The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Week X in Ordinary Time, 10 June 2021
2 Corinthians 3:15-4:1, 3-6 ><)))*> + <*(((>< Matthew 5:20-26
Lord Jesus Christ, please remove the veils that cover our minds that prevent us from truly seeing and meeting you. Let us remove the many veils we have unconsciously put on ourselves like our stubbornness and conservatism, legalism and formalism that have made our prayers and worship empty of you.
Brothers and sisters:
To this day, whenever Moses is read,
a veil lies over their hearts of the children of Israel,
but whenever a person turns to the Lord
the veil is removed.
Teach us to submit ourselves more to the promptings and light of the Holy Spirit so that we may reflect you more, dear Jesus, than ourselves.
So many times we have forgotten that we are just bearers of your light, “slaves for your sake” (2Cor.4:5), dear Jesus task to bring people closer to the glory and brightness of God.
Do not let us fall into the same mistakes of the people of your time when praise and worship of God was focused more on the externals than what is inside our hearts expressed in our genuine concern for one another like people we may have hurt or neglected.
Jesus said to his disciples:
"I tell you, unless your righteousness
surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees,
you will not enter into the Kingdom of heaven."
Teach us to go beyond the letters of the Laws.
Enable us to see the deeper and wider meaning of the commandment not to kill by respecting in words and deeds the value of every person, of not maligning any one with nasty talks and through the social media.
Enable us to see the direct link of our celebration of the Eucharist with our behavior and dealing with one another, seeking peace and reconciliation to be truly one in you and with the Father in heaven.
O sweet Jesus, we pray most dearly for those people who have boxed us and refused to give us the chance to show our goodness and goodwill; for those whose frame of mind is so fixed that they would not make the necessary adjustments in this time of crisis to accommodate so many people in great sufferings and trials in their lives.
Let your brightness shine on us, Lord Jesus, in these times of darkness and storms. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 14 March 2021
We are now halfway through to celebrating another Easter amid the darkness of the COVID-19 pandemic worsening anew with a recent surge in infections. But today’s Sunday readings especially the gospel give us so many reasons to celebrate and rejoice for the gift of life and love, light and hope in Jesus Christ who had come not to condemn us but to save us (Jn.3:16-17).
By his dying on the Cross, Jesus had opened a path for us back to the Father by uplifting us from our sins and miseries, becoming our light that dispelled the many darkness that enveloped us if we follow him with our sacrifices and efforts to be good like him (https://lordmychef.com/2021/03/13/the-joy-of-lent-4/).
This we find in our gospel story of Jesus conversing with Nicodemus under the cover of darkness of the night, reminding us of the 1982 hit Up Where We Belong by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes from the equally smash hit movie of that year, “An Officer and A Gentleman” starring Richard Gere and Debra Winger.
The movie is also interesting for us because of some references to the Philippines with the opening scenes of Zack played by Gere growing up with his father who was a Navy officer assigned at the Subic Naval Base.
Like Nicodemus in the gospel, Zack had so many darkness within him following his mother’s suicide and his living with his father who initially refused to take him, afraid he would not be a good father after separating from his mother earlier in childhood. After graduation in college, Zack went to train to become a Naval aviator where he encountered more darkness in life especially from their tough and hard-driving Marine training officer played by Louis Gosset Jr. that earned him an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the film (the first African-American male to do so).
More instances of darkness in Zack were also shown in the film like the suicide of a fellow trainee and friend whose marriage proposal was rejected when his girlfriend learned he had left Naval training. Zack almost quit his training because of that but was prevailed upon by Gosset after an unsanctioned fight bout.
After graduation, Zack went to see his girlfriend at work (Debra Winger), declaring his love for her. And when she said yes to his love, they kissed, after which he carried her in his arms as he walked out of the factory while her co-workers clapped their hands in a round of applause.
The scene is so touching, so lovely. And that is when Jennifer and Joe began their duet.
Who knows what tomorrow brings In a world few hearts survive All I know is the way I feel When it’s real, I keep it alive
The road is long There are mountains in our way But we climb a step every day
Love lift us up where we belong Where the eagles cry On a mountain high Love lift us up where we belong Far from the world below Up where the clear winds blow
Some hang on to used to be Live their lives looking behind All we have is here and now All our lives, out there to find
The road is long There are mountains in our way But we climb a step every day
Love lift us up where we belong Where the eagles cry On a mountain high Love lift us up where we belong Far from the world we know Where the clear winds blow
The song is very Lent, in fact very spiritual that some Christian stations in the States have reportedly adapted it into some religious variations as it speaks so well of overcoming every obstacle in life with determination and perseverance. And of course, with a lot of help and light from above, Jesus Christ. Have a joyful and blessed week ahead, everyone!
40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Fourth Sunday in Lent-B (Laetare Sunday), 14 March 2021
2 Chronicles 36:14-16, 19-23 ><}}}*> Ephesians 2:4-10 ><}}}*> John 3:14-21
Today we burst in joyful shades of pink in our liturgy as we rejoice in this Fourth Sunday in Lent known as “Laetare Sunday” when our entrance antiphon calls us to “Rejoice, Jerusalem! Be glad for her, you who love her; rejoice with her…”
This early as we go halfway through in our journey to Easter, we are called to rejoice as we continue to experience God’s immense love for us in Jesus Christ seen in our readings and most especially, if we have truly taken into heart the spirit of Lent through prayer, fasting and abstinence, and alms-giving.
Jesus said to Nicodemus: “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”
Path to God opened for us in Christ crucified, our light.
As we have mentioned last week, the fourth gospel is also called “the book of signs” because John refers to the miracles and words of Jesus as “signs” that point to him as the Messiah or Christ, the Anointed One of God.
This Sunday we hear John introducing to us another sign and symbol he uses in his gospel for Jesus: his being LIGHT himself.
This we must first see in the context of his crucifixion which John refers to so many times in his gospel as Jesus being lifted up or raised up on the cross.
It is very meaningful for John because the Crucifixion is Christ’s greatest sign and revelation of his glory when he opened a path for us back to God in his Cross. It is in opening this path to God in his Cross that Jesus had also shone so brightly as our light along the way.
After cleansing the temple last week, John tells us how at the start of the following third chapter of his gospel that “There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews” who “came to Jesus at night” (Jn.3:1,2) to discuss things he must have heard and seen about Jesus.
Remember chronemics, the non-verbal communication expressed by time and space? Again we find this employed by John in our gospel scene this Sunday in Nicodemus meeting Jesus at night.
According to biblical scholars, Nicodemus came to see Jesus at night in order to hide in darkness for he was afraid of being publicly associated with Jesus considering his being member of the Sanhedrin, the highest governing body in Israel at that time.
Moreover, his coming at night to Jesus is also symbolic, suggesting that despite his expertise in the Mosaic Law, Nicodemus felt within him a sense of still living in darkness and ignorance. If you read this whole scene, you find many instances of darkness and ignorance in Nicodemus that at one point, there is a tinge of sarcasm from the Lord telling him, “You are a teacher of Israel and you do not understand this?” (Jn.3:10)
Eventually on Good Friday, Nicodemus would come out into the open to join another secret disciple of Jesus named Joseph of Arimathea when they asked Pilate for his body to be buried in a new tomb not far from the site of the crucifixion (Jn.19:38-42).
The fourth gospel teems with many teachings as well as scenes depicting Jesus as the light dispelling the many darkness that envelops the world beginning at its Prologue.
Only John has this scene of Jesus discussing with Nicodemus his coming from heaven to dispel the darkness in our lives.
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the verdict, that light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed. But whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.”
Jesus enlightening us, uplifting us
This love of God for us through the coming of Jesus Christ is not only the joy of Lent but the very joy of our lives the Lord had expressed in two ways: in being our light in the many darkness of life as well as in uplifting us all from the quagmire of sins and evil.
But this joy in the Lord needs to be worked for; it does not come in handy as something given out freely in the sense that it calls us to do a Nicodemus too, of making efforts to come out from darkness, to follow the light of Jesus Christ that leads to the Cross.
And this is where it becomes more joyous, how Jesus enlightens us and lifts us up with him to the Father.
Let me explain it this way: when we talk of sin, we always find its logical connection with punishment. We see it everywhere and have always experienced it because rightly so, every sin is punished. Certainly, no one escapes punishment of sins in this life or life after. It is the law of karma that in every action, there is a corresponding reaction (excluded are other concepts like reincarnation we do not accept).
The problem arises in the question who punishes us for our sins?
Unfortunately, in any religion the finger always points at God which is very untrue and unfair!
God does not punish and would never do so because “God is love (1 Jn.4:16)”!
Those passages we find in the Old Testament of God “getting angry, punishing people” are literary devices used to convey to us deeper truths about God as a person relating with us like human. But notice too that the Sacred Scriptures itself declare in so many instances how God is “so gentle and slow to anger, full of mercy always foregoing his wrath” on the sinful.
Jesus clarified this in many instances, in words and in deeds, when he showed mercy and forgiveness to sinners like prostitutes and tax collectors who were then considered the most wretched and hopeless ones in the society. In the healing of the man born blind, Jesus clarified that sickness and disease are not a punishment from God (Jn.9:1-12).
Rest be assured in his words today to Nicodemus, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”
St. Paul attests to this truth found in his beautiful reflection in the second reading:
Brothers and sisters: God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, brought us to life with Christ — by grace you have been saved — raised us up with him, and sealed us wit him in the heavens in Christ Jesus…
Such is the great love of God for us. When something bad happens to us due to our sins or somebody else’s sins, it is not from God. It is our self-indictment of refusing to change our sinful ways that we suffer the consequences of our evil deeds: “And this is the verdict, that light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed.“
When we try to reflect deeper, we find that avoiding sins is the most practical thing we can always do in life but, unfortunately, something we refuse to do for so many reasons.
Why we prefer darkness than light is something we have always been struggling with when we know so well it is better to be out in the light.
If we reflect deeply, we realize that God has no need for us; he remains perfect even if we sin, if we do not obey him, if we abandon him. But God chose to love us, even begging us to remain good and holy so we can be fulfilled in this life.
Should something bad happens to us because of our sins or somebody else’s sins, the very good news is that God would always find ways to enlighten us to ensure it will turn out well for our own good, even if he has to use pagans and unbelievers or sinners to bring us back into light as experienced by his people with King Cyrus of Persia.
We all have a Nicodemus in us when we sometimes prefer darkness, of coming to Jesus at night because of fears of what others might say about us in following the path of the Lord, of being good, being just, being kind, and being holy.
Like Nicodemus, we try following and listening to Jesus from afar as we have been so used to staying and living in darkness when light sometimes hurt our eyes, making it difficult for us to really see and accept people and things because truth hurts.
This Sunday, let us examine the many darkness we still have within us. Like the author of the Book of Chronicles we heard in the first reading, let us try to see the religious significance of what is happening in our lives and nation to find where God is leading us.
Jesus had come to save us, not to judge us. Step out from your darkness within and let the light of Jesus enlighten and uplift you high like never before in rejoicing as you see the beauty of life in God its author. Amen.A blessed and joyful week to everyone!
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Tuesday, Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, 02 February 2021
Malachi 3:1-4 >><)))*> Hebrews 2:14-18 >><)))*> Luke 2:22-40
Dearest God our Father:
It has been 40 days since Christmas when you sent us your Son our Lord Jesus Christ! Thank you very much for this wonderful gift but, have we had him? Have we truly met him?
Fill us with your Holy Spirit like Simeon, dear God: make us devout like him who finally “met” Jesus Christ on his presentation at the temple by Joseph and Mary.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God…
Only St. Luke used the word “devout” in the scriptures. First in describing Simeon, and thrice at the Book of the Acts of the Apostles to describe the Jews who attended the pentecost at Jerusalem (2:5); “the devout men who buried” our first martyr Stephen (8:2), and called Ananias a “devout observer of the law” when you told him to pray over and heal Saul who got blinded on the way to Damascus (22:12).
Teach us to be devout like Simeon, give us a “good heart, ready to believe, and then to act openly and with courage” (Timothy Clayton, Exploring Advent with Luke; page 125).
More than being faithful to you, a devout person O Lord is one who does not only wait patiently for your coming but most of all, looks forward to its fulfillment by making it happen. Exactly what Simeon and Anna did on that day when Mary and Joseph presented Jesus at the temple.
So many times in our lives, Jesus comes, enlightening our minds and our hearts but we are so busy with so many other things that do not truly fulfill us, that in the end, would be more of an excess baggage on our way to you and others. And eventually, making death difficult and devastating instead of becoming a blessing like with Simeon and Anna.
Let us spend more time meeting Jesus in prayers to be more attuned with his coming so that we may be ready to follow his promptings and leads.
May we also learn to respect and care for others in order to meet Jesus like Simeon who recognized his parents for their roles in bringing the child into this world; likewise, the attitudes of Mary and Joseph in giving Simeon and Anna the child Jesus. What a beautiful scene of loving and caring for one another, especially of respect for the elderly! So many times we forget that truth, that we meet Jesus coming in others.
Lastly, fill us with joy no matter how difficult life may be has for us; we can never meet your Son Jesus if all we have are bitterness and resentments. Like Simeon and Anna, they were overflowing with joy, so excited to meet Christ and upon encountering him that day, they embraced him in their arms, expressing their readiness to die and rest in peace.
“Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, an d glory for your people Israel.”
Dearest Father in heaven, make us devout like Simeon and Anna with hearts overflowing with joy, striving to realize its fullness only in Jesus Christ, in this life and hereafter. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, 28 January 2021
Thursday, Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church
Hebrews 10:19-25 >><)))*> +++ <*(((><< Mark 4:21-25
Our loving God and Father in heaven, thank you very much in sending us your Son Jesus Christ as our Eternal Priest who has enabled us all to approach you “with a sincere heart and in absolute trust, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water” (Heb. 10:22).
In becoming our Eternal Priest with his great sacrifice on the Cross made present day in, day out in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, you have filled us with more of your love, O Father to become also your gift, your light, your blessing to others through Jesus Christ.
Like your “Angelic Doctor”, St. Thomas Aquinas whose feast we celebrate today.
Here is a great saint of your Church who truly listened to Jesus Christ, heeding his admonition,
“Is a lamp brought in to be placed under a bushel basket or under a bed, and not to be placed on a lampstand? For there is nothing hidden except to be made visible; nothing is secret except to come to light. Anyone who has ears to hear ought to hear.”
Teach us to be truly humble before you, Father by becoming who we really are, a lamp of your Son Jesus Christ like St. Thomas Aquinas.
Let us be a lamp who would not hide but let Christ’s light of love and kindness, mercy and compassion shine on those suffering in pain especially the poor and needy.
Let us be a lamp who would not hide but let Christ’s light of wisdom and knowledge, moral certitude and courage shine on those in darkness and cowardice.
Let us be a lamp like St. Thomas Aquinas making you present O God, the real Truth – Veritas – of this life in Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Thursday, Seventh Day in the Christmas Octave, 31 December 2020
1 John 2:18-21 >><)))*> + <*(((><< John 1:1-18
O God our Father, on this last day of 2020, we thank you so much for all the blessings you have given us these past 365 days. Yes, we shall always remember this year as the most difficult and most life-changing we ever had but we are grateful to you.
No matter how much people would ridicule and play jokes on 2020, despite its being so heavy for many of us who have lost loved ones, lost jobs and livelihood, and forced us to change plans and directions in life, we still thank you Lord for letting us make it through.
The problem, Lord, is not the year 2020 which means “perfect vision”; the problem is us who have lost all our vision for moral and upright living, decency, and good governance. We have lost vision, of the ability to see beyond the surface of things we have gone through this year.
How sad when many of us have seen only the year, the days and the months without realizing the deeper meaning of the events that resulted from our poor and wrong decisions, inactions and indifference to the calumnies and lies dished out daily by those in power.
Open our minds and our hearts that the presence of so many antichrists in our midst who lie and speak without thinking so well what they say signal the final hour of Christ’s coming and judgment as well as the final hour for us to do something concrete to end the reign of evil.
Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that the antichrist was coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. Thus we know this is the last hour.
1 John 2:18
Let us claim, dear Jesus, on this last day of 2020 and into the coming new year the two great gifts you have given us in your coming — light and life (Jn.1:4).
Your light has always been there present among us. Give us the courage to bring out your light, sweet Jesus so there may be more truth, goodness, justice, love, beauty, compassion, kindness, freedom, and peace in this world that have ironically reached great new heights in science and technology but has remained inside the caves of evil and malice.
May we rediscover anew the value of every life, that one life being lost is too many, whether due to the pandemic or the war on drugs.
On this last day of the year, may we do something so good, so kind, so true as if today were also our last day on earth. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas, 29 December 2020
1 John 2:3-11 >><)))*> + <*(((><< Luke 2:22-35
As we leave 2020 and approach the new year, we pray dear Jesus to let us walk and live in your light of love. Your beloved disciple is right in saying that it is not enough that we know you in our minds, in our intellect; that we must keep most of all your commandments.
Whoever says he is in the light, yet hates his brother, is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother remains in the light, and there is nothing in him to cause a fall. Whoever hates his brother is in darkness; he walks in darkness and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
1 John 2:9-11
How sad, O Lord, that these days everybody is claiming to be speaking of the truth, of having the light, of knowing you and yet all they do is spread lies and animosities among people, instead of bringing together they draw us apart from each other.
And worst, is how many of those in authorities disregard the laws of the land, selecting only to follow whatever suits their personal needs and agenda.
We pray, O Lord, to please end this darkness looming above us. Enlighten the perpetrators and supporters of all these lies and inanities being spread by those in powers.
Purify us with your light and law of love, of loving like you even if we have to suffer and die for what is true, just, and good.
Give us the courage to abide always in you, sweet Jesus, to remain faithful to what is true and just. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Week XXX, Year II in Ordinary Time, 26 October 2020
Ephesians 4:32-5:8 >><)))*> || >><)))*> || >><)))*> Luke 13:10-17
How beautiful are your words for us, loving Father, on this last Monday of October 2020!
Despite the rains caused by a typhoon, our first reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians is so heartwarming in reminding us of our new humanity in Jesus Christ your Son, encouraging us to live moral lives by “living in love” (Eph.5:2) as “children of light” (Eph.5:8).
Living in love is living as children of light by first being imitators of you, O God, which is to be holy as you are holy. Remove from our minds that holiness is being sinless; teach us to realize that being holy, being “whole” and perfect is a process of being filled with you, dear God.
Teach us to be open to let you fill us, God, full of life and zest, raring to explore and move forward despite the many pains and setbacks we have had.
Cleanse us of immorality and impurity in our minds and hearts and lips.
Keep us grateful to your many blessings we have received specially those we never asked from you yet you have generously given us.
Most of all, make us truthful and sincere in our love for you through our neighbors; take off our masks of hypocrisy like the leader of the synagogue where Jesus healed on a sabbath a woman crippled by a spirit for 18 years (Lk.13:14).
To live in love as your children of light Lord is also to free others from the many burdens burdens in life they carry so they may start living in you through Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Saturday, Memorial of St. Teresa of Calcutta, 05 September 2020
1 Corinthians 4:6-15 /// Luke 6:1-5
By blood, I am Albanian. By citizenship, an Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.
St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta (26 August 1910-05 September 1997)
One of the great joys I have come to treasure lately, O Lord, is the grace to have lived in these interesting part of history among some of the great modern saints of our time like St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta whose Memorial we celebrate today.
I practically grew up during her time when she was called a “living saint”, a very small woman in stature clad in her usual white and blue-striped habit, always wearing a smile, radiating with your light, sweet Jesus Christ.
Yet, deep in her fragile-looking body was a rock-solid faith in you, Lord, that enabled her to accomplish so much to alleviate the sufferings of so many people!
She knew so well our time marked with material affluence amid spiritual and moral bankruptcies that she went to serve the “poorest of the poor” not only in India but in the entire world. She was a soul filled with your light, Lord, burning with love for you with the sole desire to be your love and compassion to the poor.
Thank you, dear Jesus for being present with us through saints like St. Mother Teresa.
Like her, I pray that I may remain faithful to you than be successful by becoming your light to the world plunged in darkness of sin.
Like St. Paul before her, use me, Jesus, to heal the world of its wounds and divisions by remaining faithful and true to your words that you are the “Son of Man, the lord of the sabbath.”
Like St. Mother Teresa, may I share you Jesus, only Jesus, and always Jesus. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Week XIX, Cycle A in Ordinary Time, 09 August 2020
1 Kings 19:9, 11-13 >><}}}*> Romans 9:1-5 >><}}}*> Matthew 14:22-33
I have always loved the sea and lately my thoughts have always been about the beach as I miss it so much after COVID-19 had robbed us of our summer vacation.
In ancient time, the sea evoked fear because it was largely unknown that even in the bible, it is the symbol of evil and its powers over man. That is why our gospel today is very significant when Jesus walked on water to show God’s greater power over evil and sin.
And like our gospel last week, our story today tells us a lot more about Jesus walking on water in the midst of a storm to reveal himself and most of all, his desire to meet us his disciples.
Place and location as non-verbal communication of one’s presence
Every meeting and encounter presupposes locations or places, a locus; but, everything is “levelled up” or elevated in Jesus in whom things do not remain in the physical level.
Proxemics is the non-verbal communication that refers to places and location, its nearness and orientation. How we arrange our furnitures, designate the rooms and sections in our homes, offices, schools and every building we stay and gather communicate and reveal who we are.
For example, Catholic homes are easily identified in having a grotto at the garden, an altar of the Sacred Heart or any saint at the sala, and the Last Supper painting in the dining hall.
But for Jesus, a place or a location is more than the physical site because in him, proxemics takes on a deeper dimension and higher meaning when we meet him in situations and places. That is why after feeding the more than five thousand people last week, he ordered the Twelve to cross the Sea of Galilee (which is actually a lake) ahead of him while he dismissed the crowds.
After doing so, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When it was evening he was there alone. Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. during the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Crossing to Jesus, crossing with Jesus
I love that scene very much, of Jesus getting his disciples into the boat to precede him to the other side of the lake while he dismissed the crowds. Again, St. Matthew never bothered to tell us why Jesus sent the Twelve ahead of him as he stayed behind, dismissing the crowds and later praying alone at night atop the mountain.
Let us now reflect the proxemics or non-verbal communication of our gospel scene this Sunday.
We need to cross to the other side to meet Jesus.
To meet Jesus Christ, we always have to “cross to the other side” by leaving our “comfort zones”.
More than going to the other side of the lake physically, we have to move over to unchartered areas of life, be bold and daring to try new things, new situations in order to mature and find fulfillment by meeting Jesus Christ.
And sometimes, we really have to literally cross the sea or get to the other side of the country or the world to find our self and meet Christ.
Fifteen years ago I went on vacation to Toronto for some soul-searching as I went through a burn-out. While serving at St. Clement Parish, I met many Filipinos serving as lectors, choir members, catechists and volunteers.
They would always confess to me with both a sense of pride and little shame that they never went to Mass regularly when in the Philippines and now in Canada, they were amazed at how God had brought them there to be involved in parish activities and be closer to Jesus than ever!
As I listened to their stories, I realized the many sacrifices and hardships they have to endure in that vast and cold country with no one to turn to except God. If given the chance, many of them admitted they would return to the Philippines for there is no place like home!
Though I have found so many things I have been searching for in my initial three months of stay there on top of other opportunities given me, I still felt empty. That raging storm within continued. As I prayed and reflected guided by an old, Polish priest who claimed to have been the student of St. John Paul II, I saw myself more, eventually leading me to God anew who refreshed my vocation that I finally decided to go back home after six months of my supposed to be one year leave.
Sometimes in life, we need to get away from our comfort zone, cross to the other side, especially when life becomes so artificial. Jesus invites us to go ahead and cross to the other side of the lake or sea to experience life at its “raw” so we can feel again our souls within and desire him anew until we finally meet him wherever we may be in the world.
It is when we are at the other side of the sea in the midst of a storm when Jesus comes, immediately answering our cries for help – At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage; it is I” – because when we are reduced to emptiness and nothingness, then our faith kickstarts again. Faith, like love, is always an encounter with God.
Try going to the other side, leave your comfort zone to meet Jesus and finally have meaning and direction in life!
Silence is the presence of God.
In the first reading we have heard that beautiful story of Elijah meeting God at the mouth of a cave — not in the strong and heavy wind nor earthquake nor fire like Moses before him.
After the fire, there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.
1 Kings 19:12-13
Silence is the place of the presence of God because silence is his language too. Wherever there is silence, we can surely find and meet God there.
That is why Jesus wants us to cross to the other side, to be silent and listen to him.
In his silence, God teaches us that except for sin, he never considers everything as being finished; everything is a “work-in-progress” even if he seems to be silent that some think he must be absent or even dead.
The world thrives in noise, loud talks, and screams with each voice trying to dominate another resulting in cacophony of sounds. Shakespeare’s Hamlet said it well when he told Polonius what he was reading were “Words, words, words” — nonsense!
Some people like those in power think that the more words they say, the more meaningful their thoughts and ideas become. Worst, they thought that using foul and filthy language make them so natural and credible, not realizing the more they look stupid with their crazy thoughts and ideas not even clowns and comedians would ever attempt to imitate.
But when our words come from deep silence, they come with power and meaning, touching everyone’s heart and inner core.
That is when silence becomes fullness, not emptiness or mere lack of noise and sound.
Like when our medical frontliners and medical experts spoke with one voice last week airing their thoughts about the pandemic — we were all moved and reawakened to realize how we have been going about with our lives almost forgetting them these past five months!
What a tragedy at how our officials in government and Congress reacted negatively, feeling hurt deep inside with the painful truth of how they have been irresponsible from the beginning. Sapul!
Pico Iyer wrote in a TIME magazine essay 30 years ago that “silence is the domain of trust”.
True. The most trustful people are the most silent; those who speak a lot trust no one and most likely, cannot be trusted too.
Jesus invites us to cross to the other side to be silent and learn to trust him. It is only then when we can meet him. In silence.
Jesus meets us in darkness.
Jesus asks us to cross to the other side of the lake or sea like his disciples in order to meet us in darkness. This is a paradox because Jesus is the light of the world.
But, note the most notable moments in his life happened in darkness: he was born on the darkest night of the year, he died when darkness covered the whole city of Jerusalem, and he rose from the dead when it was still dark on the first day of the week.
Jesus had overcome darkness! So, what happened to Peter in this episode after being called by Jesus to walk on water too?
Jesus said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Imagine how everything was going so well with Peter doing another crossing while crossing the lake! But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Jesus calls us into the dark so that we only look for him and upon finding him, focus on him alone. Peter saw the strong wind, not the stronger and powerful Jesus walking on water, that fear overtook him.
That’s the whole point of St. Paul in our second reading today: he was telling the Romans how some people in Israel trusted more in their physical descent from Abraham than in God’s promise of salvation fulfilled in Jesus they have refused to see and recognize as the Christ (Rom.9:1-5).
When in the dark, be silent and still for Jesus is near! Keep your sights at him, not on anything else. Problem in darkness is not God but us who follow other lights or have become delusional.
That is the tragedy we are into as a nation while crossing to the other side of the sea of pandemic in just one boat when our officials see only themselves as always being right. Worst, they all want to be on the stage with all the lights on them as they speak and sing in cacophony like psychopaths.
All the more we must hold on tight, trust and focus in Jesus who is “now here”, not “nowhere” for he will never allow us to perish.
Let us trust Jesus overcoming all these evil, leading us to the shore. Amen.
A blessed rainy Sunday to you and your loved ones!