Glimpses of Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Spiritual Recipe by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, 27 December 2021
Photo by author, Basic Education Department chapel, Our Lady of Fatima University, Valenzuela City, 24 December 2021.

A blessed Merry Christmas to you, my dear readers and followers, fellow bloggers! Praying for you that the Child Jesus may be born daily in your hearts to fill you with his peace and joy always!

Thank you very much for your support and most specially for your likes and comments these past 624 days since this COVID-19 started. I have decided to blog my prayers and reflections daily as my contribution for those seeking spiritual nourishment and guidance during these difficult days of the virus.

Thank you my dear fellow bloggers. You are all a gift of God to me who have taught me so much about writing and blogging. Your thoughts and insights as well as photos have all enriched me, giving me glimpses of the the beauty and majesty, kindness and mercy of Jesus Christ. Most of all, you have inspired me to try writing poems which I never knew I could!

Will be taking a rest and will resume our blogs on January first, 2022.

Blessed Merry Christmas again, everyone!

The author in our chapel where we celebrate our online Masses, sharing his blogs as homilies and reflections.

Prayer for adults to find the Child Jesus again this Christmas

The Lord Is My Chef Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Sunday, Feast of the Holy Family, 26 December 2021
1 Samuel 1:20-22. 24-28 ><]]]*> 1 John 3:1-2. 21-24 ><]]]*> Luke 2:41-52
“The Finding of the Savior at the Temple” painting by William Holman Hunt (1860) from en.wikipedia.org.
Dearest Lord Jesus:
It is still your birthday 
and how sad that people
insist that Christmas is just
for kids, forgetting there won't be
Christmas at all without adults
like Mary and Joseph,
Elizabeth and Zechariah.

but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at is understanding and his answers.

Luke 2:45-47
Teach us, dear Jesus, 
to go back to Jerusalem -
to go back to prayer and
simplicity and humility,
to go back to God as adults
to find you again this Christmas;
so many of us have been so
busy with so many other things
in life like career and earning a 
living, or this season when we were
so caught up with the rush and 
madness that we have forgotten 
about you found first in the family.
Yes, Lord Jesus, 
you willed in your becoming
human to dwell among us
that you be born in a family,
in the husband and wife of 
Joseph and Mary;  we pray for
couples going through crises
in their relationships or have 
separated already by choice or
circumstances; we pray for families
where everyone is forgetting one's
role, losing respect for one another
that they can no longer find you
in the love they must have for
each other; we pray for children
who refuse to honor their mother
and father in words and in deeds.
Let us find you again, dear Jesus
like a child in our sense of wonder 
and awe among our family members'
daily and simple acts of kindness
and love; let us find you again, dear
Jesus in our being our true selves
as children of the Father belonging
to one family; and most of all, let us
be grateful again for our families
for their gifts of life and presence
despite our many imperfections for
it is only with a grateful heart that we 
truly remain like children at heart,
always believing and trusting in God
who is our life and meaning.  Amen.

A prayer at the end of the Lord’s birthday

The Lord Is My Chef Christmas Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
25 December 2021 
Photo by author, chapel at Basic Education Department, Our Lady of Fatima University, Valenzuela City, 24 December 2021.
 A blessed happy birthday again to you,
dear Lord Jesus:  people were so happy 
and joyous this evening as many of them
head home while the rest begin to gather
again as family and friends to keep sharing
stories and selves.  And hopefully, 
prayers with too!
Thank you, dear Jesus for coming to us:
Thank you, Lord, in passing over from heaven
to earth to renew us and bring us back
to the Father;
Thank you, Jesus, for making us experience
your love and mercy by being one of us - weak
and poor, hungry for attention and care,
thirsting for commitment and kindness;
Thank you, Lord, for coming in the darkness
and stillness of the night so we can be 
aware and conscious of others living in 
pain and sufferings, crying alone in silence;
Thank you, Jesus, for being an infant, a child
to remind us of losing ourselves to you in 
precious sacred moments of your coming
in regular daily miracles amid the ironies of life
with all the drama and humor at the same time.
The night is dark again, dear Jesus,
let us rest in you like the shepherds: 
Let us set aside all our worries and fears, 
regrets and anxieties to join the angels 
in being caught in the moment of your coming 
as we put everything on hold, trusting 
that something good and better is coming to us. 
Let us learn to lose ourselves in this moment 
with you, dear Jesus, to join in your pass over. Amen.
Photo by author, chapel at Basic Education Department, Our Lady of Fatima University, Valenzuela City, 24 December 2021.

Rejoicing Christmas moments all year through!

The Lord Is My Chef Christmas Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Saturday, Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord, 25 December 2021
Photo by author, National Shrine of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, 2019.

Maligayang Pasko sa inyo at inyong mga mahal sa buhay! Of all the Christmas greetings from around the world, perhaps our Maligayang Pasko in Filipino is one that truly captures the spirit and essence of Christmas.

Pasko is from the Hebrew word Pesach that means to “pass over” or simply what we refer to as the Passover or Pasch. It is the same greeting we have during Easter, Maligayang Pasko ng Pagkabuhay that literally means “Merry Passover/Pasch of the Resurrection”.

Yes, it is reminiscent of the exodus of the Chosen People from Egypt into the Promised Land during the time of Moses, the very center and point reference of our salvation history.

Normally, we use the word Pasch more prominently during the Triduum of the Lord’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection from Holy Thursday to Easter because that is the Lord’s Passover from death to life. However, if we reflect more deeply as the Church teaches us, the Lord’s Pasch actually began at Christmas when the Son of God passed over from heaven into earth when Jesus Christ became human born today more than 2000 years ago in Bethlehem.

Photo by author, Basic Education Department Chapel, Our Lady of Fatima University, Valenzuela City, 24 December 2021.

Like Easter, Christmas is a sacred moment that happens daily, not just a date once a year, when God entered in his immense spiritual reality the world to affect and change to better our material world. It is a passing over by Jesus from eternal to temporal time so that heaven and earth, man and God are again united into one.

Christmas is therefore a blessed event, a most sacred moment of holy communion of man and God in Jesus Christ that continues to this day in the most regular yet miraculous reality of life going on amid many joys and pains, victory and defeats, prosperity and poverty, health and sickness, light and darkness and even in death.

Christmas is a sacred moment where the all-powerful and all-loving God gets intimately involved with the weak and sinful people and the whole limited creation with all the humor and irony in life.

This we immediately find in the mystery of Incarnation of Jesus Christ eloquently expressed to us by John the Beloved:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. all things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. /what came to be through him was life, and tis life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.

John 1:1-5, 14

See and feel the formality yet the simplicity and profundity by John expressing in every line a sacred moment with God who is love and has always loved us immensely. Feel the drama of the Incarnation when the Word became flesh which we take for granted specially in praying daily the Angelus with that beautiful expression, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us” which is Christmas!

What a sacred moment we are reminded daily by our prayers and sacraments that only those willing to pass over from material world to spiritual world – even for a moment – would surely realize and experience God present and coming to us in Jesus every moment of our lives.

How ironic that people today find it so easy to accept Hollywood’s stories of the virgin births of Anakin Skywalker or Darth Vader of Star Wars and John Connor of Terminator but find it so difficult to believe or even accept the virgin birth of Jesus by Mary.

Photo by author, site where Christ was born, Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem 2019.

Pope emeritus Benedict XVI explains to us that there are two moments in history when God intervened directly in the material world: at Christmas with the virgin birth of Jesus by Mary and at Easter when Jesus rose from the tomb in which he did not experience corruption. According to the Holy Father, these two moments are a scandal to the modern man who had kept God merely in the spiritual domain but not in the material world (Jesus of Nazareth, the Infancy Narratives, pp.56-57).

If God does not have power over the material world and would simply be confined in the spiritual world, then he is not God at all. But, as we heard from the gospel accounts, God never acted irrationally nor against nature; in fact, in the virgin birth and resurrection of Jesus, God had enhanced our human nature and the natural world!

See Luke’s wonderful descriptions of the birth of Jesus:

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled , each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

Luke 2:1-5
Author with pilgrims outside the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, 2019.

Luke is actually the evangelist par excellence of Christmas (and Easter too!). The most artistic and master storyteller of the four evangelists, Luke has the ability to see every moment in Christ’s life from the big picture like the geopolitics of that time down to the most personal. See how he situated us into the setting of the world at that time, from the wide-angle shot of the Roman emperor trying to establish more control in the world ordering a census that zoomed into the birth of Jesus Christ in a manger “because there was no room for them in the inn”.

What a great moment if we try to enter the scene which happens daily: the more we try to control our lives and others, the more God works in silence in the background without us realizing his coming until that day we realize our mistakes and sins.

In telling us the story of the birth of Jesus, we are reminded how so often in life that what is happening in the world is not the whole story, everything seems to be unrelated at all that we feel so detached when in reality, everything is a result of the Divine Plan, of God working silently for our own good. It is at the end when things finally fall into their right places and we discover how God has always been present with us in every moment of our lives without us noticing him at all!

But there lies the key to Christmas: in the scattered events and fragments of daily living, we try to see the whole picture in the eyes of God, in Jesus Christ who became human like us to link us with the Divine and find meaning and fulfillment in life.

Another things we find with Luke: he is the only one who tells us the story of the shepherds coming to Jesus. On the surface, it seemed like those scenes in true to life movies where some “dramatizations” are staged to add color to the story. Why? Because after this scene, there would be no more shepherd in Luke’s gospel except the parable of the lost sheep. It is in John’s gospel where we find Jesus claiming himself to be the Good Shepherd.

Photo by author, Basic Education Department Chapel, Our Lady of Fatima University, Valenzuela City, 24 December 2021.

Again, another sacred moment being offered us by Luke: shepherds were the lowliest people at that time, among those considered as the poorest of the poor. They were considered as troublemakers and thieves that is why they worked in the most hostile environment and situation. They were looked down upon at that time because they would not even give contributions to the temple or synagogue. They were outcasts.

But, are we not like them most often? We have our own world to take care that we do not mind at all whatever is happening in the political and economic spheres and much less the religious aspects of life. And Jesus precisely came for us to get us involved with the world and be more engaged with life and living.

This Christmas day, everybody is resting, chillin’ and relaxing, enjoying the cool, crisp weather and wonderful ambience. As we enjoy Christmas, let us savor some moments with Jesus in the silence of our hearts. Let us set aside all our worries and fears, regrets and anxieties to simply join the angels and the shepherds in being caught in the moment of Christ’s birth as we put everything on hold, trusting that something good and better is coming to us. Let us learn to lose ourselves in this moment with Jesus, to join in his passing over. Amen.

Maligayang Pasko!

Christmas is reflecting Jesus, the Light of the world

Simbang Gabi Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Day 1, 16 December 2021
Isaiah 56:1-3, 6-8   ><]]]]*> + <*[[[[><   John 5:33-36
Photo by author at San Fernando, Pampanga, 18 November 2021.

The Parol or lantern is a uniquely Filipino sign and reminder of Christmas. When we were in elementary school, we used to make our own parol with colorful papel de japon as part of our subject “work education”. The most beautiful parol submitted was usually the one hanged above the Belen like that star pointing to the Child Jesus born in Bethlehem at the first Christmas.

And that is the truth about the beautiful and colorful parol – a sign leading to Jesus Christ like John the Baptist.

“He was a burning and shining lamp, and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light. But I have testimony greater than John’s. The works that the Father gave me to accomplish, these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me.”

John 5:35-36

Since the second and third Sundays of Advent, we have been introduced to the person and mission of John the Baptist. As we begin our nine-day novena to Christmas with our Simbang Gabi, we are reminded again of that important role we have in becoming another John who not only prepares the way of the Lord but must also be very sign of Christ’s presence.

All routes lead to churches every December 16, a beautiful sight to behold with so many devotees trying to fulfill their vows of completing the Simbang Gabi for so many reasons, from thanksgiving to favors granted and for more wishes for the coming year!

But, like other novenas, Simbang Gabi in itself will not make one a better or holier person. It takes a lot of prayer and hard work on our part to be like John the Baptist, a parol “burning and shining” pointing to Jesus who had come 2000 years ago, who comes daily in our lives, and will come again at the end of time.

In our gospel we heard Jesus praising John who did a wonderful job preparing the people for his coming because in his very life, they have found hope and inspiration to strive in what is good and just. In fact, the people felt as if John was already the Messiah they were waiting for!

It was very clear to John that he was not the Messiah, that he was merely the Precursor of the Lord, not even worthy to untie his sandals. This is what we must pray for in every Simbang Gabi, specially at this time of the pandemic: that we beam more of the light of Jesus who is like the sun while we are the moon. What we share is the Light itself – Jesus Christ – not our own light that can sometimes be misleading and not really that bright at all.

Photo by author, National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Valenzuela City, 08 December 2021.

To reflect the light of Jesus Christ is to be like him, good and kind, just and merciful, exactly what we heard from the first reading which is a call to personal conversion; we cannot convert others to Jesus unless they see first we are converted in Christ.

Thus says the Lord: Observe what is right, do what is just… All who keep the sabbath free from profanation and hold on to my covenant, them I will bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer.

Isaiah 56:1, 6

No matter how good or “holy” as we can be, we are not the Light; our mission is to bring people closer to Jesus and be “conformed to his image” (Rom. 8:29).

How sad these days when “credit-grabbing” has become a hobby and a national past-time not only among those in power but even with everybody else specially those in social media trying to draw attention to themselves to earn precious statistics to be known as “influencers”.

This is our second Christmas in the pandemic: last year was more difficult than this year and we have so much to be thankful to God in tremendously blessing us since last year. We are still alive, many still have their jobs with steady income, others have started to pick up the pieces of their lives but moving on personally, spiritually, emotionally and even financially. Kids still go to school no matter how difficult online classes may be.

We have so many things to thank God this Christmas – first among them are the many John the Baptists who were like a “burning and shining lamp” to us, guiding us and inspiring us to move on with life amid the darkness and gloom of this pandemic

Yes, Christmas this year like last year is still difficult, so unlike the other Christmases we have experienced in the past. Perhaps the only other worst Christmas than we ever had in 2020 and 2021 were the Christmasses experienced by our parents and grandparents during the Japanese occupation at World War II. Ours pale in comparison with those wartime years.

During this Simbang Gabi, let us ask ourselves how much have we changed and matured in our experience of Christmas since the start of the pandemic last year? Do we now have Jesus in our hearts or, are we back to our old selves of having that “Christmas rush” for material things, forgetting Jesus Christ is Christmas himself?

Let the light of Christ burn and shine in you! Amen.

Photo by author at San Fernando, Pampanga, 18 November 2021.

Ano – o Sino – ang Inaabangan sa Pasko?

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-6 ng Disyembre 2021
Larawan kuha ng may-akda sa San Fernando, Pampanga, 18 Nobyembre 2021.
Taun-taon, 
halos lahat ng tao
nasasabik sa Pasko
palaging inaabangan
sa mga countdown.
Ngunit bakit nga ba
inaabangan natin ang Pasko?
Petsa lamang ba ito 
at panahon na dumarating,
lumilipas din? 
Kung gayon lang ang Pasko,
bakit hindi na lang tayo 
magbilang ng araw
Bagong Taon pa man?
Higit sa petsa 
at panahon ang Pasko
dahil ito ay ang Diyos na naging Tao;
ang Pasko ay si Hesu-Kristo 
na sumilang noon sa mundo 
at dumarating pa rin sa puso 
ng bawat tao kaya't itong Pasko 
ay isang katotohanan, isang kaganapan
nang ang Diyos ay makialam
at pumasok sa ating kaguluhan,
pinunan marami nating kakulangan,
pinawi mga kasalanan, pinalitan 
ng kanyang kabanalan upang 
buhay natin ay maging makabuluhan.
Sa panahon pa ring ito 
ng pandemya, sana atin nang 
mapagtanto ang Pasko 
ay hindi tanong ng kung ANO 
kungdi ng kung SINO inaabangan 
na tanging si Hesu-Kristo,
dumarating hindi sa sabsaban
kungdi sa ating puso at kalooban
kung saan nagmumula ating mga
gulo at kadiliman; sikaping matagpuan
Kanyang bakas sa ating mga mukha
upang tayo'y makipag-kapwa at 
maranasan Kanyang kapanatilihan
kesa tayo magbilang ng mga petsa at buwan. 
Larawan kuha ng may-akda sa San Fernando, Pampanga, 18 Nobyembre 2021.

“The Nearness of You” by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong (1956)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 05 December 2021
Photo by author, sunrise at the Lake of Galilee, Israel, May 2019.

Lately everybody has been saying “Christmas is around the corner” or “Christmas is in the air” or simply “It’s Christmas”! This is the time of the year when we are most conscious of the season not of the Person behind the celebrations.

Christmas is Jesus Christ, of God becoming human like us, of God dwelling and living among us.

Christmas is the nearness of God among us.

That is why as we get closer to Christmas on this Second Sunday of Advent, we have chosen the very popular and lovely song The Nearness of You written in 1938 by Hoagy Carmichael with lyrics by Ned Washington to remind us of the Person of God so near among us ( see our reflection https://lordmychef.com/2021/12/04/advent-is-being-small-and-simple/).

Covered by so many artists since its debut in the 1938 movie Romance in the Dark, The Nearness of You has been covered since then by so many artists. Our favorite is still Frank Sinatra’s and this duet by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.

The song is very short but very touching because it is person-oriented which is what Christmas is all about, of God in Jesus Christ getting closest to man and vice-versa.

It’s not the pale moon
That excites me
That thrills and delights me
Oh no
It’s just the nearness of you

It isn’t your sweet conversation
That brings this sensation
Oh no
It’s just the nearness of yo
u

Here we find in our relationships, whether with God or with others, the importance of being small, of being humble before everyone to be absorbed by the magic of the moment, of the relationship. When we look at the stars and the moon above us at night or watch a majestic sunrise or sunset, we experience our littleness yet it is in that being small when we also feel our greatness. It is in that being small when we feel so aware of our very selves, of others around us and of this beautiful world.

It is the same story of Christmas, of Christ born a Child on a lowly manger. Most of all, before his coming, there was also John the Baptist his Precursor who went to the desert to become small before God in preparing the way of the Lord.

On this Second Week of Advent we are reminded of God’s nearness among us if we can be small like John in the wilderness who preached the need to repent our sins to make a space within us for the coming Jesus Christ. Amen.

*We have no intentions of infringing into the copyrights of this music and its uploader except to share its beauty and listening pleasure.

From YouTube.com.

Parol ating pastol

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-16 ng Nobyembre 2021
Larawan kuha ng may-akda, 11 Nobyembre 2021.
Hindi ko maiwasang umindak
sa awiting "kumukuti-kutitap,
bumubusi-busilak" tuwing 
makakakita ng mga parol 
nakasabit sa mga binatana,
binebenta sa kalsada
kahit malayo pa ang Pasko.
Ang mga parol ay tulad ng pastol
umaakay sa atin sa gitna ng dilim
hatid ay liwanag at galak
upang matunton at marating
Sanggol na sumilang sa sabsaban
habang mundo ay balot sa kasamaan
upang tayo ay tubusin sa ating mga kasalanan.
Larawan kuha ng may-akda, 11 Nobyembre 2021.
Makukulay, puno ng sigla
alalaong-baga, buhay na buhay
itong mga parol at iba pang mga palamuti
hatid ay hindi lamang ngiti sa labi
kungdi tuwa at kagalakan sa puso at kalooban
isang taon na naman matatagpusan
kahit COVID-19 kayang lampasan!
Katulad ng mga bituin at tala
mga parol at palamuti ng Kapaskuhan
matutunghayan lamang sa gitna
ng malaking kadiliman kagaya sa ating buhay
kung kailan mayroong kapighatian 
at lahat ay nalalabuan, doon naman
nagiging maliwanag at makulay ang lahat!
Larawan kuha ng may-akda, 11 Nobyembre 2021.
Isang kabalintunaang tunay
ganda at busilak ng mga parol
sa atin nagpapastol tungo sa
liwanag ng kinabukasan;
sana manatiling nagningning 
liwanag ni Kristo sa puso at 
kalooban natin. 
Aking dasal at hiling
ngayong Paskong darating
sana matapos na itong COVID-19;
matularan sana natin mga parol
magpastol sa kawan, huwag silang maligaw
sa kadiliman  ng mga mapanlinlang 
tanging Diyos ang maging sandigan.
Larawan kuha ng may-akda, 11 Nobyembre 2021.

Looking back, looking forward in Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul
Baptism of the Lord, 10 January 2021
Isaiah 55:1-11   +   1 John 5:1-9   +   Mark 1:7-11

On this second week of January we celebrate the final epiphany of Jesus Christ as an adult in His baptism by John the Baptist at Jordan River which is also called a “theophany” when God the Father made known to everyone Jesus is His beloved Son with whom He is well-pleased.

The other two epiphanies were last Sunday when Jesus manifested to the nations of the world symbolized by the Magi while the other was during His Nativity when He appeared to the poor and lowly symbolized by the shepherds for whom He first came for.

His baptism at Jordan closes the Christmas season that coincides with our secular calendar’s entry to the second week of January which is named after the Roman god Janus who has two faces with one looking forward to the future and the other looking backwards to the past.

It is exactly what our liturgical and secular calendars in this month of January are both telling us – that we are at the threshold of new beginnings, new start as we slowly leave the past behind. And what a blessed start we have on this Solemnity of the Lord’s Baptism when Jesus reminds us of His presence this 2021 which experts predict would just be an extension of 2020. We are looking to the future in Jesus and with Jesus while we look back to the past seeing the great things the Lord had done for us!

This is what John the Baptist proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Mark 1:7-11

Jesus Christ our Good News

For this year 2021 properly referred to in liturgy as “Cycle B”, we shall have Mark as our guide and companion in our Sunday Mass journey in the Lord (Cycle A is with Matthew, Cycle C is Luke; we hear John on special occasions like Christmas and Easter).

As I have told you during Advent, Mark wrote the first gospel account, it is the shortest because he was in a hurry in making known the good news right away. But, as Shakespeare had said, brevity is the soul of wit; Mark’s brief and direct reporting of the events and teachings of Jesus open for us so many reflections that make us experience the Lord.

Right away at the start of his gospel account, Mark tells us the baptism of Jesus as the inaugural event of the Gospel in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies announcing the coming of John the Baptist as Precursor to the coming of the Christ.

See his manner of narrating, stating matter-of-factly without any further ado that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John; he seems to be in a hurry to tell us something great, something important and so beautiful: On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.

I like that part when he said “the heavens being torn open” or in some translations which I prefer, “the sky rent in two”. What a beautiful imagery, so evocative of God intervening into our lives, descending into our world to bring order, to bring peace!

In the Book of Isaiah which is read during Lent, we find that beautiful expression, “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down” (Is.63:19-64:3).

I love that so much! Imagine God rending, tearing apart the heavens like an action hero coming from behind to save us, to protect us, to get us.

Also in Mark’s gospel, he tells us how Jesus at his last breath “rending” while the curtain at the sanctuary of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom (Mk.15:38).

For the heavens to be rent apart shows us God finally intervening into our lives and affairs to set things right, to have some order.

And that is the beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ that happens daily in our lives. God has rent the heavens and descended upon us in His Son Jesus Christ who clothed Himself in our humanity so we can be like Him, divine and holy.

It is an invitation He extends to us every day, beautifully expressed by Prophet Isaiah in the first reading:

Thus says the Lord: All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk! Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare. Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life. I will renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured to David. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord… so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; my word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:1-3, 8, 11

What a beautiful assurance to us this day with the threats of new strains of COVID-19 and problems in having the vaccine, here is God assuring us all the good things we need in this life. Of course, it is not merely the material things we need but surely all good things like milk and honey we need not only to survive but to live fully.

This Feast of the Baptism of the Lord assures us all the blessings and fulfillment we need and long for this 2021 if we accept His invitation to be one with Him.

How sad that too often, we reject Christ’s invitation, thinking how difficult it is to keep the commandments of God without realizing that they are indeed “not burdensome” (1 Jn.5:3) because the more we sin, the more life gets harder and heavier for us.

Today God assures us of His love, of how his favor rests upon us in Jesus Christ.

May we heed His calls so we may see Him rending the heavens apart, coming to our rescue, coming to our aid and presence. Amen.

A blessed Sunday to you!

And the winner is…

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Friday after the Epiphany, 08 January 2021
1 John 5:5-13     <*(((><<   +   >><)))*>     Luke 5:12-16
Photo by author, December 2020.

Beloved: Who indeed is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ, not by water alone, but by water and blood. The Spirit is the one who testifies, and the Spirit is truth.

1 John 5:5-6

If we could all be aware of this wonderful declaration by your Son’s beloved disciple, O God our Father, surely there would be fewer disappointments and frustrations among us in this life, especially from that “rat race” where there are no victors but only losers.

As we advance in science and technology supposedly making life better and easier for us, making us more affluent to some degree, what a tragedy that we still do not feel contented as life has become more competitive in quantitative terms than qualitative aspects like love and understanding, closer ties and cooperation.

Life may be easier but, unfortunately we cannot see its great value that even on the personal level, there is still so much self-hate and self-rejection going on among us.

Help us, dear Jesus, to keep in our minds and our hearts how you wish only the best for us, our healing and our fulfillment in life like that leper you have healed in the gospel today.

It happened that there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where Jesus was; and when he saw Jesus, he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do will it. Be made clean.” And the leprosy left him immediately.

Luke 5:12-13

Lord Jesus, let us believe in you wholeheartedly by embracing your Cross where you won the world for us with “the Spirit, the water, and the blood” that all testify to you as the Christ, the Anointed One of God who saved and redeemed us. Amen.

Photo by author, Chapel of Theology Dept., ICMAS, 12 November 2020.