The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Tenth Week in Ordinary Time, 07 June 2022
1 Kings 17:7-16 ><))))*> + ><))))*> + ><))))*> Matthew 5:13-16
As we resume the Ordinary Time
in our Church calendar, your words
today, O God, speak so much of our
similar situation in life: another round of
increases in petroleum prices is not
only making life insane for car owners
but so difficult most especially for
the poor! Is there really a way, O Lord,
you can make their oil wells run dry
suddenly to make them realize their
insensitivities to other peoples?
Many of us could not complain at all
because life has always been hard and
difficult ever since; to complain and whine
of the economic crunch hurting us are useless
and a waste of energies; all we have is you,
God our Father!
We only have you as our hope and
salvation and consolation in hard times
like these like your prophet Elijah.
The brook near where Elijah was hiding ran dry, because no rain has fallen in the land. So the Lord said to Elijah: “Move on to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have designated a widow there to provide for you.”
1 Kings 17:7-9
When things get worst
and seem to turn against us,
make us realize always that you are
simply asking us to trust you more
because a new chapter in our faith journey
in you and with you is about to unfold.
Never let us entertain thoughts you
have forgotten us or worst, had withdrawn
support from us. That never happens with you,
Father, because you love us so much!
Give us the grace through your Son
Jesus that we keep our taste as salt,
giving flavor and meaning in you
even in our most bland situation in life;
keep our light shining in Christ
amid the many darkness and gloom
of our time to give others even a glimmer
of hope and meaning in life. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday within the Octave of Easter, 20 April 2022
Acts 3:1-10 ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[>< Luke 24:13-35
I have been walking all my life
but it was only recently, O Lord Jesus,
have I really started walking consciously,
along with others trying to keep healthy
by making 10,000 steps daily.
How funny that most of the times,
we have taken walking for granted,
without really minding at all where we
have been to and where we are heading
for; we just walk, walk, and keep on walking
in this life even at the opposite directions...
That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus’ disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.
Thank you, dearest Jesus
in walking with us even in the
opposite directions we take,
when grief and failures and
disappointments drive us back
to our old ways, old destinations;
thank you in walking with us to
the many Emmaus we go to only to
bring us back to your Jerusalem.
Open our eyes, Lord Jesus,
to recognize you and know you
so that we may follow you more
closely in walking and following your
path of peace and joy, of self-giving
and love; make us conscious of your
presence in every walk we take to
seek and follow your new directions
for us in serving others and doing your work.
As we walk closer with you, Jesus,
let us imitate Peter in sharing
you with those who are lost and
paralyzed in this life; in your most
holy name and power, let us empower
our fellow journeyers in life to rise and
walk in you, with you. Amen.
Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Holy Thursday, 14 April 2022
Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14 + 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 + John13:1-15
A blessed Holy Thursday everyone. Tonight we begin the most holiest days of the year, the Holy Triduum of the Lord’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection known as the pasch of the Lord. From the Hebrew word pesach, a pasch is a passing over, the journey of the Hebrew people from Egypt into the promised land of God.
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. Journey is a process that leads us to growth and maturity from the many difficulties and trials we experience as we travel in life.
And whatever journey we take outside or within ourselves, 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.
That is exactly the companionship of Jesus which is holiness. Having Jesus as our companion in life’s journey is to have him as our daily Bread who fills us with God in every celebration of the Holy Eucharist. I used to tell our students in elementary school that 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. That is why last Tuesday we said the first test of our fidelity in found in our celebration of the Sunday Eucharist.
We are all travellers and journeyers on earth; our true home is in heaven with God our Father. We are merely passing over this planet temporarily. That is why we always say life is a daily lent, a daily passing over.
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 that is often dark and difficult.
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. What is most beautiful meaning we can find here is the importance of communion, of oneness as a community, as a family that are expressions of our companionship in Jesus. Every journey becomes wonderful when done in the context of a community, with true companions beginning in our very family.
At the very core of every companionship, of every community is LOVE. To become bread for someone in a journey is to become LOVE – like Jesus Christ at the last supper.
Love can never be defined for it has no limits; love can only be described like how Jesus described to us in his actions on that night of his supper, his kind of love we all must emulate:
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.
During the time of Christ, restaurants were stops not only for meals but for rest that consisted of soaking their feet on a basin of water. It was therapeutic that gave travelers enough strength to travel far again as 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!
This Holy Thursday, let us be a companion in Jesus Christ with others, beginning with our family members. Do not get tired of being broken and shared like bread, of loving and caring when the journey becomes so tiring like in this time of 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.”
Lord Jesus Christ,
may we never get tired
walking in love
as a companion and
bread to one another like you
by giving rest to others
already tired and about to give up.
Let us all be together in welcoming Easter!
40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the Fifth Week of Lent, 05 April 2022
Numbers 21:4-9 <*[[[[>< + ><]]]]*> John 8:21-30
From Mount Hor the children of Israel set out on the Red Sea road, to bypass the land of Edom. But with their patience worn out by the journey, the people complained against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water? We are disgusted with this wretched food!”
O God our Father,
I must admit like the Israelites,
I feel impatient, I feel so tired
already in this five weeks of Lent;
like a child with all sarcasm and
insults, I feel like asking "are we
Help me O God in this long journey
of Lent, of life itself, especially during
these two years of the pandemic;
many among us have been worn out
of staying home, of being told to quarantine,
of having those vaccines, of those sitting
all day before the computer screen for
our on line classes and work from home.
Forgive us, O God, when we get impatient
in the journey of life, when we rationalize
everything like the Pharisees when Jesus
told them, "I am going away and you will
look for me... where I am going you cannot
come" (John 8:21); forgive us, dear God,
when we can't wait for our own "hour",
in rushing everything that we miss Christ
passing by in this journey of life as
Open our minds and our hearts,
our eyes and our arms to believe in
Jesus your Son who had come to
lead us back to you, our true home,
our "Promised Land"; remind us that
you O Lord is not a concept to be
understood but a Person - the I AM
WHO AM - to be accepted and loved.
40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Fourth Sunday in Lent-C a.k.a. "Laetare Sunday", 27 March 2022
Joshua 5:9, 10-12 ><}}}*> 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 ><}}}*> Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
Life is a daily Lent, a coming home to the Father. As I have been telling you, the 40-days of Lent is a journey back home to God in Jesus Christ with each Sunday like a door leading us closer to Him. We rejoice this Fourth Sunday – Laetare Sunday – as we near God’s inner room, knowing Him more than ever as we experience His immense love and mercy for us like a Father welcoming his children to “enter” and celebrate home in Him.
But, are we really in the journey?
Or, are we just like the two selfish, self-centered brothers in the parable who took their father for granted by pursuing for their own very selves?
Tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to Jesus, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So to them Jesus addressed this parable: “A man had two sons…”
Luke 15:1, 3, 11
Acting like the sons…
Once again, we hear another story from Luke that is uniquely his. It is more known as the parable of the prodigal son when in fact the center of the story is the loving and merciful father giving everything including his very self to his two sons.
There are two preceding parables before this third one, that of the lost sheep and of the lost coin that are in chapter 15 of Luke’s gospel. See how Jesus developed into a rising crescendo his series of parables starting with a lost sheep, a lost coin, and finally, lost sons. The common thread running through the three parables was the great joy of the shepherd, woman and father upon having their lost ones again. Clearly, God is the shepherd, the woman, and the father looking for the lost sheep, lost coin and lost sons. And here lies the very essence of the parables, especially in this third one about the loving and merciful father: “the Pharisees and scribes who began to complain why Jesuswelcomes sinners and eats with them.”
We are those Pharisees and scribes who doubt and refuse to believe, even run away from our loving God in the belief there must be somebody else there who could love us truly by giving us what we need.
Exactly like the younger son in the parable who sees God merely as a provider, an ATM or a Western Union counter who gives the cash we need to buy things we believe would complete us without realizing God is our life, our identity and root of being. This we find at what prompted the younger son to return home (return home, not come home which happens only when home is a person, not a place nor thing).
When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine. And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any. Coming to his senses he thought, “How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”
Sometimes we are like the younger son who returns home just to preserve one’s self – to have a roof and to have food so as not to starve, never go hungry. It is the first temptation of the devil, teasing Jesus and us to turn stones into bread because man lives to eat! That is why we keep on asserting our own power so we can do everything because we have forgotten our being-ness in God. We hate having nothing, being empty and would rather fill our bellies with whatever we can stuff our mouth with that in the process even swallow our pride and dignity to have, to possess everything, even everybody except God.
On the other hand, we are like the Pharisees and scribes “complaining why Jesus welcomes sinners and eats with them” so personified by the elder son who refused to enter their house to join the celebrations at the return of his prodigal brother because his manipulative schemes have been unmasked. For him, serving his father was just a show because he was only an actor, everything was a movie or a teleserye playing one’s roles in exchange of a fee and fame.
He said to his father in reply, “Look all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast with my friends. But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.”
Again, we find here some semblance of the second and third temptations to Jesus and to us by the devil: worship him and you will be popular and powerful! We all want having the best for us to be the very best among our peers and neighbors. We are willing to buy time, even buy people just to be known and popular. We would not mind being patient over a long period of time believing in the end, we could end up having all.
When we think of our needs to be secured and safe, popular and powerful, the first that comes to our minds and consciousness are things that money can buy, food that fill stomach, and drinks that refresh the body. Like the two brothers, they were all concerned with material and physical, nothing spiritual nor emotional or even mental. A life without any depth like Alfie played by Michael Caine with music by Burt Bacharach asking, “What’s it all about, Alfie? Is it just for the moment we live?”
That’s the tragedy of our lives, of being like the Pharisees and scribes personified by the two brothers who were so lost in their own selves, refusing to see beyond to find others and God, now and eternity, earth and heaven.
…becoming like the Father
This is the grace of this fourth Sunday, its greatest joy and cause for celebration: our being home in God, being whole again in Him after realizing and accepting our broken and sinful selves.
Make no mistake that it was us who have found God; no, it is the other way around.
God is the Father always awaiting for us that He sent Jesus Christ to lead us home again in Him. In this parable, the late Fr. Henri Nouwen rightly said Jesus is the “prodigal son” who left heaven not out of rebellion but because of obedience and submission to lead us all back to the Father, the only One who loves us truly, our very “first love” for He is the one who loves us first and still loves us no matter what.
Stop seeking for the world’s basic staples of food and wealth, fame and power because the most basic truth in this life is we are loved by God who is love Himself because He is life. See Luke’s sense of humor: the prodigal son wanted only food and shelter but the father gave him back his status as son with the ring, fine clothes and slippers, and feast while the elder son was longing for a mere young goat without realizing it has long been his for everything the father has was his too! Like us in many occasions in life, we fail to see how much we already have in God that we turn away from Him to settle for lesser things.
See our foolishness in desiring the world when it has always been ours if we remain in God. That is why we need to celebrate because finally we have found what is truly basic and valuable, God who gave us his Son Jesus Christ so we can find our way back home to Him and learn what is most valuable in life.
In this parable, Jesus is asking us to “level up” our existence, to rise above our very selves and be who we really are as beloved children of the Father who is merciful and rich in kindness.
Like in the first reading, no more manna for we have entered the Promised Land where we can have real food and real drink – Jesus Christ who sustains us to eternal life. Let us keep in mind and heart Paul’s reminder and call in the second reading that “Whoever is in Christ is a new creation… so, let us be reconciled in God” (2 Cor. 5:17, 20). Only those who are reconciled in God in Jesus can experience true joy… so, stop complaining and whining of others getting close with God. Join us and celebrate! Amen.
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