Christ our King & our overcoming of sin

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Solemnity of Christ the King, Cycle C, 20 November 2022
2 Samuel 5:1-3 ><000'> Colossians 1:12-20 ><000'> Luke 23:35-43
Painting of Christ’s Crucifixion by Tintoretto in 1565 portraying Jesus so “kingly”; interesting too were the people dressed as Venetians of his time as reminder that the evils that crucified Jesus continue in our own time. Photo from wikiart.org.

We now come to the final Sunday of our liturgical calendar called the Solemnity of Christ the King with a scene from his crucifixion on Good Friday. All these Sundays since June “When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem” (Lk.9:51), Luke had been showing us that Christ’s crucifixion and glory are one just like John in his gospel account.

But the most beautiful part of our gospel on this solemn celebration is the fact that inasmuch as Jesus had clearly showed in all eternity his kingship while dying on the Cross, it is also right on the cross of sufferings as we strive to resist temptations of turning away from God that we proclaim Christ’s kingship. Please bear with me, my friends in reflecting Luke’s artistic presentation of Christ’s crucifixion as the expression of his kingship.

Notice how Jesus was “sneered, jeered, and reviled” at the cross, reminding us of the devil’s three temptations in the wilderness after his baptism at Jordan by John. After failing to tempt Jesus at the wilderness, Luke said the devil “departed from him for a time” (Lk.4:13), returning at his crucifixion as the most opportune time to test him.

In the wilderness, the temptations by the devil to Jesus applied very well with us too but, here on the cross, it was totally different. The devil himself was nowhere to be found because he was in the person of the rulers, the soldiers, and the thief! And that is how evil and sin have become so “powerful” in a pernicious manner among us when many times we are the devil in fact.

Here, we are reminded to be aware always of that opportune time when the devil attacks us when we see or face many sufferings in life by reflecting the last three temptations of Jesus on the Cross.

Photo by author, 2017, Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, QC.

The rulers sneered at Jesus and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Christ of God” (Lk.23:35).

Just like at the wilderness when the devil tempted Jesus with what he can do as the Son of God by changing stone into bread, at the Cross it was the same temptation hurled on him by the rulers of Israel, the priests and the scribes.

How sad that amid the many sufferings in the world today we contemptuously mock others like the poor for not working so hard to liberate themselves from poverty and hunger. There is the tendency among us blessed with better living conditions to look down at others without considering how they never have the same opportunities in life like us in having good education or a caring family or worse, not having the right connections.

The tragic part of this “sneering” by the rulers on Jesus is when we look at others as if they are not humans and persons like us who play gods knowing everything even who should live and who should die like in the systematic approach by state rulers to come up with what St. John Paul II called as “culture of death” in solving poverty and crime with abortions and capital punishments.

Let us examine our attitudes at the way we look at those going through sufferings and pains like sickness, poverty and other social ills we do not go through. Let us stop the mockeries of blaming them for their plight because many times like Jesus Christ, they were betrayed by loved ones like us, by the society, or even by the institutions meant to uplift them.

Photo by author, 2017.

Even the soldiers jeered at him. As they approached to offer him wine they called out, “If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.” Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of the Jews” (Lk.23:36-38).

Sneering and jeering are both contemptuous mocking or insulting of others; they are both employed by those in vantage positions of power and control like the rulers of Israel. Going “higher” than the priests, the Roman soldiers sneered Jesus by rudely mocking him in loud voice. Sneering is a superfluous display of might, of superiority, of power. It is a kind of vanity that is why in the wilderness, the devil tempted Jesus to have all the kingdoms in the world for him to be famous and popular in exchange of worshipping him.

Sneering is something so prevalent these days in our use of the social media where we practically scream and insist on everyone to notice and recognize us, that we have “arrived” in having the latest and most expensive clothes, food, gadgets and everything. There is so much wild attitude among us like the soldiers at the cross when we use social media in too much talks, even of spewing foul languages and invectives as well as lies. Fake news and lies spread so fast and are sadly taken as true to the detriment of its victims because we have been so gullible for gossips and rumors too.

But the worst part of our imitation of the soldiers jeering at Jesus is when many of us are afflicted with this perversion called exhibitionism – from those salacious posts in TikTok to those “food porns” and too much display of everything about ourselves and of our loved ones. When do we get tired of all these selfies that have become so sickening that we do not realize of how we make known to everyone of our emptiness and lack of the more essential things like love and self-respect? Like the soldiers, the more we promote ourselves, the more we affirm the obvious that Jesus indeed is the King we needed most.

Photo by author, 2017.

Now one of the criminal hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us” (Lk.23:39).

Reviling is also kind of of mocking others like sneering and jeering; however, to revile is the lowest kind because it is to insult somebody you are with in a same situation. To revile is the lack of recognition of one’s faults and sins that he would rather insult others like this thief traditionally identified as Hestas. In reviling Jesus while also hanging on the cross, Hestas went down deeper his lowest point as a convicted criminal when he had the gall to insult Jesus!

And that is the most unkind evil of all when we become so numb, so dense and stupid to even mock others we are with us in a similar situation. It happens daily when even we are in deep shit, we still see ourselves cleaner and better than others! Just read or watch the news about our politicians.

In the wilderness, the final temptation of the devil to Jesus was to jump from the top of the temple because his angels would not let him fall and even touch ground; here at the cross, Hestas saw himself no different from Jesus, feeling so entitled to be liberated. Many times, this is the problem why evil continues among us: when people from below are promoted to higher positions, they forget their roots that they also forget to fix the problems of inequalities and injustices down below where they came from. The key is to always remember. Like Dimas, the good thief.

Photo by author, 2017.

The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Lk.23:40-4).

See how Luke inserted here the fourth verb “to rebuke” to break the series of sneering, jeering, and reviling of Jesus. Like Dimas, we have to strive in breaking the cycle and series of evil especially in this time.

To rebuke means to express sharp disapproval. Imagine Dimas contradicting Hestas and even the rulers and soldiers as well by defending Jesus Christ while hanging there on the cross.

How sad when we remain silent, when we just walk away from people sneering, jeering and reviling Jesus in those who suffer in life because we are afraid to make a stand for what is true and good, what is right and just. How ironic that another thief hanging on the cross was the only one who made a stand for Jesus on that Good Friday along with the Mary and the beloved disciple below.

Every time we make a stand for life and dignity of every person, when we stand for what is true, right and just, that is when we imitate the tribes of Israel in the first reading coming to David to pledge their loyalty and allegiance to him as their king.

When we submit ourselves to Jesus Christ as our only King to be obeyed and followed, that is when our celebration today becomes a daily reality.

That is when we also earn heaven right on the Cross of our sufferings like Dimas when we “remember” Jesus.

Normally in the whole Bible, it is God who remembers. People always forget. When we sin, we forget consciously and unconsciously God and all the good things he had done to us. We forget others too.

There on the Cross, see the reversals of roles Luke has presented so beautifully, from the devil replaced by the rulers, the soldiers and the other thief; and now Dimas sort of assuming God’s role who remembered everything and everyone, especially Jesus our Savior. Dimas remembered what St. Paul expressed to the Colossians that Jesus is Lord in whom, with whom and through whom everything was created and renewed because he is the Christ!

From Google.

The word “remember” literally means to make member or part again, that is, “re” + “member”.

When we remember somebody, we make that person present with us again.

In asking Jesus to remember him when he comes into his kingdom, Dimas was assured that right now as he remembered everything including his sins, he already becomes a member, a part of his kingdom.

May we not forget and always remember Jesus and others always to experience Paradise even when we are on the cross. Amen. Have a blessed week ahead!

Tasting Jesus Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Memorial of the Dedication of the Basilicas of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, 18 November 2022
Revelation 10:8-11   ><000'> + ><000'> + ><000'>   Luke 19:45-48
Lord Jesus Christ,
as we celebrate today the
memorial of the Dedication of the
last two Basilicas in Rome -
St. Peter's in Vatican and 
St. Paul's Outside the Walls -
you give us a "taste" 
of what is to be your Church,
your Body,
and your accompanying mission.

I took the small scroll from the angel’s hand and swallowed it. In my mouth it was like sweet honey, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour. Then someone said to me, “You must prophecy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.”

Revelation 10:10-11
Thank you, Lord Jesus Christ,
for the sweet taste, 
for the sensation of being a Christian,
of listening to your words,
of being a Catholic,
of serving you,
of worshipping you,
of being loved by you.
Definitely so sweet indeed
to experience you in the Church!
But everything becomes sour
and bitter when we internalize
your words,
your call,
your mission
for that is when reality happens,
when we realize being your disciple
is a way of life in you,
a way of the Cross,
of giving one's self
to others like
the two pillars of your Church,
St. Peter and St. Paul.
Sometimes, Lord Jesus,
give us a taste of your anger
like when you cleansed the temple; 
let us taste your strong words
when we make the church a den of thieves
literally speaking;
let us have a taste of your discipline
when we dirty your Body,
when we hurt your Body,
and worst, 
when we mutilate your Body,
the Church with our lives so far from
your calling and mission
especially us your apostles.
Let us learn to love and accept
being Christian is savoring both
the sweet and sour tastes of
proclaiming your gospel 
both in words and in deeds.
Amen.

*Photos from en.wikipedia.org.

Making things happen in Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop, 04 November 2022
Philippians 3:17-4:1   ><}}}*> + ><}}}*> + ><}}}*>   Luke 16:1-8
Praise and thanksgiving,
God our loving Father
for the grace of your Son
Jesus Christ 
who had come 
to make us closer to you
more than ever, 
making us "citizens of heaven"
(Philippinas 3:20).
Teach us, dear Jesus,
to be imitators of St. Paul
witnessing your Cross, 
the only path to salvation
because it is our liberation from sin;
do not allow us to be
"enemies of the cross"
whose "God is their stomach;
their glory is in their shame.  
Their minds occupied with earthly
things" (Philippians 3:18-19);
keep us faithful to your teachings 
and example, Lord Jesus Christ
by living your paschal mystery.
Like St. Charles Borromeo
whose memorial we celebrate today,
give us the grace of determination
and perseverance in keeping us
true and faithful to you
by making things happen 
like making Christ present
no matter how difficult and 
unpopular it may be especially 
when others especially our pastors 
have forgotten to live in your footsteps,
when too much time and emphasis
are spent with outward appearances
forgetting internal reformation;
let us stop wishful thinking that
things may get better by being just idle,
simply awaiting for events to happen.
Like that shrewd steward in the gospel,
let us find ways, O Lord, in making
justice and mercy,
love and kindness
become realities
by making them happen
by standing firm in you
Jesus Christ.
Amen.

Entering through the narrow gate

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Thirtieth Week of Ordinary Time, Year II, 26 October 2022
Ephesians 6:1-9   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Luke 13:22-30
Photo by author, Baguio Cathedral, 2019.
Bless me, dear Jesus,
and forgive me for being like
that someone in the gospel
who asked you, "Lord, will only
a few people be saved?"
(Luke 13:23); many times
I am that someone in the 
crowd, so eagerly feeling inside
you would answer with a 
resounding "yes" to my 
question, feeling that I am one
of those few who would be
saved because I belong
to your chosen ones,
the ones "who ate and drank
with you, the ones you taught
in the streets" (Luke 13:26).
Forgive me Lord Jesus
for feeling so entitled;
let me realize your Kingdom
is not about affiliations nor
about the company we are with
but more of the path we take
in life, your path of the Cross.

He answered them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will say to you in reply, ‘I do not know where you are from.”

Luke 13:24-25
Entering heaven,
being a part of your
Kingdom, dear Jesus
is keeping our relationships
Christ-centered that begins
right in the family, to our parents,
of parents to children, of siblings
among each other, and with those
in the household.
How sad, dear Jesus,
when we all desire of heaven
when we make a mess of our
family life when couples are
unfaithful to each other,
when parents wrongly pursue 
wealth not realizing their children 
are their greatest riches, 
when siblings compete with one
another instead of loving each other,
and when children do not care at
all to their parents. 
O Lord Jesus Christ,
as we count the days 
until Christmas,
make us realize you
came to bring salvation
to the world by coming
through the husband and
wife of Joseph and Mary;
when you came to save us,
you opened the narrow gate
to salvation there on the Cross
with your Mother and beloved
disciple standing until the end.
Let us strive to enter
through your narrow gate,
Jesus, that is found first
in our own family.
Amen.

Prayer is emptiness

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of St. Bruno, Priest, 06 October 2022
Galatians 3:1-5   ><000'> + ><000'> + ><000'>   Luke 11:5-13
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, 10 September 2022.
Remind us, 
O Lord Jesus Christ,
that "while the world changes,
the cross stands firm",
that you alone, 
Jesus Christ
is our salvation
and way to perfection
as the Carthusians
had held for almost 
a thousand years.
Like St. Bruno
their founder and father,
let us "seek God 
assiduously
to find God promptly
and to possess God
fully."

“And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks the door, the door will be opened.”

Luke 11:9-10
Stop our foolishness,
our being stupid like the
Galatians as St. Paul
called them in the first reading:
prayer is not an ATM
where we go to get cash
we need nor an apps
when we can just seek,
find and have whatever
we desire and need;
PRAYER IS EMPTINESS.
Teach us Jesus 
to lay ourselves bare,
to strip ourselves
naked before you;
teach us to ask for YOU,
to seek YOU,
and to enter YOU.
How foolish we
have become
that we have been
misleading people
from you because 
we teach wrongly
about prayer that
is centered on us
and our needs and
desires, making God
a Santa Claus
or even a genie.
Make us persevere
in emptying ourselves
of our pride
to be filled with your 
humility and love,
to be an indwelling
of the Holy Spirit
so that we become more
like you, Jesus,
fulfilled and at peace.
Amen.

Prayer for balance in life

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Memorial of St. Francis of Assisi, Religious, 04 October 2022
Galatians 1:13-24   ><000'> + <'000><   Luke 10:38-42
Photo by Fr. Gerry Pascual, bronze statue of St. Francis in Assisi, Italy, 2021.
Lord Jesus Christ:
While I am so eager to
recite the prayer for peace
of your blessed St. Francis of Assisi
today being his Memorial,
thank you for making me realize
in your words today that
before St. Francis was recognized
for his works that balanced
everything in creation,
help me first achieve balance in
myself in prayer.

The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

Luke 10:41-42
Photo by Fr. Gerry Pascual of the fresco at the Assisi Basilica, Italy, 2021.
Let me grow closer to you first,
Lord Jesus Christ by loving you
among the poor and suffering, 
by spending precious moments 
under your Cross on bended knees
like St. Francis.

Let me grow closer to you first,
Lord Jesus Christ by loving you 
as I value life more than ever in this
age of materialism, by making known to
everyone the value of every person,
the value of human life especially
at its weakest stages of pregnancy and 
infancy like St. Francis who set up the
first Nativity scene at Grecchio.

Let me grow closer to you first,
Lord Jesus Christ by loving you
in deep prayers like St. Francis who 
befriended even Death he had called 
"cousin" in his beautiful Canticle of the Sun.  
Lord Jesus Christ,
long before St. Francis came
and all the other saints, you have
shown us personally that prayer is
life's primary balancer,
equalizer; like St. Paul in the first
reading, may we personally feel
your coming to us in prayers
and moments of contemplation and
meditation because the more we become
active in life, the more we need to be 
contemplative; balance in life happens
when the more we pray, the more we work;
and, as we work more, let us pray more too!
Photo by Fr. Gerry Pascual, detail of fresco with St. Francis at the Basilica of Assisi, Italy, 2021.
Most of all,
through the example of
St. Francis of Assisi,
let us handle life with prayer:
may we study hard, 
work harder, 
and 
pray hardest!
Amen.
Photo by Arch. Philip Santiago, Basilica of St. Francis, Assisi, Italy, September 2018.

Passion, not efficiency

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the Twenty-Seventh Week of Ordinary Time, Year II, 03 October 2022
Galatians 1:6-12   ><000'> + ><000'> + ><000'>   Luke 10:25-37
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, 10 September 2022.
Praise and glory
to you, O God our loving Father!
Thank you for this great
Monday, the first working
day of October!
Stir into flame your gift
to me, dear God, (2 Tim. 1:6),
fill me with zest 
fill me with passion
fill me with life
to forge on amid all
the difficulties and trials
this day
this week
may bring to me.
Like the zeal 
and enthusiasm
of St. Paul,
let me be firm
in asserting your 
Good News of salvation
in Christ Jesus:
"If I were still trying 
to please people, 
I would not be a slave
of Christ" (Galatians 1:10c).
Keep me faithful to you,
Lord, and stop me from
pretending somebody
else, impressing people
by claiming to be your
disciple in all of its outward
signs without your Cross.

Keep me faithful to you,
Lord and stop me from 
seeking attention,
perks and privileges
to be famous by claiming
to be your disciple but
afraid to suffer, afraid of 
losing, afraid of failures.

Keep me faithful to you,
Lord, not to the cultic 
signs and symbols we have
developed in deepening our
faith in you but, like the
priest and the Levite in 
your parable today, 
have totally disregarded 
the wounded and sick, 
the abandoned and
lost, the sinful and poor.
Deepen my faith,
strengthen my faith
to have passion in doing
your works, Lord; 
forgive me, Jesus,
when I think and see more
of efficiency and programs
without meeting and
experiencing persons,
building relationships
in you, with you, and
through you.
Amen.

Mary, our model disciple, companion in the mission

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, 15 September 2022
Hebrews 5:7-9     ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*>     John 19:25-27
“Mater Dolorosa” also known as “Blue Madonna” (1616) by Carlo Dolci. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.
A day after celebrating
the Feast of the Exaltation 
of the Cross, you remind us today
dear Jesus of your most wonderful
gift to us, a companion and a model in
discipleship, Mary your Mother.
Being the first disciple,
Mary was the first to receive
and welcome you at your Annunciation, 
the first to truly believe in you when she 
immediately told you how the newly-wed
couple ran out of wine at Cana, 
and the first to remain in you at the foot 
of the Cross; there at the Cross as your
Sorrowful Mother, Mary taught us the most
important aspect of discipleship:  intimacy 
in you and with you in prayer.

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

John 19:25-27
As I prayed on this memorial of 
Our Lady of Sorrows, I wondered what
was your Mother Mary was doing there
at the foot of your Cross, Lord Jesus? 
More than the tears and sorrow on her
face as portrayed in arts, 
all I can see and experience 
at her most lovely face, O Lord,
is a disciple so absorbed in prayer,
so united and close with you!
How sad, dear Jesus, that many
of us have forgotten this very
important aspect of discipleship
your Mother had shown us, 
a life centered on prayer;
more than reciting prayers,
it is residing in you, Jesus!
Teach us, dear Jesus,
to be like Mary, to truly take
her like the disciple you loved
of being intimate with you and the
Father in prayers; her standing at the
foot of your Cross did not simply happen
at the spur of the moment; it was the highest
moment of her long periods of time spent in
prayers, of communing with you and in you;
many times, we only come to you when we are
standing at your Cross, when trials and 
difficulties happen but when everything is
going well, we hardly remembered you nor be
with you at prayer.
All her life, 
Mary lived her life in 
prayer in you and with you
dear Jesus; when the Pentecost
happened, she was praying 
with your disciples at the Upper 
Room awaiting the coming of the
Holy Spirit; teach us, Lord Jesus,
that discipleship is essentially
prayer; whatever we do, 
it is always borne out of prayer.
Our Lady of Sorrows,
pray for us your children,
especially your priests who are
supposed to be disciples too of
your Son to immerse ourselves
in prayer first of all because before 
all else came, there was Jesus Christ
who came first calling us,
sending us on a mission to 
proclaim the good news to everyone.
Amen.

Being transformed in Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, 14 September 2022
Number 21:4-9 ><}}}*> Philippians ><}}}*> John 3:13-17
Photo by Mr. Gelo Nicolas Carpio, January 2020.
With their patience worn out by the journey,
the people complained against God and Moses
(Numbers 21:4).
God our loving Father,
grant us patience and
perseverance in this journey
of life, to never complain against
you when things get difficult
and dark, or uncertain sometimes; 
open our minds and 
our hearts to find you,
to see you in Christ Jesus
who had come to accompany us
in this journey of life so we may be
transformed into better persons
who are more loving,
more kind, 
and more like you, 
our dear Father.
Teach us, dear God,
to imitate Jesus in emptying
ourselves in order to be filled
with your Spirit so that we may 
realize that the path to true
greatness, to exaltation is 
opposite the direction of the world
of adulations and affirmations,
ease and comforts  
but through the Cross to 
encounter Christ deep down
inside in all my weaknesses
and sins and vulnerabilities
because transformation happens
only from within. 

Teach us, dear God,
to imitate Jesus in emptying
ourselves to have a space for others
who are like us, weak and lost,
needing you and one another 
to rise as better persons by 
forming a community, of establishing
relationships that acknowledge you
truly as the Emmanuel, God-with-us;
how can we be raised up, O Lord, 
if we are all "up" in our false selves,
false relationships and false securities?
Jesus said to Nicodemus,
"No one has gone up to heaven
except the one who has come down 
from heaven, the Son of Man.
For God so loved the world
that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him
might not perish but might have
eternal life" (John 3:13,16).
Empty us. dear Jesus,
of our pride and fill us
with your humility, justice
and love by joyfully 
taking our cross
and being one 
with you in your people.
Amen.

Conviction & Commitment to Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C, 04 September 2022
Wisdom 9:13-18 ><}}}}*> Philemon 9-10 ><}}}}*> Luke 14:25-33
Photo by Mr. Lorenzo Atienza, 12 June 2019, Malolos Cathedral Basilica.

One of the most moving parts of the rite of ordination to the priesthood as well at profession of vows by nuns is when they prostrate in front of the church altar to signify their total conviction and commitment to the person of Jesus Christ.

What a beautiful image of the nature and essence of discipleship requiring great sacrifices to faithfully persevere to the end in Jesus who is always the highest priority of our lives, not only of priests and religious but lay people alike for we are all called to a life of holiness.

We find this conviction and commitment to Jesus in Paul’s own experience while in prison when the slave of his friend Philemon named Onesimus fled to seek refuge in him and eventually converted into Christianity.


Conformity and fidelity to the gospel 
is beyond morality 
because it is an adherence 
to the person of Jesus Christ.

It must have been a difficult situation for Paul if found harboring a runaway slave, Onesimus, who in turn could face death as punishment for his act. Remember that slavery was normal during Paul’s time and even if he did not preach directly against its institution, here in this short powerful letter of just 25 verses he planted the seeds for its destruction when he stressed that Onesimus is Philemon’s “brother in the Lord”.

Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD at Katmon Harbor nature Sanctuary, Infanta, Quezon, 29 August 2022.

Perhaps this is why he was away from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a brother, beloved especially to me, but even more so to you, as a man and in the Lord. So if you regard me as a partner, welcome him as you would me.

Philemon 15-17

Many times in life, we realize that fidelity to the gospel can be entirely unreasonable like when we have to be like Philemon whom Paul had asked to believe in the sincerity of the conversion of Onesimus his slave when it seemed to be more of convenience or merely circumstantial. Most of all, how could we receive another as a “beloved brother in the Lord” to whom we owe nothing at all when in fact who had hurt us in the first place! Conformity and fidelity to the gospel is beyond morality because it is an adherence to the person of Jesus Christ, of our communion with him and in him as his disciples.

Are we willing to go that far, of leaving everything behind, even our loved ones, our very selves for Jesus like what the gospel asks us today?

Great crowds were traveling with Jesus, and he turned and addressed them, “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”

Luke 14:25-27
Photo by author, Stations of the Cross, Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Chapel, SM Grand Central, Caloocan City, June 2022.

It is already September and we have only about 12 weeks to go before closing this liturgical year to prepare for Christmas with the Advent Season. Jesus is fast approaching Jerusalem and great crowds were already following him.

However, Jesus was very much aware too of the mixed crowd following him where many were simply curious, some were interested, still searching for more proofs perhaps while a few of them were already committed.

How about us today?

See how Luke presented Jesus resolutely journeying to Jerusalem when he turned to face the crowd that includes us today to issue two important lessons about discipleship, hating those dearest to us including our very selves and, second, carrying our cross.


There comes a time in our lives 
when the only explanation, 
the only justification, 
and the only reason 
why we do something unthinkable 
even foolish is because of Jesus Christ. 

Jesus is not asking us to literally hate our family and friends or even our very selves; the word hate in this passage refers more to action than emotion, of doing something that others would surely hate like when we do not give in to their requests to support them in a lie or something not fair and just, or simply sinful and evil. We have experienced how it is actually more difficult to being good Christians doing God’s will, doing what is right and good that are exactly not what our family and friends are doing and would want us to also do. And that is why, when we do not go with them and their whims and caprices, they think we “hate” them.

Following Jesus means putting him first always, even above our loved ones that they always misinterpret as our lack of love and concern for them.

But more difficult than that is hating our very selves, doing a Philemon for the many Onesimus in our lives. There comes a time in our lives when the only explanation, the only justification, and the only reason why we do something unthinkable even foolish is because of Jesus Christ. And that is when we have to hate our selves like when we forgo vengeance, let go of some debts, forget all about technicalities and legalities because we love Jesus. It is really foolish by world standards that sometimes one comes to hate one’s self too for letting go and letting God.

Photo by author, detail of Seventh Station of the Cross in the Parish of San Ildefonso, Tanay, Rizal with a man wearing shades, January 2021.

Meanwhile, to carry one’s cross is more than patiently accepting our human conditions of suffering and sickness, weakness and trials in life. This understanding of carrying one’s cross implies passivity as if the difficulty we are into is something that just happened and fell on our lap or shoulder that we simply have to accept them in the name of Christ.

That is very good and highly commendable but, Jesus wants a more active participation from us. To carry one’s cross is to voluntarily choose and accept a difficulty in life as a direct consequence of our conviction in and commitment to Jesus Christ our Lord and Teacher!

This is the reason Jesus presented us with two parables after sounding his call to discipleship, that one of building a tower and of a general going to war. The two men in these parables had to calculate the cost of their efforts, of how much they have to sacrifice and give to be successful in their endeavors lest they become laughing stocks in the community. The same is true with each one of us today as disciples of Jesus.

“In the same way, anyone of you who does not renounce his possession cannot be my disciple.”

Luke 14:33

Of course, Jesus gives us the grace to become good disciples but grace builds on nature; how much are we willing to sacrifice, to renounce even our very selves to truly follow Jesus through and through?

Kaya mo ba?

Photo from gettyimages.com.

Discipleship in Christ is being devoted to him in the same manner he is devoted to the Father toward whom he is drawing us. There is no other Way but Jesus alone. Therefore, to be his disciple means to prefer nothing to Christ who is our very life, our being, our end.

There is no room for mediocrity in being his disciple. We have seen in history and in our very lives how superficial discipleship had caused more damages to the Church and to each one of us when we fail to be committed to our calls. Despite our long years of seminary formation, many of us priests miserably fail in our discipleship with the many scandals that plague the Church these days, not to mention the endless complaints by people of how their pastors do not prepare homilies nor celebrate Mass daily and worst, refuse to answer sick calls! On the other hand, many families and most especially children have been destroyed by the separations of many couples who have refused to learn of letting go of themselves to let God work in their relationships. Then, there are the siblings who fight simply because they cannot let go of their principles and egos and wealth that matter most to them than their brother or sister, or even parents!

This Sunday, let us pray for God’s counsels, for the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit as expressed in the first reading from the Book of Wisdom so we may not simply know what is good but most of all lead holy lives by experiencing God daily as his disciples. Amen.

Have a blessed week ahead.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com