A Christmas prayer to be a Christmas to others too

The Lord Is My Chef Christmas Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Christmas Eve, 24 December 2022
Isaiah 9:1-6 ><}}}}*> Titus 2:11-14 ><}}}}*> Luke 2:1-14

Christmas is the busiest season for us priests. How ironic that as we keep on reminding the people to prepare more on the spiritual aspect of this most loved season, we priests are also caught in all the rush and busyness of Christmas, beginning with the Simbang Gabi and Misa de Gallo and other parish concerns.

But, God gives us the grace to hurdle all difficulties of sleeping late, rising early and in between, praying as we prepare for our homilies. Thank you too for your appreciation and prayers for us priests. Forgive us when sometimes we get too touchy this week for lack of sleep.

As usual, I woke up early today to pray and prepare for Christmas but unfortunately, I felt like waking up on the wrong side of the bed, feeling grouchy. Most of all, so dried in prayer. Yet, God is so merciful after being silent before him before noon, I just felt writing this prayer interspersed with my reflections of the scriptures which I have been praying over since Wednesday.


Dearest sweet Jesus:
I feel agitated.
Or excited?
So many things are coming
and filling me at this moment;
I could not be still to find you,
to experience you.
Come, Lord Jesus,
So that I may share you
with others!

Let me be your Christmas too
by being Your presence to others, 
myself as a gift and present especially
to those grieving for the loss of a loved one
during this difficult years of the pandemic;
let me be your Christmas and presence,
myself as a gift and present to those nursing
fresh wounds or wounds that would not heal
because they are so deep and painful;
let me be your Christmas to those with nothing
this Christmas Day except their very selves
with that firm faith and fervent hope in you, 
Lord Jesus, by being small and fragile like you
on the manger in Bethlehem.

How lovely is Luke’s presentation of the first Christmas, of Jesus Christ coming in a time of history that is so troubled, so inhospitable especially for children.

Just like today with this ongoing pandemic made worst by the many wars going on that have triggered so many other difficulties and sufferings, from poverty to homelessness. Yet, it is the most beautiful setting of Christ’s coming set at the background of many leaders feeling they are the savior of the world or of their country just like the Roman emperor at the time of his birth. In all their “larger than life” portrayal of themselves, there is Jesus Christ in the most ordinary yet powerful truth of God among us – coming as an infant, coming and starting small!

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of Bethlehem…with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Luke 2:1-4, 5-7

We need not be famous nor have all the power and wealth to change this world. We all just have to be our true selves, little “earthlings” because in our being small when Jesus comes. We do not have to live in luxuries nor be in the cities or any country. Just be where we are, in our simplicity and humanity where Christ comes to fill us because he is God’s Firstborn in whom everything is created for him, with him and in him as St. Paul had noted.

Inasmuch as God believes in us by entrusting to us his Son Jesus Christ, let us believe also in God truly that he will work miracles in us, with us and through us! That is why Jesus came.


Let me be your Christmas to others, Jesus:
I may not be able to wrap any gift this Christmas,
let my arms and smiles wrap others in a hug
so they may experience your warmth and loving presence;
let me be your Christmas to others, Jesus,
by sharing food, and being the food myself to
those hungry and thirsty to give them strength 
not only in body but also in soul;
I do not know how to bake cookies 
and other goodies but, still make me your Christmas
to others by sharing your joy and kindness with them
so we could have memories of my love 
no matter how imperfect it may be;
most of all, dear Jesus, let me be your Christmas light
this Christmas for others especially those in the darkness
of sin and evil, depression and confusion,
helplessness and despair, isolation and alienation,
of festering anger and recurring painful memories.

We have been through a lot of so many things these past three years. It is God’s will that since the pandemic started in 2020 that this time, we celebrate Christmas face-to-face, which is what Christmas is essentially all about – the Son of God coming to us in flesh to experience Father personally.

Christmas is a story of encounters, of God meeting persons, real people like me and you.

Jesus came as a baby so that we could easily and lovingly receive him as he entrusts himself to our love and care and protection. So many things have happened to us since 2020 but hey, we are still alive, still here celebrating Christmas. Let us dwell in this joy of Jesus coming to us so we may also share him with others still sulking in all the negative vibes brought by COVID-19.

May we imitate his Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary who “kept all these things, reflecting them in her heart” (Lk. 1:19) for it is in our hearts where Jesus comes daily.

How sad that with all the experiences we have had these years of pandemic that we lose sight of its meaning that amid all the darkness and hostilities of this world, Jesus surely comes to save us!


Dearest Jesus,
let me be your Christmas to others:
make me firm in my conviction and faith in you
"rejecting godless ways and worldly desires
by living temperately, justly and devoutly" (Titus 2:12);
let me be your Christmas,
be born in me every day as I strive
to follow you even to the Cross
so that "the people who walked in darkness
may see your great light to experience peace"
(Isaiah 9:1, 5) when I say your words
and do your works.  Amen.

A blessed Merry Christmas, everyone!

Be a Christmas to others too!

Rejoicing amid disappointments

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Third Sunday in Advent-A, Gaudete Sunday, 11 December 2022
Isaiah 35:1-6, 10 ><}}}*> James 5:7-10 ><}}}*> Matthew 11:2-11

Photo by author, 2019.

Today our altar bursts in lovely shades of pink in celebration of the third Sunday of Advent also known as Gaudete Sunday from the Latin gaudere that means “to rejoice”. We rejoice this third Sunday because the Lord’s Second Coming is getting nearer each day and so is our awaited celebration of Christmas with the start of Simabang Gabi.

There are still many reasons for us to rejoice but when we reflect deeper in life, our rejoicing in itself is a paradox.

Because rejoicing is more joyful when seen amid darkness and uncertainties, disappointments and failures.

Because joy is more than feeling happy but that certainty within us that no matter what happens in this life, even if things get worst, everything ends according to God’s plans.

Because God loves us so much!

That is why we rejoice this Sunday – and everyday in our lives – that no matter what happens to us, God is with us in Jesus Christ, loving us, saving us.

When John the Baptist heard in prison of the works of the Christ, he sent his disciples to Jesus with this question, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” Jesus said to them in reply, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”

Matthew 11:2-6
Photo by author, 2021.

How fast things happen and change in life, especially when there is a sudden change or reversal, from good to bad, from top of the world to bottom into the unknown like John the Baptist.

Last week, John was on top of the world as people were coming to him for baptism, listening and believing his preaching; today, we heard him in prison!

Herod Antipas, the son of King Herod when Christ was born, had him imprisoned after John told him that it was wrong for him to take as wife his brother Philip’s former wife, Herodias. Eventually, John was beheaded in prison upon Herod’s order after making a promise to grant whatever request the daughter of Herodias would ask him after entertaining guests in his birthday party; the daughter asked for John’s head on a platter and immediately, Herod dispatched his executioner.

Now at his lowest point in life awaiting certain death, John was “disappointed” with what he had been hearing about the works and preaching of Jesus Christ whom he had baptized at Jordan. Recall how John preached a message of “fire and brimstone” as he expected the Christ would bring punishment and destruction to those doing evil, warning them that the “ax lies at the root of the trees…ready to cut down those not bearing fruits” while his “winnowing fan in his hand is gathering his wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire” (Mt. 3:10, 12).

John was expecting the Christ would immediately make sweeping changes in the world, punishing the evil doers but what he heard and perhaps may have witnessed too was the gentleness of Jesus, always ready to forgive the sinful, heal the sick, and most of all, keeping company with the most sinful people of that time like the tax collectors and the prostitutes!

Many times in life we find ourselves very much in John’s situation – so disappointed with God because what happens in reality are exactly the opposite of what we expected based on what we are taught or what we have read in the Bible! That is why John sought clarification from Jesus himself. We too, when disappointments happen in life along with other pains and sufferings especially after trying our very best to serve God through others, must always have that disposition of humility to seek clarifications from God. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we must be open like John in welcoming the Lord in the way he wishes to reveal himself.

Photo by author, November 2022.

How ironic that John who stood preaching the coming of Christ Jesus, of demanding justice and kindness from the people was imprisoned, himself a victim of injustice! Sometimes in life, it is so easy to preach Jesus Christ and his values not until we find ourselves on the distaff side like getting sick or being unjustly accused of something we did not commit. Like John, when we become the very people suffering those things we preach, our expectations even of God may blind us and fail us to see Christ’s coming, becoming so difficult to see God’s mercy and healing acting in other people’s lives but not in our own lives like John who was imprisoned unjustly for telling the truth.

The Season of Advent, especially this third Sunday we call “Rejoice” or “Gaudete” Sunday invites us to examine our own expectations and knowledge of God that may sometimes blind us to his actions and presence in our world.

The key is to have that humility to just let God be God!

Let God do his work and just chill.

Let us allow ourselves to be surprised by God always! It is from those surprises by God when joys burst in our lives even in the most difficult or simplest situations in life.

Photo by author, 2018.

One of my favorite subjects in photography are mosses – lumot – those green clumps or mats found thriving in damp, shady spots and locations. I am no green thumb but I love mosses and ferns because they are very refreshing to the eyes. They evoke hopes and surprises that despite the little sunlight and care they get, they live and thrive so well, teaching us a lot of valuable lessons about darkness and failures in life.

That is what Isaiah and St. James were reminding us in the first two readings, of the need for us to be patient like the farmers in awaiting the sprouting and blooming of crops and plants in the fields, of strengthening each other because the hard times are sure to end. Most of all, the Lord is faithful, always working silently when we are in the most dead situations in life, preparing great surprises for us.

Let us set aside our expectations, even our goals and agenda in life to let God do his work in us, to surprise us with his more wondrous plans because he knows what is best for us.

There are times in life when we are disappointed even frustrated at how things are not going according to our plans even if God had confirmed it in our prayers and in many instances in life – that feeling of suddenly being abandoned by God?

There are times we complain and feel undeserving of the many failures and pains that come our way because we have been so faithful to God, even prayerful that we cry to him, asking him like John for clarifications of whether he is with us or should we still wait more.

Most often in life, we get blinded even by our noble intentions and goodness, of our image and expectations of God that in the process, we are hurt, leaving us with scars and empty spaces within…

Be patient, my friend. Trust God.

The same empty spaces and holes in life would soon be filled with blessings so unimaginable because, remember, God is “greater than our hearts and knows everything” (1 Jn. 3:20). It is only when we are hurt and bruised and emptied, even dried and dead when life and joy burst forth because that is when God can freely work in us in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Have a joyful week ahead!

Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte, September 2019.

Joy & mercy in the gift of life

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, 08 December 2022
Genesis 3:9-15, 20 ><}}}*> Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12 ><}}}*> Luke 1:26-38
Photo by Rev. Fr. Gerry Pascual at Palazzo Borromeo, Isola Bella, Stresa, Italia 2019.

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”

Luke 1:26-28
Praise and glory to you, God our Father
for the gift of life, for the gift of salvation
in Jesus Christ through Mary's Immaculate Conception!
Every joy in the gift of life,
in the gift of every person
is also a gift of your great mercy:
wherever there is life,
there is joy,
there is grace,
there is mercy.
How lovely to keep in mind
that "joy" in Hebrew is "raham, rahamin" -
the same word for "womb" that is why
in describing "joy" to his disciples on the night
before he was arrested, Jesus used the
image of a woman in the pangs of childbirth:
"When a woman is in labor,
she is in anguish because her hour 
has arrived; but when she has given birth
to a child, she no longer remembers the pain
because of her joy that a child has been
into the world" (John 16:21).
So many people are sick at this very moment,
some are awaiting death, some are alone;
many people are hungry, barely surviving
in life every day amid the world's waste
of food and water;
many children are dying too without even
seeing the light because they are seen as
burdens to one's dreams and goals,
thinking only of themselves,
of their rights,
of their body.
On this day as we celebrate
the beginning of the coming of Jesus to us
in the Immaculate Conception of his Mother,
remind us anew that every life is from you,
O God:  what must prevail is your will,
your beautiful plans, not ours;
teach us to trust you like Mary.
Loving Father, make our joy complete
in your Son Jesus Christ;
make us realize and experience
the many spiritual blessings you have
bestowed on us in Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:3);
let us take a rest today,
rest in the real sense like Sabbath
when we return to you in Paradise
obedient not like Adam and Eve; 
most of all, may we recall in the story of Dimas,
we enter Paradise on the Cross with Jesus when 
amid all pains and sufferings,
like the Blessed Mother Mary staying behind,
we may firmly say to you, 
"I am your servant, O Lord.
Be it done unto me
according to your word."
Amen.
Photo by author, 07 December 2022.

Living for others

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the Thirty-First Week of Ordinary Time, Year II, 31 October 2022
Philippinas 2:1-4   ><}}}*> + <*{{{>< ~~ ><}}}*> + <*{{{><   Luke 14:12-14
Dearest Lord Jesus,
in this time of calamities
when so many people have died
and many others are still suffering
while we celebrate the lives of
All the Saints and those of our
dearly departed, teach me to be
like them in bringing joy and light
in the lives of others; teach me
to live in love for others as
St. Paul beautifully tells us today:

Brothers and sisters: If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interest, but also everyone for those of others.

Philippians 2:1-4
Many times, 
quarrels and misunderstandings
cannot be avoided in our circles of
family and friends; there are times
others can be either so sensitive or
insensitive, always feeling the world
revolves around them; there are times 
when people are simply not matured enough,
so selfish and self-centered;
in times like these,
teach me Jesus to think less of myself
and more of others, especially those
affected when the sensitive and insensitive
along with those not matured enough are
casting their spells of darkness;
let me brighten the lives of others
with your joy and kindness,
love and care.
Amen.

God is faithful

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Twenty-first Week of Ordinary Time, 25 August 2022
1 Corinthians 1:1-9   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Matthew 25:1-13
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Glory and praise to you,
God our loving Father!
How true are the words of
St. Paul today:  "God is
faithful" (1 Cor. 1:9);
you never fail us especially
in times of trials like
during this recent severe
tropical storm Florita;
we lift up to your grace
and mercy the people in
Northern Luzon severely
affected, those who have 
lost their livelihood, those
cut off from their loved ones,
and those who left homes
for safety due to floods;
we pray most specially no one 
died in this typhoon.
Grant them "grace and peace",
almighty Father.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I give thanks to my God always on your account for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, that in him you were enriched in every way… so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you await for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:3-5, 7
Keep us faithful to you, Father,
by being faithful to your mission,
faithful to people entrusted to us,
faithful to all the grace you bestowed
upon us; teach us to share your grace
so as to share your joy with others too;
after all, joy and grace, chara and charis
in Greek respectively, are derived 
from the same root because joy and
grace belong together in you!
Amen.

True joy

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Sixth Week of Easter, 27 May 2022
Acts 18:9-18     ><}}}}*> + <*{{{{><     John 16:20-23
Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa at Carigara Market, Leyte, 2018.
Today, Lord Jesus Christ,
you describe true joy in you,
scary yet so wonderful:

Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy. When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world.”

John 16:20-21
Joy is like a woman in labor,
in anguish because her hour has arrived
but after giving birth to a child, she 
remembers no more the pain because
of her joy of bringing forth a child into
the world!
I wonder, dear Lord, in this time
when childbearing has become a major
issue with some women insisting on
their rights, refusing to bear a child,
that less and less people are also 
experiencing true joy; we have come
to trust ourselves more than God that
many are so afraid of having children,
thinking it would lead to more joy when
ironically it had led to fewer joys in 
their lives!
Joy is completely trusting in you, God,
in your providence and protection like 
St. Paul who was so fruitful - and surely, 
joyful - at his stay in Corinth because of his
complete trust in Jesus; no harm really
ever happened to him!  How sad these days
when those in the pro-choice movement
focus more on the minority having problems in
childbearing than on the majority who make it
through all the pains and joys of giving birth.
Joy is more than happiness; it is a complete
trust and confidence in you, dear Jesus 
that even if things turn to worst, 
you will never abandon us until the end 
for you alone is our joy dwelling within us
in our hearts.  Amen.

Joy in the Lord

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Sixth Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Philip Neri, Priest, 26 May 2022
Acts 18:1-8     ><))))*> + <*((((><     John 16:16-20
Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, Carigara Market in Leyte, 2018.

So, brethren, rejoice in the Lord, not in the world. That is, rejoice in the truth, not in wickedness; rejoice in the hope of eternity, not in the fading flower of vanity. That is the way to rejoice. Wherever you are on earth, however long you remain on earth, the Lord is near, do not be anxious about anything.

From a sermon by Saint Augustine, Office of Readings, Memorial of St. Philip Neri, 26 May
Thank you, dear God our Father
in giving us a joyful saint whose
feast we celebrate today, St. Philip Neri.
Of course, every saint must be a
joyful one but St. Philip exuded with
so much joy in serving you among
the poor and the sick that according
to stories, two of his ribs were found
broken after his death because his
heart grew with so much joy and
love for Jesus Christ among the
people he served!
Whatever that means, we believe
in the great joy you must have given
St. Philip Neri and all the saints in
serving you; as St. Augustine
mentioned in his homily, to rejoice
in you is to rejoice in truth not in lies
and wickedness; and to rejoice in eternal
life not in temporal that is momentary.
Much of the world has remained
the same, meaning we still have a
lot of work to do in your name; like
St. Paul, give us the perseverance, 
and the sense of humor of St. Philip
Neri to keep preaching the gospel of
Jesus Christ most specially in places
and among people we least expect 
to accept it for you yourself, O God is 
filled with humor:  who would have 
thought except you, Lord, that the 
sinful city of Corinth would become
one of the leading cities in the spread 
of Christianity than the sophisticated
Athens?
Keep us faithful to you, dear Jesus,
never to lose your sense of humor
in doing your work for you always write
straight crooked lines!  This is part of
your riddle to your disciples about your
coming Pasch and departure as well as 
our coming situation, "you will weep 
and mourn while the world rejoices, 
you will grieve but your grief will
become joy" (Jn.16:20).
May we always rejoice in you,
Lord Jesus.  Amen.

Loving means a lot of bending

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Fifth Week of Easter, 19 May 2022
Acts 15:7-21   ><))))*> + <*((((><   John 15:9-11
Photo by author, Bgy. Pulang Bato, San Juan, Batangas, 14 May 2022.
Lord Jesus Christ,
let me "remain in your love
by keeping your commandments
so that my joy might be
complete in you" (cf. Jn.15:9-11)!
To remain in your love, 
dear Jesus, takes a lot of
bending and bowing low
before you and others, 
of forgetting myself and 
all my other ideas of you
in order to truly see you 
in others especially with 
those different from me.

The whole assembly fell silent, and they listened while Paul and Barnabas described the signs and wonders God had worked among the Gentiles through them.

Acts 15:12
I wonder, Lord, why the whole 
assembly fell silent after Peter had
spoken about your works among 
Cornelius and his household; whatever
it meant, it must have paved the way
for everyone to bend their ways
and beliefs especially with their
traditions in order to commit 
themselves anew to you,
Jesus Christ, our way and truth
and life!
In this highly competitive world 
we now live in, we have forgotten
to bend low in life, literally and
figuratively speaking; we are always
seeking the vantage position of 
being above others, always clapping
for others and for one's self but
rarely bending; maybe, that is why
it has become so difficult to truly love
others these days.  Teach us to learn
to bend, to kneel, to bow not out of 
fearful submission to anyone but 
out of respect and love for you
present among us despite and in spite
of our many differences.  Amen.

“Fearful yet overjoyed”

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday within the Octave of Easter, 18 April 2022
Acts 2:14, 22-33   ><)))*> + <*(((><   Matthew 28:8-15
From Facebook, April 2021: “There is an urgency to announce the Joy, the joy of the Risen Lord!”
Twenty-four years ago today,
dearest Lord Jesus Christ,
you gave me, along with my six
other classmates the most wonderful
gift of ordination to the priesthood;
thank you very much from the bottom
of my heart!  I could not ask for anything
else and if ever, indeed, I shall live my
life again and you call me, most likely
I would still say yes to you - "fearful yet
overjoyed" like Mary Magdalene 
on that Easter morning.

Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went away quickly from the tomb, fearful yet overjoyed, and ran to announce this to his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them. They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”

Matthew 28:8-10
How lovely it is to remember 
this date of our ordination
including the years leading to it
and the following ones after;
I was "fearful yet overjoyed" -
so afraid of mistakes and failures
yet so raring to explore and learn
so much in life and ministry;
most of all, I felt "fearful yet
overjoyed" so many times I might 
fall into sins and lose you yet
overjoyed because even in my 
lowest and darkest moments,
you were there, Lord, 
so faithful and loving, 
forgiving and merciful, 
never imposing nor insisting 
but always patient with me.
But there were also many occasions,
Lord Jesus, when I felt more fearful
without any joy at all; forgive me
for doubting you, for turning away
from you, choosing sin, believing
more to what others say, especially
the lies they spread against you and 
your truth.
Enkindle anew in me, dear Jesus,
the warmth and joy of your Resurrection
that I may continue to witness your 
presence and share this truth with 
those around me like Peter in the first
reading by being a living witness
of your Paschal Mystery.
I pray for my other classmates too,
Lord Jesus - Fathers Ed, Joshua,
Romy, Leonard, Arnel as well as 
Fathers Bien and Felix in Antipolo
and Bataan respectively, Fathers Jay
in Tarlac and Fr. Jay-El in the Military 
Ordinariate:  let us be focused more
on you, Jesus our Caller than with
your call, the priesthood; keep us open
to your presence and empty 
to be filled with your light  of truth 
and unity, gentleness and mercy,
 presence and perseverance.  Amen.
Our class together in our clergy retreat in Tagaytay, 2018.
Our class planning for our seminary homecoming in 2019.

Easter is openness and emptiness

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Easter Sunday, 17 April 2022
Acts 10:34, 37-43  ><}}}*>  Colossians 3:1-4  ><}}}*>  John 20:1-9 
Photo by author, Mirador Jesuit Villa and Retreat House, Baguio City, January 2019.

Easter is one big event composed of so many stories of openness and emptiness that all started and were prepared at Holy Thursday and Good Friday. In fact, our celebration today is the one we have prepared these past 40 days of Lent and what a tragedy – and a foolishness – when people skip Easter!

Easter is so big an event that beginning today until the Pentecost – all 50 days are counted as one big day for we cannot contain all the joy and mysteries of Christ’s Resurrection in just one day or even one week.

Most of all, the joy of Easter is a reality that continues to happen to us everyday as we join Jesus Christ in our daily passover or pasch by remaining open and empty in him, with him, and through him.

On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.

John 20:1-3
Photo from GettyImages/iStockphoto.

One of the many rituals I began having since turning 50 years old was preparing my daily medicines which I put into those little boxes with labels of the day of the week and time like morning, mid-morning, noon, evening and bed-time. For those of my generation, I’m sure you can relate so well that it is like playing sungka when we were kids!

Last Monday as I prepared my meds and reflections for the Holy Week and Easter, I noticed how it has become more difficult to open bottles, boxes and packets of medicines that all come with a reminder, “Do not accept if seal is broken”. In an instance, I realized how we have been so conscious with our safety and privacy these days that everything now goes so tightly sealed with a lot of other safety features to prevent it from contamination and hacking that include food and drinks, gadgets like cellphones and computers, and smart devices. It is more difficult and frustrating for non-techies and forgetful like me when online bank accounts and various social media accounts require many verifications and updating of passwords due to threat of scams and other cybercrimes.

How ironic that the more we are supposed to be free and mobile, when life is meant to be easier and enjoyable but in reality, the more we are locked up to ourselves for fears of being hurt or disrespected, even killed!

And so, instead of opening, the more we close in, the more we hide, the more we become secretive, worst, the more we are imprisoned by our own devices as the Eagles claimed in their classic hit in the 70’s, Hotel California.

Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte, sunrise at Atok, Benguet, 2019.

Easter is opposite: the grace of this event and season is experienced and received when we open ourselves to the many new possibilities in life Jesus himself had opened for us when he rose from the dead conquering evil and sin.

Like that stone in his empty tomb, Jesus had removed everything that have locked us inside our insecurities and fears, sins and failures, pains and hurts in the past so that we can go out freely each day to face the world with joy in order to grow and mature as persons.

Jesus had removed everything that blocks us and prevents us from seeing the many beauties and wonders life offers us found in the people God sends us to express his love and care, mercy and kindness for us.

But, are we also open to him and to life itself?

In the first reading, Peter spoke to the people of Jerusalem, asking them to open themselves to the truth about Jesus as the Christ sent by God to save us from our sins being his witnesses to “what had happened in Judea that started in Galilee” (Acts 10:34).

Recall last night how Luke in his version of the Resurrection recorded the two Angels telling the women who had come to the empty tomb to stop “seeking the living among the dead” (Lk.24:5).

Being open means breaking the news to others that Jesus is risen with our very lives full of joy and hope. Unlike Mary of Magdala and Simon Peter on that early morning of Easter, we need to be empty first of our suppositions and doubts about Jesus Christ. See how they at first doubted the empty tomb but later especially after Pentecost, they all proclaimed the good news of salvation of Jesus Christ.

Being open to Jesus and being empty of doubts of his Resurrection mean that we have to focus more of the things of above, of the more essential than the superficial and fleeting.

Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte, sunrise at Atok, Benguet, 2019.

Please forgive me but I felt so sad with the people during the celebrations these Holy Thursday and Good Friday: so many of us are trapped in those little cellphone cameras spending more time recording the beautiful rites we have had after two years of lockdown. Experience the moments! Experience Jesus Christ, experience the person next to you! Keep those cellphones during celebration of the Sacraments which is the saving presence of Jesus! Remove the “media” and be actually present.

Maybe you have seen that cartoon of the Resurrection before pandemic when Jesus was surprised coming out of the tomb with people waiting for him with their cellphones; yes, it is funny but the joke is on us. We have been trapped and imprisoned by these gadgets that we have stopped living in reality and more in virtual reality so that many of us are no longer grounded, so out-of-touch, even alienated with self, others and sadly, with God.

Brothers and sisters: If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above… Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.

Colossians 3:1-4

Open yourself to Jesus, empty yourself of all fears and doubts. Be kind and be gentle with yourself. Jesus had forgiven you, forgive yourself for your sins and mistakes in the past if you have confessed these or gone to confessions this Lenten season.

Move on with the present moment, dare to go out and challenge yourself to learn again, to work again, to love again, to dream again! COVID-19 may still be around but Jesus Christ is stronger, so let us rise again from our sickness and diseases! Let us not be afraid of the giant stone covering us for Jesus had removed it so that we can go out and celebrate life in him.


Lord Jesus Christ,
let me celebrate the joy of your
Resurrection not only today but everyday
by being open to your daily coming
 by emptying myself of my pride;
like the disciple whom you love,
let me believe in your rising again
by being contented with the little
signs of life and order you give me,
with the little bursts of joy and light
that assure me that it is you whom
I follow each day.  Amen.

From PPT-Backgrounds.net.