Roadtrip, vroom, vroom with Jesus & Zacchaeus, to the Moon!

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C, 30 October 2022
Wisdom 11:22-12:2 ><000'> 2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2 ><000'> Luke 19:1-10

You must have heard so many times that rap music called Moon used as background music in almost every video posted on social media. The lyrics and its beat are simply amusing, easy to follow so fitted on everything including this Sunday’s gospel!

Sa'n ka punta?  To the moon
Road trip, vroom, vroom
Skrr, skrr, zoom, zoom
So fake, no room, mga mata namumula
Asan ang trees, nadala mo ba?
Bawal ang tus at peke sa byahe
Kung isa ka d'yan, ika'y bumaba...

Written and performed by a certain Nik Makino, Moon speaks of a young man’s ambition of getting rich through rap music; he is also aware of the fact that his dream is so “high like the sky” with everyone’s eyes prying on him as he strives so hard in working while still young.

I gotta mission, pumunta sa top
Buhay mahirap, gawing masarap
Gawa ng milyon, gamit ang rap 
Iwanan kasama na puro panggap
'Di mo 'ko magets, pangarap ay highs
Singtaas ng jets, tingala sa sky...

I have been asking some young people about the rap and mostly are stunned why I listen and so interested with it especially when I rap it too, saying how they find it so baduy (crass), meaningless or “walang kuwenta” with some calling it as ugly or “pangit”.

And that is how I realized this rap music Moon is so related with this Sunday’s gospel about Zacchaeus the tax collector who climbed a tree to see Jesus while passing by the city of Jericho.

At that time, Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town. Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” And he came down quickly and received him with joy.

Luke 19:1-6

Again, only Luke has this story about Zacchaeus met by Jesus in Jericho, his final stop before entering the city of Jerusalem for his Passion, Death, and Resurrection.

Keep in mind that Luke’s narration of the Lord’s journey to Jerusalem is more of an inner journey into ourselves than found in maps. What happened in Jericho shows the importance of the events that would take place at Jerusalem when Jesus offered himself for our salvation and how we can participate in his pasch through the example of Zacchaeus who reformed his life.

Unlike the parable last Sunday, here we have a real tax collector named Zacchaeus described by Luke as a “wealthy man”. Notice how Luke described Zacchaeus was “short in stature” which is not only literal but most of all figurative in meaning. Like the publican in last week’s parable by Jesus, tax collectors were despised by Jews at that time who were seen along the ranks of prostitutes as the worst of all sinners because they were not only thieves but also traitors who collaborated with their Roman colonizers.

Calling Zacchaeus as “short in stature” was really something else, that he was nothing at all. That is why he had to exert so much to see Jesus by climbing a sycamore tree. And there lies the beauty of the story, of how God had come in Jesus to meet us and save us.

When they all saw this, they began to grumble, saying, “He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Behold, half of my possessions, I shall give to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone I shall repay it four times over.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.”

Luke 19:7-10

This is the most startling move by Jesus in this event at Jericho that is repeated in many instances in Luke’s gospel account to show God’s loving mercy to all sinners who humbly make the efforts to come to him, to see him, and experience his healing and forgiveness.

Luke had repeatedly shown us this unexpected and even shocking gesture of Jesus to everyone – then and now – at how he would favor sinners and bad people like that sinful woman who poured oil on his feet while dining at the home of a Pharisee (Lk. 7:36-50) and Dimas, the “good thief” on the cross to whom he promised paradise (Lk.23:39-43).

Jesus always comes to meet us but are we willing to meet him too like Zacchaeus? How far are we willing to truly embrace and welcome Jesus by letting go of ourselves, of our sins and other possessions?

If we could just have that sense of sinfulness again, we would realize that in this world, we are all small in stature before God. All these titles and wealth that seem to give prestige to us are all temporary and nothing. What God looks in us is our admission of our being small in stature before him, of being powerless like the persistent widow the other Sunday and the publican last week begging his mercy for we are all sinful.

Imagine that beautiful image of Jesus passing through Jericho, coming to our daily lives, making a stop over right in our hearts to stay and dwell. Most of all, see at how Jesus looks up to find us!

I love that gesture of Jesus looking up to us so much. Normally, we are the ones who look up to God up in the sky, heavenwards when asking for his mercy and favors. But there are many times that it is Jesus our Lord and God who looks up to us mere mortals who are so small in stature before him! What happened at Jericho under that sycamore tree was a prefiguration of what would take place at the Last Supper when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, of how he bowed down before them and looked up while wiping their feet dry. So wonderful! And that happens every day when we go back to him, when we do everything to get out of our way just to go to Mass, most especially to Confessions.

In the first reading, we are reminded how we are nothing before God but he chose to preserve us, to save us because he loves us so much:

“Before the Lord the whole universe is as a grain from a balance, or a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth. But you have mercy on all, because you can do all things; and you overlook the sins of men that they may repent. But you spare all things, because they are yours, O Lord and lover of souls.

Wisdom 11:22-23, 25

There is no doubt about the love of God for us, of his mercy and forgiveness expressed to us in his Son Jesus Christ who comes to us everyday in various events in our lives, in the people we meet and most especially in our individual and communal prayers like the Mass and Sacraments.

Jesus is always passing by and would surely come again as St. Paul assured us in the second reading.

The grace of this final Sunday of October as we go to the last stretch of the Church calendar this coming November is that God gives us freely the grace daily to make the efforts in meeting his Son Jesus. Every day.

Our desire to rise above our present state and status is an expression of that grace within us to become better although many times due to other factors, we misconstrue this in aspiring for material things like wealth and money as the rap Moon tells us. But on a deeper reflection as we continue in our journey in this life, we realize sooner or later that more than the things we can physically have, there are always more precious than these.

Like going to the moon, of being high up there in the sky, being one with God, enjoying his peace and salvation.

Like Zacchaeus and, Nik Makino, let us continue our roadtrip to the Moon in Jesus Christ by being true to ourselves – vroom, vroom, skrr, skrr, zoom, zoom – that we are beloved sinners and children of God.

Tara bumyahe pa-ulap
Sakto 'yung auto ko full tank
Pero kahit maubusan, paangat tayo tutulak
Bawal na muna ang pabigat
Lalo sa byahe na palipad
Kailangan kong makatiyak
Bago magka-edad, 'di na 'ko taghirap
Alam kong marami ang nakamasid
Dama ko marami ang naka-abang
Kung ano 'yung mga kaya kong gawin
Malamang ay 'di nila nagagawa
Kaya siguro lagi nakatingin
Kasi 'yon na lamang magagawa
Inaabangan ako na mawala
Kaso lang ang malala nadapa kakatingala.

Stay safe everyone and dry during these storms. Have a blessed week! Amen.

*Photo credits: Moon over the city by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA-7 News (2022); second and third by the author at Jericho, Israel (2019); fourth and fifth also by author in Tanay and Pililla in Rizal (2021).

From “dance” to “guidance”

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, 105th Year of Final Apparition at Fatima, Portugal, 13 October 2022
Ephesians 1:1-10   ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*>   Luke 11:27-28
Photos from pinterest.com.

Today we commemorate the 105th year of the final apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima, Portugal where over 70,000 people witnessed the “Miracle of the Sun”.

It was raining the whole previous night until noon of October 13, 1917 when people made up of believers and unbelievers alike with skeptics and hecklers at the sides came to Cova Da Iria to await the Virgin Mary’s reported apparition to three young children, Lucia Santos and her two younger cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto. The Blessed Virgin began appearing to the three children at the site on the 13th of May of that year and had promised to appear for the sixth and final time on that October 13, promising a great miracle to everyone. By noon, she finally appeared to the three children and after conversing with them, the sun “danced” or zigzagged the sky emitting radiant colors before careening down to Earth.

Page from Ilustração Portuguesa, 29 October 1917, showing the people looking at the Sun during the Fátima apparitions attributed to the Virgin Mary. From en.wikipedia.org.

Many people cried in fear, begging for mercy as the spectacular occurrence seemed like the end of the world that nothing of such kind was ever experienced nor recorded in history.

The dancing of the sun lasted for about ten minutes before it stood still, shining brightly with warmth that dried the people and nature soaked in rain the night before until that noon.

From then on, devotion to Our Lady of Fatima grew and spread worldwide until the Church recognized the apparition as authentic so that even its official feast was set on May 13, devotees have kept October 13 very special.

The eldest of the three children, Lucia became a Carmelite nun and provided so many useful information to later investigations and studies of the Fatima apparitions. She died on the 13th of February 2005, a few months ahead of the great St. John Paul II who had a very special devotion to Our Lady of Fatima after surviving an assassination attempt on the 13th of May 1981. Sr. Lucia’s younger cousins, as promised by the Lady to them in one of her apparitions, died earlier and have been canonized as saints recently.

Photo by author, April 2022.

Dance as expression of union

Lately I have been observing with great interest and appreciation how our young generation had been “borrowing” the music we grew up with from the 70’s to the 80’s into new level of dance steps via TikTok that are so coool and grooovy!

From the Bee Gees’ Staying Alive to EWF’s September and Groove Tonight to Patricia Rushen’s Forget Me Nots and Puff Daddy’s spin of Sting’s Every Breath You Take, generation gaps are being bridged, even closed with these endearing dance reels in social media.

Latest video I have been watching over and over these past two weeks is by a group of young Asians dancing to a James Brown 1973 funk song recorded by Fred Wesley & The J.B.’s. that is so funky and spunky. So fantastic! You may catch the fever and get the funky feel in both Instagram and YouTube in the link below.

The choreography is superbly modern and contemporary with dress and colors so 70’s yet as you watch the video, you do not feel lost or alienated because you feel a sense of belonging, of oneness unlike most modern music videos.

From YouTube.com.

Dance is a non-verbal communication that expresses our relationships and social interactions as a people, as a culture and as a society which we refer to as social intercourse. At the same time, dance is, generally speaking in the animal kingdom which includes us humans, the expression of gender roles in mating process or sexual intercourse. Notice how the many dance moves in the 70’s and 80’s expressed the promiscuity wrongly promoted by the so-called sex revolution.

Of course, sex is good, sex is holy.

But, it is more than an act or a part of the body! What the sex revolution of the 70’s until now missed greatly is the fact that sex is the totality of the person. Sex was created by God to bring humans into unity, into a communion and oneness with him and with others within his plan found in the sacrament of marriage. Not just according to human plans like same sex marriage nor union.

That noble union is the deeper meaning of a dance, of dancing – whether with a partner or by one’s self – it is always communicative of our higher aspirations of communion with God and others!

It is perhaps the reason why the sun “danced” on October 13, 1917 – it was God’s longstanding invitation for us mankind to dance with him, to follow his steps as taught to us by his Son Jesus Christ repeated by the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima. Notice how in our second reading, it was also the message of St. Paul to us through the Ephesians.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ…

Ephesians 1:2-5
Photo from vaticannews.va, 13 May 2017.

Guidance: God + u and i dance in life!

Like during that time of 1917 in Fatima and the whole world, life was very difficult with the First World War still raging in Europe. People could not find meaning as they found the world so chaotic like today with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, wars in various parts of the world, rising costs of living and so many other difficulties and sufferings in life.

But, like St. Paul, the Blessed Mother at Fatima reminded us of an alternative vision of the world found in Jesus Christ, of the need to renew everything in Christ who had “bestowed on us every spiritual blessing” we need in this life. Despite our sinfulness, God still “chose us in Christ to be one in him” here in this life and in eternity, offering us salvation and fulfillment when we turn away from our sins and evil ways to follow Jesus.

If we reflect deeper into the miracle of the sun in Fatima 105 years ago, the great miracle was not really the sun dancing in the sky but how did the three little children so poor without higher form of learning believed in the promise of our Lady of the Rosary, that a great miracle would happen that day?

Clearly, the three children were guided by the Blessed Mother, most especially by the Holy Spirit! It was their faith that was so outstanding that like Mary, they believed the words spoken to them would be fulfilled as our gospel today told us (Lk.11:28) which were the same words spoken by Elizabeth to Mary at the Visitation (Lk.1:45)!

When we allow ourselves to be guided by the Blessed Mother and by the Holy Spirit, miracles happen in our lives: problems and sufferings are overcome, life becomes fruitful and fulfilling in God. And that is the meaning of the word GUIDANCE:

God
U and
I
D
A
N
C
E 
in life!

May we pray to imitate the three children’s faith in Fatima – that of Sr. Lucia, St. Francisco and St. Jacinta so we may follow the GUIDANCE of Jesus Christ with his Mother the Blessed Virgin Mary as we dance our ways into the many difficulties of this life like in 1917. May we dance with Jesus and Mary in prayers and faith, hope and love. Amen. Have a blessed Thursday!

Photo from cbcpnews.net, 13 May 2022, at the Parish of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Valenzuela City.

The gospel according to Five for Fighting on living & leaving

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 20 September 2022
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
I'm 15 for a moment
Caught in between ten and 20
And I'm just dreaming
Counting the ways to where you are

I'm 22 for a moment
And she feels better than ever
And we're on fire
Making our way back from Mars

The piano, the voice and the lyrics were unmistakably Five for Fighting when I heard it played again after a very long time at the 40th day of the death of a young college student in our parish recently.

It was only then when I truly appreciated this 2003 hit “100 Years” after realizing its deeper implications about life and death leading to eternity. Besides, there were some interesting things about the song and the deceased young man who was also a talented pianist like Five for Fighting himself – Vladimir John Ondasik III. Most of all, the deceased young man I have celebrated Mass for was aged 22 like the character depicted in the song 100 Years.

Celebrating Mass at the funeral of a child, whether an infant or a grown-up is the most difficult one for me. Normally, we children bury our parents but, it is so different when children die ahead of their parents and even grandparents. As a priest, I could feel the pain of the grieving parents in losing their son or daughter even if I totally do not know them at all. Yet, it is a grace of the priesthood that while we are emotionally affected by grieving parents we hardly know that we are likewise uplifted in identifying with Jesus who had brought back to life a dead young man at Nain after being moved with pity for the man’s widowed mother (Lk.7:11-15).

Photo by author, Pangasinan, April 2022.

Notice that Jesus brought back to life the dead young man because of pity for his mother, not because he pitied the dead son. God tells us in the Old Testament that he is saddened with the death of even just one of us but the event at Nain shows us how the eyes of the Lord are always with those left behind especially mothers because they are indeed the most pitiable in losing a child who would always be a part of them. Moreover, life is most difficult for those left behind who have to continue to bear all pains and sufferings while their departed loved ones rest in peace in eternity. And here lies the call of Jesus for us all to help those grieving to rise again and move on with life after the death of a beloved, especially of a child.

We shall talk about this later and let us just remain a little more with the reality of death.

Although 100 Years is a soft-rock ballad about a love relationship, it is very philosophical, in fact a Martin Heidegger, in calling for “authentic living” because we are all “being-towards-death”. While the song is generally a “feel good” piece, it reminds us of that reality we refuse to accept that coming to terms with death is coming to terms with life. It is when we are faced with the “existential” possibility of death that we begin to see the beauty of life and the joy of living.

15, there's still time for you
Time to buy and time to lose yourself within a morning star
15, I'm alright with you
15, there's never a wish better than this
When you've only got a hundred years to live

Half time goes by, suddenly you're wise
Another blink of an eye, 67 is gone
The sun is getting high
We're moving on

Truly, as the song tells us, our life is precious – whether you are 15 or 22 or 33 or 45 or 67 or 99 – because it could all be gone in a moment or a blink! Like Heidegger, Five for Fighting is calling us in his song to cherish each one’s presence with more love and kindness, care and understanding, with a lot of mercy and forgiveness because we live only for a period of time like 100 Years.

St. Paul also spoke of this constant awareness of death, of how “the world in its present form is passing away” (1 Cor. 7:31) that we should live authentically as Christians. This pandemic has taught us in the most strongest terms this truth, not only with actually dying but also of being prevented from spending precious moments with our dead’s remains! May we not forget this pandemic’s lesson of living in the present moment as if it is also your final moment in life, of cherishing each other always because true riches are found only in God through one another as Jesus reminded us in last Sunday’s gospel (Lk.16:11).

Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte, Atok, Benguet, September 2019.

To live is to love. What we need are more people, more children, more friends to celebrate life with. Like God, friends and family do not perish; they live on even if we do not see them because they just move on to higher level of existence. Unlike money and wealth, power and fame, and other material things that perish and become obsolete after a year.

Our weekday readings these past week teemed with so many beautiful nuggets of wisdom about people and relationships learned at the heels of death: the centurion who sent for Jesus for the healing of his slave who “was valuable to him” (Lk.7:2) on Monday; praying for those who grieve like that widowed mother in Nain (Lk.7:13) on Tuesday; and last Wednesday at the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross we were reminded of our transformation through life’s sufferings or little deaths in life; and, finally on Thursday at the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, of how we are invited to imitate Mary who remained at the foot of the Cross on Good Friday with her dying Son Jesus Christ. Here we find how death has become a blessing when seen in the light of Jesus and his Cross as witnessed by the Blessed Mother and preached by St. Paul.

This positive aspect of death as a blessing is wonderfully portrayed in the music video of 100 Years set in an isolated place in soft shades of dark blue and green, with some hues of grey evoking a deep sense of peace and tranquility minus the morbidity. Laid-back and relaxed, perhaps. Of course, Five for Fighting’s trademark piano makes the music video so lovely, so appealing, giving a joyful note on death’s certainty leading to eternity.

I'm 99 for a moment
And dying for just another moment
And I'm just dreaming
Counting the ways to where you are

15, there's still time for you
22, I feel her too
33, you're on your way
Every day's a new day

At the start of the music video of 100 Years, we find a younger man playing the piano before Five for Fighting appears singing. That shifting of the younger and older Ondasik would happen about six times maybe interspersed with other characters coming to play the piano too until in the end he leaves to walk toward a big tree to meet his older self. Or God maybe.

Photo by Mr. Jay Javier, “Acacias”, UP Diliman, QC, April 2022.

That big tree seems to convey something like paradise, a gateway to eternity where time is totally held in completeness with everything at the present moment shown by Five for Fighting’s repeated returns to climb the big tree to look at his younger self kissing his first girlfriend until toward the end, he fell from the tree as if he had died only to be seen singing while playing the piano again. It was reminiscent of one of the final scenes in the 1990 movie Flatliners with Kiefer Sutherland trying to amend his childhood sin and crime in pushing to death his playmate from a similar big tree; Sutherland was eventually forgiven when during an induced “flatline” he was able to go back to his past to apologize to his dead playmate with a reversal of role, of him as an adult in the present moment falling from the big tree.

It was after that scene of falling from the big tree when Five for Fighting had awakened singing and playing the piano again when he finally stood to walk back to the big tree to meet his older self, or maybe God — something like Easter.

On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdalene came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the Body of Jesus had been. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken by Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus.

John 20: 1, 11-14
“Noli me tangere” (touch me not) fresco in the Lower Basilica of St. Francis Assisi Church in Italy painted by Giotto de Bondone in the 13th century from commons.wikimedia.org.

Like on that Easter morning, there will always be the darkness of death but only for a moment if we keep our eyes and our hearts open to Jesus who had risen. Many times we are like Mary Magdalene grieving and weeping that we fail to see the light of Jesus and of our deceased staying with us right in the darkness of grief and death that envelop us. And like Mary, we keep on insisting in relating with them in our old, physical level, forgetting the fact they have risen with Jesus to new life, to new realm of existence.

Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary of Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and then reported what he told her.

John 20:16-18

“Stop holding on to me” or “noli me tangere – touch me not” are the words also meant for us today who continue to cling and hold to our departed loved ones like Mary Magdalene, still hoping to hug and kiss them again, to touch and tell them how much we loved them or perhaps say sorry for our sins and lapses when they were still around. It is time to level up in our relationships with them as Five for Fighting reminds us in the last stanza that “every day is a new day”.

It does not really matter if we, or they our departed, are just 15 or 22 or 33 or 45 or 67 or 99 — what is most important is we value each moment of our lives here and now where in the present we meet them once or twice if we are living fully and not blinded by our grief and wishful thinking. Have faith in God. Someday, we shall all be together. For the moment, here is Five for Fighting with his100 Years. May the Lord console you and raise you up to move forward again in life. 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.com.

“Ashes to Ashes” by Dennis Lambert (1972)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II
Photo by author, Mt. Nebo, Jordan overlooking Israel, 2019.

Blessed Sunday, everyone! It was a very tiring but fulfilling week that after our Saturday evening Mass, I just thought of listening to Mr. Dennis Lambert’s music “Ashes to Ashes” released in 1972.

I have always loved the voice and music of Mr. Lambert, especially his love song “Of All the Things”; but, as I listened to “Ashes to Ashes” last night, I realized the song is perfect match with our gospel this Sunday where Jesus reminded his disciples and us to “do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven” (Lk.10:20).

Discipleship – and life in general is about relationships. It is never about the things we can do or have achieved because everything and everyone is passing. Nothing is permanent in this world except love who is God himself (https://lordmychef.com/2022/07/02/maintain-safe-braking-distance/).

When we speak of heaven, we speak of intimacy with God; its opposite, hell, is separation from God. That is why Jesus tells us to rejoice our names are written in heaven, that we are one with the Father in him now. It does not really matter to him whatever we can do or whatever we have achieved but what matters most is what we have become: have we been more loving and faithful? Kind and understanding?

That is what Mr. Lambert is telling us in his “Ashes to Ashes” which is of biblical origin: “We’re only living to leave the way we came”.

They’re tearing down the street
Where I grew up
Like pouring brandy
In a Dixie cup
They’re paving concrete
On a part of me
No crime for killing off
A memory
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust
Can you find the Milky Way
Long Tall Sally and Tin Pan Alley
Have seen their dying day
Ashes to ashes, dust to dust
It’ll never be the same
But we’re all forgiven
We’re only living
To leave the way we came

But of course, it is not the end of everything.

Our Christian faith tells us we have direction in this life wherein death is not the end but the beginning of eternal life which is still, about perfect relationships with God and one another.

Have a blessed Sunday everyone – eat, pray and unwind with your loved ones.

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

“The Hurt” by Kalapana (1975)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 19 June 2022
Photo by author, 19 April 2022.

With everybody greeting dads this Father’s day, we have decided to feature Kalapana’s first major hit from their first album in 1975 called “The Hurt” to remind everyone of the many hurts most dads have.

It is most fitting too with our gospel on this Sunday when we also celebrate the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ when we are reminded that everybody is a somebody, everyone has to be loved and respected because we are all members of the Body of Christ. How sad that since the time of Christ, many people still take some persons as nobody especially those considered as ordinary people, those without power and wealth (https://lordmychef.com/2022/06/18/corpus-christi-everybody-a-somebody/).

The Hawaii-based group so famous in the country during the 70’s not only for their music but also for their looks produced some of the coolest sounds and romantic lines on that famous decade; it is just sad that the three original members of the four-man band had all died very young.

The Hurt is about a man who seems to have had his karma after fooling for sometime that now either he was dumped by his girlfriend or being played by her as her lover despite her going out with other men. It is the beat of the music that makes this so lively and appealing, especially the oft-repeated word “hurt, hurt, hurt” especially at the end of the song.

But still, the song is nice with a gospel-message challenging us if we would hurt the one who especially loves us and cares for us. The person may be your boyfriend or husband, could be our dad, or may be your girlfriend or wife, or anyone who truly loves you.

Oh you say you’re mine
And I believe you every single time
Even though they say you’re not my kind
I just can’t believe you’d lie
Oh all my friends are laughing
Seeing you out with other men I’m dying
Can’t you see it in my eyes I’m cryin’
I just cant believe you’re not mine

Would you hurt the man who loves you
Would you hurt the man today
Would you take the love you gave me away
Would you hurt the man who loves you
Would you hurt the man today
Would you take the love you gave me away

Oh what have I done
All the time I guess it was just fun
I gave away this Sweetest girl I knew
Oh, just for you

Would you hurt the man who loves you
Would you hurt the man today
Would you take the love you gave me away
Would you hurt the man who loves you
Would you hurt the man today
Would you take the love you gave me away

Just don’ hurt anyone, physically and emotionally speaking. 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.

The other half of the sky

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 06 June 2022
Photo by author, Silang, Cavite, August 2020

While reflecting last night John’s gospel for today’s memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church, the song “Woman” by another John – John Lennon – kept playing at the back of my mind as I prayed over the words of Jesus calling Mary her mother as “woman” (Jn.19:26).

It is the second time, and final one in the fourth gospel that Mary the mother of Jesus was at a scene with her Son; the other instance they were together in a scene in John’s gospel was at the wedding feast at Cana where Jesus did his first miracle by converting water into wine. In both events, John tells us Jesus addressed Mary as “woman” (Jn.2:4, 19:26).

In 1980, Lennon composed “Woman” as a tribute to his wife Yoko Ono. In that lovely song, we find two instances of how John, like the beloved disciple used the word “woman” very positively. First we hear Lennon quickly declaring right after the first few notes of the song, “For the other half of the sky” to refer to women; and secondly, by starting each verse of this song with the word “woman” which he never used in the chorus that is just “ooh-ooh, well-well”.

For the other half of the sky
Woman
I can hardly express
My mixed emotions at my thoughtlessness
After all, I’m forever in your debt
And woman
I will try to express
My inner feelings and thankfulness
For showing me the meaning of success
Ooh-ooh, well-well
Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo
Ooh-ooh, well-well
Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo
Woman
I know you understand
The little child inside the man
Please remember, my life is in your hands
And woman
Hold me close to your heart
However distant, don’t keep us apart
After all, it is written in the stars
Ooh-ooh, well-well
Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo
Ooh-ooh, well-well
Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo
Woman
Please let me explain
I never meant to cause you sorrow or pain
So let me tell you again and again and again
I love you, yeah-yeah
Now and forever
I love you, yeah-yeah
Now and forever
I love you, yeah-yeah
Now and forever
I love you, yeah-yeah
Now and forever
Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte in Atok, Benguet, February 2022.

How true were the confessions by Lennon, of our “thoughtlessness” and “childishness” in dealing with women, hurting them physically and emotionally without realizing how “indebted” we are to them in bringing us forth into this world, in nurturing us.

So true his words too that no matter how far we turn away from women, we cannot deny the fact we are always close with them, we long for them because we are meant for each other as “written in the stars”.

And most true which I like most is Lennon’s claim that women are “the other half of the sky”.

What a shame when we men think of the world as “us” and ours alone, as if the earth revolves around us, that we are not only the center of the universe but also the universe itself! No wonder we are always lost and at a loss in life.

Women as the other half of the sky tells us how we men and women complete the whole picture of reality, of how we need the feminine side and feminine touch to have a fuller grasp of life, its meaning, and its many mysteries.

This image of the woman as “the other half of the sky” I find so perfectly true with our Blessed Virgin Mary too, most especially when she stood at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ on Good Friday.

When John the beloved disciple chose to use the word “woman” for Mary as addressed by Jesus, it was the most wonderful effort to recognize the dignity and honor of women in the world especially at the very crucial moment of dying and separation of loved ones:

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

John 19:25-27

It is a scene happening daily in our lives as individuals and disciples of Christ, of how Mary addressed as “woman” signifying the Church as the Body of Christ to which we belong and we must care for always; and, as Christians, at how we disciples must obey Christ’s commandment to love one another by respecting and accepting every woman.

Photo by author, 2018.

Both man and woman were created in the image and likeness of God, with equal dignity though different in order to complement each other in coping with life’s many challenges and trials.

See how at creation God entrusted woman to man to love and care for her, to protect her which Jesus repeated to the beloved disciple before he died on the Cross. In the Hebrew language, the word for woman and wife is “ishsha” which is a play from the word for man which is “ish”. Woman came from man, woman is a part of man. Without her, he is not complete and neither shall she also be complete without man. That is why, all these talks about the battle of sexes are all insanity for we are all created to love and care for each other!

The bible tells us many instances of negative views about women along with children that they were not even counted in the feeding of five-thousand by Jesus in the wilderness. Women were never considered as reliable witnesses that is why Jesus himself corrected this by appearing first to Mary Magdalene in the gospels. Women were never seen as holy too that is why the story of Visitation of Elizabeth by Mary was a most unique scene in the whole bible of two women together so blessed by God.

As we resume the Ordinary Time in our Church calendar this Monday with a memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church, let us be more conscious from now on of the dignity of women, of finding Jesus in them by making constant efforts to change the persistent wrong impressions and ideas about women since time immemorial. Whenever you look up the sky, think of those other half of you staring at the heavens, then thank God for the women he had sent you to experience his loving presence especially in these trying times. Amen.

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

Pagpapala sa paglisan

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-01 ng Hunyo 2022
Larawan kuha ng may akda sa Bolinao, Pangasinan, ika-19 ng Abril 2022.

Mahigit isang linggo ko nang pinagbubulay-bulay ang pananatili at paglisan hanggang sa aking mapakinggan kahapon sa libing ng kaibigan itong magandang awit ni Bb. Cookie Chua dalawang dekada na siguro ang nakalipas.

"Kung ang buhay ay isang umagang nakangiti
At ikaw ay ang lupang sinusuyo ng bituin
Di mo man silip ang langit
Di mo man silip, ito'y nandirito pa rin

Kung ang lahat ay may katapusan
Itong paglalakbay ay makakarating din sa paroroonan
At sa iyong paglisan, ang tanging pabaon ko
Ay pag-ibig"

Noong nakaraan, ang tanong ko lang naman ay kailan tayo dapat manatili at kailan tayo dapat umalis o lumisan?

Dahil sa awit na aking napakinggan dala ng pagpanaw ng kaibigan, napalawig ang aking pagninilay ng panibagong katanungan: sa bawat paglisan, sino nga ba ang may higit na pag-ibig, ang umaalis o ang naiiwan?

Hayaan ninyo munang aking sagutin unang tanong, kailan ba tayo dapat umalis at kailan dapat manatili?

Larawan kuha ni G. Chester Ocampo sa Japan, 2017.

Napagnilayan ko ito noong nakaraang Martes nang ang mga pagbasa sa Misa ay tungkol sa pagkakulong nina San Pablo at Silas sa Filipos nang biglang mayanig ng malakas na lindol ang naturang lungsod (https://lordmychef.com/2022/05/24/prayer-to-know-when-to-stay-and-when-to-go/). Magpapakamatay na sana ang kanilang bantay sa pag-aakalang tumakas sina San Pablo at Silas nang pigilan siya mismo ni San Pablo na naroon pa rin sa kanilang selda (Gawa 16:22-34).

Hindi ba madalas kapag tayo ay nasa mahirap na sitwasyon, napakadaling pumasok sa isip natin ang basta mawala na lamang at makaalis, gaya ng pagbibitiw sa trabaho o panginibang bansa marahil?

Iyon nga nakapagtataka kina San Pablo at Silas! Bakit hindi pa sila tumakas na lamang pagkaraan ng lindol na sumira sa kanilang kulungan?

Sa kabilang dako naman, doon sa Mabuting Balita ng araw na iyon, si Hesus ay panay ang paalam ng kanyang paglisan sa kanyang mga alagad noong kanilang Huling Hapunan. Sinabi pa niya na ang pag-alis niya ay sa ikabubuti ng mga alagad niya dahil sa pagdating ng Espiritu Santo na susuguin niya (Jn.16:7).

Dalawang magkaibang sitwasyon, kailan nagiging mabuti at tama, ang manatili at umalis?

Mga sagot:

Una, sa manatili man o lumisan, pinakamainam palagi ay sundin banal na kalooban ng Diyos. Parehong mabuti ang manatili at lumisan ngunit nagkakaroon lamang ito ng kabuluhan o katuturan kung makikita batay sa kalooban at plano ng Diyos para sa atin.

Larawan kuha ni G. Chester Ocampo sa Japan, 2017.

Bakit nga ba hindi pa tumakas sina San Pablo at Silas nang mawasak ng lindol kanilang piitan habang nasa Filipos noon? Maliwanag nating makikita dito ang plano at misyon ng Diyos sa kanila upang masagip at mabinyagan bilang Kristiyano ang kanilang bantay sampu ng kanyang pamilya at angkan! Kung tumakas sina San Pablo at Silas, marahil ay nagpakamatay na nga kanilang bantay at hindi naging Kristiyano. Sayang!

Dito ipinakikita sa atin kahalagahan ng pananalangin upang maging maliwanag kung nasaan ang ating misyon sa buhay. Kung ika’y mananatili ngunit ibig ng Diyos ika’y lumayo tulad ni Abraham, kailanaman ay hindi ka mapapanatag sa buhay. Gayun din naman, kung ikaw naman ay magpipilit na umalis at lumipat dahil sa maraming magandang alok at pagkakataon ngunit hindi naman iyon ang layon sa iyo ng Panginoon, baka ikaw ay mabigo lamang sa iyong pupuntahan.

Minsan nais ko na liwanagin paborito nating salawikain na “Nasa Diyos ang awa, nasa tao ang gawa” kasi madalas, nauuna ang gawa ng tao at kapag nagkaproblema na, saka hihingi ng awa sa Diyos. Totoong nasa Diyos ang awa at nasa tao ang gawa kung bago tayo gumawa ay humingi muna tayo sa Diyos ng awa, liwanagin sa kanya ano ba ang dapat nating gawain? Hindi iyong kapag palpak na at marami nang sabit saka lalapit sa Panginoon.


Pangalawa, sa pagpapasya natin sa pananatili o paglisan batay sa pananalangin, isang bagay makikita natin palagi nangingibabaw sa Diyos ay kapakanan ng iba hindi ng sarili dahil tiyak palagi niya tayong pangangalagaan at hindi pababayaan.

Kaya, huwag matakot na manatili o lumisan, pangalawa sa Maykapal na ating batayan ng desisyon ay kapakanan ng iba, hindi ng sarili.

Batid ito ng maraming OFW at mga magulang na nangibang bansa. Mahirap at masakit ang lumisan ng bayan, iwanan mga mahal sa buhay at mahirap din naman ang maiwanan at mahiwalay sa kabiyak at magulang. Ngunit, kanilang tinitiis ang lahat para sa isa’t-isa, para sa minamahal at hindi para sa sarili.

Larawan kuha ni G. Chester Ocampo sa Japan, 2017.

Ganoon ang Diyos parati: hinihiram tayo para sa kapakanan ng iba. Ito yung katotohanan ng sinabi mismo ni Hesus na “Walang pag-ibig na hihigit pa sa pag-ibig ng isang taong nag-aalay ng kanyang buhay para sa kanyang mga kaibigan” (Jn.15:13).

Yung nanatili at lumilisan, kapwa nagmamahal at nagmamalasakit, nagiging mabunga ang buhay at pagkatao kung ang pasya ay batay sa kalooban ng Diyos.


Pangatlo, makikita natin na kapag tumpak ang proseso ng pagpapasya natin kung tayo ba ay mananatili o aalis, naroon din palagi paglago ng ating pagkatao at ng mga maiiwan natin. Sa pananatili at paglisan, higit na mahalaga ang pamumunga o “fruitfulness” at di lamang success.

May mga tao na matagumpay, successful wika nga dahil nanatili at nagtiyaga o kaya’y lumayo at nasapalaran sa ibang lugar ngunit hindi naman ganap sa buhay at tila baga mayroong kulang pa sa kanila. Kasi nga, wala namang naging lalim sa kanilang katauhan kanilang mga ginawa sa pananatili man o sa paglisan. Marahil ay sa kabila ng kayaman at katanyagan, wala silang natagpuan kahulugan sa buhay. Palaging mayroong kulang. Tulad ng Diyos na siya lamang ating kaganapan sa buhay.

Larawan kuha ng may akda sa Bolinao, Pangasinan, ika-20 ng Abril 2022.

Maituturing din ito bilang pagmamature o pagkakaroon ng gulang. May mga pagkakataon lalo na sa mga nakababata na kapag naiwanan at hinayaang mamahala sa kanilang sariling buhay, sila’y nagma-mature; gayun din naman kapag sila ay lumuwas ng lungsod upang mag-aral at manirahan ng sarili sa mga dorm, sila man ay nagma-mature.

Alalaong-baga, sa ating pananatili o paglisan, lagi ding dapat isaalang-alang paglago sa katauhan ng nanatili at lumilisan.

Kapwa puno ng biyaya at pagpapala ang pananatili at paglisan kung ito ay ating mapagpapasyahan ng mahusay at hindi ng padaskol-daskol lamang. Ito higit nating mapagtatanto kung ang usapin ng paglisan ay hindi lamang pansamantala at hindi ibang lunan na maaring marating.

Naiiba at lalong lumalalim ang kahulugan ng pananatili at paglisan kung ito ay sa larangan ng pangmagpakailanman, kapag ang paglisan ay kamatayan.

Iyan ang ating pagninilayang susunod upang sagutin ating pangalawang tanong, sa bawat paglisan, sino nga ba ang may higit na pag-ibig, ang umaalis o naiiwan?

Pansamantala, ay halina at pakinggan, sabayan kung mas mainam, itong awiting Paglisan at baka kayo man ay mayroong ibang mapagnilayan. Hanggang sa muli.

*Wala po kaming hangad na lumabag sa karapatang-pangsipi o copyrights ng may-ari ng awit at video na ito maliban sa namnamin kagandahan ng nitong musika.

Mula sa YouTube.com.

“What’s Going On?” by Marvin Gaye (1971)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 22 May 2022
Photo by author, Bolinao, Pangasinan, 20 April 2022.

We are now in the penultimate Sunday of the Easter Season as Jesus reiterates in the gospel his commandment to love one another while giving us his precious gift of peace, two essential elements that keep him present among us as well our sources of joy amid the many difficulties in this life.

Right away, we thought of Marvin Gaye’s 1971 hit “What’s Going On?” as the perfect song this Sunday as it embodies both love and peace, two important realities in life we all wish and pray but afraid to work for (https://lordmychef.com/2022/05/21/love-peace-in-christ/).

From the eleventh studio album of the same title by Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On? is not only a commercial success but most of all critically-acclaimed for its superb music and lyrics so poetic with a message so Christ-like, always relevant for all time.

Mother, mother
There’s too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother
There’s far too many of you dying
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today, yeah

Father, father
We don’t need to escalate
You see, war is not the answer
For only love can conquer hate
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today

Picket lines and picket signs
Don’t punish me with brutality
Talk to me
So you can see
Oh, what’s going on (What’s going on)
What’s going on (What’s going on)
What’s going on (What’s going on)
What’s going on (What’s going on)

Right on, baby
Right on, baby
Right on

Mother, mother
Everybody thinks we’re wrong
Oh, but who are they to judge us
Simply ’cause our hair is long
Oh, you know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some understanding here today

Right on, baby, right on
Right on, baby
Right on, baby, right on

What I like most in this song is the priority of love. See how Marvin Gaye mentioned the need for lovin’ first in stanzas 1 and 2, You know we’ve got to find a way, To bring some lovin’ here today, yeah before there can be understanding at stanza 3 after the chorus.

It is exactly what Jesus is asking us always, to have love as foundation and motivation of everything we do. It is from love that true peace can come from, the peace of Christ that is willing to suffer and sacrifice because it is rooted in God not in man nor in our selfish and personal interests.

Peace comes from within, not from outside. And it is very ironic that while What’s Going On? is considered as Marvin Gaye’s finest composition, it was also borne out of a lot of soul-searching within him, punctuated with depression and personal struggles with drugs and debts. He died on 01 April 1984 after being shot thrice on the chest by his own father in the course of a heated and physical argumentation at his parents’ home in Los Angeles. He was only 45 years old, always searching for love and peace all his life.

*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.

“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.