The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist, 21 September 2020
Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13 >><)))*> + <*(((><< Matthew 9:9-13
Glory and praise to you, O God our loving Father! Your Son Jesus Christ never fails to surprise us with your wondrous plans for us, with your ways of calling us, and of coming to us!
As we celebrate today on this first working day of the week the feast of St. Matthew, you fill us with hope and inspiration to work harder and pray hardest in life to find fulfillment in you our God.
Thank you for being so kind to come and call us like St. Matthew, Lord Jesus. It was a very extraordinary call not because we are so special but actually unimportant with Matthew also known as Levi belonged to the most despised group of people at that time in Israel, the tax collectors who were always mentioned along with sinners and prostitutes. And so were Matthews’s contemporaries at Capernaum, the brothers Simon and Andrew, James and John who were all fishermen, the most ordinary folks doing the most ordinary jobs of that time.
We were all just like them – nothing special and unimportant! If not for your call, we would be nobody at all even in our family circles.
What a joy that even if some people reject us for various reasons, you O Lord never exclude anyone of us from your friendship. Most of all, you even defend us.
While he was at table in his (Matthew’s) house, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat with Jesus and his disciples. The Pharisees saw this and said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” He heard this and said, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, I desire mercy, not sacrifice. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”
Give us the readiness and firmness of St. Matthew in leaving everything behind to follow you, Lord.
Like St. Matthew who “got up (rose in some translations) and followed you” (Mt.9:9) right after you have called him, help us realize that following you requires our detachment from our sinful situations, from things and people who prevent us from totally loving you and serving you.
Help us Lord to arise from our dark, sinful past so we can radiate your light in our version of your gospel like St. Matthew. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Week XIX, Cycle A in Ordinary Time, 09 August 2020
1 Kings 19:9, 11-13 >><}}}*> Romans 9:1-5 >><}}}*> Matthew 14:22-33
I have always loved the sea and lately my thoughts have always been about the beach as I miss it so much after COVID-19 had robbed us of our summer vacation.
In ancient time, the sea evoked fear because it was largely unknown that even in the bible, it is the symbol of evil and its powers over man. That is why our gospel today is very significant when Jesus walked on water to show God’s greater power over evil and sin.
And like our gospel last week, our story today tells us a lot more about Jesus walking on water in the midst of a storm to reveal himself and most of all, his desire to meet us his disciples.
Place and location as non-verbal communication of one’s presence
Every meeting and encounter presupposes locations or places, a locus; but, everything is “levelled up” or elevated in Jesus in whom things do not remain in the physical level.
Proxemics is the non-verbal communication that refers to places and location, its nearness and orientation. How we arrange our furnitures, designate the rooms and sections in our homes, offices, schools and every building we stay and gather communicate and reveal who we are.
For example, Catholic homes are easily identified in having a grotto at the garden, an altar of the Sacred Heart or any saint at the sala, and the Last Supper painting in the dining hall.
But for Jesus, a place or a location is more than the physical site because in him, proxemics takes on a deeper dimension and higher meaning when we meet him in situations and places. That is why after feeding the more than five thousand people last week, he ordered the Twelve to cross the Sea of Galilee (which is actually a lake) ahead of him while he dismissed the crowds.
After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. during the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Crossing to Jesus, crossing with Jesus
I love that scene very much, of Jesus getting his disciples into the boat to precede him to the other side of the lake while he dismissed the crowds. Again, St. Matthew never bothered to tell us why Jesus sent the Twelve ahead of him as he stayed behind, dismissing the crowds and later praying alone at night atop the mountain.
Let us now reflect the proxemics or non-verbal communication of our gospel scene this Sunday.
We need to cross to the other side to meet Jesus.
To meet Jesus Christ, we always have to “cross to the other side” by leaving our “comfort zones”.
More than going to the other side of the lake physically, we have to move over to unchartered areas of life, be bold and daring to try new things, new situations in order to mature and find fulfillment by meeting Jesus Christ.
And sometimes, we really have to literally cross the sea or get to the other side of the country or the world to find our self and meet Christ.
Fifteen years ago I went on vacation to Toronto for some soul-searching as I went through a burn-out. While serving at St. Clement Parish, I met many Filipinos serving as lectors, choir members, catechists and volunteers.
They would always confess to me with both a sense of pride and little shame that they never went to Mass regularly when in the Philippines and now in Canada, they were amazed at how God had brought them there to be involved in parish activities and be closer to Jesus than ever!
As I listened to their stories, I realized the many sacrifices and hardships they have to endure in that vast and cold country with no one to turn to except God. If given the chance, many of them admitted they would return to the Philippines for there is no place like home!
Though I have found so many things I have been searching for in my initial three months of stay there on top of other opportunities given me, I still felt empty. That raging storm within continued. As I prayed and reflected guided by an old, Polish priest who claimed to have been the student of St. John Paul II, I saw myself more, eventually leading me to God anew who refreshed my vocation that I finally decided to go back home after six months of my supposed to be one year leave.
Sometimes in life, we need to get away from our comfort zone, cross to the other side, especially when life becomes so artificial. Jesus invites us to go ahead and cross to the other side of the lake or sea to experience life at its “raw” so we can feel again our souls within and desire him anew until we finally meet him wherever we may be in the world.
It is when we are at the other side of the sea in the midst of a storm when Jesus comes, immediately answering our cries for help – At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage; it is I” – because when we are reduced to emptiness and nothingness, then our faith kickstarts again. Faith, like love, is always an encounter with God.
Try going to the other side, leave your comfort zone to meet Jesus and finally have meaning and direction in life!
Silence is the presence of God.
In the first reading we have heard that beautiful story of Elijah meeting God at the mouth of a cave — not in the strong and heavy wind nor earthquake nor fire like Moses before him.
After the fire, there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.
1 Kings 19:12-13
Silence is the place of the presence of God because silence is his language too. Wherever there is silence, we can surely find and meet God there.
That is why Jesus wants us to cross to the other side, to be silent and listen to him.
In his silence, God teaches us that except for sin, he never considers everything as being finished; everything is a “work-in-progress” even if he seems to be silent that some think he must be absent or even dead.
The world thrives in noise, loud talks, and screams with each voice trying to dominate another resulting in cacophony of sounds. Shakespeare’s Hamlet said it well when he told Polonius what he was reading were “Words, words, words” — nonsense!
Some people like those in power think that the more words they say, the more meaningful their thoughts and ideas become. Worst, they thought that using foul and filthy language make them so natural and credible, not realizing the more they look stupid with their crazy thoughts and ideas not even clowns and comedians would ever attempt to imitate.
But when our words come from deep silence, they come with power and meaning, touching everyone’s heart and inner core.
That is when silence becomes fullness, not emptiness or mere lack of noise and sound.
Like when our medical frontliners and medical experts spoke with one voice last week airing their thoughts about the pandemic — we were all moved and reawakened to realize how we have been going about with our lives almost forgetting them these past five months!
What a tragedy at how our officials in government and Congress reacted negatively, feeling hurt deep inside with the painful truth of how they have been irresponsible from the beginning. Sapul!
Pico Iyer wrote in a TIME magazine essay 30 years ago that “silence is the domain of trust”.
True. The most trustful people are the most silent; those who speak a lot trust no one and most likely, cannot be trusted too.
Jesus invites us to cross to the other side to be silent and learn to trust him. It is only then when we can meet him. In silence.
Jesus meets us in darkness.
Jesus asks us to cross to the other side of the lake or sea like his disciples in order to meet us in darkness. This is a paradox because Jesus is the light of the world.
But, note the most notable moments in his life happened in darkness: he was born on the darkest night of the year, he died when darkness covered the whole city of Jerusalem, and he rose from the dead when it was still dark on the first day of the week.
Jesus had overcome darkness! So, what happened to Peter in this episode after being called by Jesus to walk on water too?
Jesus said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Imagine how everything was going so well with Peter doing another crossing while crossing the lake! But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Jesus calls us into the dark so that we only look for him and upon finding him, focus on him alone. Peter saw the strong wind, not the stronger and powerful Jesus walking on water, that fear overtook him.
That’s the whole point of St. Paul in our second reading today: he was telling the Romans how some people in Israel trusted more in their physical descent from Abraham than in God’s promise of salvation fulfilled in Jesus they have refused to see and recognize as the Christ (Rom.9:1-5).
When in the dark, be silent and still for Jesus is near! Keep your sights at him, not on anything else. Problem in darkness is not God but us who follow other lights or have become delusional.
That is the tragedy we are into as a nation while crossing to the other side of the sea of pandemic in just one boat when our officials see only themselves as always being right. Worst, they all want to be on the stage with all the lights on them as they speak and sing in cacophony like psychopaths.
All the more we must hold on tight, trust and focus in Jesus who is “now here”, not “nowhere” for he will never allow us to perish.
Let us trust Jesus overcoming all these evil, leading us to the shore. Amen.
A blessed rainy Sunday to you and your loved ones!
Praise and glory to you, O Lord, and thank you very much for the gift of vocation to the priesthood.
Thank you very much for a wonderful patron Saint for us all whose feast we are celebrating today, St. John Baptiste Marie Vianney, the Curé of Ars in France.
How wonderful that we celebrate his feast this year on the first day of our return to Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) when public Masses are suspended in our province and other places due to the alarming spread of COVID-19 virus.
Yes, it is wonderful. Beautiful.
At first during last summer’s lockdown when we celebrated Mass without people, I felt sad; but today, I feel happy because I am totally yours, Lord Jesus. Somehow, this pandemic is teaching us priests most specially that life is a constant return to quarantine, to be alone with you always, dear Jesus!
Most specially, to remind us priests that the Holy Mass is never a show, never about us but always YOU, Jesus.
Like the prophet Jeremiah in the first reading, every priest like St. John Vianney is a reminder to the people that in life, there are always pains and sufferings. And most of the time, it is because of our sins and wrong choices in life, of turning away from God.
However, these sufferings like our pandemic and St. John’s French Revolution are all temporary.
Like Jeremiah, we priests are most of all reminders of God’s permanent love and mercy to everyone as exemplified by St. John in his life and ministry of hearing confessions for long hours each day!
Thus says the Lord: See! I will restore the tents of Jacob, his dwellings I will pity; city shall be rebuilt upon the hill, and palace restored as it was. From them will resound songs of praise, the laughter of happy men. I will make them not few, but many; they will not be tiny, for I will glorify them.
As I reviewed anew the life of your humble and holy pastor St. John Vianney, I realized how our present situation is similar with his time: a period of sufferings after the French Revolution when priests were looked down upon, even maligned and hunted.
Yet, St. John persevered in his vocation, reminding us “The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus.”
May we your priests be reminders of your love and mercy, courage and faith in the face of adversaries like when you boldly spoke against the Pharisees and scribes, reminding your disciples…
Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into the pit.
St. John Baptiste Marie Vianney, pray for us your brother priests! Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Week XVIII, Cycle A in Ordinary Time, 02 August 2020
Isaiah 55:1-3 >><}}}*> Romans 8:35, 37-39 >><}}}*> Matthew 14:13-21
Remember our reflection last Sunday? Of how parables teach us that “less is always more” because to have the kingdom of God – Jesus Christ himself – we have to learn to appreciate the little things in life?
Beginning this Sunday until August 16, our gospels will start telling us who is Jesus Christ by showing us his powers and abilities that are exactly opposite the way we see and understand them. This new series of stories are so relevant to us in this time of pandemic, giving us wonderful insights into God’s ways of responding to our human situations.
St. Matthew now leads us with Jesus to the wilderness after teaching us in parables to experience his power in transforming us like the five loaves and two fish to feed more than five thousand people.
Multi-layered story of the multiplication of bread
All four evangelists have recorded this story of Jesus Christ’s multiplication of the loaves of bread with their particular focus and stress, showing us that it truly happened and was a major event in the Lord’s ministry.
Very unique with St. Matthew’s version of this miracle story – which has not one but two! – is his economy of words in narrating it like a straight news as if it were a developing story or a “breaking news” unfolding before us, calling us to follow its updates and details due to its multi-layered meanings.
When Jesus heard of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns. When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said to them, “There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.” But they said to him, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.” Then he said, “Bring them here to me,” and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over — twelve wicker baskets full. Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children.
The consolation of Jesus.
Our situation in this time of the corona pandemic is so similar with that of Jesus. With the increasing number of COVID-19 cases, it has finally hit us hard, so close to home with news of those we know getting infected and worst, dying from this disease.
Like Jesus upon hearing the death of John the Baptist, we are all saddened that we wish to withdraw away from everyone.
We want to mourn but there are more people in need of our presence and help in this time of pandemic like the countless medical frontliners and health workers who must be so tired – even sick, physically and emotionally – by now with the growing number of COVID-19 patients and yet have chosen to remain in their posts.
And there are still the other casualties of this pandemic like those who have lost their jobs, those evicted from their rented apartments, those stranded and separated from their loved ones, those begging for food, and those afflicted with other sickness going through dialysis and physical therapy.
Jesus knows so well the “wilderness” we are all going through and he is right here with us, one with us in our sufferings, in our fears and anxieties, and in our exhaustion.
To be one with us is consolation, from the Latin “con” or with + “solare” or alone, to be one with somebody feeling alone.
Jesus did not remove our pains and sufferings, even our death; he joined us to be one with us in these that he can call us to “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give your rest. Take my yoke upon you… For my yoke is easy and my burden light” (Mt.11:28-30, 14th Sunday, 05 Jul 2020).
Compassion of Jesus.
Still with Christ’s reaction of being “moved with pity” at the sight of the crowds who have followed him to the wilderness, we find something more deeper with his being one with us, in consoling us that he had forgotten all about himself, his tired body that he went on to heal the sick among them.
To be moved with pity is more than a feeling of the senses but a response of his total person.
You respond for help, you reply to a call.
Ever wondered why we have the “responsorial psalm” after the first reading in the Mass? Because those words from the Psalms express our total assent and commitment to God, involving our total self like body, mind, heart and soul.
God cannot suffer because he is perfect.
That is why he became human like us in Jesus Christ to be one with our suffering and death so that we would one with him in his glorious Resurrection.
In the wilderness, Jesus stayed with the people, not allowing them to leave as suggested by the Twelve because he was moved with pity with the crowd because he wanted to suffer with them.
That is compassion, literally means to “suffer with” from cum + patior. Here in the wilderness, Jesus showed his compassion for the people which will reach its highest point in giving himself on the Cross on Good Friday.
Have we “responded” to God’s call to serve, to a call of duty, and to a plea for help from the poor? Have we truly given ourselves to somebody without ever thinking our own comfort or rewards? Or, are we running away from his Cross?
What a shame in this time of pandemic there are some among us who rejoice at the losses of others like the Twelve who wanted the crowd to be sent home because they were afraid of responsibilities, of taking care of the suffering people.
Consolation and compassion are the two most needed from each of us in this time of crisis.
Our scarcity mentality, the God of plenty.
We now come to the miracle of the feeding of five thousand. According to the late Fr. Henri Nouwen, this story is an example of our “scarcity mentality” when we think of not having enough, of finding what we have as too little, always looking for more; hence, our tendency to hoard everything.
The Twelve were thinking more of themselves, afraid they could go hungry with the five loaves of bread and two fish they have. They were so afraid of difficulties ahead of them in their situation where to find and how to feed those great number of people.
They were focused on what was lacking than on what they have, and who was with them, Jesus Christ! They were hungry for food in the stomach than for food to the soul unlike the crowds who have followed Jesus.
Worst of all, the Twelve got “mad” upon seeing the crowds who have followed them to the wilderness when in fact, it was Jesus who needed most to rest to mourn John’s death!
But through all these, Jesus patiently bore the people’s woes and the Twelve’s selfishness to teach them all in a very nice way something so essential in our response to every human suffering and extreme situation: opening and entrusting our selves totally to God.
And that was actually the greatest miracle that happened that day.
In doing it, Jesus simply asked the Twelve what they have, never asking how much they have or its condition. Just whatever they have to give everything to Jesus like those five loaves and two fish that he took, and while looking up to heaven, blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to the Twelve to distribute to the crowd.
And everyone was satisfied with a lot of left overs too!
Matthew nor any of the other Evangelists ever explained how it happened because it does not really matter at all. What is most important is what are we willing to give up to Jesus so he can transform us into better persons.
That is what we continue to do this day in every celebration of the Holy Eucharist- whatever we have, even not the best or the worst and littlest we have, when given to Jesus becomes holy and multiplied!
The power of God is immense, without doubt. But, in this miracle of the feeding of five thousand, Jesus is showing us that his power is not meant to satisfy our material or bodily needs but our deepest desires that lead to our fulfillment in him as prophesied by Isaiah in the first reading.
Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy? Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare. Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life.
Amid the pandemic worsened by our government officials’ inanities, irresponsibilities, and sheer lack of compassion with us in this wilderness, the Lord assures us today that he is with us for “nothing can separate us from the love of Christ” (Second Reading) if we are willing to give him all that we have.
It is our spiritual transformation first that leads us to our material blessings. We can all have it if we are willing to give everything to Jesus and believe in him always. What do you have for miracles to happen?
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 12 July 2020
It is a very lovely Sunday with Jesus Christ continuing to shower us with his good seeds to make us fruitful despite the many setbacks we may have had lately due to the COVID-19 pandemic and sad turn of events.
His parable of the sower proclaimed today in all churches throughout the world reminds us that inasmuch as we have to be a good kind of soil, we need to examine the kind of seeds we have become.
Seeds are so small that we often take for granted, like our very lives and most especially God.
In a sense, Jesus is telling us today what Des’ree sang in 1994, “You Gotta Be”…..
Listen as your day unfolds Challenge what the future holds Try and keep your head up to the sky Lovers, they may cause you tears Go ahead release your fears
Stand up and be counted Don’t be ashamed to cry
You gotta be You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold You gotta be wiser, you gotta be hard You gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger
You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm You gotta stay together All I know, all I know, love will save the day
You Gotta Be was first released as a single in 1994 and instantly became a hit worldwide staying on top of almost every chart in the US, Europe and Australia. Music is warmly smooth, at the same time infectious with a sort of hypnotic effect from its sophisticated upbeat set in the cool and soothing voice of Des’ree who also wrote its lyrics.
I have used the song in my classes in our school for girls a decade ago and in many recollections and retreats to young people as it presents to us this great mystery of life packed in a seed that must fall and die to give way to new life and eventually bear fruit.
You gotta hear and feel it to appreciate this wonderful music that sounds like Jesus Christ’s parable of the sower.
I have uploaded the video with lyrics so you can follow and sing. And dance if you wish. Have a blessed day!
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Memorial of the First Martyrs of the Holy Roman Church, 30 June 2020
Amos 3:1-8, 4:11-12 >><)))*> <*(((><< >><)))*> <*(((><< Matthew 8:23-27
As we remember today, O Lord our God, the courage and fidelity of the first martyrs of Rome, we also pray for more martyrs and prophets who may inspire us to be your witnesses in this troubled time.
Or better still, make us one!
How sad that until now, we live in a time so similar with ancient Israel and ancient Rome where many of us turn away from you to worship money and other false gods, blinded by the material wealth and prosperity around us.
Many of us have become greedy and unjust in our ways to others especially the poor and marginalized.
Send us a prophet, Lord, like Amos who would dare to speak your words of truth, warning people who have gone astray.
The lion roars — who will not be afraid! The Lord God speaks — who will not prophesy! I brought upon you such upheaval as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah: you were like a brand plucked from the fire; yet you returned not to me, says the Lord. So now I will deal with you in my own way, O Israel! And since I will deal thus with you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel.
Amos 3:8, 4:11-12
Increase our faith in you, O God, while at the middle of this great storm of COVID-19 pandemic worsened by many social upheavals happening around the world and right in our country.
Sometimes, we feel like the disciples of your Son Jesus, so terrified with the violent storm going on with waves almost swamping us.
Forgive us, Lord, when we panic because we sometimes feel that you do not care at all that we are perishing in the storm while you are “sound asleep”.
Fill us with your courage, sweet Jesus, to give witness to you like the martyrs of Rome who chose death than be one with the modern Neros of our time who lie and mislead many others into evils and sin. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, 21 June 2020
Jeremiah 20:10-13 ><)))*> Romans 5:12-15 ><)))*> Matthew 10:26-33
Finally, today we can truly feel the Ordinary Time as we celebrate Sunday in shades of green with a new sequence of readings from the gospel of St. Matthew who will guide us in our journey with Jesus this year until the Solemnity of Christ the King in November.
Set after the naming of the Twelve Apostles who were sent to search for the “lost sheep of Israel”, the Lord now warns them of persecutions and dangers; hence, today until the next two Sundays, Christ will encourage his disciples including us to take on the challenges of his mission, assuring us of his loving presence and protection.
Notice how the Lord tells us three times to be not afraid of the mission:
Jesus said to the Twelve: “Fear no one… 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… So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Matthew 10:26, 28, 31
The problem with our fears
Christ’s words today suit us so perfectly in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic made worst by the growing social unrests not only in our country but also elsewhere in the world that proves how the Lord’s mission remains unfulfilled in us.
Almost everywhere we hear reports of continued oppression of peoples in various forms of discrimination, disrespect and injustices.
But we do not need to look far to do our mission. We start with ourselves first — for we are the “lost sheep of Israel” in so many ways. All oppression and injustices going on around us are the reflections of what is within us that often result from our fears.
So often, the many fears within us push us to be selfish, forgetting others in the process. And that is when we start hating each other, creating this vicious circle of sufferings as the Jedi Master Yoda warned Anakin Skywalker in “Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace.”
We all have fears. It is normal to feel afraid especially when threatened by a grave danger or threat to life.
Being brave, having courage does not mean having no fears; on the contrary, courage is facing one’s fears in life. Cowardice, on the other hand, is refusal to face our fears.
Jesus is asking us today to face our fears with him and in him so we can be free to follow him in his mission.
Facing our fears in Jesus Christ
What are our fears that lead us to anger and hate, that immobilize us to reach out to God and others? Let us examine them in the light of Christ’s reassuring words this Sunday.
“Fear no one. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. What I say to you in darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.”
Fear of not being loved and appreciated
One of the things I fear most is not being loved and appreciated, of being neglected and taken for granted.
It is a fear akin with low self-esteem or self-worth that make me afraid of others I deem as better and superior than me.
There are many contributing factors to this fear, mostly not of our own making like growing up in a very strict environment where we are not able to measure up to the expectations of those around us. Sometimes it is due to traumatic experiences that have truly hurt us inside and outside.
As I grew up meeting so many people from various walks of life, including those I looked up and admire including some personalities, I have realized that indeed nobody is perfect. No one has the monopoly of every good thing — looks and intelligence, wealth and health. We all need one another, and we are also needed. And loved as well as appreciated too!
We are all broken and lost, wounded and hurt; no need to fear anyone. What is most important is to always remember God loves us very much — no matter what.
At night before we sleep, do not just count your sins and failures; think also of the good things you have done, people you have helped and made happy. Listen to God thanking you for being so nice with someone. That is what Jesus is telling us to “speak in light” what he said to you in darkness!
Every morning when you wake up, be silent and still, pray and little, listen to God whispering to you the words “I love you… I believe in you” to inspire your for the brand new day. These are the words Jesus is asking you to “proclaim on the housetops”.
Forget those pains inflicted on us by others, in words or in deeds — they must be hurting too, feeling more unloved and unappreciated than us, more fearful than us!
Afraid of getting hurt, physically and emotionally
Another fear I always have is being hurt because I might not be able to take or absorb the pains. Worst, adjust to changes and disturbances that may result.
I was a very sickly child when growing up that I dreaded injections and other medical procedures. Aside from getting hurt, I feared that things could never be the same again, altering or disturbing what I have been used to.
But, as I aged fighting many battles in life, enduring so many pains and hurts with some help from family and friends, I have learned that pain is part of growing up. In fact, growing up becomes nicer with more pains and hurts that make us stronger and wiser with the many lessons we can learn. Most of all, pains and hurts have opened up many doorways to new beginnings that made me grow and mature as a person and as a priest.
Indeed, as the Lord had told us, do not be afraid of those who can kill the body but not the soul. It is what is inside that makes us who we really are. Replace those fears with Jesus and dare to get hurt and bruised that may destroy you outside but stronger inside.
Fear of getting lost, of being alone.
This fear has recurred in me lately during this quarantine period when I am all by myself in my parish with no one to talk to or share whatever may be inside me.
Sometimes it is so tempting to just vanish and die than be lost and alone!
Recently I celebrated a funeral Mass for a young man who committed suicide: he came from the Visayas last February to try his luck here in our barrio to work as a helper in a small candy shop. With the imposition of lockdown in mid-March, he lost his job and had to stay with his cousins who were also laid off from work. The teenager grew homesick, getting depressed later that no amount of alcohol of their nightly drinking sessions could give him a sense of mission that he decided to hang himself on a tree while his drinking companions were all drunk.
Sad that nobody had reminded him of his mission in life that he decided to just end it all. He had forgotten not only his dreams and mission but also his parents and six other siblings in the province looking up to him.
Even if we are in our worst situations in life, for as long as we are alive, still breathing, may we never lose that sense of mission from God because that means we are important, that God believes in us in entrusting us with a mission. Truly, we are worth more than a thousand sparrows that God takes care of.
Experiencing God in the midst of trials
Life is like a rollercoaster: it is something we all fear but we still keep on riding because it is so fulfilling, very liberating, so exciting. It knocks out all the fears in us, making us so aware of life, of being alive.
That was the experience of the Prophet Jeremiah in the first reading: he would always complain to God of his own inadequacies, especially his many fears for the mission and yet, he could not let go of God’s call because he is so in love with him! He could not resist God like a rollercoaster.
I really hoped the lectionary had included the first three verses to the start of our first reading today:
You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me, and you triumphed. All the day I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I must cry out, violence and outrage is my message; The word of the Lord has brought me derision and reproach all the day. I say to myself, I will not mention him, I will speak in his name no more. But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.
Jeremiah was a timid man who was also hypersensitive; yet, God called him to an impossible mission. And despite a long process of purifications marked by arrests, imprisonment and public humiliations, Jeremiah remained faithful to his mission to God that later cost his life. Eventually, the more he became great after his death that he is regarded a major prophet in all three major religions of the world, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
That is the joy of staying in love with God who is like a rollercoaster: he “seduces” us to come to him and then “scares” us, sometimes “hurts” only in the end to surprise us with greater things beyond our imaginations.
We come to experience God most and closest in darkness and trials where he is so real as another person to us. The key is to let go of our fears in Jesus Christ who was no stranger too to fearful situations.
It is nice to know that the greatest and holiest men and women of God were all like us — people so fearful yet brave enough to face their fears in Christ who never fails to provide us with the courage and strength needed in fulfilling our mission.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Friday, Easter Week-VI, 22 May 2020
Acts of the Apostles 18:9-18 <*(((>< + 0 + ><)))*> John 16:20-23
Your words today, dear Jesus, are very mysterious, so difficult to understand but so delightful to dwell on, or chew — as St. Ignatius of Loyola reminded us in his “Spiritual Exercises”.
There are many tensions present in your words today, Lord.
And that is where I have found you — in the many tensions that come into our lives!
So often, we find the word “tensions” so negative as they lead to wars and troubles of all sorts. But in deeper reflection, tensions are like frictions that without them, we can never experience life at its fullest.
The beauty of every sunrise and sunset is due to the tensions between light and darkness.
Tensions often occur between good things, never between good and evil. Tensions help us purify our intentions, clarify our priorities because tensions lead us to deeper discernment of your plans and will for us.
In the first reading, there was the tension among St. Paul and the Jews about your good news of salvation. The division resulted into more conversions and baptisms that made Corinth so dear to St. Paul.
But what is most beautiful about tensions is found in the gospel, of how joy is borne out of pain and sufferings like a woman in the pangs of childbirth:
Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy. When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she had given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. so you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.”
Lord Jesus Christ, there are so many tensions in our lives these days since the start of quarantine period due to the pandemic.
Help us first identify the tensions in our lives these days.
Some of these tensions are between the need for us to pray more and immerse ourselves with those in need; the tension of going out to help and staying indoor to plan for our actions.
Send us your Holy Spirit, Jesus, to enlighten our minds and our hearts so we may identify the tensions we encounter that lead to life and joy in you. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe, Tuesday, Easter Week-II, 21 April 2020
Acts of the Apostles 4:32-37 ><)))*> +++ 0 +++ <*(((>< John 3:7-15
Glory and praise to you, O Lord Jesus Christ for coming to us, and continuing to come to us most especially amid this COVID-19 pandemic.
Increase our faith in you, awaken our being “born from above” in you in the Holy Spirit so that we may continue to find you and follow you in the ordinary things that happen to us.
It is not enough that we as a “community of believers be of one heart and mind, having everything in common” (Acts 4:32).
As a community united in you, Lord Jesus, keep us strong in fulfilling our mission from you.
Remind us always that we merely represent you in this mission.
We are not the ones who will change the world but you, O Lord.
Give us the grace to forget ourselves and carry our cross daily so we can follow you more closely every day.
Most of all, give us the courage to seek your ways and follow wherever your Holy Spirit leads us to so we can best serve you without ever thinking of our very selves or anything in return except that we are doing your most holy will. Amen.
The Facebook post by Marivic Tribiana that inspired Fr. Marc to make a digital representation of the scene amid the huge fire with thick, black smokes billowing above visible kilometers ahead in a city under an extended lockdown due to Covid-19.
He dubbed his artwork “Nag-aalab na Pag-Ibig” (Burning Love), an interplay between the raging fire in the area and the burning love of Jesus to the old man being carried.
That is why we need to be “born from above” to be able to understand teachings of Jesus about heavenly things on earth (Jn.3:12), remaining open to leading of the Holy Spirit to follow the Lord closely, not our selves, nor our plans, nor our personal agenda.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Monday, Easter Week II, 20 April 2020
Acts of the Apostles 4:23-31 <*(((>< +0+ ><)))*> John 3:1-8
Thank you very much, Jesus, in giving us a taste of the first Easter in our own time with the COVID-19 pandemic. In both instances – then and now – you have shown us that Easter is about being bold not in ourselves or for our own sake but being bold in you in the Holy Spirit.
As they prayed, the place where they were gathered shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
What a shame to our national leaders and to us in the society, Lord when we have acted just like the priests and Pharisees of your time who looked down on your apostles and the masses who boldly proclaimed your good news in words and in deeds!
Today, our nurses in the frontline of battling the pandemic have long been maligned and even insulted by some of our leaders. Although now being praised for their heroism and boldness in fighting COVID-19, they still lag behind in total support from our leaders.
Likewise, our lives in this extended lockdown would surely be more difficult without our other frontliners like garbage collectors, drivers and so-called “ordinary” people who work even in the dead of the night so we can have food and clean surroundings.
Open our eyes and our hearts, Jesus, to be born from above, to claim the power of the Holy Spirit you have given us so we can be bold and daring this time of the corona virus to serve you among our brothers and sisters so much in need of help.
Lead us, Jesus, to enlighten others so they may keep their balance and sanity in this most troubling time of modern history. Amen.