The sins of others we always see

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the Twelfth Week of Ordinary Time, 20 June 2022
2 Kings 17:5-8, 13-15, 18   ><)))*> + ><)))*> + ><)))*>   Matthew 7:1-5
Photo by Jenna Hamra on Pexels.com
Help up with your right hand, 
O Lord, and answer us.
(Responsorial Psalm today.)
Help us, dear Father,
to see more our many sins
than the tiny sins of others;
Help us, dear Father,
to control our lips in
being so quick to judge
and speak so much of others;
Help us, dear Father,
to change our ways and
leave our sins.
So many times in life
when bad things happen to
us, we look on others to
blame, including you,
O Lord, without looking 
first into our very selves
at how we have indulged
in evil and sins that started 
so small that we have dismissed
as simple and nothing at all.
Forgive us, Father,
in always blaming others
without ever looking into
our hearts and ways 
that have been so disordered
and strayed from your paths
of love and justice, mercy
and kindness, humility and 
sincerity.  Amen.

The wages of sin

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the Eleventh Week of Ordinary Time, 14 June 2022
1 Kings 21:17-29   ><))))*> + ><))))*> + ><))))*>   Matthew 5:43-48
Photo by author, Ubihan Island, Meycauayan, Bulacan, 31 December 2021.
"For the wages of sin
is death;but the gift of God
is eternal life through 
Jesus Christ " (Romans 6:23).
Although your words today,
dear God are not from St. Paul,
his words to the Romans immediately
came to me as I prayed on the sins of
King Ahab and his queen Jezebel
in the first reading.
Though you have forgiven Ahab for
his sins after he had confessed 
having caused the death of Naboth
to have his vineyard, you never took back'
his punishments which fell upon his whole
family line.
Although I feel it a bit unfair,
your Son's teachings in the gospel
cleared all questions in me. 

Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that is was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.”

Matthew 5:43-45
Yes, your words O God are so
difficult to comprehend, even insane
when we come to think about them;
but the more I dwell on your words,
the more I try to follow you in Jesus Christ,
the more I realize you are not only holy but
also practical.
Holiness is being practical.
Staying holy, being good, being loving
and forgiving are the most practical
and sanest things to do:  so often, life
becomes miserable for us because of 
our own making, of our wrong choices 
to do what is sinful, what is unjust,
what is wrong.
In the case of Ahab and Jezebel, there were
the clear results of death due to sin
because sin begets sin; unless a sin is
rectified, it will destroy every person
perpetuating it.
And that is why we have to love our enemies;
it is for practical reasons too because to return evil
for evil increases evil and sin.
Only love can stop sin and all the follies
of mankind.
Today, dear God, help me to bring more
love in this world, to bring more peace
and mercy to stop the spread of evil and
sin further.  Amen.

Lent calls us to be free

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Fifth Week of Lent, 06 April 2022
Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95   <'((((>< + ><))))'>   John 8:31-42
Photo by author, sunrise at Camp John Hay, Baguio City, 2018.
Dear God our Father:
I have heard it so often
from your Son Jesus Christ
that "the truth will set you free"
but I must admit how I feel 
too far from that reality of
being truly free.
So many times in my life, despite
my strong profession of being free
like the Pharisees asserting 
to Jesus they have never been
"enslaved to anyone", that is really
when I am enslaved - to sin, to ego,
to the world, to my past especially
my hurts and pains, and to a lot of
other people expecting a lot from me, 
demanding so much from me 
that, ironically and funnily,  
I work so hard to please and fulfill
without realizing how I am in fact
enslaved!  

Jesus then said to those Jews who believed in him, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will become free’?”

John 8:31-33
To be free, O God, 
is to belong to you alone, 
our loving and eternal Father;
from the very start, Jesus had
always professed his belonging to
you like when he was found by
his parents in the temple when he
told them "why are you looking for me, 
don't you know I should be in my 
Father's house?"; during his ministry, 
he repeatedly declared his oneness with you;
to be free, therefore, is to owe nothing
to anyone at all but to you alone.
It is when I feel I owe others when I
begin to cheat and lie, when I sin
because I cannot express freely and
truly what is in me - YOU whom I 
disown and betray always.
Give me, O Lord, the courage to be
my true self like Shadrach, Meshach,
and Abednego who boldly declared
to King Nebuchadnezzar they would
rather be thrown into the fiery furnace
than worship false gods; true freedom is
when we are able to accept death gladly
and wholeheartedly because that is when
nothing and no one holds us back;
we are truly free when we are able to 
express our deepest longing and desires
in life which is to finally be one with our
source and end - YOU!
In these remaining days of Lent,
grant us dear Father through Jesus
the grace to shed off the many layers 
of false freedom we convince ourselves
to have so that we may finally be free
to love you and follow you, free to be our
true selves as your beloved children.
Amen.

That sin called “adultery”

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the Fifth Week of Lent, 04 April 2022
Daniel 13:41-62   <*(((>< + ><)))*>   John 8:12-20
Photo by author, 2019.
For the second straight day,
we hear the story of adultery:
yesterday the woman was guilty,
today the woman is accused wrongly
but in both instances, your justice
and kindness prevailed, O God our Father!
But what is really with adultery 
that it is a favorite sin and topic in
your Sacred Scriptures, dear Lord?
More than its nature of infidelity, 
adultery also speaks deeply of our 
broken relationships with women:
like those two old men accusing Susana
wrongly of having a tryst with another man,
so often we have forgotten, even refused
to recognize adultery involves another man,
not just the woman.
Open our eyes, Father, especially the
"chauvinist pigs" and misogynists among us;
may the light of Jesus Christ your Son
enlighten the darkness within us and
enable us to see "where we came from" 
and "where we are going" so that we 
stop accusing and judging each other
of sins we ourselves are guilty too.

“You judge by appearances, but I do not judge anyone. And even if I should judge, my judgment is valid, because I am not alone, but it is I and the Father who sent me. Even in your law it is written that the testimony of two men can be verified. I testify on my behalf and so does the Father who sent me.”

John 8:15-18
How funny, dear God,
that the root of this word
adultery means to pollute
or defile when in fact, that is
also the root of our sinfulness
when we defile others because
we have defiled our very selves
first when we turn away from you
as our origin and destination.
Amen.

The joy of meeting God

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Fifth Sunday in Lent-C, 03 April 2022
Isaiah 43:16-21 ><}}}*> Philippians 3:8-14 ><}}}*> John 8:1-11
Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte, Atok, Benguet, 20 February 2022.

From the joy of coming home to the Father last Sunday in the parable of the merciful father, we now celebrate the joy of meeting God in Jesus Christ in the story of the woman caught in adultery.

We are now into the final week of Lent, getting closer to the innermost room of the Father’s house but this time with John as our guide as we skip Luke’s gospel. The shift is hardly noticeable as the story of the woman caught in adultery seamlessly jibe with Luke’s parable last Sunday. The Pharisees and scribes are again present but this time more bold in their opposition to Jesus.

From pinterest.com.

Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle. They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger.

John 8:3-6

Only John records this story of the woman caught in adultery but one can clearly recognize its similar tone and perspective with the parable last Sunday that only Luke had, the parable of the merciful father, more known as parable of the prodigal son. Both stories tell us the gospel of God’s mercy proclaimed in words and in deeds by our Lord Jesus Christ.

But what makes this story of the woman caught in adultery a stand out is its simplicity amidst the profound texts by John often identified as the beloved disciple. He was able to compact in few words and simple gestures the many realities in life we forget and take for granted.

As I prayed over this scene, one word persisted in my reflections: kindness.

Photo by author, 2018, Davao City.
The kindness of God.

The word “kind” is from kin or kindred as in family or tribe. When we say a person is kind, we mean that person treats us as one of his family, of his same kind, that he deals with us like we are not “others” or iba as we say in Filipino (hindi ka naman iba).

How sad that at the start of this pandemic in 2020, that was when all news and stories spread of how we have become so unkind with each other especially the poor, the sick and the old, children and women treated unkindly like Mang Dodong of Caloocan.

How sad that in our country, it has become a sin, an error or a failure to be poor and disadvantaged that even the poor and disadvantaged look down at each other, too! There is always that feeling among us that we are different, that we are not of the same kind that it has become so difficult to find kindness among everybody. We have forgotten we are all human, imperfect and sinful but also beloved children of God.

This is what the Sunday gospel is telling us: the woman caught in adultery is not the only sinner in this scene. John described her as “caught in adultery”, not merely an “adulteress” to show that she was in fact caught into adultery. It is a serious sin but there’s more to be caught in that act than meets the eyes. Here, there is no mention about the woman’s “lover”.

Like in our gospel last Sunday, we have the Pharisees and scribes present again, forgetting their very roles in the story itself. Recall that Jesus told the parable of the merciful father for them last Sunday to remind them that they were both the prodigal son and elder son. And that included us today, of course. Today, they are back and we wonder what were the evidence they have against that woman. Where were they while the woman was committing the sin of adultery? Were they peeping toms? Or worst, have they had some trysts with her too in the past?

Both the woman caught in adultery and her accusers, the Pharisees and the scribes stand for us all – we are sinners. We have all sinned and how dare are we to act like the Pharisees and scribes pretending to be different from others, to be so clean and pure when deep inside us are also rotten with sins that could even be worst than the people we accuse.

This is the reason why Jesus bent twice to show everyone how God had chosen to go down to us, to be like us in everything except sin so we can see again everyone as our kin, our same kind as children of the Father.

But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders. So he was left alone with the woman before him.

John 8:7-9
Photo by news.ag.org, Jesus writing on the sand in the story of the woman caught in adultery.
Bending to washing of feet to dying on Cross.

In bending down twice, Jesus showed everyone – the accused and the accusers – the kindness of God, his being our kin, his being one of us even if he is Divine. To bend down is to go down, like Jesus coming down from heaven, being born as a child to show us that the path back to God is in being human which is underscored by Matthew in his genealogy of Jesus Christ at the start of his Gospel which is proclaimed every December 17 and December 24 Christmas Eve.

Here in this scene we are reminded by his bending as an imagery of the mystery of Incarnation just like his coming down to Jordan River at his baptism by John.

This bending of Jesus will happen again on Holy Thursday when he washed the feet of his apostles where he gave his commandment to love (hence, it is called as Maundy Thursday, from Latin mandatum for commandment). It will reach its highest point when he bent lowest on Good Friday by offering himself on the Cross for us all out of his immense love and mercy. And kindness.

That is the greatest expression of God’s love and mercy, in his kindness, in his becoming one of us in Jesus Christ who took upon himself our sins so we may be clean again and be able to rise and stand with dignity and honor as beloved children of the Father.

This is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s words in the first reading that God is doing something new for us.

Jesus is not telling us to stop fighting sin and evil, to cease from pursuing criminals and people who have committed crimes and grave sins against us and others. The fight goes on but should always be tempered with being humane.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The beautiful story of how Jesus resolved the case against the woman caught committing adultery assures us of the endless mercies of God to us sinners, not a passport to sin. See how Jesus recognized the sinfulness of the woman when he told her, go and sin no more – the most humane reprimand perhaps in history.

It is only in our being kind like Jesus that we become truly human and humane.

According to John, the first to leave the site after Jesus challenged them to cast the first stone were the elders that may stand for having wisdom, not necessarily being aged. The first to leave the site were the wise, those who must have realized their own sinfulness and saw how gravely wrong they were in being so harsh with the woman.

Many times in life, it is difficult to be kind in this unkind world because we have stopped seeing our commonality, our shared humanity, our links with one another, our relationships. We have become so competitive that we always want to be distinct from everyone to the point that we have ceased becoming humans, playing gods most of the time.

Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte in Atok, Benguet, 2019.

The grace of this final week of Lent is the kindness of God that remains with everyone, even with the most harsh among us, the most sinful. Jesus is inviting us to bend down with him, see him even down below when we are in sins. He is not condemning us nor hurting us with words nor actions. Ever the most humble and gentle of all, our most kind Lord Jesus is telling us today to take up his yoke and learn from him, always kind with everyone.

And that begins with our very selves. Many times, we cannot be kind with others because in the first place we are so unkind with our very selves. We cannot see our true selves that we compete within ourselves, that we should be somebody else.

What a wonderful gift to be our true selves again and still loved by God.

Let us heed Paul’s call in the second reading: “forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead. I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14).

Have a blessed week ahead, be kind to yourself first of all. Amen.

Standing up for Jesus, with Jesus

Homily at the Baccalaureate Mass by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Chaplain, Our Lady of Fatima University, Valenzuela City
Friday in the Fourth Week of Lent, 01 April 2022
Wisdom 2:1, 12-22   <*{{{{>< + ><}}}}*>   John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30
Photos by ANGELA WEISS/AFP | Robyn Beck/AFP from aleteia.org, 28 March 2022.

Congratulations, dear graduates of 2022 – our first batch to finally have a face-to-face graduation after two years in the COVID-19 pandemic!

Graduation is a high moment in life, specially at this time of the pandemic. You are a rare one among the rest. And so, like Mr. Denzel Washington, let me remind you my dear graduates and your families too that …

"At your highest moment, be careful, 
that's when the devil comes for you."
Photo from wikipediacommons.org.

Very true, my dear graduates.

What is very striking (no pun intended) is that it came from a celebrity star in Hollywood which is the bastion of everything worldly, and contrary to anything spiritual. So nice indeed of Mr. Washington who is not only a very fine actor but also a deeply spiritual person.

Imitate him.

After your graduation, there will still be more high moments coming into your life, so be very, very careful because the devil will never stop tempting you in order to destroy your life and crush your dreams

In your four or more years of studies and stay here at Our Lady of Fatima University, you must have felt in various ways the temptations and misleadings by the devil, dividing your mind, blinding your sight, telling you with so many seemingly valid reasons why you should just stop and go home, that nothing good will happen in this frustrating online classes.

Like in our first reading today, you must have felt many times telling yourself what the author of the Book of Wisdom experienced:

The wicked said among themselves, thinking not aright: “Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training. He professes to have knowledge of God and styles himself a child of the Lord. Let us see whether his words be true; let us find out what will happen to him. Let us condemn him to a shameful death; for according to his own words, God will take care of him.”

Wisdom 2:1, 13, 17, 20
Photo by author, Camp John Hay, Baguio City, 2019.

Praise God and congratulate yourselves for a job well done, dear graduates. You have passed the tests of your professors and teachers, and most especially overcome the temptations of the devil to destroy your beautiful plans of “rising to the top”, of becoming a doctor or a nurse or a medtech or a teacher or a seafarer.

Today we thank God in this Holy Mass that you have remained faithful to him, standing by his side in Jesus Christ at the Cross of sufferings and trials. Two things I wish to share with you, batch 2022 of Our Lady of Fatima University to avoid the devil from destroying you.

First is to always stand and witness the truth of God who loves us so much even if we believe more in ourselves, in our science and technology. How unfortunate that despite the world’s sophistications and advancements in the sciences, we still have wars going on, we still have abuses in words and in deed happening right in front of us like that slapping incident at the Oscars. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. said in a speech at the beginning of the American involvement at the Vietnam War in the 1960’s that “Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.”

Always stand for what is true which is our motto, Veritas.

Truth is not just an object but also a subject, a person when Jesus Christ said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (Jn.14:6). This we find when we examine the origin of the word “true” which came from the Anglo-Saxon “treowe” for “tree” that connotes something firm. And that is what is always true, firm and unchanging, never flimsy like lies and falsehoods. Like the tree, truth cannot be shaken nor moved for it will always be the same.

It is very interesting that from the Anglo-Saxon word “treowe” for tree came also its related word “trust” because where there is truth, there is always trust which connotes relationship. That is why the concept of “family tree” came also from the Anglo-Saxons who saw their family like a tree – a firm tree have deep roots with many connections or links. Wherever there is truth, there is also trust and relationships that lead to community borne out of commonality and sameness. Very close to this concept is the Latin genus from which came generation and gender that both refer to being of one or the same kind. Like trust related to true, the word related with gender and generation is generosity which is the act of giving that comes from knowledge of belonging and intimacy.

Hence, a truthful person is always a generous one, someone who can be trusted because he/she is always one with others. Never forget your beloved alma mater, Our Lady of Fatima University, your mentors and professors, your classmates and friends with whom you all shared the truth, whom you have trusted and shared common passion and brought you to graduation day.

At your highest moment in life, be careful, stand for what is true, think of others, be generous with them and most of all, stand for God by standing with Jesus at the foot of his Cross.

Photo by author, Lent 2019.

Second, to keep you away from the devil in your high moments in life after your graduation, do not forget the other motto of our dearest alma mater, misericordia, mercy and compassion. From two Latin words, miseor and cor that literally mean to move the heart, mercy is more than a feeling but something that leads also into a concrete action. As I have told you in some of my talks, the Jews have that concepts of mercy of the heart and mercy of the hand that must always go together. It is not enough to feel the pain of another person but that feeling moves you to do something to ease that person’s pain.

One problem in our world today is how people have absolutized truth, always insisting on what they believe as true even in many occasions what they believe is not true at all. Nonetheless, let us remember that only God is absolute. We have realized and experienced in the past that truth can be so painful. To witness the truth of God is to be merciful and compassionate by enabling others to be liberated from their painful realities in life – not to bury and cement them in their sad predicament.

Being merciful, being compassionate in this time is to move away from the way of the world that is based on fame and power, always competing with somebody else for more likes and followers. To be merciful like God is to find the enormous giftedness we have that must be shared with those who have less in life, with those who suffer most, with those who cry in pain in silence.

This coming Sunday we shall the story of the woman caught in adultery, at how Jesus liberated the sinful woman from her miserable state in life made worst by the public shaming her, wanting to condemn her in public. See the beautiful image of Jesus bending down, not looking at the woman, letting her experience God’s mercy, offering her a chance to become better.

In today’s gospel, Jesus dared to speak the truth of God despite threats to his life because that mission was very clear to him.

As you embark on a new phase in life with more high moments as well as more challenges, more pains and hurts, never give the devil a chance to destroy you and your lives. Stay close to Jesus Christ. Stand with Jesus at the foot of his Cross, especially when everybody feels to be standing more on their own pedestals of fame and glory founded on shaky grounds. The path to higher moments in life with Jesus and in Jesus is to join him in his Cross, of going down in love and humility.

During these pandemic years, God has remained true and merciful with you, with everyone, with us, staying with us and never leaving us in our lowest moments. Let us do the same with many others losing hope and meaning in life in this time of the pandemic by sharing God’s truth and mercy so that others may experience some joy in life. Amen.

From Our Lady of Fatima University/FB.

Our golden calf

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Fourth Week of Lent, 31 March 2022
Exodus 32:7-14   <*[[[[>< + ><]]]]*>   John 5:31-47
Image from chabad.org
Forgive us, O God our Father
for being so quick to forget you,
quick to turn away from you,
quick to create our own god,
our golden calf that suits our 
belief on who you must be,
not on who you really are.
Forgive us, O God our Father,
in always making our own gods
when we refuse to wait for you,
when we are in a hurry, and most
specially when we avoid pains and
sufferings.
Forgive us, O God our Father,
for being thankless, for being
ungrateful to all your blessings
that come our way without us 
even recognizing these for we are
so focused with our selves.
Teach us to be like Moses before you,
a prefiguration of Christ, mediating
for others, aware of your countless
gifts and most especially of your
immense love and mercy that we may 
point and lead people to you alone.
Amen.

“Do you want to be well?”

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the Fourth Week of Lent, 29 March 2022
Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12 <'[[[[>< + ><]]]]'>   John 5:1-16
Photo from stisidoreparish.org program for baptism.
"Do you want to be well?"
(John 5:6).
How blessed was that sick man
at the Sheep Gate pool called
Bethesda or "house of mercy":
like him, we all want to be well and
healed of our ailments not only in
body but also in mind, heart, and
soul; but, alas, nobody would help
us.
Thank you dear Jesus in passing by,
in coming to our lives daily to heal us,
to wash us of our sins; help us to not 
sin anymore, to match our physical
wholeness with spiritual wholeness.
"Do you want to be well?"
(John 5:6).
Yes, dear Jesus!
Have mercy on us, poor sinners;
heal us and make us well from our blindness 
that prevent us from seeing you and 
from recognizing you as our Savior.
"Do you want to be well?"
(John 5:6).
Yes, dear Jesus, we want to be well
and healed from our paralysis that
prevent us from following you, from
doing your work and from leading 
others to you, the only way, truth,
and life in this world.  
Let us remain in you, dear Jesus;
like the prophet Ezekiel, may we realize
that for as long as we are with you like
the plants and trees by the side of the river,
we shall always be fully alive, bearing fruits,
even abloom despite the drought 
and summer.  Amen.

Lent is radical

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the Second Week of Lent, 14 March 2022
Daniel 9:4-10   <*(((>< + ><)))*>   Luke 6:36-38
Photo by author, Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, QC, 2017.
Praise and glory to you, 
O God Our Father,  
despite our sinfulness 
you continue to bless us!

In this season of Lent
teach us the true meaning 
of penance by getting into 
the root of our sinfulness, 
of being radical, shamefaced
in fact like Daniel by wholeheartedly
admitting our wickedness in
rebelling and departing from your side, Lord:

“Lord, great and awesome God, you who keep your merciful covenant toward those who love you and observe your commandments! We have sinned, been wicked and done evil; we have rebelled and departed from your commandments and your laws. We have not obeyed your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name ton our kings, our princes, our fathers, and all the people of the land. Justice, O Lord, is on your side; we are shamefaced ever to this day like our kings, our princes, and our fathers, for having sinned against you.

Daniel 9:4-7, 8
Indeed, we are shamefaced, 
O Lord, even to this day 
for our many sins against you 
when we neglected you 
in our brothers and sisters in need, 
unmindful of their great sufferings 
not only for their physical needs 
but most especially for their emotional 
and spiritual needs; we are shamefaced,
 O Lord in thinking the good times 
would never end, when we lived in excesses, 
bloating our egos as if we were gods.
Help us to return to you, 
O God through Jesus Christ
your Son by turning our hearts 
back to you, by going into the very
roots of our sins so that when we
have understood our sins, we may
no longer fall into its traps as we
get closer to you, becoming holy
and merciful like you.  
Amen.

Praying for someone with “anything against us”

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the First Week of Lent, 11 March 2022
Ezekiel 18:21-28   <'[[[[>< + ><]]]]'>   Matthew 5:20-26
Photo by author, Chapel of the Holy Family, Sacred Heart Novitiate, 2017.
You, O God,
are indeed so good and loving!  
How true is our Responsorial Psalm 
as we close Lent’s first week, 
“If you, O Lord, mark iniquities, 
who can stand?” because nothing 
can be hidden from you; 
yet, so many times you pretend like 
a dumb - “nagtatanga- tangahan" po kayo - 
as if not knowing our sins and evil 
just because you love us like when 
Jesus said in the gospel, 
“if you bring your gift to the altar, 
and there recall that your brother 
has anything against you, 
leave your gift there at the altar, 
go first and be reconciled with your brother, 
and then come and offer your gift (Mt.5:23-24).”
When does 
a “brother has anything against us?”, Lord?
If you mean, dear Jesus,
that a brother/sister has something 
against us because of his/her wrongdoing, 
then we could never be able 
to offer anything at all to you
because we all have something 
against each other!  
But here, it is very clear, 
“a brother has anything against you” 
because we have done something wrong 
against somebody; the burden is on us 
that is why we are obliged, 
even ought to be 
“reconciled with him first then offer our gift” 
because we’re the guilty one.  
Forgive us, Jesus,
for always pretending to be 
the offended or aggrieved ones
when in fact, we are the offender,
the sinner who had done wrong 
to another that is why he/she
has anything against us".
We pray for those who have something
against us because of our own making,
of our own provocations; let us be real
with you, O God, to change our ways
beginning this Lent as you assure us
through Prophet Ezekiel, 
“When someone virtuous 
turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, 
and dies, it is because of the iniquity 
he committed that he must die.  
But if the wicked, turning from wickedness 
he has committed, does what is right and just, 
he shall preserve his life; 
since he has turned away from all the sins 
that he committed, he shall surely live, 
he shall not die (18:26-28).”
Amen.