Listening attentively, selectively

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Week XVI, Year I in Ordinary Time, 21 July 2021
Exodus 16:1-5, 9-15   ><]]]]'>  +  <'[[[[><   Matthew 13:1-9
Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2018.
Every day God, 
we pray to you
"Our Father in heaven
hallowed be thy name...
Give us each day
our daily bread"
without realizing the daily bread 
you give us that truly nourishes us:
your words of truth and of life
that became flesh in Jesus Christ.
On that day, Jesus went out of the house
and sat down by the sea.
Such large crowds gathered around him
that he got into a boat and sat down,
and the whole crowd stood along the shore.
And he spoke to them at length in parables.
(Matthew 13:1-3)
Thank you very much, dear God
for listening to our prayers,
in giving us the food we need
to nourish our bodies
and your words that sustain us
especially in these trying times.
May we hunger more
for this daily bread from heaven,
listening attentively,
fulfilling your words as you willed them so.
Then the Lord said to Moses,
"I will now rain down bread 
from heaven for you.
Each day the people are to go out
and gather their daily portion;
thus will I test them,
to see whether they follow
my instructions or not."
(Exodus 16:4)
But most of all, O God
teach us to be like you: to be more
selective in our listening,
to be more circumspect with what
to hear and process wherein 
we listen more on essential things 
that matter most than on trivial
and mundane words that are
divisive, preventing our growth
and maturity in our relationships.
If you would listen and act
on everything we say, especially 
our grumblings and complaints, 
no one among us would still be alive;
but you are kind and understanding,
unlike us who listen more on petty
than essential things said by others.
May we be like the good soil
that is open to listen and nurture
words that build and give life.  Amen.

God knows what is best

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, 15 July 2021
Exodus 3:13-20     ><)))*> + <*(((><     Matthew 11:28-30
Photo by author, Assumption Sabbath, Baguio City, January 2019.
Your words today, O Lord,
are very encouraging,
so reassuring in these days
when many are languishing
of having that feeling something 
is not right, unable to move
and make progress in life
and in one's self due to this pandemic.
Like your people in Egypt during 
the time of Moses,
we feel alone and abandoned,
trapped and imprisoned.
Therefore, we pray dear God,
that you awaken in us that courage
and deep trust in you
fill us with your very self
or "enthusiasm" from "en-theos"
to forge on in this life amid 
the many darkness and difficulties
we encounter right now
whether at home or at school,
in our office and community
in our country where we have so 
many pharaohs lording over us!
"Yet I know
that the king of Egypt will not
allow you to go unless he is forced.
I will stretch out my hand,
therefore,
and smite Egypt by doing all kinds
of wondrous deed there.
After that he will send you away."
(Exodus 3:19-20)
You really know what is best
for us, O God our loving Father!
Even before any problem happens
or trial comes to each of us,
you have already prepared us
a long time ago how we can handle
or deal with any crisis, even sending us
the right persons who can help us
to overcome every obstacle 
and difficulties that come our way.
Problem is we always turn away from you,
we always forget you.
Jesus said:
"Come to me,
all you who labor
and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you
and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble
of heart; and you will find rest
for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy,
and my burden light."
(Matthew 11:28-30)
Let us come to you,
dear Jesus, in all humility;
like St. Bonaventure whose 
memorial we celebrate today,
may we learn to balance
what we know and what we feel,
of what is in our mind and 
of what is in our heart
so we may follow the path 
to your mysteries of wisdom and love.
Amen.

Hospitality vs. Hostility

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Week XIV, Year I in Ordinary Time, 08 July 2021
Genesis 44:18-21, 23-29; 45:1-5  >>+<<   Matthew 10:7-15
Photo by Mr. Howie Severino, Taal Lake, Batangas, 2018.
It is the rainy season again,
God our loving Father
and we are awashed with news
of furies of nature:  floods and 
landslides including a restive
volcano in our midst at Taal.
How lovely sometimes to think
when nature is full of hospitality
with its beauty for all to see; but,
there are times when nature 
is more of hostility like an enemy
leading us to sadness and distress.
Hospitality and hostility
are extremes in our personality
one indicating maturity
the other a lack of self mastery
borne out of jealousy
causing so many pains and miseries. 
Come closer to me,
he told his brothers.
"I am your brother Joseph,
whom you once sold into Egypt.
But now do not be distressed,
and do not reproach yourselves
for having sold me here.
It was really for the sake of
saving lives that God sent me here
ahead of you."
(Genesis 45:4,5)

We pray, O Lord
for the hostilities among us
when we try to imprison one another
taking them hostage to our whims and  
selfishness like the brothers of Joseph
disregarding the value of the other person.
"Whatever town or village you enter,
look for a worthy person in it,
and stay there until you leave.
As you enter a house,
wish it peace.
If the house is worthy,
let your peace come upon it;
if not, let your peace return to you.
Whoever will not receive you
or listen to your words ---
go outside that house or town
and shake the dust from your feet."
(Matthew 10:11-14)
Teach us hospitality, dear God,
to welcome and accept each other
as a brother and a sister
in Jesus our Lord and Master
finding security in him alone
so we may proclaim his salvation.
In this time of the pandemic
may we find amid the crises
your image and likeness, O God
on the face of everyone so that
your "marvels may be done"
as we pray in the responsorial psalm. Amen.

Graduating in time of COVID-19: Being the right person in the right place at the right time

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 02 July 2021
Genesis 23:1-4, 19-24:1-8, 62-67   ><}}}'> + <'{{{>< Matthew 9:9-13

Congratulations, my dear Senior High School graduates of Our Lady of Fatima University Batch 2021. Yes, you hold the distinction of belonging to the first graduates of the pandemic who persevered, who were not daunted by COVID-19 that continues to plague us after more than a year of altering our lives.

Take pride in belonging to this batch because you have just proven you are the right people in the right time at the right place called by God to witness his truth and mercy, our university motto, “Veritas et Misericordia”.

Too often we pray God would send us the right person to become our friends and colleagues at work or project, or simply our co-journeyer in this life – perhaps lovers – without realizing we are in fact the right person being called and sent first by God in the right place, at the right time.

This was the experience of Matthew in our gospel today:

As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.

Matthew 9:9
“Calling of St. Matthew” painting by Caravaggio from en.wikipedia.org.

Let me tell you a beautiful story about the call of St. Matthew as depicted in a painting by the renowned artist named Caravaggio during the 1600’s in a chapel in Rome. It is one of the favorite paintings of Pope Francis who claims he used to see it while a student in Rome and later as the Cardinal of Buenos Aires whenever he would go to the Vatican.

Caravaggio’s painting is very unique and amusing especially in the way he would play with lights and darkness like in that other famous painting of the meeting of the Risen Lord and doubting Thomas eight days after Easter. This contrast of light and darkness is very evident in painting the call of Matthew by Jesus.

Very interesting is the kind of clothes the characters wear in this painting: notice how Caravaggio portrayed Matthew, the bearded man with a beret and his companions at the table wearing the expensive clothes of the Middle Ages while Jesus and Simon Peter are in their traditional garments and – barefooted! The room looks like a tavern of Caravaggio’s time than a customs house as narrated by Matthew during the time of the Lord in Galilee.

All of this because Caravaggio was fond of incorporating biblical scenes into his milieu to show the relevance of Christ in their time.

And that is also the reason why I share this painting with you: aside from being the gospel on this first Friday of the month, I find its story so relevant with you Senior High School students and graduates.

When you look at the painting, it is like a video happening in split seconds, very much like that photo taken in the live mode of an iPhone with the picture moving a little, wondering if Matthew would stand and leave to follow Jesus.


When you look at the painting, it is like a video happening in split seconds, 
very much like that photo taken in the live mode of an iPhone 
with the picture moving a little, 
wondering if Matthew would stand and leave to follow Jesus.

From en.wikipedia.org.

See Matthew and company seated at the dark side of the room with Jesus standing near the window partially washed by lights specifically his face and hand with finger pointed towards Matthew whose face is clearly lighted, evidently hesitant, asking Jesus if he were referring to him or to the one slumped on the table. Notice the bright face of Matthew and his index finger pointing to the man beside him, his thumb to himself as if asking “is it I, Lord?” or “who, me?” while his other hand is holding a coin on the table.

So beautiful as it evokes the hesitancy of Matthew and certainty of Jesus!

That is how we have felt this first year of COVID-19, the Academic Year 2020-2021, your batch: there is our hesitancy and uncertainty, fears and anxieties in life, of going back to school or not, of where to get money or laptop or reliable internet service while deep inside us, we felt the Lord so certain in his plans for us, in his love and mercy, that we can “rise to the top” here at Fatima University!

We are the ones always doubting, asking Jesus if he were talking or calling us because we cannot let go of that “coin” Matthew is holding on in the painting symbolizing the materials things and persons on whom we put our trust instead of having faith in God alone.

Doubt no more, my dear graduates of the COVID-19 batch of 2020-2021! You are the right person in the right place – Our Lady of Fatima University – at the right time, Academic Year 2020-2021 on the first year of COVID-19 pandemic.


Jesus is telling you today as he fills you with his light 
of truth and mercy in finishing Senior High School in our beloved University 
that you are indeed the right people called in the right place at the right time.  
Will you "rise to the top" to pursue further studies 
to achieve your dreams in this time of the pandemic?  

Jesus is telling you today as he fills you with his light of truth and mercy in finishing Senior High School in our beloved University that you are indeed the right people called in the right place at the right time. Will you rise to the top, pursue further studies to achieve your dreams in this time of the pandemic?

Come and follow Jesus, make your dreams come true here with us in Our Lady of Fatima University for we do not stop seeking ways in dealing with the pandemic with our innovative classes and curriculum. We are the first university approved by the government to conduct limited face-to-face classes in our medical courses.

Like Abraham in the first reading from Genesis, trust God that he will send you his messenger, that he will send you people who will be teaching and preparing you for the post-pandemic period while journeying with you, learning with you in this time of the COVID-19.

Amid the darkness of our time like Caravaggio’s painting, do not fail to see the light brightening the scene, getting intense on the face of Matthew and people around him with Jesus looking intently on you, making sure you do not get sick, that you rise and follow him in pursuing your dream.

Don’t worry, my dear graduates, your Rebekah or your Isaac will surely come along the way but at the moment, Jesus wants you to finish your studies first.

Study hard, work harder, and pray hardest! See you in August!

Have blessed break!

Praying for those sent away

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Memorial of the First Martyrs of Rome, 30 June 2021
Genesis 21:5, 8-20   ><)))*>  +  <*(((><   Matthew 8:28-34
First Martyrs of Rome, from Pinterest.com.
You touched my heart so much, 
God our loving Father
as your words spoke today
of people being sent away:
Sarah noticed the son 
whom Hagar the Egyptian 
had borne to Abraham
playing with her son Isaac;
so she demanded of Abraham:
"Drive that slave and her son!
No son of of that slave is going to share
the inheritance with my son Isaac!"
(Genesis 21:9-10)
Abraham was greatly distressed
and so am I, Lord, when I remember 
and think of those many people  
driven away, sent home or so far away 
due to anger and jealousy, 
hatred and modern forms of slavery
as well as sometimes for reasons of 
inefficiency and deficiencies.
Have mercy on us, O Lord
when we find it so easy 
to drive people away 
without realizing 
for every person sent home
or driven away
with nowhere to go
not only a job or education is lost
but most of all,
we deprive them of life and future.
And that is why we thank you O God,
in taking care of Hagar and Ishmael
after they were sent away
like those many others in our own time
sent away without the basic necessities
and worse victims of human trafficking;
We beg you, dear Father,
like Jesus in the gospel
may he set us free from the evils that
bound us today when we see more
the value of things and money
than of every person.
May the first martyrs of Rome
pray for us to be firm in standing
for the value of every person.
Amen.

Learning in time of COVID-19

Homily by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Baccalaureate Mass, Basic Education Department
Our Lady of Fatima University, 16 June 2021
From IgnitedToInspire.com

Congratulations! Today, everyone deserves a warm round of applause, a pat on the shoulder and perhaps, a little treat after our Mass for making it through the Academic Year of the pandemic, 2020-2021.

Most likely while you were chilln’ after your final exams last Wednesday evening, you have seen and heard this great woman of America’s Got Talent, Nightbirde who mesmerized us not only with her voice but most of all with her infectious joy and presence on the stage.

Her words last week are the most quoted in social media even in our Masses last Sunday: “You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.”

She connected so well with us because there is a little Nightbirde in each one of us when we look back to this past academic year when the pandemic happened before we ended classes last year and did not have any Baccalaureate Mass in our University.

Despite the uncertainties and fears and apprehensions due to COVID-19 , we decided to be happy.

We did not wait “until life isn’t hard anymore” to go back to school despite the enormous challenges and adjustments we all have to go through: parents, teachers and faculty, University admin, and most especially you, our dear students.

And if there is one most important lesson we have learned in this past academic year of the pandemic, it is GOD.

Yes!

Like Nightbirde, we have realized how God never abandoned us, always with us, loving us, silently working for us even with just 2% chance of surviving cancer or COVID or passing an exam.

St. Paul said it so well in our first reading:

Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work. You are being enriched in every way for all generosity, which through us produces thanksgiving to God.

2 Corinthians 9:8, 11

The Lord never failed in providing us with all that we need, even during this pandemic.

Let us be open to more of his grace by trusting him more, and sharing his blessings with others.

Dare to “rise to the top” amid the pandemic and other challenges in life!



We did not wait 
"until life isn't hard anymore" 
to go back to school 
despite the enormous challenges 
and adjustments we all have to go through:  
parents, teachers and faculty, 
University admin, and most especially you, 
our dear students.  

From Our Lady of Fatima University/FB.

God never abandoned us this year. We are still alive and we are now moving up, advancing in our pursuit for education. Some of us may have lost a loved one, others were left behind due to many reasons but we celebrate today our achievements made possible by God.

He is the most important lesson we have learned this year of COVID-19: only God suffices. Without God, we are nothing.

What would our lives be today if we all waited last year for the pandemic to be over to resume classes?

And the good news is, God is assuring us today in this Baccalaureate Mass that he shall be blessing you more this coming academic year 2021-2022.

There will surely be a lot of challenges awaiting us, even more difficult but rest assured that if you were able to complete your Prep or Kindergarten, Elementary or Junior High and Senior High stage, there is nothing you cannot do now!

Lahat kakayanin ninyo huwag lang kayong bibitiw sa Diyos!

God has beautiful plans for you despite this pandemic. Persevere and remain in him.

Study hard, work harder, pray hardest!

I have one assignment to give you my dear students as you go on your academic break this June: continue studying, continue praying.

Try to get a copy of a book called “Imitatio Christi” or the Imitation of Christ written around the years 1418-1427 by the German-Dutch monk named Thomas á Kempis.

Don’t worry… it is available in the internet and it is an excellent devotional book. You won’t regret reading it. In fact, next to the Bible, the Imitatio Christi is the other leading devotional book in Christianity.

His reflections are very timely and relevant especially in this time of COVID when he said that what matters most is that we love the Giver – God – and not the gift because God is the source of all good things in life.

A wise lover values not so much the gift of the lover, as the love of the giver. He esteems the affection above the gift, and values every gift far below the Beloved. A noble lover is not content with a gift, but desires Myself above all gifts. 

Imitation of Christ, Book III, Part VI, “Of the proving of the true lover” by Thomas á Kempis (d. 1471)

Study hard, 
work harder, 
pray hardest!

From Pinterest.com

Do not forget amid the many gifts we have received this year of pandemic is the giver of these gifts, God.

When you have God, you have everything. And you can do everything.

Fall in love with God.

So many times in our lives especially when we are still young and strong, we forget God, wasting our lives and precious time with less important things.

We do not realize that God alone is the one whom we must always seek and have in life because he alone loves us truly to whom alone we must always turn to.

To fall in love with God is to cultivate a prayer life, to be a man or woman of prayer.

When you love somebody, you always talk to that person.

If you love God, then you will always pray.

God loves you very much. He believes in you. He knows what you need even before you ask him.

What we do not know is what God wants from us. That is why we have to pray in order to learn what are the plans of God for us this coming academic year 2021-2022.

“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. Your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”

Matthew 6:5-6

God is the best and most loving teacher of all. His lessons are always practical and personal. That is the meaning of “entering your inner room” – go into your heart and there you shall meet God, always waiting for you, eager to listen to you and speak to you about his love and plans for you.

He only has one lesson plan: love, love, love.

See how during the pandemic even the most powerful nations were crippled by COVID-19. Even until now these vaccines we have are not an assurance of being safe from the virus. We do not even know its other side effects.

We still have to hurdle so many problems this year.

Problem is we refuse to see that this pandemic is also spiritual in nature, not just medical and social.

Let us learn our lesson very well – God.

And so, I ask you again, my dear students to work hard, study harder and pray hardest this coming Academic Year 2021-2022 to achieve your dreams and realize God’s great plans for you in the future, now. Amen.

God bless you all!

Photo by Mr. Red Santiago of his son praying in our former parish at Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan, 2019.

Prayer to love the giver, not the gift

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Week XI, Year I in Ordinary Time, 16 June 2021
2 Corinthians 9:6-11   ><)))'> + <'(((><   Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
From Pinterest.com.

So many times, O God our Father, we have been acting so foolishly, forgetting the more essential in life as we waste precious time and our very selves with less important things and matter.

And most often, it is you whom we always forget, whom we disregard when you alone is the one whom we must always desire, whom we must always please for you alone who truly loves us above all.

Most of all, you alone is the Source of all good things in this life to whom we must always turn to.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Take care not to perform religious deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.”

Matthew 6:1

You do not need “advertisements” for your goodness and love for us for they are all self-evident.

Worst is how we fail to realize that every time we advertise our goodness and supposed to be holiness, the more we fool ourselves as we become most selfish and not holy at all!

Make us aware to remember the teaching of Thomas á Kempis that it is the love of the giver – YOU – that matters most than the gift itself.

A wise lover values not so much the gift of the lover, as the love of the giver. He esteems the affection above the gift, and values every gift far below the Beloved. A noble lover is not content with a gift, but desires Myself above all gifts. 

Imitation of Christ, Book III, Part VI, “Of the proving of the true lover” by Thomas á Kempis (d. 1471)

It is because of this wrong focus on the gifts than on the Giver that we have failed in imitating your Son Jesus Christ in his loving service and generosity with others.

Help us realize, O Lord, that you alone are the source of every good gift in life, that you can never be outdone in generosity as you give us lavishly with all the gifts we need in this life.

Help us realize that we are all vessels and sharers of your grace:

“Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work…You are being enriched in every way for all generosity, which through us produces thanksgiving to God”

2 Corinthians 9:8, 11

We pray, O Lord, for each of us to count the many blessings you have given us amid the hard times that have fallen upon us since the start of this pandemic so that we may see you more above all things. Amen.

Desiring God

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Week XI in Ordinary Time, Year I, 15 June 2021
2 Corinthians 8:1-9   ><)))'>  +  <'(((><   Matthew 5:43-48
Photo by Ms. Ria De Vera, 01 June 2021 at Bgy. Lalakhan, Sta. Maria, Bulacan.

Thank you very much again, O God our loving Father for the grace of prayer, most especially in the grace of desiring you which is what prayer is all about. Keep us steady in our desire for you, to be with you, to be like you – holy and loving.

Enrich us today with your holiness and love by being poor of our selves like Jesus Christ your Son as experienced by St. Paul.

For you know the gracious act
of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that for our sake he became poor 
although he was rich,
so that by his poverty you might become rich.
(2 Corinthians 8:9)

Being poor like Jesus and St. Paul is thinking less of myself, more of others. How ironic that in our world of today where there is a surplus of everything, the more we have become worried of having less because we remain unconvinced of your love and blessings as we live detached from you. Hence, our constant feeling of being impoverished, needing to be filled and satisfied.

Teach us to be poor by being intimate with you, O God our Father so that we worry less of ourselves because we already have you, disposed to being like you, able to love freely.

"So be perfect,
just as your heavenly Father
is perfect."
(Matthew 5:48)

Make us realize that in this life, it is only you whom we must desire first of all in order to be sufficient and enriched that we are able to love everyone, even our enemies because we are confident in ourselves of your love and intimacy. Amen.

This God who connects us

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Solemnity of the Holy Trinity-B, 30 May 2021
Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40 ><}}}'> Romans 8:14-17 ><}}}'> Matthew 28:16-20 
From Pinterest.com

If there is anything most difficult and frustrating next to COVID-19 these days, it must be having your internet going “off line” as you lose “connections” with family and friends – and NETFLIX – while isolated in your home due to the pandemic. Making it worst is when it happens on a Saturday evening with no one to even answer your calls at the supposed to be 24/7 hotlines of internet providers that we were flooded with complaints and queries as we could not air our online Masses last Sunday.

As we went back to “stone age” without any internet signal for almost a week, I realized some beautiful things this modern lifestyle we all enjoy with a lot of great patience courtesy of our unreliable telcos. See the terms we use these days that speak of our modern life but at the same time reveal to us something so ancient, so true, and so basic that we take for granted or even disregard – GOD.


Unlike the internet that can be cut off for many reasons, 
our connection with God is permanent --- 
upgraded to the highest level more than 2000 years ago 
in the coming of Jesus Christ and the sending of the Holy Spirit!

God is the original internet, the very first Wi-Fi! He cannot be seen but can be strongly felt. Most of all, God is always around, never goes off line. All we need is make the effort to connect. He has created the whole world and universe as his “Wi-Fi Zone” where we are all interconnected in time and space that we can go back to our past and be healed in him or look into the future and be assured with all of his support.

Unlike the internet that can be cut off for many reasons, our connection with God is permanent — upgraded to the highest level more than 2000 years ago in the coming of Jesus Christ and the sending of the Holy Spirit!

It is in this light that I wish to invite you to join me in reflecting the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity we are celebrating on this first Sunday of the resumption of Ordinary Time.

From shutterstock.com via Aletheia.com

God in our midst

The challenge is not to explain fully 
the mystery of the Trinity, 
of the three Persons in one God 
but how we make that mystery 
a living reality in us and among us.

Before the people of the Bible reflected and wrote about the origins of the world and the universe, they were first preoccupied with their long experience with God. They have felt and have wondered how somebody bigger than them, more powerful yet so loving and caring related with them in a personal way in the many events of their lives employing various signs and wonders that instilled the whole spectrum of feelings like joy and fear, guilt and thanksgiving, commitment and love, and all the other emotions we also go through in our own experiences of him!

And that is the most amazing about his total mystery: we cannot fully know and understand God but we know deep inside us he is true, he is real, he exists. We can prove beyond doubt his very existence and use so many illustrations to explain him but will never be enough.

What matters most is that we “know” him, that he is real, that he is true.

To know in the Jewish thought is not only an intellectual assent but more of a relationship: to know a person is to have a relationship with that person. Hence, every knowledge and recognition of God implies a lifelong commitment and relationship with him!

Moses said to the people: “Ask now of the days of old, before your time, ever since God created man upon the earth; ask from one end of the sky to the other: Did anything so great ever happen before? Was it ever heard of? Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of fire, as you did, and live? This is why you must now know, and fix in your heart, that the Lord is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and that there is no other”

Deuteronomy 4:32-33, 39

Beyond doubt, God is always present, the perfect present in fact as he told Moses at the burning bush, “I Am Who Am” (Ex.3:14) that to say the very word GOD means he exists, a foolishness to claim that “there is no god” (Ps.14:1).

We have come to know him in our many experiences, giving us a sense of “belonging”, of being linked and interconnected like Wi-Fi that we do not see and for all we know, has always been there present in the airwaves, in the atmosphere tapped only recently through our modern communications technology.

The challenge is not to explain fully the mystery of the Trinity, of the three Persons in one God but how we make that mystery a living reality in us and among us.

Photo from kimaldrich.com

To be wrapped by – not to grasp – the mystery

Unlike the internet signals we have discovered only lately in history, God as a reality revealed himself to us in his relationships in the past, reaching its highest point in Christ’s coming that was affirmed and enlightened to the Apostles at the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in Jerusalem which continues to our time.

For this Sunday, we use the majestic conclusion of the Gospel according to St. Matthew that has a very strong Trinitarian flavor with the Lord’s command before ascending into heaven.

The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshipped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached, and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

Matthew 28:16-20

Last Thursday after Pentecost we celebrated the new Feast of Jesus Christ, the Eternal Priest to remind us of our sharing in the priestly ministry of Jesus when we were baptized. That is, to adore, honor, praise and thank the supreme majesty of God in our prayers. We see this exercise of our common priesthood in Christ in this gospel we have heard: the disciples went to a mountain in Galilee as ordered by Jesus. The mountain indicates the presence of God, conveying a message of praying and coming to him.

The Sign of the Cross is essentially an ascent to a mountain, a prayer in itself to God in the Holy Trinity. When we make the Sign of the Cross, we become the embodiment of God’s mysterious threeness of persons in one God. We affirm his reality as we enter into his mystery of the Trinity by fulfilling Christ’s triple mission given to the apostles.

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” To truly experience the mystery of the Trinity is to lose one’s self in Christ as his disciple. In his teachings and very life, Jesus had shown us the importance of forgetting one’s self as his follower, of becoming like a child that whoever wants to be the greatest must be the least and servant of all. The mystery of God is not something we grasp but something we allow to envelop us to be covered with his transcendence in order share in Christ’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection. Remember that it is not difficult to find God who reveals himself to those truly seeking him by following Jesus on the Cross.

“Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” We have seen how since the start of the Church after Pentecost, baptism has been conferred to those who welcomed the Gospel of salvation from Jesus Christ. Through him, with him, and in him, every baptized person is born into God’s life in his Holy Trinity as beloved children of the Father and coheirs of his kingdom in heaven, as brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, and as the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Thus, we become a holy people to God, one again in him as he had deemed since the beginning that was fulfilled in Jesus our Eternal High Priest at the last supper and Good Friday.

“Teach them to observe all I have commanded you.” St. Matthew has been very particular in this aspect in his entire gospel account, of the need to put into practice the Lord’s teachings. It is not enough that people are baptized, that they welcome in faith Christ’s commandment to love: they have to live it up! That is when the Trinity becomes so real and true in us when we live in love, when we are willing to give ourselves in love for others.


In this world that has become so highly sophisticated and complicated as well, when what matters most are fame and popularity, connections that do not last at all, always erratic, never contented with what is most essential like value of persons and life, it is no wonder that even God is slowly being removed from the daily equation of life.

Photo by author, Bangui Windmill, Ilocos Norte, 2011.

This is most especially true in this post-modern generation without absolutes, when anything goes as everything is relative; and worst, when something that cannot be proven as tangibly present and real, then the mystery of the Trinity is even pushed even to the back seats of our lives.

See how so many people are so ashamed of even doing the Sign of the Cross in public!

This solemnity of the Trinity that we celebrate on the first Sunday at the resumption of Ordinary Time reminds us of the daily coming of God into our lives, of his personal relationship with us that is being challenged strongly by the ways of the world that is opposite his ways of love and kindness, mercy and forgiveness, simplicity and humility.

Let us ask the help of the Holy Spirit to lead us as “children of God, not slaves” of the world’s selfish ways (Rom. 8:14-17) so we may maintain that strong connections in the Father through Jesus Christ. Amen.

A blessed first week of June 2021 to everyone!

Advent is tenderness of God

The Lord Is My Chef Simbang Gabi Recipe for the Soul-9
by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Advent Week IV, 24 December 2020
2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12, 14, 16     >><)))*>  +  <*(((><<     Luke 1:67-79
Photo by author, altar at our sacristy, 19 December 2020.

One thing that have really made this pandemic so bad and so sad is the lack of tenderness of our many officials to the people they are supposed to serve. Consider all these pains and inconveniences they have caused us the public from the fatal shooting of that Marawi veteran in Quezon City to the detention of Mang Dodong at the height of the lockdown to the closure of the largest network in the country mid-year then on to stupidities of first the motorcycle barrier, then the closure of U-turn slots at EDSA capped by the insane RFID at NLEX and now the inhuman shooting of mother and son by an off-duty policeman.

As one of my friends wrote on his FB page last April, “bakit kung kailan panahon ng pandemya na dapat magtulungan at magmahalan saka puro karahasan?” (why all the the violence happening during pandemic when we are supposed to be helping and more loving to one another?).

What a year indeed of natural calamities worsened by some public officials so detached from the sufferings of the people.

And that, my friends, is why we have to celebrate all the more – meaningfully – Christmas.

God is perfect and cannot suffer; hence, He sent us His only Son Jesus Christ to be one with us in our sufferings and miseries, to suffer with us – cum passio – express His compassion.

On this last day of our novena to Christmas, we see how Zechariah comes into full circle singing praises to God (called Benedictus in Latin) after being forced by the angel into full silence becoming speechless when he doubted God’s gift of a child to him and his wife Elizabeth.

Zechariah his father, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied, saying: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; for he has come to his people and set them free. He has raised for us a mighty Savior, born of the house of his servant David.”

Luke 1:67-69
Photo by author, Advent Week IV, 20 December 2020.

Jesus already present among us in the coming of John

During the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Luke never mentioned Zechariah around the house so that Elizabeth and her baby in her womb were the only ones were filled with the Holy Spirit upon hearing Mary’s greeting.

Now, after naming his son “John”, Luke tells us how Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit too that he prophesied the meaning of the coming of his son as “prophet of the Most High” in 1:76.

See the three verbs he used after blessing God in his canticle called Benedictus: “Blessed be the Lord… he has come to his people and set them free. He has raised for us a mighty Savior, born of the house of his servant David.” The verbs are all in the past tense when in fact, what he was saying was supposed to be of what would happen after the birth of John, the coming of Jesus Christ.

Here we find the complete faith and trust of Zechariah to the plan of God like Mary in her Magnificat. Zechariah had seen something so big, something momentous taking place while still in the midst of darkness of his time and world just like us in this pandemic and calamities, callous officials in government and police.

Dear friends: Jesus has come, had set us free (saved us), and had risen to work all His wonders! Let us keep our faith and hope like Zechariah that God has already started working in our favor to turn the tide and soon, things will surely get better if we remain consistent to our response to His calls, standing for life and dignity of every person through whom Jesus comes, for what is true and just.

Photo by author, Church of St. John the Baptist at Ein-Karen, Israel (2019).

From the hand of God into the heart of God

Yesterday we reflected on how we have to allow ourselves to be “the hand of God”, to let Him do His work among us through our hands. Today in Zechariah’s Benedictus we find a movement from the hand of God to His very heart in Jesus Christ our Savior.

“In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

Luke 1:78-79

After seeing the coming of the Christ in the birth of his son John, Zechariah now summarizes to us the very essence of Jesus our Savior, of God Himself: tender compassion or in the original Greek, splaghna or “tender mercy” of God.

It is not just compassion which is to suffer with us but at the same time be filled with tenderness that one is so moved to reach out, to do something by going down with the one suffering.

Like courage, mercy is a movement in the heart called misericordia in Spanish from the Latin mittere, meaning to be moved, to be stirred. It is something dynamic, not static. It is a deep feeling that moves toward someone in pain and suffering. An identification of Jesus with every person going through so much hardships and sufferings in life.

Zechariah’s heart is no longer hardened with negativity and cynicism – it was so stirred by God that he mentioned His tender mercy or compassion because he had personally felt it as he recovered his voice and speech. With the birth of John, he now believes that God’s love for his suffering people is deep and personal. As we say in Filipino, “tagos o sagad sa buto” which may be translated as “through and through”.

And that is perhaps one of the things we sorely miss so much these days from everyone, tenderness. The tender compassion, tender mercy of Jesus. Recall how during His ministry all four evangelists would narrate how Jesus was moved with pity and compassion to the people who were lost, tired and sick “like sheep without a shepherd” that no matter how tired He may be, He would always find time to teach them, heal their sick, and even feed them.

That is the mercy of God that Jesus had brought forth to us in His coming, experienced by Zechariah himself that he could foresee its coming at the birth of John.

Photo by author, Advent Week IV, 20 December 2020.

We priests and religious pray the Benedictus in our morning prayer called lauds (Latin for praises). It is so fitting because at the start of each day, that must be the one thing clear with us always – that the Lord is come to save us, to forgive us, to love us.

One saying I have always loved mentioning in my talks to people came from an anonymous writer I found on the table of a good friend long before I became a priest. It says: “If you have love in your heart, you have been blessed by god; if you have been loved, you have been touched by God.”

That is the Benedictus, the song of every faithful disciple of Jesus introducing His coming, His birth. So many people have forgotten God, do not know God, refused to believe in God because many among us He had lavishly loved have refused to share His love with others.

Have a blessed and meaningful Christmas! Thank you for following our reflections. Share it if you have been blessed.

Photo by author, Christmas 2019.