Schooling in time of COVID-19

Homily by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II 
Mass of the Holy Spirit for the College Department
Our Lady of Fatima University, Valenzuela City
06 September 2021
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, April 2021.
"Those who seek truth seek God,
whether they realize it or not."
- St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross

Last August 9 we celebrated the memorial of a modern saint who died at the gas chambers of Auschwitz during the Second World War. She was a German Jew named Edith Stein who became an atheist but later regained her faith as she pursued higher learning in the field of philosophy that was so rare for women at that time.

As she progressed into her philosophical studies working as an assistant to Prof. Edmund Husserl known as the “father of phenomenology”, she converted into Catholicism, eventually leaving her teaching post at a university to become a Carmelite contemplative nun, adopting the name Teresa Benedicta dela Cruz.


Congratulations, our dear students in college who dare to learn and seek the truth by enrolling in this Academic Year 2021-2022.

Students and teachers are both seekers of truth. As St. Teresa Benedicta had experienced, every search for truth leads us to God, the ultimate Truth.

This is a very difficult and trying year for us all but like St. Teresa Benedicta and all the other saints as well as great men and women of history, they all sought for the truth in the most troubled time in history. Trials and hardships in life make learning more “fun” – and an imperative at the same time. In fact, the more we must study and search the truth during critical moments in history and in our lives in order to learn more lessons that are valuable not only to us in dealing with our problems but also with the succeeding generations.

Two important virtues we need to cultivate in seeking the truth, in learning our lessons in this time of the pandemic that I hope you, teachers and students will rediscover this Academic Year: patience and humility.


This pandemic may be considered as another Pentecost, 
teaching us the value of patience, 
of patient waiting for everything, 
reminding us that the beauty of life is best experienced 
by allowing nature to take its course, 
without shortcuts nor rush, to enjoy its beauty as it unfolds before us.

Photo by author, 2019.

Patience is from the Latin “patior” that means “to suffer, to bear with.”

Learning is a process. We cannot know everything right away. It requires a lot of patience on every student and teacher.

This is the reason why Jesus assured his disciples at the Last Supper that he would send them the Holy Spirit he referred to as the Advocate.

“When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning… I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.

John 15:26-27, 16:12

In the last 20 years, so much have changed in our lives brought about by modern means of communication.

Great volumes of information have become so readily accessible at great speed, that many in the younger generation have seemed to have lost the virtue of patience. At the snap of your fingers, you can easily have almost everything you need aside from information and music – including food and groceries, clothes and appliances, plants and pets, even medicines and dates!

But life, most especially learning, takes time, requiring a lot of patience in waiting and searching.

Like the Apostles of Jesus who had to wait for the descent of the Holy Spirit at the Upper Room in Jerusalem.

This pandemic may be considered as another Pentecost, teaching us the value of patience, of patient waiting for everything, reminding us that the beauty of life is best experienced by allowing nature to take its course, without shortcuts, to enjoy its beauty as it unfolds before us.

Let our Lord Jesus Christ be our example in following in the path of patience, of suffering; every trial becomes a blessing, a moment of transformation when seen in the light of Jesus Christ who suffered and died for us on the Cross. His very life tells us that there can be no Easter Sunday without a Good Friday.

This pandemic period is an extended Good Friday but in between those moments of sufferings, we experience little Easter if we try to be patient like what some of you have experienced when you graduated in this time of the pandemic.


Photo by author, January 2020.

The second virtue I wish to invite you to rediscover, teachers and students alike, is humility which is again from the Latin word humus that literally means “soil”.

From humus came the words human and humor.

Man was created from clay, a kind of soil. A person with a sense of humor is one who can laugh at things because he or she is rooted on the ground. We call a person with sense of humor in Filipino as “mababaw” or shallow – not empty but close to the ground or deeply rooted.

It is very difficult to learn anything nor discover the truth unless we first become humble. Pride and ego are the greatest stumbling blocks to any kind of learning. You will find in history, even in our personal lives how many opportunities in the past were lost simply because of our pride or “ego trip”.

Pride was the very sin of Adam and Eve that led to their fall. That is why when Jesus came to save us from effects of that Fall, humility became his central teaching when he demanded us to forget ourselves and, most of all, to become like that of a child so we shall enter the kingdom of heaven.

This humility Jesus himself showed us the path by being born like us – small and helpless.

And that has always been the way of God ever since: the small and little ones, those taken for granted, the unknown and rejected are always the ones used as God’s instruments, the ones always effecting the most far-reaching changes in history and our personal lives.

Even in the story of the Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit, we find the centrality of becoming small to become a part of the whole.

It is the exact opposite of the story at Babel when people in the Old Testament dared to build a tower reaching to the skies; because of their pride, God confused them by making them speak different languages that led to the collapse of their tower and ambitions. During the Pentecost, the people were all united as one despite the different languages they speak because everybody was willing to listen, to become small in themselves to give way to others.

Like during the Pentecost, let us allow the “tongues of fire” and the “strong, driving wind” of the Holy Spirit part us of our fears and indifference, pride and ego during this Academic year 2021-2022 to fully realize and learn the important lessons and truth this pandemic is teaching us.

Photo from vaticannews,va, 13 May 2017.

Whenever, and wherever there is a search for truth that leads to the discovery of God through our patience and humility, there springs simultaneously the growth of a community. It is no wonder that wherever there is prayer and worship, there is always learning leading to bonding, or communing.

The first universities – from the Latin term universitas or “community of teachers and scholars” – where all offshoots of the efforts of the monks in their monastery as they evangelized peoples, teaching them not only prayers but also the basics of learning like reading and writing. Eventually monasteries had annex buildings as schools and universities that led to the establishment of towns and cities in Europe that spawned the growth of commerce and trade following the great many interactions among peoples.

Here we find the beautiful interplay of the search for truth that leads to discovery of God that bears fruit into mercy and love among people.

Another learned Saint who sought the Truth, Thomas Aquinas said that the more we learn the truth, the more we become intelligent, the more we must become holy.

How lovely it is, my dear students and teachers of Our Lady of Fatima University that wherever there is Truth which is Veritas, there is also Misericordia, the two mottos of our beloved University.

Amid the threats of COVID-19, amid the difficulties of online learning, let us continue to seek the truth, be patient and humble with one another as we try to build a community of “achievers” by “improving man as man”, “rising to the top” not to be conceited and proud but to be able to offer ourselves in the service of the country and of the world, for the praise and glory of God.

May our Patroness, the Our Lady of Fatima, lead us closer to Jesus Christ who is “the Way, the Truth and the Life.” Amen.

From Facebook.com/fatima.university.

True faith and good health build a community

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Week XXII, Year I in Ordinary Time, 01 September 2021
Colossians 1:9-14   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Luke 4:38-44
Photo by author, November 2018.
Praise and glory to you,
God our loving Father,
for the gift of life that we have
reached the first day of the "ber"
months leading to Christmas.
Since last year we have been
amusing ourselves with the 
awaited playing of Christmas
carols in September to feel good.
But today, we also feel blessed
for being alive, in keeping the faith
in you.

Brothers and sisters: from the day we heard about you, we do not cease praying for you and asking that you may be filled with knowledge of God’s will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding; to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord so as to be fully pleasing in every good work, bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God.

Colossians 1:9-10
While we are all praying
 for more faith and good health
 in this time of another surge,
we continue to pray for the
healing of all those afflicted
with COVID-19, begging you like
Simon Peter for his mother-in-law;
We pray for the healing of the sick
not only in body but also in mind,
heart and soul.
Help us realize that like faith,
good health builds community;
that good health concerns all
because everyone's well-being
depends also with everyone's health.

After Jesus left the synagogue, he entered the house of Simon. Simon’s mother-in-law was afflicted with a severe fever, and they interceded with him about her. He stood over her, rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up immediately and waited on them.

Luke 4:38-39
Teach us, O God,
to be like Simon Peter's mother-in-law 
to realize that most especially 
in our good health we can help build 
our community and family 
by serving in the name of Jesus
for other's good health
and wellness.
Amen.

What God is asking from us

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Week XIX, Year I in Ordinary Time, 13 August 2021
Joshua 24:1-13   ><]]]]*> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]*>   Matthew 19:3-12
Photo by author, modern chapel at the Milk Grotto in Bethlehem, the Holy Land, 2019.
I know, dear God our Father,
you have no need of our words 
nor works in exchange for your 
abounding love and grace given us 
in Christ Jesus; and there lies 
your goodness and holiness when 
all you ask of us is our fidelity
to your covenant, that we remain true 
to you by dealing with love and justice
to one another which is all for our own good too.

“I gave you a land that you had not tilled and cities which you had not built, to dwell in; you have eaten of vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.”

Joshua 24:13
You have given us everything, O God:
the earth and everything on it that we have
wasted and destroyed; worst of all, you
have given us family and friends, every person
 and people to love and cherish, respect and
be kind with but whom we have always
hurt with our words and actions when we
see only our very selves, failing to see
others as brothers and sisters in you
as Father from the the very beginning.

“Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and said, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.”

Matthew 19:4-6
Forgive us, merciful Father
for the "hardness of our hearts" (Mt.19:8),
in our building walls among us instead
of bridges to bring us close together
as your children reconciled in Jesus Christ;
help us to find the common grounds that
make us all the same, not different;
make us find and accept our vocation
in life so we may fulfill your calling
by serving you through one another
with love and respect, kindness and mercy
especially in this time of the pandemic.
Amen.

Missing Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Week XV, Year I in Ordinary Time, 13 July 2021
Exodus 2:1-15   ><)))*> + <*(((><   Matthew 11:20-24
Photo by author, St. Agnes Church at Bethsaida, Israel, 2017.
Jesus began to reproach the towns
where most of his mighty deeds 
had been done, since they had not
repented.  "Woe to you, Chorazin!
Woe to you Bethsaida!  For if 
the mighty deeds done in your midst
had been done in Tyre and Sidon,
they would long ago have repented 
sackcloth and ashes."
(Matthew 11:20-21)
I could hear you, Lord Jesus
crying again the same words
to us in this generation
of not heeding your voice,
of refusing or failing to recognize
God's loving presence among us
in you through the Church.
If our non-Christian brothers and
sisters were given the same 
chance we have been given in
belonging to your Church, 
maybe they have been more 
generous, more kind, and 
more ardent in their faith.
Forgive us, dear Jesus,
for not listening to your words, 
for not meeting you,
for always missing your coming to us
in the Church, in the Sacraments,
and most especially, in the Scriptures.
Sometimes, Lord Jesus
we are like those two Hebrews fighting
pacified by Moses in the first reading
who missed the opportunity of meeting God,
of discovering God among our community
when the culprit dared ask Moses:
"Who has appointed you ruler
and judge over us?
Are you thinking of killing me
as you killed the Egyptian?"
Then Moses became afraid and thought, 
"The affair must certainly be known." 
(cf.Ex.2:11-14)
Teach us, dear Lord
to be like the sister of Moses
who ensured she would not miss
the important opportunity when the Pharaoh's
daughter found baby Moses in a basket among
the reeds while taking a bathe at the river
to find their own mother to nurse the child
you have destined to set free your people from Egypt.
Make us realize every moment a grace of encountering
you Lord, of making your wonderful plans happen.
Amen.

True greatness in being small to become part of the whole

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Solemnity of the Pentecost, 23 May 2021
Acts 2:1-11  ><}}}*>  Galatians 5:16-25  ><}}}*>  John 15:26-27.16:12-15
Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte at Atok, Benguet, 2019.

Today we bring to completion our celebration of the Lord’s Paschal Mystery – his Passion, Death, and Resurrection, Ascension and Coming of the Holy Spirit to his disciples. Although this mystery is one single reality, we have stretched its celebration over a period of 50 days (hence, Pentecost) or more than seven weeks because it will never be enough to fully grasp its whole meaning for it is a continuing reality and mystery in our midst just like the Ascension last week.

Note the upward movement of the Ascension that calls us to “level up” our relationships with God and one another in Christ; today, the downward movement of the coming of the Holy Spirit calls us to being small in order for us to be broken and shared with others. Whenever there is a downward push, what happens usually is a breaking down into smaller parts to fuse with the larger whole like a mix.


...our greatness is in our sharing ourselves with others...  
It is in our becoming small to participate in the whole 
that we truly become great - 
whether in the Church or a community, 
in our personal relationships...

Jesus had taught us in his life and example especially on the Cross that our greatness is in our sharing ourselves with others like him. It is in our becoming small to participate in the whole that we truly become great – whether in the Church or a community, in our personal relationships like family and circle of friends and most especially in the union of man and woman as husband and wife in marriage.

That is why the Pentecost is called the birthday of the Church when the disciples after being filled with the Holy Spirit came out in the open to proclaim the Gospel of salvation in Jesus Christ. It was actually more of a “coming out party” of the Church that was established by Christ during his Last Supper.

See that since the very beginning, the Church started as a catholic – a whole – at the Last Supper of the Lord when he also instituted the Holy Eucharist that has become the sign of our unity from then on that enabled the disciples to recognize him at Easter at the breaking of bread.

Jesus promised them at the Last Supper how things would get clear to them when the Holy Spirit comes.

"When the Advocate comes whom I will send you
from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds
from the Father, he will testify to me.  And you 
also testify... I have much more to tell you,
but you cannot bear it now.  But when he comes,
the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth."
(John 15:26-27. 16:12-13)

Believing in the Holy Spirit, Believing in the Church

Every Sunday in the Mass we profess our faith, declaring “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church” but, do we really understand its meaning? To believe in God is to believe in the Holy Catholic Church, to forget one’s own agenda in life, to submit ones self to her teachings from Christ our Lord and Master.

It is a declaration of the mystery and reality of the Pentecost, reminding us that becoming Christian means receiving and embracing the whole Church!

This is the beautiful meaning of the account by St. Luke at the first reading of the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost at Jerusalem when all barriers – physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual – were broken as the disciples went around speaking in various languages to proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ.

When the time of Pentecost was fulfilled,
they were all in one place together.
And suddenly there came from the sky a noise
like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house
in which they were.  Then there appeared to them
tongues of fire, which parted and came to rest
on each one of them.  And they were all filled 
with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues,
as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.
(Acts 1:1-4)

Here we find the disciples of Jesus and their converts on that day of Pentecost allowing themselves to be taken up into the Church!

And how did this happen? St. Luke tells us “Then there appeared to them tongues of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them.” Each one was parted, was broken down from their sins and selfishness that they became open for each other, trying to understand and accept each one as brother and sister in Christ.

It was a reversal of the story of Babel in Genesis when people were so arrogant and proud building a tower that reaches to heaven who were punished to speak in different languages that led to their confusion and quarrel until they all perished along with their ambitious plan.

Pentecost was different. There were different languages, different peoples with different backgrounds yet they were united and understood each other because everybody tried to become small, to mix into the whole and thus becoming a part of the Church on that day.

Unless we are willing to be parted by the Holy Spirit’s “tongues of fire” and “strong driving wind” like a storm, we can never be filled with God and his holiness to experience his peace and his joy.

It is a lifelong process and that is why Pentecost is a daily reality, happening to us especially when we sometimes have to be shaken by so many events and circumstances that come our way.

In the second reading, we heard St. Paul reminding the Galatians, including us, to “live by the Spirit and not gratify the desire of the flesh” (Gal.5:16). At that time, some missionaries sowed confusion among the Galatians, telling them to follow Jewish practices and Mosaic prescriptions to be fully Christians like circumcision. The issue had long been settled at the Council of Jerusalem but some Jewish converts persisted.

Here, St. Paul teaches us a valuable lesson in resolving conflicts and confusions in daily life in the light of Jesus Christ, of salvation, of the Church. For St. Paul, we always have to ask the Holy Spirit in guiding us in everything, no matter how secular and mundane it may be to find the theological and spiritual implications of our experiences.

What he told the Galatians remains true to our days, that freedom is not the ability to do whatever we want but to choose and do what is good. Every person has that tendency to sin, an imperfection in the “flesh” that is always in contradiction with the “spirit”.

As we have mentioned earlier, our greatness lies in our ability to share and give ourselves to others by dying to our sins and selfish motives, precisely what St. Paul is telling us:

Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like.

Galatians 5:19-21

These are the things that the Holy Spirit “part” in us when it comes to us daily especially in our prayers and in the celebrations of the sacraments like the Holy Eucharist. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are unified as a person, we become whole and integrated that we see the value and importance of being one with God and with others. It is not longer the rituals that become the law guiding us but the interior law of love of Jesus Christ that enables us to get out of our selfishness to give ourselves in loving service to others.

When we live in the power of the Holy Spirit guided by this interior law of love, that is when we become truly free and experience the gifts and fruits mentioned by St. Paul like peace and joy.

In our world today marred by sin and so many divisions happening in our society and even in the Church, in our communities and right even in our families and personal relationships, let us pray today to the Holy Spirit to come to us, break down within us the many walls we have and lead us to surrender ourselves to God to be led by his hand in continuing the mission of love and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

A blessed week ahead of everyone!

Photo of the stained glass with the Holy Spirit bringing light into the altar of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Photo from wikipediacommons.org.

Every beautiful thing in community pantry

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 26 April 2021
Patring the lovely lady
behind this community pantry
said it so well "this is not a charity"
but "like a mutual aid of helping each other in need".
All she did was make us see
those in need as a person like you and me
who lives and breathes
but worries and cries alone
creating the spark unknown 
that we started to believe
we can feed the hungry
with whatever we have
if everyone tries to live simply
by seeing everyone's dignity
of not taking anything 
more than what is necessary.
The beauty of every community pantry
more than the food aplenty
is the overflowing of the spirit of humanity;
kindness and tenderness again caressed
everyone who has been stressed 
and depressed not only by the distress
caused by COVID-19 but mostly 
the lack of interest for persons
blinded by personal interests
who thought money as ayuda
will solve the plight and misery 
of the many going sick and hungry.
The humility and simplicity
of every community pantry
are the key to its mystery
when everyone begins to see
the needy as another person with dignity
a brother and a sister, a kin and family
thinking of everybody not just self entirely;
everybody is suffering
but at the community pantry
generosity is overflowing
because everybody is thinking
somebody can be in deeper misery.
There is something holy about the pantry
where everyone goes when hungry
that Patricia has brought out in the community
to remind us we are one big family
a normalcy replaced with greed and apathy
with everybody wanting so many
using manipulation to control even the nation;
pray thee may this community pantry
be the start of a beautiful journey 
to a brighter future for our country
where everyone lives simply and responsibly
not taking what is more than necessary!
Photo from inquirer.net.

Praying for more conversions

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Third Week of Easter, 23 April 2021
Acts 9:1-20   ><)))'>  ><)))">  ><)))'>   John 6:52-59
Photo by Dr. Yanga’s Colleges, Inc. in their “community pantry” in Bocaue, Bulacan, 21 April 2021.

Praise and glory and thanksgiving to you, God our loving Father in heaven for this amazing movement sweeping our country called “community pantry” started by a young lady in a quiet neighborhood last week in Quezon City.

Your ways, O God, are indeed strange, filled with so many extraordinary turn of events.

Who would have thought how this community pantry will awaken the whole nation to suddenly see one another as brother and sister, sharing according to one’s abilities and taking according to one’s needs that for over a week, we have never ran out of food with a lot of smiles and tenderness that delight the hearts and souls of everyone?!

You are so amazing, O God that I feel like Jesus your Son rejoicing while filled with the Holy Spirit, giving you praise, Father, “for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike” (Lk.10:21).

Full of confidence in your power, I believe you can still win over the hearts of many of our generals and government officials to be converted like St. Paul on the road to Damascus to persecute Christians; how ironic, dear God, are the similarities of that story with how our government and military officials malign the people behind the community pantry movement!

Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord,
went to the high priest and asked him for letters to synagogues in Damascus,
that, if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way,
he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains.
On his journey, as he was nearing Damascus, 
a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him.
He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him,
"Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?"
The reply came, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do."
(Acts 9:1-7)

Please, Lord, despite the malicious words some government and military officials have said about the people behind the community pantry movement, we still believe they can still be converted like what happened at EDSA in 1986.

Come, Jesus our Lord and Savior, blind us with your light of truth and humility so we may imbibe the true meaning of the Eucharist which is more than the sacramental partaking of your Body and Blood but, most of all, meeting and being one with you always in our daily lives, becoming the very food for others like you.

We pray also most specially for the well-being of Ms. Ana Patricia Non and her followers. Bless them and keep them, O Lord, and may they continue to inspire others in seeing everyone as a brother and sister in you. Amen.

Pantry for the body, pantry for the soul

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 22 April 2021
The beauty of this community pantry
that have sprouted all over the country
in just a week exactly
is not found only in the wide variety 
of food to the needy but most of all
for food that enrich so many souls:
kindness and tenderness are aplenty
with everyone considered a family.
It was the Lord Himself 
who gave us the first community pantry 
intended for soul when he said:
"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!
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."
(Isaiah 55:1-3)
What is so amazing now happening in the country
is how those with least to offer
are always the ones with most to share
like that widow praised by Jesus in her poverty
gave her all in the temple treasury:
for the community pantry
there was so much camote
coming from hard pressed farmers
from Paniqui and another load from Mindoro
shared by the child of a Mangyan aged nine
while an elderly man peddling chicharon for a living
asked for two cans of sardines
leaving the pantry with a precious smile of gratitude
with a plenitude of goodwill,
donating two packs of his precious chicharon.
Like manna in the wilderness
the community pantries were heaven-sent;
like the feeding of five-thousand in the wilderness
the community pantries of sharing was the miracle;
like Jesus Christ at the Last Supper,
the community pantries have taught us 
to be the bread ourselves, broken and shared
if only to prove there is enough for everyone's needs.

	

Awit para sa Paminggalang Pampamayanan (Community Pantry)

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-21 ng Abril 2021
Mula sa Facebook ni Jean Palma noong ika-18 ng Abril 2021 na nilagyan niya ng caption: “All these community pantries in four days, and counting. What a powerful movement.” #CommunityPantry

Tila magpapasko, presko at mahangin ang panahon noong Lunes ng umaga dito sa Pambansang Dambana ng Birhen ng Fatima sa Valenzuela.

Natutuwa ako noon sa napakabuting balita ng paglaganap nitong tinaguriang mga “community pantry” na nagsimula sa kalye Maginhawa sa Quezon City noong a-kinse lang ng Abril. Wala pang isang linggo ay kumalat na sa buong kapuluan ang kilusan na kung isasalin sa ating sariling wika ay “paminggalang pampamayanan”.

Sa mga kagaya ko na inabot ang singko sentimos na de bote ng Cosmos, bago dumating ang pridyider ay paminggalan ang puntahan ng lahat lalo na sa bahay na matanda kung saan nakatira ang mga impo at lola.

At ang turo sa aming mga bata noon, maaring kumuha ng pagkain sa paminggalan pero huwag uubusan ang ibang kasama sa tahanan.

Higit sa lahat, magsabi lagi upang mapalitan o mapunan sakaling mauubusan lalo na ng kape at asukal.

Kaya naman napakagandang makitang muli itong mga paminggalan hindi na sa tahanan kungdi sa lansangan na tila baga bawat pamayanan naging isang malaking pamilya pinamamayanihan ng pagkakapatiran.

Iyon ang pinaka-buod at kahulugan nitong mga paminggalang pampamayanan na siya rin namang ipinahayag ni Bb. Ana Patricia Non: hindi aniya ito pagkakawanggawa o “charity” kungdi pakikipagkapwa-tao o mutual aid upang matulungan ang bawat isang nangangailangan.

Sa Banal na Kasulatan ay ating natunghayan kamakailan paglalarawan ng pamumuhay ng mga unang Kristiyano:

At nagsasama-sama ang lahat ng sumasampalataya at para sa lahat ang kanilang ari-arian. Ipinagbibili nila ito at ang pinagbilhan ay ipinamamahagi sa lahat ayon sa pangangailangan ng bawat isa.

Mga Gawa ng Apostol 2:44-45
Larawan mula sa inquirer.net.

Isinaysay sa atin ni San Lucas ang naturang bahagi sa buhay ng mga unang Kristiyano upang muling mahimok sa atin ang pagkakapatiran, ang magising ating mga kaisipan at kamulatan na sa buhay hindi pinag-uusapan at batayan ang ano mang kakayahang gawin kungdi ang pagkakakilala sa bawat isa bilang ka-patid, ka-dugtong, at ka-putol. Alisin mo ang unlaping “ka”, ika’y patid at putol. Hiwalay at nag-iisa, walang karugtong.

Kapatiran, samahan ng magkakapatid, hindi ng mga gawain.

Kung babalikan natin yung tagpo matapos mag-ayuno at manalangin ang Panginoong Hesus sa ilang, ang unang panunukso sa kanya ng demonyo ay gawin niyang tinapay ang mga bato.

Ganyang-ganyan pa rin ginagawa ng diyablo at kanyang kampon sa ating panahon na ang palaging tanong ay “ano ba ang nagawa mo?” o “mayroon ka bang naambag?”: para sa kanila, pinakamahalaga yung nagagawa kesa makipag-kapwa.

Hindi nila batid na ang sino mang tunay sa pakikipag-kapwa, laging kasabay ang gumawa ng mabuti.

Kaya hindi rin kataka-taka sa kanila na ang mga addict at kriminal ay patayin dahil para sa kanila walang nagagawang mabuti mga ito sa lipunan.


Isang magandang pagkakataon itong pag-usbong 
ng maraming paminggalang pampamayanan 
na muli nating mapagtanto dangal ng bawat tao 
na dapat mahalin at igalang bilang larawan 
at wangis ng Diyos na lumikha sa tanan.

Larawan mula sa Dr. Yanga’s Colleges Inc. sa kanilang “community pantry” sa Bocaue, Bulacan, 20 Abril 2021.

Isang magandang pagkakataon itong pag-usbong ng maraming paminggalang pampamayanan na muli nating mapagtanto dangal ng bawat tao na dapat mahalin at igalang bilang larawan at wangis ng Diyos na lumikha sa tanan.

Inyong pagmasdan, madalas mga taong mapagbilang at mapaghanap ng mga nagawa ay siya ring mga mapanaghili, binibilang mga gawain na tila lahat dapat tumbasan o mayroong kapalit.

At ang pinaka-masaklap, sila din yaong mga wala ring ginagawa, puro salita kaya sila’y katawa-tawa parang sirang plaka katulad ng kanilang pamumula at “red tagging” sa mga nasa likod ng paminggalang pampamayanan o community pantry.

Ayaw nila sa paminggalang pampamayanan dahil doon ang batayan ay pagtuturingan bilang magkakapatid; walang ganid at sakim, nasa isip palagi ang kapwa na maaring mas kawawa kaysa sarili.

Kaya heto ang aking awit na handog sa mga nagpasimuno at nagpapalaganap nitong community pantry.

Kasama na rin ang mga hindi naniniwala, namumula.

At, sumasalaula.

Humuhuni ang ibon
Nagsasayaw sa hangin
At laging masaya
Bakit kaya ang tao may isip at talino
Nalulungkot pa siya

Matutuhan lang ng bawat nilikha
Ang umibig sa tao't daigdig
Lungkot nila'y mapapawi ligaya'y ngingiti

Pagibig at pag-asa
Ang damdaming gigising sa taong mahimbing
Ang tunay na ligaya sa ating puso
Muling magniningning

Ikaw at ako
Hindi man magkalahi
Ay dapat matutong magmahal
Ituring mong tayong lahat ay magkakapatid
(New Minstrels, 1980)

When moving out is the best way to move in

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Third Week of Easter, 21 April 2021
Acts 8:1-8 ><)))’> + <‘(((>< John 6:35-40
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, March 2021.
And this is the will
of the one who sent me,
that I should not lose anything
of what he gave me,
but that I should raise it on the last day.
(John 6:39)

Oh, dear God our loving Father! How can we stop praising and thanking you especially in times like this when those in power harass and malign us working for your people when in their efforts to ignore and dismiss they red tag us and see commies and enemies instead of the beauty of the “community pantry”.

But like the first Christians when they were persecuted and scattered, driven out of Jerusalem except for the Apostles, the more that the Gospel of Jesus was proclaimed to the known world, the more followers were added to the early Church.

After calling us communists and maligning the efforts of the those behind this movement of community pantry, the more it is now spreading far and wide, the more people are beginning to see each other’s face again as a brother and a sister in Jesus Christ hungry and thirsty for food and drink of the body and soul.

Thank you, dear Jesus, in keeping company with us in doing your work ever since.

We trust that not one of us will ever be lost as we lift up to you the organizers of the community pantry, the people who support and the people who benefit from this worthy cause.

Indeed, so many times in life, we need to move out from our comfort zones in order to move in to your divine plan to be realized. Amen.

Posted by Jean Palma on Facebook, 18 April 2021 with the caption: “All these community pantries in four days, and counting. What a powerful movement.” #CommunityPantry