The Quiet Storm by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 10 January 2022
It is said that “life is a journey” but I have found through the years that as a journey, life is more of a direction than a destination. It is always easy to plot our life destination but upon reaching them, what do we do next?
If life is a journey that is more on destination, all we will be doing in life is keep on thinking of new places to visit and new goals to achieve until we ran out of destinations and we have nowhere else to go!
That is why life is more of a direction.
It does not mean we stop making plans or setting goals to reach; we just learn to be more open with the directions life is leading us into.
So often it can happen that while pursuing a goal or reaching a destination, we find many things and meet persons along the way who make us change directions in life for something better we never knew existed before.
Sometimes we discover while at the middle of a journey the many directions we have been seeing or noticing earlier that suddenly later make sense, opening new routes for us to take to something more fulfilling or clearer and better.
As we become open for directions in life, the more we become free to be our true selves, free to pursue what is best than be fixated and even held hostage by a previous goal or destination we have set before which we find no longer viable.
It is like using those travel apps Waze and Google Maps that give us the pertinent information like traffic conditions that help us choose the best routes to reach a specific destination.
However, as we travel, we find the apps taking us to longer routes or may even be misleading us because the data available are obsolete or the internet signal is unreliable. And so, we disregard the apps and try to find our way to our destination through directions provided by actual people and signages we check on the streets. Recall how the apps would continue to “speak” and even insist us to turn left or right as it is bent on reaching the destination. Travel apps are concerned merely with the place to reach, totally “unaware” of the person traveling.
That’s the problem with journeying more on destination when we forget persons that we miss the fun and adventures along the way.
When we journey more on directions, we are more concerned with persons and people that we experience fun and adventures, learning new things about peoples we meet or travel with as well as places we pass through on the way to our destination.
Sometimes, we have to scrap everything as the new directions lead us to more interesting places to visit.
In that way, we grow and mature as persons because we have become more free to be ourselves, more free to follow our inner voices within our hearts that lead us to far and exciting new places. In the process, we also discover our true friends and companions in life!
Ultimately, when we are free to follow directions than simply reach destinations, the more we also discover God – the most wonderful journey in life because ultimately he is our only destination and end.
God as a direction demands us a deepening of our faith, hope and love in him whose “invisible hands” guide us to persons and places and situations that seem to be unrelated at first but as we journey, we discover their many linkages, like tiny pieces of a mosaic creating a wonderful picture bigger than us.
God as a direction leads us to more freedom to discover life itself. That is the beauty of every new year: those twelve months of the calendar have no specific destinations but give us directions to follow by being sensitive to where God is leading us. It is totally senseless and useless to consult fortune-tellers for their fearless forecasts of what is going to happen for that will only make you “unfree” to seek and follow new directions in life. Besides, only God knows what will happen and that is why we follow his directions.
Above all, remember that the discovery of God is not the end of a journey but the beginning of a new one in him, with him, and through him. The journey never stops in Christ Jesus to God our Father in heaven. So, have life and be free to follow new directions from God this new year!
Keep traveling in Christ this 2022. Who knows, we might meet once or twice along the way. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Christmas Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Sunday After January 1, Epiphany of the Lord, 02 January 2022
Isaiah 60:1-6 ><]]]'> Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6 ><]]]'> Matthew 2:1-12
Metro Manila’s main thoroughfare is called EDSA for Epifanio delos Santos Avenue. Its namesake is a famous scholar from the province of Rizal whose name means “manifestation” or “appearance” from the Greek epiphanes.
EDSA today may be considered as the epiphany of everything wrong in the country, from government inefficiency to people lacking in discipline and patriotism. Mention the word EDSA and you feel sad and gloomy all of a sudden.
But, the Epiphany we celebrate today brings joy and jubilation because it is the manifestation of the universal kingdom of Jesus Christ to the pagans symbolized by the magi from the East.
After the octave of Christmas on January 1, Epiphany reminds us on this joyous season of Christmas that while deep within each one of us is a natural search or inclination for God, it is actually God who looks for us and eventually finds us.
It is always a grace from God that we desire him and his grace is doubled even tripled when we are like the magi who search and follow God in his “epiphanies”!
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
Nobody really knows for sure where and who were those magi who looked and came for the Child Jesus at Bethlehem. They are called kings as attested from our first reading, “Rise up in splendor! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you… Nations shall walk by your light; kings by your shining radiance. Caravans of camels shall fill you, dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; all from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the Lord” (Is.60:1, 4, 6).
From this part of Isaiah’s prophecy we also got that picture of the three wise men traveling as kings from the farthest parts of the world of that time riding on camels to show how everyone, from the most most powerful to the simplest of men and women of the world recognize Jesus as the King of Kings.
At the start of this new year 2022, our third year in this COVID-19 pandemic, we are invited to be wise like the magi to search for that Bethlehem where we could find rest and comfort, solace and consolation in the newborn king Jesus Christ. It takes a wise person to search for Jesus – and a wiser person to lead others to Him!
The Epiphany of the Lord reminds us that Christ came to the world to be the fulfillment of everyone and He had become human like us in everything except sin so we can find Him easily right within us, there in our hearts where he is born everyday, where he dwells.
Every new year, every day is a new beginning in Jesus, a day of his epiphany leading us to him. The wise men coming from the East where the sun rises show us Epiphany as a new beginning in our lives, representing our inner journey in life to find and follow Jesus Christ.
It is said life is a journey; but, as a journey, life is more of a direction than a destination. So often in life, it is really the trip that matters most, the people we journey with as companions that make our life so meanignful.
What matters most in life is we keep on following Jesus Christ our light, our star. That is direction, where He is leading us. It never stops. We just keep on following Him until we reach our final destination in heaven for we are all “coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Eph. 3:6).
This direction we have to follow in life never stops for the discovery of God is not the end but the beginning of a journey. And in this journey in Jesus Christ, we do not simply go as followers but are expected to eventually become believers too. Matthew noted at the end of the gospel today how the magi “departed for their country by another way” (Mt. 2: 12) to show how they have become believers eventually of Christ. Their lives have changed and must have never been the same as before after finding Jesus because they have believed, so unlike Herod and the experts at Jerusalem who knew everything about the Messiah being born in Bethlehem but refused to believed him.
This is the danger with us today: many Christians today are mere followers but not wise enough to be believers of Christ.
We all dream to be fulfilled in life. And every lofty dream is always from above, from God as Matthew told us this Christmas the dreams of Joseph and now the dream of the magi. It is said that those who dream with their eyes wide open are the real dreamers, the trailblazers who change the world. That is because they did not only believe in their dreams and with themselves but most of all, they believed in God.
On this Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, He is inviting us to dream and believe so that we may live fully in Him. Every day is a new beginning to search and follow and believe Jesus Christ our light. Today we are given with over 350 days to begin anew in Jesus. Be wise. Search Him. Follow Him. Believe Him. Happy Epiphany of the Lord! Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Week XVI, Year I in Ordinary Time, 19 July 2021
Exodus 14:5-18 ><]]]'> ><]]]*> ><]]]'> Matthew 12:38-42
What a beautiful day to reflect
on your very unusual ways, O God our Father;
once again, there is that issue of
being lost in our readings today:
your people have to take a long and
circuitous route out of Egypt
going to your Promised Land only to be
caught up near the Red Sea by
their former masters pursuing them
to take them back to slavery.
But Moses answered the people,
"Fear not! Stand your ground,
and you will see the victory
the Lord will win for you today."
Then the Lord said to Moses,
"Why are you crying out to me?
Tell the children of Israel to go forward.
And you, lift up your staff and,
with hand outstretched over the sea,
split the sea in two, that the children
of Israel may pass through it
on dry land." (Exodus 14:13,15-16)
Yes, dearest God our Father,
sometimes we need to get lost
in order to find you and one's self;
we have to be led to unfamiliar routes
and places and situations in life for indeed,
complacency breeds contempt.
Set us free from our routines and
own ways of thinking and doing
that have unconsciously enslaved us
that we no longer trust you.
Teach us to "stand our ground"
like when Moses answered his
people amid their many complaints
that we may be consistent with our
desires to be truly free and fulfilled.
Teach us to "go forward"
as you commanded your people
to cross the Red Sea and believe in you,
follow your lead to experience
your great power and wonders.
He said to them in reply,
"An evil and unfaithful generation
seeks a sign, but no sign
will be given it except
the sign of Jonah the prophet."
Forgive us, dear Jesus
in seeking so many signs from you,
doubting you, mistrusting you
despite all the love and mercy
and blessings you have showered us.
When we are lost in the many
trappings of this world,
help us find our way back
home to you, to rest anew
in your gentle mercy and love. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Easter Triduum Recipe by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Maundy Thursday, 01 April 2021
Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14 ><)))*> 1Corinthians 11:23-26 ><)))*> John 13:1-25
"A journey of a thousand miles
begins with a single step."
- Lao Tzu
We often hear and use this wise saying that is also most applicable to our celebration of the Holy Triduum of the Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection also known as the “Sacred Paschal Triduum”.
From the Hebrew word pesach, a pasch is a passing over. It is a journey which is a long trip taken over long period of time to different places. A journey does not necessarily involve physical distance as it can be something within one’s self like an inner journey to God dwelling within us. Hence, a journey is also a process that leads us to growth and maturity from the many difficulties and trials we experience as we travel, entailing a lot of sacrifices from us.
And whatever journey we take outside or within our selves, we always need a companion to travel with. From the Latin words cum panis that literally mean “someone you break bread with”, a companion is someone who helps us in our journey, a friend who shares life with us, guiding us, protecting us. Like the bread we break and share, a companion sustains and nourishes us in our journey.
Let us keep these three words of journey, companion, and bread in reflecting our celebration tonight of the Lord’s Supper that begins the Sacred Triduum.
We are all pilgrims on a journey to heaven
More than 40 days ago on Ash Wednesday, we said Lent is a daily journey to Easter where we find our very selves, others, and God who is our ultimate origin and end. It is a journey that reaches its summit in the Holy Eucharist where we make present the pasch or passover of Jesus Christ
Every Mass is a journey into heaven, a dress rehearsal of our entrance into heaven when we have a foretaste of eternal life we all hope for until Christ comes again. It is the Passover of the New Testament, a perfection of the Jewish Passover when God’s chosen people led by Moses went into exodus from Egypt into the Promised Land.
This “heavenly” journey had its ancient roots among nomadic Semites who used to celebrate a feast on the first full moon of spring as they prepared to lead their flocks to summer pastures. They ate a roasted lamb from the flock with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. It was an important event of migration filled with many dangers for those nomads who marked their tent-pegs with the blood of the lamb to keep their journey safe.
Eventually this found place in the Jewish Passover which we heard in our first reading when God told his chosen people to begin their journey of exodus from Egypt “on the tenth of their first month” that happens on the second full moon of the spring equinox.
Notice that it happens at night that is coincidentally the usual start of every journey we usually make!
Before their Exodus, each family was told to roast an unblemished lamb to be eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs “with your loins girt, sandals on your feet and your staff in hand, you shall eat like those who are in flight. It is the passover of the Lord” (Ex.12:11). It has to be done in a hurry, as in a flight, a journey.
And to keep them safe in their journey, God instructed them to paint their door posts with the blood of the slaughtered lamb so that when his angel comes at night to strike death of every first born male child and animal, their homes would be “passed over” and be saved from death that night.
We are all travelers and journeyers on earth;
our true home is in heaven with God our Father. We are merely "passing over" this planet temporarily.
Jesus our companion and family in the journey
The Jewish Passover or Exodus became the actual event of God’s covenant with Israel as his people on a journey to their Promised Land. Unfortunately, they would break this covenant with God so many times that it would take them 40 years of wandering in the desert before finally got into the Promised Land.
And their stubbornness continued when they would always turn away from God with sins that led to the division of their nation until its conquest by foreign powers that led them anew into another exile. God would restore them as a nation but, again, they would turn away from him until the Romans ruled over them when Jesus came to perfect God’s covenant.
In perfecting and fulfilling the Jewish Passover, Jesus became the new and everlasting Lamb, perfect without any blemish, offering himself to God for the forgiveness of our sins and our liberation from all forms of evil especially sickness and death. It is no longer the blood of the lamb that we now offer but Jesus Christ’s Body and Blood which he established in the Sacrament of the Eucharist “on the night before he was betrayed” on Holy Thursday.
By celebrating the Lord’s Supper that Thursday evening with his disciples who represented all peoples of all time, Jesus established for us the everlasting memorial of his loving presence as our companion and our very Bread and Wine in the journey back to the Father always filled with darkness and sufferings.
What he did that Thursday evening foreshadowed what he would do on Good Friday when he did his greatest act of love for us by dying on the Cross at about 3PM, the same time when the lambs were being slaughtered in the temple for the coming passover feast.
Brothers and sisters: I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. ?Do this in remembrance of me.”
1 Corinthians 11:23-25
Here we find again the darkness of the night as the beginning of our journey back to God perfected by Jesus Christ as our companion and very bread of life to sustain and nourish us.
What is most beautiful meaning we can find here is the importance of communion, of oneness as a community, as a family.
In the Old Testament, God instructed his people to take the passover meal together as a family; at the Lord’s supper, Jesus celebrated it with his “friends”, the Twelve Apostles. Even Judas Iscariot was present at the start but had to leave in the “darkness of the night” when he broke off from the unity of Jesus.
Perhaps, one reason why we are again together this Holy Thursday not in churches but in our homes, with our family so we may be one again in Jesus Christ in prayers and celebrating Mass on-line.
Therefore, do not be a Judas Iscariot! Go back to your family, to your loved ones – your most faithful and truest companions in this journey of life. You’ll never get to heaven, as Dionne Warwick sang, if you break somebody’s heart, when you refuse to love by turning your back from those who love you.
Holy Thursday reminds us in the Eucharist that no one is saved alone. Every journey becomes wonderfulwhen done in the context of a community, with true companions beginning in our very family.
The commandment of love
Completing the picture of our celebration tonight with the key concepts of journey, companion and bread is LOVE, the very essence of everything in this life, the reason why we are in a journey in the first place since the Exodus up to this time.
At the very core of every companionship, of every community is LOVE.
To become bread for someone in a journey is to become LOVE.
Jesus Christ as the bread broken, as the cup of wine shared is essentially LOVE.
Love can never be defined but merely described.
And on the night before he was betrayed, Jesus described to us in his actions a very beautiful expression of his love we all must imitate:
So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist.
When Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, he showed us one beautiful aspect of LOVE which is tenderness.
Yes, I have been speaking about tenderness lately as something we badly need these days of the pandemic. Tenderness is an expression of love when we realize amid our own suffering the sufferings of others too. To be tender and loving amidst many sufferings is to offer rest to fellow journeyers like what Jesus did on that Holy Thursday evening.
Again, we find here something prevalent during that time which is the concept of “restaurants” where travelers used to stop during their journey not only to eat but to rest that meant soaking their feet on a basin of water. It was therapeutic that gave travelers enough strength to travel far again.
Remember there were no other modes of transportation at that time and not everybody could afford an animal to ride on. Any hiker and mountaineer can attest that after so much trekking, one thing you would always hope for is a stream or tiny brook with cool, crisp, running water to dip your feet and rest!
Everybody is tired of this journey in the pandemic, almost exhausted.
What a shame especially when local officials like that one who refused food delivery because she considered the lowly lugaw as non essential. Lest we forget, Jesus chose one of the most lowly food, the unleavened bread, as the sign of his loving presence among us until the end of time when he comes again.
Indeed, this could be the holiest Holy Week of our lives in this most unholy time of history as it gives us great opportunities to love.
Just be tender with those around you!
Never get tired of loving, of understanding, of caring as everyone is already tired with this journey of ours in the pandemic that seems to be still far from over.
“Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master’, and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
One of the most moving images of the pandemic for me lately is the one taken by our parishioner on the first day of the ECQ last March 22 when our Parochial Vicar, Fr. Howard John celebrated Mass without a congregation. He said, “the table of the Lord is full, but the pews are empty.”
And that is what we will continue to do in this pandemic. Even without the people, we shall continue to journey in Christ by still celebrating the Mass to give us all nourishment and sustenance and rest in this prolonged journey in the pandemic.
May we never get tired walking in love as a companion and bread to one another in Christ and like Christ by giving rest to others already tired and about to give up. Let us all be together in welcoming Easter! Amen.
El anda que en amor ni cansa ni se cansa.
(The soul that walks in love neither tires others nor grows tired.)
Saint John of the Cross