The golden calves we believe

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Fourth Week in Lent, 18 March 2021 (St. Cyril of Jerusalem)
Exodus 32:7-14     ><}}}*>  +  <*{{{><     John 5:31-47
Illustration from chabad.org.

God our Father in heaven, forgive us for being constantly in the same situation like your people at the wilderness when Moses was up conversing with you on Mount Sinai. So many times we are like them, creating our own golden calves, turning away from you our true God.

So many times in life, we simply want to be in total control of everything that we doubt you, even grow impatient with you because we have other agendas in life like being god like you! And so, we make golden calves of everything we like to believe in, including in our selves.

Jesus said to the Jews: “You search the Scriptures, because you think you have eternal life through them; even they testify on my behalf. But you do not want to come to me to have life. I do not accept human praise; moreover, I know that you do not have the love of God in you. I came in the name of my Father, but you do not accept me; yet if another comes in his own name, you will accept him.”

John 5:39-43

You said it perfectly right, Lord Jesus: “I know that you do not have the love of God in you. I came in the name of my Father, but you do not accept me; yet if another comes in his own name, you will accept him.”

As we turn to idolatrous worship of our selves, then we stop loving you in others both in our hearts and in our hands. When we begin manipulating everything and everyone even our very own belief system, especially your gift of faith in each of us, that is when we become gods.

When we stop believing in you, then we stop loving, we stop relating, we stop authentic living as we forget others.

Forgive us, Lord, and look kindly upon us like at Sinai, reminding us always of the many blessings the Father showers us despite our sinfulness. Teach us to be grateful always so we may learn humility and embrace our humanity to start believing in you and love again by turning away from sins.

Once again, let your tender compassion, Lord, break upon us this Lent so we may begin to love and care, be tender with those who suffer amid our own pains and trials in life. Teach us to believe in you again to realize that wherever there is loving service, tenderness, and care for the weak and lowly, there you are too! Amen.

Familiarity need not breed contempt

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Week XVI, Year II in Ordinary Time, 23 July 2020
Jeremiah 2:1-3, 7-8, 12-13 >><)))*> + 0 + <*(((><< Matthew 13:10-17
Photo by author of the new bypass road that cuts through vast ricefields from Baliwag to Pulilan, January 2020. And we ask anew, what price of development and, for whom?

We are all familiar with the expression that “familiarity breeds contempt” and sad to say, it has always been true to us even with our relationship with you, God our loving and merciful Father in heaven.

Day in, day out we pray, or simply mumble prayers.

We pray more of security latch, just in case something bad happens to us.

But to be one with one, nah….

Besides, even if we do not pray, there is always somebody praying for us. We believe so.

Everywhere we see churches and your images to remind us of your presence and existence, of your love and goodness to us.

But, we take you for granted. You have become so ordinary to us that sometimes, we look for something extraordinary.

Unknown to us, that is when we stop believing in you and when we also stop living in you.

Be amazed at this, O heavens, and shudder with sheer horror, says the Lord. Two evils have my people done: they have forsaken me, the source of living waters; they have dug themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that hold no water.

Jeremiah 2:12-13

Through your Son Jesus Christ who preached using parables, open our eyes and our ears, our hearts and our very being to begin seeing anew from the ordinary and usual things the deeper realities of your presence and love.

Familiarity need not breed contempt among us and in you.

Let familiarity remind us of your consistency in relating with us, Lord.

Let familiarity lead us to the natural flow of life rooted in you, God, so that we may discover daily the many wonders and beauty of this life; that, despite the seeming cycle and repetition even routine, we may find its deeper meaning right in our hearts where you dwell. Amen.

Van Gogh’s “The Sower” from commons.wikimedia.org.

Pitumpung alagad… nino?

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-15 ng Hulyo 2020
Sa gitna nitong mga balita
sa garapal at walang kahihiyang
ginawa ng pitumpung mambabatas
na nagkait ng prangkisa sa Kapamilya
aking naalala sa Banal na Bibliya
kuwento ni San Lucas na ebanghelista
nang ang Panginoong Hesus humirang noon 
pitumpung alagad o pitumput-dalawa 
na sinugo Niya ng dala-dalawa 
sa bawat pook at bayan na patutunguhan Niya.
Sinabi Niya sa kanila
"Sagana ang aanihin, ngunit kakaunti
ang mga manggagawa... Humayo kayo!
Sinusugo ko kayong parang mga kordero
sa gitna ng mga asong-gubat.
Huwag na kayong magdala ng lukbutan,
supot, o panyapak.  Huwag na kayong titigil
sa daan upang makipagbatian kaninuman.
Pagpasok ninyo sa alinmang bahay,
batiin ninyo ng kapayapaan;
Manatili kayo sa inyong tinutuluyan, 
huwag kayong magpalipat-lipat ng bahay.
Pagalingin ang mga may karamdaman
sa bawat bayan na inyong pupuntahan 
mga taumbayan ay sabihang nalalapit na 
ang paghahari ng Diyos sa tanan." 
Inyong tingnan sa Banal na Kasulatan
ito ay malalaman, matatagpuan sa Lucas 10:1-12
kahanga-hangang misyon ng pitumpung alagad
ng ating Panginoon noong unang panahon
hatid sa tao pag-asa at pag-ahon;
inyong tingnan ngayon mga pahayagan
pakinggan mga balita ng labis na kasamaan
kawalan ng kahihiyan ni pakundangan
nitong pitumpung nilalang 
turing sa sarili at mga kasamahan "kagalang-galang"?
Sila ma'y pinahayo, sinugo
ng pinapanginoon nilang Poncio Pilato
asal nila masahol pa sa asong-gubat
kaayusan at kapayapaan tinapakan
at niyurakan ng kanilang kapalaluan;
sa bawat halalan pangako paglilingkuran
nasasakupan agad namang tinatalikuran
palipat-lipat ng kakampihan kung saan makikinabang 
sa sama-samang pagsamsam sa kaban ng bayan;
kunwari'y mabuti ang kalooban 
kaban-kabang bigas pinamimigay
milyung-milyong kapalit naman ang dinudugas;
kunwari'y malasakit para sa may-sakit
pakilala sa lahat ay kuya na tila kapamilya
pati turo ng Diyos sinasalaula
manang mana sa kanyang ama.
Sa pagsusugo ni Hesus sa pitumpung alagad Niya
binigay din Kanyang babala 
Araw ng Paghuhukom malapit na;
kaya sana itong pitumpung kongresista 
pati na kanilang mga kasama
mabatid ang usapin ay hindi lang prangkisa
kungdi kanilang pagmamalabis;
huwag ninyong punuin ang salop
dahil ang Diyos Siyang kakalos
at baka sapitin ninyo ay kalunus-lunos.

Listening to God, Speaking for God

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Week XIII, Year II in Ordinary Time, 02 July 2020
Amos 7:10-17 >><)))*> >><)))*> >><)))*> Matthew 9:1-8
Photo by author, Bible Sunday, January 2020.

Again, O God our loving Father, we pray that you send us prophets especially in this time of so many “spokespersons” who do not know how to listen, like Amaziah the priest at Bethel and the scribes in Capernaum.

Like many of our public figures and even some of us priests who speak a lot in public these days, we all claim to be speaking the truth, speaking for you.

But to speak is always a gift from you, a sharing in your power that whatever you speak happens like in creation and in Jesus Christ, the Word who became flesh presented today in the gospel healing a paralytic by simply speaking the words of forgiveness and then telling him to rise and walk.

How funny that in your words today, dear God, are two groups of people claiming to be speaking for you and yet too far from your words and realities, Amaziah and the scribes; and on the other hand, another group, that of Amos and Jesus, claiming nothing for themselves but doing everything in your name.

Teach to be like Amos and Jesus your Son, to speak and do only your Holy Will.

Amos perfectly explained the giftedness of being your prophet:

Amos answered Amaziah, “I was no prophet, nor have i belonged to a company of prophets; I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores. The Lord took me from following the flock, and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.'”

Amos 7:14-15

Make us realize, Lord, that to speak for you, we must first listen to your voice, wait and listen to your words.

To be your prophet or spokesman is to never harbor evil thoughts on others.

And most of all, like Amos and Matthew, to be your prophet means to leave everything behind especially fame and honor in order to follow you — even to the Cross! Amen.

True greatness is in smallness

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Week X, Year II in Ordinary Time, 10 June 2020
1 Kings 18:20-39 ><)))*> ooo + ooo <*(((>< Matthew 5:17-19
View from inside the Old Jerusalem. Photo by author, May 2017.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until things have taken place. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the Kingdom of heaven. But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 5:18-19

O Lord Jesus, these are heavy words for things we consider too small, too little that we take them for granted because they do not have much impact unto this big, wide world.

Like the salt you spoke of yesterday when a dash or a pinch can bring out a burst of flavors from food or a taste that can awaken us.

So many times in our lives, we forget the reality that great things always start with small beginnings.

That people who can be trusted with little things can be trusted with great things; and people who cannot be trusted with small things cannot be trusted too with bigger things.

Forgive us, Jesus, when we tend to look into the size and amount and number as bases for our decision and choices in life, when we continue to hold on to the belief the bigger is always better, the more the merrier.

But you, O Lord, are so different: you chose to be small being born as an infant, waiting for 30 years before coming out in public, having only a band of 12 followers who were practically a nobody in the society then, choosing an unleavened bread and ordinary grape wine as signs of your presence and eternal covenant for all time.

And here we are, like the Israelites of the time of Elijah who chose to to be quiet and doubt you because you only had one, old prophet; but when they his saw many counterparts of Baal, they all rooted for the false god whose only edge was number.

Elijah appealed to the people and said, “How long will you straddle the issue? If the Lord is God, follow him; if Baal, follow him.” The people, however, did not answer him. So Elijah said to the people, “I am the only surviving prophets of the Lord, and there are four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal. Give us two young bulls. Let them choose one, cut it into pieces, and place it on the wood, but start no fire. I shall prepare the other and place it on the wood, but shall start no fire. You shall call on your gods, and I will call on the Lord. The God who answers with fire is God.” All the people answered, “Agreed!”

1 Kings 18:21-24

Please forgive us, Jesus, when we would rather go and accept whatever is popular, trending and viral, when we are so concerned with more likes and followers, with whatever is more and bigger without realizing you are so great because you are so small with a little voice so you can dwell inside our hearts.

Let us value whatever is little and small, uphold whatever is tiny and minute because most often you are there with most power. Amen.

Photo by author, Christmas in our parish, 2019.

Pasko ng Pagkabuhay sa panahon ng nakamamatay na COVID-19

Lawiswis Ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-13 ng Abril 2020

Katulad ninyo 
ako man ay humiling
sa aking mga panalangin
sana'y magbalik na 
dating normal na buhay natin 
bago mag-COVID-19.



Ngunit nang aking suriin
mali itong aking hiling
at tiyak hindi diringgin
ng Panginoon nating
nagpakasakit upang baguhin
kinamihasnang pagkakasala natin.


Ano nga ba ibig sabihin
pagbabalik sa dating normal
na buhay natin?
Hindi ba ito naging sanhi
nitong COVID-19 kaya 
tayo ngayon ay naka-quarantine?
Bago pa man dumating 
itong social distancing
magkakahiwalay at hindi natin pansin
mga kapwa lalo mga nalilihis 
habang ang iba ay minamaliit 
tila baga buhay ng iba walang halaga sa atin?
Kaya dating normal na buhay natin
hindi na dapat magbalik sa mga panahong...
normal ang walang Diyos
normnal ang hindi pagsisimba
normal ang paglapastangan sa magulang at kapwa
normal ang makasarili
normal ang walang pakialam
normal ang kasakiman
normal ang patayan
normal ang pakikiapid
normal ang pagsisinungaling
normal ang fake news at chismis
normal ang pagnanakaw
normal ang korapsiyon
normal ang gulangan
normal ang pagmumura at pag-alipusta
normal ang kawalan ng kahihiyan
normal ang mga trapo na pulitikong pulpol
normal ang pagbebenta ng boto
normal ang kawalan ng modo
normal ang pagwasak sa kalikasan.
Iyan ang dating normal na buhay natin
na hindi na dapat mabalik
sari-saring mga diyos-diyosang
sinasamba upang magkamal ng maraming pera
hangaan at tingalain ng iba
waring ang sarili'y angat sa karamihan.

Iyan ang dating normal na buhay natin
na hindi na dapat mabalik pagkaran nitong COVID-19:
malayo sa Diyos at sa kapwa tao
dahil itong Pasko ng Pagkabuhay
ay pagbabalik sa landas ng kabutihan at kabanalan
paglimot sa sarili, pagpapasan ng Krus upang si Kristo ay masundan.

Kaya marahil matatagalan itong ating lockdown
upang higit nating madalisay ating mga buhay
nang sa gayon matapos pagdaanan mga kahirapan
huwag nating malimutan ang Diyos na makapangyarihan
hangad ang ating kabutihan at kapakanan.

Mga guyang ginto sa piling natin

Lawiswis Ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-26 ng Marso 2020

Eksena hango sa pelikulang “The Ten Commandments” noong 1956.
Tinuturing ng mga Hudyo
ang pagsamba ng kanilang ninuno 
sa guyang ginto 
ang pinaka-nakakahiyang yugto
sa kanilang kasaysayan 
nang talikuran nila sa ilang
butihing Diyos hanap katapatan lamang.
Mula noon hanggang ngayon
guyang ginto ang naging larawan
na siyang kumakatawan sa ating 
mga sinasambang diyos-diyusan:
salapi at kayamanan, 
kapangyarihan at katanyagan,
lahat iiwan, tatalikuran makamit lamang.
Hindi ako kumibo noong una
kahit napupuno ng nag-aalimpuyo
na galit at ngitngit sa mga balitang sumisingit 
mga VIP para sa kakaunting testing kit;
ngunit nang itong si Koko Pimentel
hindi nagpigil, di napasupil
ako ma'y kumulo ang dugo sa gigil.
Di niya inalintana mahawahan
mga karamihan ng sakit na di pa maunawaan
siya pa ngayon ang nangangatuwiran 
sa kanyang kapabayaan at kapalaluan
pakiwari siya ay tama at kawawa
kaya sa kanya ang madla
nagalit halos siya ay isumpa.
Ito ang malungkot na katotohanan
nalantad sa isang iglap ng kapabayaan, 
kahangalan at kayabangan
silang mga halal at makapangyarihan
sa taumbayan walang pakialam
sila na mismo ang guyang ginto
na ibig sila ang sambahin at paglingkuran!
Kaya nga aking mga kababayan
huwag kalilimutan mga taksil ng bayan
huwag nang ibalik sa luklukan
dahil ngayon pa lamang ay nagkasubukan
sa oras ng kagipitan tayo ay kanilang iniwan
hindi dapat pagkatiwalaan
sapagkat sila'y mga propetang bulaan.
Larawan mula sa Chabad.org

The golden calves among us

40 Shades of Lent, Thursday, Week IV, 26 March 2020

Exodus 32:7-14 ><)))*> +++ <*(((>< John 5:31-47

Illustration from Chabad.org.

Like you, O God in the first reading today, we are all angry. We are so mad with our so-called leaders and officials in government. We are angry at their arrogance and total disregard of others especially in this time of global crisis due to COVID-19.

Like you, O God, we also seeth with anger when you at Sinai saw how the Israelites created a golden calf to worship, after you have brought them out from Egypt. We admit our sinfulness and guilt before you in having our own we golden calves like power, money, and fame among many others.

But what we are so mad, O God, is how these leaders and officials in government – whether elected or appointed – have made themselves the golden calves to be served and worshipped by everyone.

They are the golden calves themselves who have brought shame and dishonor to our nation.

They do exactly what your Son and our Savior Jesus Christ had taught us that whoever wants to be great must be the least and servant of all.

But they are certainly not. They have shamelessly acted foolish and selfish since this pandemic started.

Forgive us, too, merciful Father, for our many sins, for being deluded by these many other golden calves in our midst, in the government.

The words of your Son Jesus Christ today are so true:

“I do not accept human praise; moreover, I know that you do not have the love of God in you. I came in the name of my Father, but you do not accept me; yet if another comes in his own name, you will accept him.”

John 5:41-43

Like you, O God, we are angry at them, at how things are going on.

But like you, O God, let us relent in wishing ill for these misguided leaders whom your misguided people have put in power too.

Like you, O God, let us temper with mercy and charity our feelings and emotions against them.

Most of all, make us truly wiser in the next elections! Amen.