Praying for peace

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the Fifth Week of Easter, 17 May 2022
Acts 14:19-28   ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[><   John 14:27-31
Photo by author, Bolinao, Pangasinan, 20 April 2022.
Jesus said to his disciples:
"Peace I leave with you;
my peace I give you.
Not as the world gives
do I give it to you.  Do not let
your hearts be troubled or 
afraid" (John 14:27).
Lord Jesus Christ,
forgive us for taking the gift
of peace so lightly,
turning it into a cliche
and worse, making it a joke;
yet, it is always the one gift
we all desire and wish for but
so afraid of truly having it
because it demands
great things from us
like faith in you so that
we can follow you carrying our
cross, bearing all pains and willing
to sacrifice to achieve real peace.

They (Paul and Barnabas) strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”

Acts 14:22
Your peace, dear Jesus,
is so different from the "peace"
the world gives or knows about
which is a peace that is centered on
man than on God our Father; 
your peace, Lord Jesus, demands 
that we make the world know 
that we love the Father like you
(cf. Jn.14:31) because it is a peace
borne out of justice and love, virtues
that call us to forget ourselves and
think more of others.  Amen.

“I Love You Always and Forever” by Donna Lewis (1996)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 15 May 2022
Photo by author, Bgy. Pulang Bato, San Juan, Batangas, 14 May 2022.

Love can never be defined because love has no limits. At its best, love can simply be described. And Jesus tells us a totally different kind of love this Sunday during their Last Supper, shortly before he was arrested.

“My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.”

John 13:33-34

For this Sunday, we have chosen Welsh singer-composer Donna Lewis’ 1996 hit “I Love You Always and Forever” for its lovely tune and simple lyrics that match perfectly our gospel where Jesus describes to us his commandment to love as timely and timeless, always new, always fresh.

Immediately this is what we notice in Ms. Lewis song, her love’s timeliness and timelessness:

Feels like I'm standing in a timeless dream 
A light mist of pale amber rose 
Feels like I'm lost in a deep cloud of heavenly scent 
Touching, discovering you
 
Those days, of warm rains come rushing back to me 
Miles of windless, summer night air 
Secret moments, shared in the heat of the afternoon 
Out of the stillness, soft spoken words 

When we love truly another person, we seem to fall into a time warp where the past, present and future merge in every here and now. It is like when everything seems to happen so fast that suddenly you either lose everything and everyone or you gain everything and everyone in an instant that you cannot explain, when the universe seems to conspire in your favor as Paulo Coelho put it in one of his novels I cannot recall at the moment.

Love is always timely, always new, always fresh especially when we love in Jesus, with Jesus and through Jesus for he alone can hold the past and the future in the present. He lived only for a moment here on earth, a mere 33 years; after his Resurrection, he returned to the Father’s glory in heaven but he is still very much with us here on earth, coming to us daily in the most ordinary moments of life. And every Mass, we proclaim our firm faith of his coming at the end of time which is in the future we do not know that could be now.

There is always that tension of the here and not yet of Jesus in life: He had come, he will come again, and he is come. That is the timeliness of Jesus, that is why we need to love always in him, with him and through him.

Likewise, love is timeless. It is eternal. It is the only thing that remains in life because God is love. When we allow ourselves to be cleansed by Jesus of our sins and imperfections that was symbolized by his washing of the apostles’ feet earlier, the more we learn to love like him, the more our love becomes real and timely.

And eventually, timeless (https://lordmychef.com/2022/05/14/new-commandment-new-heaven-new-earth/).

I love you always forever
Near and far, closer together
Everywhere, I will be with you
Everything, I will do for you
I love you always forever
Near and far, closer together
Everywhere, I will be with you
Everything, I will do for you!

But even if we can describe love, it is always difficult to speak about it for it is best experienced and felt. And that is one great wonder of music in capturing our limited thoughts and feelings of love that have entertained and inspired us, accompanying us in life like Ms. Lewis’ “I Love You Always and Forever”.

Just feel and enjoy the beat, think of those people you love and who love you.

Don’t forget Jesus, the only one who truly loves us, now and forever. A blessed and lovely week ahead of you!

*We have no intentions of infringing into the copyrights of this music and its uploader except to share its beauty and listening pleasure.

From YouTube.com.

New commandment, new heaven, new earth

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Fifth Sunday in Easter-C, 15 May 2022
Acts 14:21-27 ><}}}}*> Revelation 21:1-5 ><}}}}*> John 13:31-33, 34-35
Photo by author, Bolinao, Pangasinan, 20 April 2022.

Our readings today speak a lot about being “new” – new followers of the new faith as Christianity spread during the first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas, a vision of new heaven and new earth by John at the end of time, and a new commandment by Jesus Christ to his disciples that include us today.

What is so wonderful and so new in this “new” order of things in our readings is how they encompass the past, present, and future as expressed in the beautiful tension we all experience in life like Jesus Christ on the night before he was betrayed, after Judas had left their Last Supper.

Many times, we feel like being caught in a time warp when everything seems to be happening too fast that the past, present and future are in just one setting. It is like seeing one’s life in a flash.

“My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 13:33, 34-35
Photo by author, Bolinao, Pangasinan, 20 April 2022.

Most often, we feel ambivalent with anything or anyone that is new like being excited but at the same time afraid because it is always something or someone we are not familiar with. It is generally what we feel when we move into new residences or new school or new jobs; when we meet new people like new superiors, new co-workers and new classmates.

But lately, we have found something new and different with our new set of leaders after the elections last Monday: of course, followers of the winners are happy and glad while those who have lost are more than sad, wondering what have happened, and still could not accept the new developments (or retrogression, depending on which side you are with).

Perhaps it is in this recent events that we feel our readings this Sunday very relevant and appropriate to us all, to always welcome whatever and whomever is new by seeing them in the light of Jesus Christ who is ever new with us each day.

For a proper understanding of Jesus and of our faith in him, we need to experience him in that tension of the here and not yet he beautifully expressed in saying “I will be with you only a little while longer”. Remember, Jesus declared these words shortly before his arrest; notice his composure and dignity. Unlike most of us, Jesus was never caught off guard by his impending death. In fact, “when the days for his being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem” (Lk.9:51) to face his death. As truly human, he was frightened but faced all his fears so that he was in total control with everything until he had given up his breath and spirit to the Father. That is why in this scene after he had washed their feet and Judas had left them, Jesus gathered his disciples in a “heart-to-heart” talk, calling them “my children”.

Problem with us when things or, as Pablo Coelho put it in one of his works, when the universe does not seem to conspire in our favor, we resist the change: we keep frozen in the past, spending the present thinking all possible scenarios in the future, forgetting that God is in the present as he calls himself as “I AM.” Focus on Jesus than on things around us so we may see beyond them.

Photo by Ms. Jing Rey Henderson in Taroytoy, Aklan, 30 April 2022.

First thing we recognize in the words of Jesus is what we have reflected last week in his being our Good Shepherd – his oneness with his flock, with us. There is that inner sense of belongingness of Christ in the Father, and of Christ in us. It is what that makes us embrace whatever or whomever new comes to us, regardless we like or do not like them because it is Jesus with whom we are one with first of all.

Jesus stayed only a little while with his disciples here on earth; now he is risen, Jesus is in the glory of the Father in heaven who shall come again at the end of time to establish the new heaven and new earth John was privileged to see in the second reading. It is in this tension between the here and not yet, of Jesus who had come and will come again and is come that we are challenged to witness his presence among us in love.

It is love that is truly the power the Risen Lord has and enabled him then and now to break all barriers in time and space to appear to his disciples and us to experience him today. It is a love so unique – so new unlike the “love” preached by other gurus. Christ’s love is rooted in oneness, in his being one with the Father, one in the Father. It is a love so divine yet human too because it is a love Jesus had shared with us as a gift, something we have, a love we must acknowledge for it to work in us by having that inner belongingness and oneness with him, in him and through him.

How?

Photo from gettyimages.com.

This we find in the preceding scene of the washing of the disciples’ feet: it is Jesus who cleanses us in the sacraments and in our daily encounter with him. When we allow Jesus to cleanse us daily, purifying us from all our sins and imperfections, that is when we enter into communion in him. It is only then that we are truly able to love like him – love without measure willing to offer one’s self, loving even those we consider as enemies.

This is perhaps what we need most these days following the elections. Suspend our biases and presumptions for a while and allow Jesus to work in us, to make us new.

Let us go back to Jesus Christ, allow ourselves to be cleansed by him anew so that we may enter into being-in him and being-with him like Paul and Barnabas who always acted in union with him, never on their own. Since then until now, we continue to experience this love of Christ expressed in our liturgy and most especially in the Church’s oneness and charity. It is a love we all have to recapture and continue for it a love always new because it is Jesus who works in us and through us even in the worst situations to transform every dismal picture we see to become new and wonderful.


Lord, let us come to you again
for we have been not clean;
wash our feet so that
we may listen to you
and do your work and mission;
help us to let go of our own agenda
no matter how lofty they may be
for the mission is yours, not ours;
most of all, let us come to you again
at your Cross to be able to truly love
like you, one in the Father and the Holy Spirit
found among our brothers and sisters
especially those not like us;
forgive us for our harsh words
and our lack of kindness with them;
it is only in loving like you 
can there be truly a new order in this world
that heralds a new heaven and 
a new earth.  Amen.

Have a blessed week ahead.

Photo by author, 2018.

“You Are Everything” by the Stylistics (1971)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 01 May 2022
Photo by Ms. Jing Rey Henderson in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, 27 April 2022.

Every Gospel proclaimed in our Eucharistic celebrations is always about the immense love of God for us expressed in the Passion, Death and Resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

But there is something so lovely in this Sunday’s story about the third appearance of Jesus to his disciples at the shores of Lake Tiberias that calls us to be in love with the Lord also in order to see and experience his daily coming to our lives, something which the Stylistics expressed in their first gold disc that sold over one million copies in 1971, their song “You Are Everything”.

Today I saw somebody
Who looked just like you
She walked like you do
I thought it was you
As she turned the corner
I called out your name
I felt so ashamed
When it wasn't you, 
wasn't you, oh, oh

You are everything and everything is you
Oh, oh you are everything and everything is you
Oh, oh, you are everything and everything is you

You Are Everything tells us of our common experience of always seeing, even hearing the ones we love even after they are long gone. It is love’s most unique power and quality that enable us to find our beloved everywhere because they are everything to us.

Such was the experience by John the beloved and Simon Peter who recognized the Risen Lord in their each peculiar manner of loving him: John in his blessedness and Peter in his sinfulness (https://lordmychef.com/2022/04/30/jesus-in-our-blessedness-and-sinfulness/).

After a fruitless night of fishing, Jesus appeared to the disciples before dawn, telling them to cast their net to the right of their boat when suddenly they could not pull it with the plentiful catch! Seeing the great catch, John the beloved recognized the man at the shore as Jesus, telling Simon Peter “It is the Lord”! Only him recognized the Risen Lord after seeing the plentiful catch because he was the only one of the Twelve who truly loved Jesus by remaining at the foot of his Cross on Good Friday while the rest went into hiding.

Later after their breakfast, Jesus asked Peter thrice by addressing him in his real name of Simon, “Do you love me?” We are told that Peter was distressed after the third question by Jesus because he knew so well it had something to do with his three denials of the Lord on the night of his arrest and questioning by the Chief Priests. Peter’s response was so beautiful, admitting his guilt while at the same time professing his faith and love in the Lord by telling him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”

So many times, we are like Peter: we know so well that Jesus knows even our most guarded sins and yet, we know that he perfectly knows too that despite our sins and weakness that we love him.

This is the grace of this third Sunday in Easter, that we remain in love with Jesus. We cannot follow nor meet Jesus whether in our blessedness or sinfulness unless we love him first of all. Jesus perfectly knows human love is imperfect; only he can love us perfectly. We do not have to pretend to be perfect before him; just be our true selves, sinful yet sorrowful, to surely meet him who never leaves our side for he alone is our everything.

Have a blessed week ahead!

*We have no intentions of infringing into the copyrights of this music and its uploader except to share its beauty and listening pleasure.

From YouTube.

Jesus in our blessedness, and sinfulness

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Third Sunday in Easter-C, 01 May 2022
Acts 5:27-32, 40-41 ><]]]]'> Revelation 5:11-14 ><]]]]'> John 21:1-19
Photo by author, sunrise at the Lake of Tiberias, Israel, 2017.

This is the last Sunday in this Easter Season when we shall hear a story of the Risen Lord appearing to his disciples; starting next Sunday, our gospels will be from his Last Supper discourse that were his final instructions before his Passion, Death, and Resurrection.

This is the third appearance by Jesus to his disciples that happened at the shore of Lake Tiberias (aka, Galilee) one early morning after Simon Peter and six other disciples went fishing the night before and caught nothing. The story is quite long but very remarkable with how Jesus was recognized in the blessedness of John the beloved and in the sinfulness of Peter.

Such is the beauty and power of Easter, of Jesus breaking all barriers to come to us so we may experience his love and mercy and forgiveness. As we have reflected last week, it is not the number nor length of our Risen Lord’s appearances that matter but its inexpressible intensity demanding our intense response to him which we find today in John and Simon Peter.

Photo by author, November 2018.

“It is the Lord!”

The disciples were still at a loss three weeks after the Lord had risen. Despite his twice appearances to them, they could not yet grasp Easter’s meaning; it would still be a long way to go before they understand everything when the Holy Spirit comes on Pentecost as Jesus had promised them.

Trying to pick up the pieces of their lives, the seven disciples led by Simon Peter went fishing one night but caught nothing until Jesus appeared to them unrecognized.

When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea.

John 21:4-7

What a beautiful story reminding us of the need to be always in the state of grace, of being in love first with Jesus to see and recognize him in the bountiful blessings he pours upon us daily!

See how it was the disciple whom Jesus loved who first recognized the Lord upon seeing the plentiful catch of fish with a wonderful interplay of catching many fish and recognizing Jesus.

Photo by author, Puerto del Sol, Bolinao, Pangasinan, 20 April 2022.

For people truly in love with Jesus, everyday is a miracle, a day of his coming, of his loving presence among us.

Being in love with Jesus is having a prayer life in him that makes us attuned with him, becoming automatic with us to find Christ present in the various events happening in our lives, whether they are good or bad as both count as blessings to anyone who truly believes in him.

John must have been so in love with Jesus, remembering so well the first time he met the Lord with his brother James and their partners Peter and brother Andrew after a similar incident when they have caught nothing the previous night and Jesus invited them to “cast their net into the deep.” It must have been a “love at first sight” for him with the Lord that they eventually left everything including their father to follow Jesus as “fishers of men” (Lk.5:1-11, Fifth Sunday Ordinary Time, 06 February 2022).

When we love, our senses and our memories are heightened of our beloved’s words and actions that we can see and feel them around us even after they are gone. When we love, we find newness in life every day with Jesus standing at the shore every dawn waiting for us to wake up and lead us to a bountiful catch of fish daily. Of course, the fish is found only in the sea or lake but for us to catch them, we need to find Jesus first.

That is why it is necessary that we begin and end each day in Jesus praying. When we love someone, we always talk and listen, always communicating in various ways with our beloved.

Problem is when we do not pray, we get preoccupied with what we do not have – of not catching anything – of looking more into the dark or murky waters of life not seeing the light in the horizon, of Jesus at the shore.

Photo by author (2017), the shore of Lake Tiberias where Jesus asked Simon Peter thrice “Do you love me?”

“Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”

After bringing in their haul of “one hundred fifty-three large fish” to the shore for breakfast with Jesus, our story reaches its climax with Jesus asking Peter thrice, using his original name Simon with the question, “Do you love me?”.

Peter was distressed that Jesus had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep… And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

John 21:17, 19

Peter understood fully well (gets niya, as the young would say) why Jesus asked him thrice with “do you love me?” to signify the three occasions he denied knowing him while being arraigned by the Sanhedrin on the night of Holy Thursday.

This time, there was no denying on Peter’s part that he had truly sinned that night in denying Jesus three times! And he was distressed because he was deeply sorry, telling Jesus, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” See the humility and sincerity of Peter in responding to the Lord’s question as he admitted his guilt of denying Jesus; but at the same time, his love and faith in the Lord despite his sinfulness and weaknesses. In telling Jesus “Lord you know everything; you know that I love you”, Peter was declaring his deep conviction that Jesus knows very well all our sins but at the same time knows too as well how much we love him in all of our imperfections.

Sin is not really that bad at all, so to speak, in the sense that even in our sinfulness, Jesus comes to meet us, assuring us of his love, of his mercy and forgiveness.

Photo by author, September 2021.

Just like his first words when nailed on the Cross, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Lk.23:34), Jesus comes to us quickly in our moments of sin, inviting us to come back to him. Every time we feel that guilt after committing a sin, when we feel that shame within, that is the moment too when Jesus calls us personally like Simon, not only asking us if we love him but assuring us most of all that he loves us in spite and despite our sins.

Here we find a different interplay: the more Jesus directed Simon unto himself – do you love me?– the more Simon saw his sinfulness but at the same time experienced Christ’s forgiveness and love for him because like John the beloved, he had always loved Jesus from the start despite his many flaws and weaknesses that would later be smoothened by the Lord.

Remain in love with Jesus. This is the grace of this third Sunday in Easter. We cannot follow nor meet Jesus whether in our blessedness or sinfulness unless we love him first of all. Jesus perfectly knows human love is imperfect; only he can love us perfectly. We do not have to pretend to be perfect before him; just be our true selves, sinful yet sorrowful, to surely meet him who never leaves our side.


Dearest Lord Jesus,
open my heart to love you more
so that my eyes may always see you
in life's many blessings and trials 
that come my way daily;
let me love you more so that
I obey God rather than men and women
who keep on demanding so many things
from me, enslaving me with their many
offers that pretend to make me perfect;
when things become difficult,
open my eyes like your Apostles
who found themselves worthy
to suffer dishonor for your sake (Acts 5:29, 31)
who alone is "worthy to receive power 
and riches, wisdom and strength,
honor and glory and blessing" (Rev.5:12).
Amen.

Photo by author, Puerto del Sol, Bolinao, Pangasinan, 19 April 2022.

Easter is going out, not coming in

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Second Week of Easter, 27 April 2022
Acts 5:17-26   ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[><   John 3:16-21
Photo by Cristian Palteng, 16 April 2022, Easter Vigil at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Valenzuela City.
Praise and glory to you,
Lord Jesus Christ for making 
this Easter Season so special:
our first major celebration since 
the pandemic began in 2020 with
our church gatherings always the
target of lockdowns and restrictions;
but this Easter, we have risen with you, 
dear Jesus, when we were finally allowed 
to gather and celebrate the Eucharist
without much restrictions.
Make us realize this fundamental truth
of your Resurrection, Lord Jesus:  that Easter
is more of coming out than getting in.

The high priest rose up and all his companions, that is, the party of Sadducees, and, filled with jealousy, laid hands upon the Apostles and put them in public jail. But during the night, the angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison, and led them out, and said, “Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life.”

Acts 5:17-20
So many times, you have come
to set us free, Jesus, from our prison
cells of self-doubts, cynicisms, 
hopelessness, pains and hurts, 
guilt and sins but we refuse to 
believe you are risen, that you
have conquered evil and sin, darkness
and death; open our minds and our
hearts, Lord Jesus, to believe and accept
the love you have freely given us.
Let us go out to you, sweet Jesus,
to bask in the warmth of your light 
and truth that we are loved.  Amen.

He touches me

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 26 April 2022
From Google.

The word “touch” is a very touching one, connoting so many meanings while at the same time gives us a “feel” of what it really is. Its literal and figurative senses always go together with the most touching reaching deep down inside us that are also the gentlest and simplest.

We are touched by words and gestures, by sights and sounds, and literally speaking, we are touched most when touched by another person. Experts claim that a five second touch is equivalent to about 300 words of encouragement so that for us to be emotionally well, we need at least three hugs a day.

Photo by author, Mirador Jesuit Villa and Retreat House, Baguio City, January 2019.

Reflecting on the very few stories of the Easter appearances by Jesus to his disciples, we find how the gospel writers did not need to write so much details to convince us that the Lord had risen for it is not the number nor length of his appearances that matter but its inexpressible intensity. Especially in the fourth gospel, we notice – and we are touched, too like the disciples – the deep intensity of Christ’s appearances that resulted only in silence and adoration among them.

And that is one very true characteristic of Jesus – he touches us. Always. Even if we can not touch him nor see him. There is always that joy of Easter bursting forth within us in moments of prayers, of intimate conversations with loved ones and friends, or upon seeing a beautiful sight or experiencing nature.

It is Jesus Christ who touches us most that is why we believe in him even if we cannot explain how it all happened. It has always been like that since he rose from the dead. In fact, I doubt Thomas really touched Jesus when they met on the eighth day because he was so “touched” upon seeing the Risen Lord that he said, “My Lord and my God”, the most intense expression of faith in the bible!

See that nothing is said if Thomas indeed touched the wounds of Jesus for he was caught up in the experience and sight of the Risen Lord.

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

John 20:27-28
“The Incredulity of Saint Thomas”, a painting by Caravaggio from commons.wikimedia.org.

Like Thomas, Jesus touches us in the most personal and unique manner that deep inside us we also cry with intensity “my Lord and my God” to him. Though we can enumerate many reasons and persons who have led us into believing in Jesus, we also admit at the same time that there is no specifically single reason nor person for our faith in God except our very selves, of our personal conviction that transcends all proofs and logic because, we were so touched.

The gospels teem with so many stories of Jesus touching especially the sick when healing them and surprisingly, as we reflect on these stories, we too are touched, even by the Lord. And our perspectives and lives eventually change because we have experienced Jesus.

The same is very true with the many people we have known and met, the few perhaps we have befriended and loved: so many things in our lives have turned for the best simply because we were touched, literally and figuratively speaking.

When I was still teaching in our all-girls’ school in Malolos City, I used to remind my students in high school to never be fooled by a man’s looks and “porma”, to always look for a man who really loves you, respects you, and touches you as a person, as a woman. And they would always ask me how can they determine that? My usual response was they would “feel” that because a man or any person with integrity would always “touch” you.

Then I would play to them Lisa Stansfield’s 2004 He Touches Me:

He don’t bring me anything but love
He don’t bring me anything but love
If you offered me the stars I would decline
I don’t need ’em I got mine
I don’t know where to start
But I know what’s in my heart
So keep your silver and your gold 
’cause I got my man to have and hold

As our lives gradually return to some semblance of normalcy following the decrease in cases of COVID-19, it would be nice that we try to remember and recall those many experiences we have had since the start of the pandemic in 2020, the people who touched us.

One beautiful lesson this pandemic had taught us is that even if we practice social distancing, we can still be emotionally close with one another in so many ways and means. And even if we still have to maintain that social distance as minimum health protocol in this pandemic, there are so many occasions for us to touch one another to express our love and concern, our gratitude and apologies to any one who have touched us.

From QuotesGram.com.

It is about time that we touch base with them again, and this time, let us get in touch with one another in the most meaningful and loving way, with intensity, so that no matter what happens next, we may have that deep sense of joy and fulfillment of being truly human, of having experienced “the warmth of a loving face” as Camus expressed in The Plague.

Everyone is drained and exhausted by COVID-19, with many still out of touch following their many losses during the pandemic – loved ones, career, studies, goals and plans in life that were disrupted, permanently or temporarily.

Let us help each other to regain composure and directions in life by being kind with everyone. Most of all, let us touch one another with our simplest gestures of a smile or a wave of hand that here is another person – also struggling, also trying to pick up the pieces of life, moving on to start anew. Many times, the simplest things have the most lasting impact on us because they are also the most touching. And that is because, with our kindness, that is also when people feel being touched and loved by God most.

I hope you were touched… a blessed day ahead of you!

Photo by author, Puerto del Sol, Bolinao, Pangasinan, 19 April 2022.

Easter is speaking “new languages”

The Lord Is My Chef Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Feast of St. Mark, Evangelist, 25 April 2022
1 Peter 5:5-14    ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[><   Mark 16:15-20
Photo by author, Puerto del Sol, Bolinao, Pangasinan, 20 April 2022.
What a wonderful grace,
O God our Father on this 
Easter Season that we celebrate
the feast of St. Mark, the first
evangelist who reminds us all
of writing our own gospel 
account too!
And for us to write our own
gospel account, St. Mark reminds us
beautifully of something so essential
with Easter:  speaking the new languages
of love and humility in Jesus Christ
our Risen Lord not only in words
but most especially in deeds.

Jesus appeared to the Eleven and said to them: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages….”

Mark 16:15, 17
While it is truly a gift 
to speak different languages,
but what is most wonderful
in proclaiming your gospel 
Lord Jesus is to witness to other
people your love and kindness,
your mercy and compassion,
your gentleness and humility
that is always the same in every
language spoken by everyone.
Amen.

Love is going down, not up

The Lord Is My Chef Recipe for Holy Thursday by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 14 April 2022
Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14  ><}}}}*>  1 Corinthians 11:23-26  ><}}}}*>  John 13:1-15
Photo from aleteia.org, Cathedral of Monreale, Italy.

Tonight we enter the holiest three days of the year, the Triduum of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper that leads us into Easter on Sunday, the mother of all our feasts.

It was during the Lord’s Supper on Thursday evening before he was arrested when he gave us the commandment to “do this in memory of me” referring to the celebration of the Holy Eucharist which is the sacrament of love because on that Supper of the Lord, it was then when Jesus gave himself to us in signs what he would do on Good Friday. It was during that supper known as the Last Supper when Jesus showed His “love in action” for us in all time made present in every celebration of the Eucharist. This is the reason why Holy Thursday is also known as “Maundy Thursday” from the Latin word mandatus, mandatum or commandment/law.

Unlike in the Gospel accounts of Matthew, Mark, and Luke along with Paul who mentioned the institution narrative of the Eucharist in our second reading tonight, John opted to tell us what we might describe as a “sidelight” to Holy Thursday, the washing of the feet of the disciples; but for John, the “beloved disciple” of Jesus, the washing of the feet is the core and essence of the Last Supper – not a sidelight – for it shows us and even makes us experience how Jesus “loves us to the end.”

“Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end…He rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and then 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.”

John 13:1, 4-5
The lower we go down, the greater our love is.

True love is always a downward movement. Unlike in our society today when love is equated with selfish interests and materialism that calls for “upward mobility” for more wealth and power, knowledge and freedom and fame measured in likes and followers, true love is actually a “passing over”, a pasch or a passion like that with Jesus Christ.

When we let go of our positions, of our titles, of our very selves to go down with the rest, to go down with our students, with our followers, with our subordinates — that is when we truly love like Jesus Christ. It is what we mentioned last Fifth Sunday in Lent (03 April 2022) when Jesus bended down twice, first before the woman caught committing adultery and second to her accusers who left the scene when Jesus dared the sinless among them to cast the first stone on her. Now at the washing of his disciples’ feet at the last supper, Jesus again bended down reaching his lowest bending tomorrow on the Cross.

In all the bending down by Jesus – to the woman caught committing adultery, to her accusers, to the washing of feet of the Twelve and to his crucifixion – he shows us his immense love and mercy to us sinners, bending down to save our face and uplift those down in shame and pain among us (https://lordmychef.com/2022/04/02/the-joy-of-meeting-god/).

Note the movements by Jesus at the washing of his disciples’ feet were in itself a “passing over”, expressions of his love: “he rose from supper, took off his outer garments, took towel then tied it around his waist, poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist.”

In Israel at that time, washing their master’s feet was not part of the servants’ “job description” because it was – and still – demeaning. But for those who truly love, for those who love to the end like Jesus, the most demeaning acts can also be the highest expression of love! When you take care of your sick parent, when you give yourself in service to people you hardly know and would not care for at all, when you try to bear all the pains and hurts in silence – these can be all so demeaning but meaningful to others and to God.

Photo from GettyImages/iStockPhotos.

Imagine the great love of Jesus for us, no matter how sinful we may be like Judas Iscariot whose feet Jesus still washed before betraying him. In its original Greek, “to betray” means to hand over a beloved to extreme pain and suffering, the opposite of Passover when we go down to love; to hand over is to break away, to break ties, to discard, to stop loving.

And this is the good news of this Holy Thursday: we have all been cleansed by Jesus in his pasch, in our baptism, and for those who have gone to confession, in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Would we still remain to be in sin, outside of Jesus?

Tonight, there are two persons with supporting roles in the Supper of Jesus Christ: Peter and Judas. The former denied the Lord thrice while the latter betrayed Jesus. Peter repented and thus became the Rock of the Church while Judas grieved and took his own life.

We too can be either Peter or Judas when we deny or betray friends and loved ones or when they deny or betray us. It may have taken some time for Peter to finally stoop down before Jesus at the shore of the Lake of Tiberias to admit his sin of denying the Lord three times. But the fact remains that he bent low before Jesus in repentance that before the flock could be entrusted to him, the Lord asked him thrice if he loves Him. In Peter we have seen that before we could love the Church, the sheep, we must first of all love the Lord. Judas remained high in his pride; though he felt sorry for his sins, he could not go down on his knees before Jesus for he had lost his love for Him that made him decide to take his life instead.


Lord Jesus Christ, you love us so much 
and yet we love you so little;
you have gone so low for us, 
not only emptying yourself 
by taking the form of a slave 
to come in our human likeness 
but even humbled yourself in obedience until death. 
We always try to look so strong and powerful, 
refusing to bend our knees to go down before You and others, 
always trying to save face and honor; 
but, the truth is we are so weak inside, 
so ashamed to admit our faults and sinfulness. 
Give us the grace this Holy Thursday 
to be one with you again, 
to go down in you with our brothers and sisters, 
especially those whom we have denied or betrayed. 
Give us the grace to imitate your love 
and be heralds of your gospel of salvation to others. 
Amen.

Photo by author, 2016.

“When It Was Done” by Hugo Montenegro (1970)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 10 April 2022
Photo by Arch. Philip Santiago, Lourdes, France, 2015.

All roads lead to churches today as we begin the holiest week of the year with the celebration of the Palm Sunday in the Lord’s Passion today reaching its highest point on Saturday evening with the Easter Vigil that leads to Easter Sunday, the mother of all feasts in the Catholic world.

Our celebration today is actually a combination of two practices in the earliest times of the Church that were only merged in 1963 during the reform of the liturgy at Vatican II: the procession and blessing of palms was the practice in Jerusalem as early as the 4th century while a hundred years later, the Pope in Rome ushered in the Holy Week with the proclamation of the passion narrative of Jesus Christ.

Hence, the long title of our celebration, Palm Sunday in the Lord’s Passion; however, it is not something we look back in the past but one that we make present in the here and now as we look forward in that future when we shall all be together celebrating eternal life in God’s presence in heaven.

That is the challenge of this Holy Week: how we can follow Jesus in his Passion and Death in order to be one with him in all eternity. Like the people in Jerusalem when he entered the city more than 2000 years ago, would we side with those who followed and believed him or be with those who mocked and jeered him? (https://lordmychef.com/2022/04/09/the-cross-our-door-to-heaven/)

That is the problem of the main character in the song When It Was Done which is a list of wishful thinkings of a man to a woman already in a relationship with another man. It seems the man was too slow or came late to do everything in order to win over the woman he loves and all he could do at the moment now is to wish of having her perhaps in the afterlife in the future.

If I could bind your mind to mine
In time I'd keep you from that world of his
If I could change the strangeness in your kind
Then I'd know where your soul is

Then I'd know what song I'd have to sing
To touch that chord within you
And I would weave such wonders
That when I was done I'd win you

If I could stand with the stars on either hand
And say, "This ain't the answer"
If I had been where you're goin'
But then I'll never be no dancer

And if I was I'd know what step to take
And laugh at what had freed me
And smash the great wall down, girl
When it was done you'd need me

If I could face the fait that waits to cast me
In the scramble
And sit across the velvet boards from God
Then I'd gamble

Then I'd know what chance I'd have to take
And before somebody sold you
I'd bet my soul against the stars
When it was done I'd hold you
When it was done I'd hold you

Composed in 1969 by Jimmy Webb and originally recorded that same year by Walter Wanderly Set, it became popular in 1970 after Hugo Montenegro released his version. Montenegro was a former US Navy musician who pioneered research and recordings in electronic music. His biggest break came in 1966 when he covered Ennio Moricone’s theme for the Clint Eastwood starrer The Good, the Bad and the Ugly that paved his way into a long career in creating music for movies and television series.

When It Was Done is one of the 200 songs covered by Montenegro he had waxed with his cool arrangements using modern electronic instruments and technologies of his time that gave his music a different feel, like in this piece that is very soothing with a sense of sublimity.

It is a very lovely and feel good music that reminds us too to do every effort in the present moment to express our love for others like Jesus Christ who until the end never ceased from doing good for everyone. It is in being like Jesus that we can truly sing Monetenegro’s When It Was Done more convincingly and truly. Amen.

*We have no intentions of infringing into the copyrights of this music and its uploader except to share its beauty and listening pleasure.

From Youtube.