahan "kagalang-galang"?
Sila ma'y pinahayo, sinugo
ng pinapanginoon nilang Poncio Pilato
asal nila masahol pa sa asong-gubat
kaayusan at kapayapaan tinapakan
at niyurakan ng kanilang kapalaluan;
sa bawat halalan pangako paglilingkuran
nasasakupan agad namang tinatalikuran
palipat-lipat ng kakampihan kung saan makikinabang
sa sama-samang pagsamsam sa kaban ng bayan;
kunwari'y mabuti ang kalooban
kaban-kabang bigas pinamimigay
milyung-milyong kapalit naman ang dinudugas;
kunwari'y malasakit para sa may-sakit
pakilala sa lahat ay kuya na tila kapamilya
pati turo ng Diyos sinasalaula
manang mana sa kanyang ama.
Sa pagsusugo ni Hesus sa pitumpung alagad Niya
binigay din Kanyang babala
Araw ng Paghuhukom malapit na;
kaya sana itong pitumpung kongresista
pati na kanilang mga kasama
mabatid ang usapin ay hindi lang prangkisa
kungdi kanilang pagmamalabis;
huwag ninyong punuin ang salop
dahil ang Diyos Siyang kakalos
at baka sapitin ninyo ay kalunus-lunos.
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
XIVth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A, 05 July 2020
Zechariah 9:9-10 >><)))*> Romans 8:9, 11-13 >><)))*> Matthew 11:25-30
We now come to the conclusion of our series of teachings of Jesus about discipleship that began two Sundays ago when he asked us not to be afraid and to be “possessed” or overtaken by him to fulfill our mission of proclaiming his good news of salvation.
And so, we now ask, “Why should we follow Jesus and be his disciples, forgetting our very selves and still carry our cross? Have we not suffered enough especially in this pandemic?”
His answer: because unlike other lord and master, Jesus is the only one who is meek and humble of heart, full of compassion to everyone!
He is the only one truly with us in our pains and cries because before all these trials have come to us, Jesus was there first to suffer and die for us on the Cross so we can share in the grace and peace of his Resurrection, calling us with these comforting words….
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Our desire for everything “lite” and easy
If there is anything that we all want at this time is a rest, a break from the heavy burdens 2020 has brought upon us all as individuals and as a nation, not only in the country but the whole world.
We all want things to be “light” and easy like before COVID-19.
The world has long been offering us everything that is “light” (also spelled as “lite”), claiming it to be the key to a healthy and fulfilling life that many products are labelled as lite — from cooking oil to mayonnaise, cheese and ice cream, soda and even brandy, beer, and cigarettes!
But they are all lies!
We still get fat and even sickly with those lite products because being light does not necessarily mean removing or taking away things that are heavy and “toxic” or difficult. Being light does not mean free from responsibilities and duties, or not having a cross and sufferings in life.
Life is difficult as M. Scott Peck insists in The Road Less Travelled, telling us that the sooner we accept this reality, the better we are in life.
It is the truth Jesus Christ has long been telling us, so timely to be reminded again this first Sunday of the second half of 2020 as we continue to hurdle more difficulties ahead in fighting COVID-19 as well as in dealing with a hosts of other problems it had created in the many aspects of our lives.
Today, the Lord is telling us that to be light in life, we have to come to him, be his disciple by taking his yoke and learning from him.
We all know from experience that anything becomes light, especially a burden and a problem, when shared with someone who loves us, someone who cares for us, someone who believes in us. Many times, our problems and burdens need not be solved at all; they simply have to be shared with any one willing to accompany us.
Being light in life is having a companion to share with our burdens and woes because having these all by ourselves is indeed so difficult and impossible. That is the literal meaning of the Latin origin of the word companion – cum panis – someone you break bread with in a journey.
Jesus Christ is that only companion par excellence we can have for he is meek and humble of heart
The gentle mastery of Jesus Christ
In the past two Sundays, Jesus spoke about ourselves and our dispositions to become his disciples. This Sunday, he speaks about himself as our Lord and Master, describing himself as “meek and humble of heart”.
Earlier at the start of his preaching in his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke of true blessedness in the Beatitudes that actually gave us an image of himself as the Blessed One. Each beatitude speaks of Jesus Christ being poor in spirit, being meek, being merciful, being clean of heart, being a peacemaker, and being persecuted.
See that the third beatitude is how he also described himself today in the gospel, “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the land” (Mt. 5:5).
Very interesting is the fact that in his Sermon on the Mount when he preached the Beatitudes, Jesus was presenting himself to the people as the “new Moses” who gave them the Ten Commandments of God at Mount Sinai. As the most towering figure among the Jews, Moses is also described as “very meek, more than all men that were on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3)!
Meekness of Jesus: focusing more on persons than letters of the law
In calling us to come to him to take his yoke and learn from him for he is meek and humble of heart, Jesus is telling us that indeed, he is the new Moses in whom pure goodness is found. And even more surpassing than Moses because Jesus himself is the Law and its fulfillment. Unlike in Moses wherein the people focused more on the letters of the laws, Jesus our Lord insists more on the person, always reminding us that “Sabbath was created for man, not man for sabbath.”
But the most beautiful key in understanding the meekness of Jesus is found in our first reading which we also hear proclaimed on Palm Sunday:
Thus says the Lord: Rejoice heartily, O daughter Zion, shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem! See, your king shall come to you; a just savior is he, meek, and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass. He shall banish the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem.
Unlike the proud masters and rulers of the world, Jesus our Lord and King entered Jerusalem riding on an ass in fulfillment of this part of the Old Testament.
Here we find Jesus as the exact opposite of the kings and rulers of the world whose kingship does not depend on political and military might, no exercise of brute force and power characterized by the chariots and horses of his time.
Meekness of Jesus: oneness with us his people
In this beautiful imagery of Jesus riding an ass considered as the dumbest creature on earth we find Christ’s inmost being of humility and meekness before God and men. No display of arrogance and shameless feelings of entitlements like our officials in the government and military. Most of all, Jesus riding on an ass illustrates his oneness with us all because the ass is the means of transportation of the poor, of the common tao.
Here is the meekness and humility of Jesus Christ — his being one with us in our brokenness and poverty, pains and hurts. You can really experience him especially in this time of the corona when everything seems to be getting worst than better, when everybody is trying to make ends meet amid the economic crisis with Jesus never abandoning us in our darkest moments of uncertainties, fears, hunger, and sadness.
At the rate things are going, we have nobody else to turn to at this time but Jesus our Lord. We have to muster all our faith in him, deepen ourselves in prayer because we cannot rely on our officials who cannot even get a clear data on COVID-19 infections nor even a sound plan in addressing this pandemic despite the longest days of lockdown in the world and loans from abroad.
And we all feel so hopeless, disgruntled and so disgusted especially with the public officials and those from congress and the police who are oblivious to our sufferings and hardships in this time of the corona as they shamelessly flaunt their privileges and exception to the rules.
How can we heal as one when in the first place they are not one with us?
Discipleship in Christ is life in the Holy Spirit
Despite all the irresponsibilities and inanities of the government, we choose to be like our Lord and Master Jesus Christ in bearing all pains and hardships in his holy name, always hoping that this experience can lead us to more meaningful lives as citizens of the republic.
We choose the path of non-violence despite the government’s militaristic response to the crisis aggravated by the legislative’s dangerous foray into more draconian measures to silence critics of the administration.
It is so tempting to fight back and forget all about meekness and humility but that is not the way of Jesus Christ.
In the second reading, St. Paul reminds us of the fundamental choice that lies before every disciple of the Lord: to live in solidarity with Christ empowered by his Spirit, or to live in solidarity with the old humanity enslaved to sin.
May we choose Jesus because he alone is meek and humble of heart, in him alone can we find rest because his yoke is easy and his burden light. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Week XIII, Year II in Ordinary Time, 02 July 2020
Amos 7:10-17 >><)))*> >><)))*> >><)))*> Matthew 9:1-8
Again, O God our loving Father, we pray that you send us prophets especially in this time of so many “spokespersons” who do not know how to listen, like Amaziah the priest at Bethel and the scribes in Capernaum.
Like many of our public figures and even some of us priests who speak a lot in public these days, we all claim to be speaking the truth, speaking for you.
But to speak is always a gift from you, a sharing in your power that whatever you speak happens like in creation and in Jesus Christ, the Word who became flesh presented today in the gospel healing a paralytic by simply speaking the words of forgiveness and then telling him to rise and walk.
How funny that in your words today, dear God, are two groups of people claiming to be speaking for you and yet too far from your words and realities, Amaziah and the scribes; and on the other hand, another group, that of Amos and Jesus, claiming nothing for themselves but doing everything in your name.
Teach to be like Amos and Jesus your Son, to speak and do only your Holy Will.
Amos perfectly explained the giftedness of being your prophet:
Amos answered Amaziah, “I was no prophet, nor have i belonged to a company of prophets; I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores. The Lord took me from following the flock, and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.'”
Make us realize, Lord, that to speak for you, we must first listen to your voice, wait and listen to your words.
To be your prophet or spokesman is to never harbor evil thoughts on others.
And most of all, like Amos and Matthew, to be your prophet means to leave everything behind especially fame and honor in order to follow you — even to the Cross! Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial of Sts. Thomas More and John Fisher, Martyrs, 22 June 2020
2 Kings 17:5-8, 13-15, 18 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Matthew 7:1-5
Today we praise and thank you O God for two great saints of modern time who remind us that holiness is for everyone in all seasons because you are always relevant in every age, in every nation.
St. Thomas More and St. John Cardinal Fisher, two great men who taught us more than 500 years ago the need for us to be faithful to you and your Church than with the modern world and its modern thoughts, of the need for us to fight and oppose all forms of tyranny of men especially of those in power that always have impact on everyone especially those with less in life who take the brunt of such sinful excesses.
Both men were martyred because of their refusal to go with England’s King Henry VIII’s divorce from his first wife and eventual break from Rome and the Pope.
Both men, especially St. Thomas More who was a diplomat-lawyer and a family man, showed us that though we are in this world, we are not of the world; though we are citizens of the city of man, we are first of all citizens of the city of God.
How sad that we have refused to learn the value of their lessons of obeying you, our loving Father in heaven above all.
In fact, it was also the problem with Israel in the first reading when its capital city of Samaria fell into the hands of the Assyrians due to the people’s infidelities to God.
May we realize that every time we turn away from you O Lord, we turn away also from one another and go on our selfish own ways in life that further divide us apart and bring us into destruction and ruins.
Through St. Thomas More and St. John Cardinal Fisher, help us O Lord to examine our very selves, to see our own wickedness and shortcomings so we may effectively fight tyranny and deceit in this modern time. Amen.
Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 05 June 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic is the most severe test the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines has ever faced, striking on the final year of her preparations for the quincentenary of the coming of Christianity in the country.
Making things worst is the “unfriendly” Administration whose policies contradict almost every known Church teaching, from the most basic GMRC and decency to the sanctity of human life.
In this three-part series of reflections, I wish to share with you my brother priests and lay partners in our ministry some lessons I have found in the life and teachings of St. Paul the Apostle that is centered on the person of Jesus Christ.
He never gave specific instructions and answers in dealing with the many issues and problems that confronted the early Church that may help us in the present generation; but, he had taught us to be always centered on Christ, measuring everything in him and his Cross.
Now I am reminding you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you… Through it you are also being saved… For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: the Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures.
1 Corinthians 15:1-3
The gospel thrives most in hostile environment
St. Paul lived in a time very similar with ours when great developments and changes were overtaking the world with the usual problems of poverty and inequalities due to growing materialism, and persecution of the Church.
Instead of seeing them as problems, St. Paul saw them as opportunities to spread the Gospel because his sole focus was the Lord Jesus himself and his Cross.
In fact, all who want to live religiously in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But wicked people and charlatans will go from bad to worse, deceivers and deceived. But you remain faithful to what you have learned and believed…
2 Timothy 3:12-14
When the former Mayor of Davao City assumed the presidency and started lashing out us priests and bishops with his profanities and vitriol including blasphemies against God and Pope Francis, we all expressed our indignation and opposition.
And rightly so! – even in fighting for Kian and those fallen by tokhang as well as the victims of injustice and fake news.
As days moved into months and years, with more vulgarities and lies dished out by the man at Malacañang, there also appeared some silver linings over Pasig River but many of us in the clergy have refused to see and admit— that some of his accusations are true. Although these are more of the exception than the rule, there are indeed some priests leading inauthentic lives far from their vows of poverty and celibacy with others pretending to be shepherds of souls who do not smell like their sheep because they are more keen in amassing wealth and gaining fame and popularity.
Worst of all are those who have sold their souls to politicians for some petty favors and a taste of power, of being seen with the rich and famous.
I am not putting down our priests. There are more good and holy priests working faithfully and silently not only in our country but everywhere in the world.
What I am trying to say since our “persecution” by the present Administration began, this is a wake-up call for us priests to shape up and regain our bearings in Christ.
Actually, it had been coming since the previous Administration, too. For the longest time we have been lording it over the people with our abuses and excesses hiding in the excuse as “alter Christus” but, now the changing times have finally caught on us, demanding more transparency and honesty on our part.
Like with the experience of St. Paul, these situations of “persecution” with a pandemic are calls for our conversion in Christ anew, something that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has been insisting that we priests go back to Jesus, especially in the Blessed Sacrament.
Like St.Paul, priests are first a witness of Jesus Christ
This time of crisis due to COVID-19 and the continued “persecution” by an unfriendly administration that has continued to keep our churches closed for no sane reason at all can be a grace-filled moment for us if we allow Jesus Christ to shine in us by bringing hope and inspiration to our people saddled with so much burdens due to COVID-19 and the government’s inconsistencies in managing the pandemic.
It is here where we are most expected by the people to be at the forefront but – unfortunately – we have been silent in asserting our religious freedom to worship within the rules and protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Only Bishop Pabillo of Manila had spoken against the “laughable policy” of allowing only five and ten people inside the church in areas under ECQ and GCQ, respectively.
Making matters worst was how the CBCP issued its statement reminding us priests and bishops to follow the directives and guidelines set by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases regarding the celebration of the Mass! Instead of supporting the lone voice championing our rights to celebrate Mass in public, the CBCP just repeated the same situation when Jesus saw the crowd who have followed him to the wilderness, “sheep confused and lost without a shepherd” (Mt.9:36).
How sad we have given up the fight so easily to have our churches opened in the transition from ECQ to GCQ.
More sad now are the bishops and priests again in the news – filled with fire and courage – speaking out loudly against the anti-terror bill recently passed by Congress.
No problem fighting oppressive measures by any administration but to miss out that same fervor and zeal for our own rights and duties to provide the essential spiritual nourishment of our people at this time is something disturbing, something St. Paul would not allow to happen.
Yes, it is part of our priesthood to fight for people’s rights but always in the light of Jesus Christ.
St. John Paul II had shown us in recent history what it is when while still a priest and later as bishop in Poland, he spoke only of the words of God in the scriptures and fruits of his prayer that he was able to tore down the Iron Curtain his homeland and eventually throughout Europe.
St. Paul never played partisan politics like our Lord Jesus Christ, considering how they have lived at a time rife with occasions to be politicized. He never missed addressing social issues in the light of the gospel as he wrote one of his friends – presumably rich and influential – regarding a slave named Onesimus:
To Philemon, our beloved and co-worker… Perhaps this is why he was away from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a brother, beloved especially to me, but even more so to you, as a man and in the Lord.
Philemon 1, 15-16
How sad when we priests speak of so many things like current events and other trends without giving the people the Word of God.
It is even a scandal when we priests are more busy with social advocacies forgetting we are first of all a “man of the Word” according to Vatican II.
Let us not forget St. Paul’s reminder that though we are in the world, we are not of the world:
Do not conform yourself to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.
The gospel of Christ thrives most in hostile environment and situations but that does not mean going out like activists with clenched fists and raised voices walking the streets. We are not going to change the world; Jesus will — if we can proclaim him in words and in deeds.
The other week as we neared the conclusion of the Easter Season, one of the first readings on weekdays touched me so much, wondering if we priests can also say with all sincerity St. Paul’s words at Miletus when he spoke to the presbyters of the Church of Ephesus before sailing to Jerusalem for his trial:
So be vigilant and remember that for three years, night and day, I unceasingly admonished each of you with tears… I have never wanted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. You know well that these very hands have served my needs and my companions. In every way I have shown you that by hard work of that sort we must help the weak, and keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus…
Acts of the Apostles 20:31, 33-35
According to St. Luke, after those words, the people wept loudly as they threw their arms around St. Paul and kissed him. He was so loved by the people because of Jesus Christ, not of his very self.
Surely, like Jesus, St. Paul stretched out his arms and hands more to pray over people after hearing their confessions and problems, spent longer hours praying in silence or writing his letters to the various churches he founded, strengthening and inspiring them in Christ than be out on the streets seething with anger against any despot and regime.
On Monday our second part in the series, Fighting our detractors like St. Paul in time of COVID-19.