Paalala ng Banaba

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-30 ng Abril 2021
Larawan kuha ng may-akda sa Immaculate Conception School for Boys, Malolos City, 27 Abril 2021.
Tirik noon ang araw 
aking ramdam ang init at alinsangan
sa paradahan ng paaralan, 
nanunuyo lalamunan habang 
tagatak ang pawis, naiinis 
naiinip, kailan aalis
virus ng COVID-19 sa atin;
kaya hanggang sa gitna ng init
sumasagitsit sa isip at kamalayan
paghihirap nating pinagdaraanan
nang ako'y maginhawahan sa malamig na lilim
ng nakayungayong mga dahon at sanga ng Banaba;
sa aking paglingon patingala
ako ay namangha at nabighani
mga lilang bulaklak namumukadkad
handog ay kagalakan at kapahingahan.
Luminga-linga pa ako sa kapaligiran
saka lamang napagmasdan
isa pang puno ng Banaba nalampasan
hitik sa mga bulaklak niyang lila
naroon din sa bukana ng paaralan
nagpaparamdam ng mahalagang aral
matutunan sa pandemyang pinagdaraanan:
kung kailan kainitan,
walang patak ng ulan
saka ipinagyayabang nitong Banaba
angking kagandahan at kabutihan
maging kahusayan dapat nating tularan
sa panahon ng kagipitan, doon lumalabas
tunay nating kulay -
ikaw ba'y matamlay at mapusyaw
at hindi makagalaw?
Alalahanin pangangaral ni Hesus nating mahal,
"At bakit kayo nababagabag tungkol sa pananamit?
Isipin ninyo kung paanong sumisibol
mga bulaklak sa parang, hindi nagpapagal
ni humahabi man; maging si Solomon
sa kanyang karangyaan hindi naramtan
ng gayong karinglan!
Kaya't huwag kayong mabalisa
sa inyong kakanin, iinumin o daramtin."
Madaling sabihin, mahirap gawin
lalo na sa marami sa atin sapin-sapin
suson-suson mga paghamon sa buhay
ngunit sa puno ng Banaba naroon
ating tugon:  magpakatatag sa pagkabaon sa lupa
paglipas ng taon uusbong mga dahon at bulaklak
dulot nitong bunga lunas sa maraming sakit at karamdaman.
Larawan kuha ng may-akda sa Immaculate Conception School for Boys, Malolos City, 27 Abril 2021.

Only in God is everything new

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Week XXV, Year II in Ordinary Time, 24 September 2020
Ecclesiastes 1:2-11     >><)))*>  +  +  +  <*(((><<     Luke 9:7-9
Photo by author, Shambala in Silang, Cavite, 22 September 2020.

Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity! What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun. Even the thing of which we say, “See, this is new!” has already existed in the ages that preceded us.

Ecclesiastes 1:2, 9-10

Praise and glory to you, O God our loving Father for this brand new day that offers us with fresh opportunities to become better and the best. Most of all, a call to be more loving, more gentle, and more kind like you.

Yes, it is true that “Nothing is new under the sun. Even the thing of which we say, ‘See, this is new!’ has already existed in the ages that preceded us.” Everything in life becomes a vanity if lived without you.

In the beginning at Genesis, you have made everything beautiful, entrusting it all to us with the sacred task of keeping that beauty making us your co-workers in the world. But, alas! We have turned away from you in sins that we have disfigured ourselves and destroyed nature in the process.

The temptation to be like you, O God, that tempted Adam and Eve continues to this day and the more we pretend to be all-knowing and all-powerful like you, the more everything becomes a vanity.

Like Herod in the gospel, the more we try to set the new order of things in life, the more we are disturbed of the past because it is only in you O God our Father through Jesus Christ your Son has everything been made new again. You were the one who have designed everything in this life and had ordered it all to one definite direction of ending in you because everything is yours after all.

Forgive us for playing gods, manipulating not only ourselves but even others and nature.

Teach us through Jesus to be humble, to welcome the good news of salvation into our lives for it is only in our hearts full of contrition for our sins where everything becomes new again in this world as we begin seeing everything and everyone in your light. Amen.

Photo by author, sunset at Shambala in Silang, Cavite, 22 September 2020.

Let nature remind us of God

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Week XVI, Year II in Ordinary Time, 20 July 2020
Micah 6:1-4, 6-8 <*(((><< )) + (( >><)))*> Matthew 12:38-42

Praise and glory to you, O God our loving Father for this beautiful Monday! We are midway through the month of July in this challenging year. Yes, 2020 is heavy for most of us with all the various problems we are going through but you have never left us, O Lord.

And that is why, Father, we also wonder what else have we not done that would set things right again?

Let us heed your words, O God.

Let us be reminded of your ways, of your very self by nature around us!

Hear what the Lord says: Arise, present your plea before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voices! Hear, O mountains, the plea of the Lord, pay attention, O foundations of the earth! For the Lord has a plea against his people, and he enters into trial with Israel. O my people, what have I done to you, or how have I wearied you? Answer me! You have been told, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: Only to do right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.

Micah 6:1-3, 8

Forgive us, merciful Father, for being “an evil and unfaithful generation” always looking for signs of your loving presence.

Teach us to trust you even if we cannot understand your plans.

May we learn from nature around us that thrives so well in your loving care – full of life, full of zest even without so much attention, reminding us of your saving power in Jesus Christ. Amen.

All photos by author except bougainvillea with our parish church by Gelo Nicolas Carpio in the collage above.

Aral at turo ng bundok

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-09 ng Hunyo 2020
Ang banal na Bundok ng Sinai sa Ehipto kung saan nakipagtagpo at usap ang Diyos kay Moises. Larawan kuha ng may-akda, Mayo 2019.
Mula 
 kamusmusan 
hanggang kabataan 
maging sa katandaan, palagi 
kong pinag-iisipan ano kaya pakiramdam 
at karanasan maakyat ang kabundukan at mula
doon durungawin nasa ibabang mga lansangan at kapatagan o kaya naman
mula sa gayong kataasan kung mayroong kaibahan kung ako'y tumingala sa kalangitan.
Hindi 
nagtagal aking 
naranasang maakyat ilang 
kabundukan at doon ko natutunan 
pangunahing aral at katotohanan na ang bundok 
ay buhay, isang paglalakbay mga daana'y di tiyak, puno ng mga 
dawag at panganib, hindi lahat ay paahon minsa'y palusong kaya mahalaga 
sa bawat pagkakataon, tuon ay matunton nililingon na taluktok sa dako pa roon.
Iwaksi 
pagmamadali 
gaya ng ating buhay, damhin
paglalakbay sa bundok, tingnan kalikasan
pakinggan sari-saring tunog at huni sa kapaligiran
iyong mararanasan kaluguran at kabutihan, hindi kahirapan;
iwasan o lampasan at iwanan mga hindi kagandahan, panatilihan 
saan man ika'y puno ng kagalakan at kaganapan, sa buhay madalas nating malimutan.
Huwag
kalilimutan tanging
mahalaga lamang ang dalhin
ano mang hindi kailangan ay iwanan
upang huwag mabigatan, mapagaan at mapaluwag
di lamang katawan kungdi pati kalooban dahil ang malaking 
katotohanan, itong bundok ay larawan ng Diyos na sa ati'y umaakit 
sa kanya tayo ay lumapit upang kariktan niya at kabanalan atin ding makamit.
Ang
hiwaga ng
kabundukan katulad 
nitong atin buhay matatagpuan 
sa ating kakayanang iwanan ang lahat,
Diyos ay pagkatiwalaan na Siya ring nagbigay
sa atin ng bugtong Niyang Anak nag-alay ng buhay sa krus 
upang mabuksan pintuan ng kalangitan na ating tunay na tahanan 
madalas nating tinitingnan sa kaulapan halos kalapit ng mataas na kabundukan.

Ang mga bantog na Swiss Alps sa Switzerland. Kuha ni Rdo. P. Gerry Pascual, 2019.

Pasko ng Pagkabuhay sa panahon ng nakamamatay na COVID-19

Lawiswis Ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-13 ng Abril 2020

Katulad ninyo 
ako man ay humiling
sa aking mga panalangin
sana'y magbalik na 
dating normal na buhay natin 
bago mag-COVID-19.



Ngunit nang aking suriin
mali itong aking hiling
at tiyak hindi diringgin
ng Panginoon nating
nagpakasakit upang baguhin
kinamihasnang pagkakasala natin.


Ano nga ba ibig sabihin
pagbabalik sa dating normal
na buhay natin?
Hindi ba ito naging sanhi
nitong COVID-19 kaya 
tayo ngayon ay naka-quarantine?
Bago pa man dumating 
itong social distancing
magkakahiwalay at hindi natin pansin
mga kapwa lalo mga nalilihis 
habang ang iba ay minamaliit 
tila baga buhay ng iba walang halaga sa atin?
Kaya dating normal na buhay natin
hindi na dapat magbalik sa mga panahong...
normal ang walang Diyos
normnal ang hindi pagsisimba
normal ang paglapastangan sa magulang at kapwa
normal ang makasarili
normal ang walang pakialam
normal ang kasakiman
normal ang patayan
normal ang pakikiapid
normal ang pagsisinungaling
normal ang fake news at chismis
normal ang pagnanakaw
normal ang korapsiyon
normal ang gulangan
normal ang pagmumura at pag-alipusta
normal ang kawalan ng kahihiyan
normal ang mga trapo na pulitikong pulpol
normal ang pagbebenta ng boto
normal ang kawalan ng modo
normal ang pagwasak sa kalikasan.
Iyan ang dating normal na buhay natin
na hindi na dapat mabalik
sari-saring mga diyos-diyosang
sinasamba upang magkamal ng maraming pera
hangaan at tingalain ng iba
waring ang sarili'y angat sa karamihan.

Iyan ang dating normal na buhay natin
na hindi na dapat mabalik pagkaran nitong COVID-19:
malayo sa Diyos at sa kapwa tao
dahil itong Pasko ng Pagkabuhay
ay pagbabalik sa landas ng kabutihan at kabanalan
paglimot sa sarili, pagpapasan ng Krus upang si Kristo ay masundan.

Kaya marahil matatagalan itong ating lockdown
upang higit nating madalisay ating mga buhay
nang sa gayon matapos pagdaanan mga kahirapan
huwag nating malimutan ang Diyos na makapangyarihan
hangad ang ating kabutihan at kapakanan.

Conversing with God in time of COVID-19

40 Shades of Lent, Sunday Week-V, Year-A, 29 March 2020

Ezekiel 37:12-14 +++ Romans 8:8-11 +++ John 11:1-45

Photo by Ms. Anne Ramos last March 22, 2020 during our procession of Blessed Sacrament in the Parish when a rainbow appeared at the horizon.

Once again as we near the closing of our Lenten journey, Jesus does another “sign” or miracle — his last and grandest in anticipation of his coming Passion, Death, and Resurrection: the raising from death of his friend Lazarus.

What is so beautiful in this story is how the evangelist involves us his readers and hearers into a conversation with Jesus unlike last Sunday at the healing of a man born blind where the characters conversed only among themselves.

The raising of Lazarus to life is more engaging because it is deeply personal and intimate as it involves friends dearest to Jesus — exactly like each one of us! And that is why it is also very timely as we go through the ongoing lockdown due to COVID-19.

When Jesus heard this he said, “This illness is not to end in death, but is for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

John 11:4

My dear family and friends, Jesus assures us today of the Father’s love and healing, that he would save us from the deadly corona virus. Come and let us converse with him with the sisters of Lazarus, Martha and Mary.

After my “private Mass” (Missa sine populo) during the Solemnity of the Annunciation, 25 March 2020.

Presence of Jesus

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.”

John 11:21-22

Twice do we hear this line in this very long story of the raising of Lazarus when Mary repeated it upon meeting Jesus later at the entrance of their town of Bethany.

And like Martha and Mary, we always say it to Jesus too as if he ever leaves us alone!

“Lord, if you had been here…”

Jesus is always with us.

We are the ones who always leave Jesus behind.

We always have so many other things to do, so many other people to meet that we have no time to truly pray and most of all, celebrate the Sunday Mass every week.

It is my hope that following the suspension of the “public Masses” due to lockdown, people now realize the value of the Holy Eucharist which is the “summit” of our Christian life where we are nourished by the words of God and strengthened by the Body and Blood of Christ.

Photo from Forbes.com via Facebook, 2019.

Long before we were told to observe “social distancing” in this time of pandemic, we have long been distant from one another and from God.

How ironic that these modern means of communications were invented to bring us closer but have actually brought us farther apart! Most often, we are close enough with someone miles across the seas but too distant and cold to persons physically near us, even seated beside us.

Let us spend more time with our family and most especially with God in prayer during this enhanced quarantine period to be the presence of Christ with one another. Let us remember Fr. Patrick Peyton’s expression, “The family that prays together, stays together; a world at prayer is a world at peace”.

Remember: the most wonderful and enriching relationships we can have are those rooted in Jesus Christ who is always present in us.

Jesus is perturbed and deeply troubled

While praying over this long gospel, this photo by Raffy Lerma kept on flashing in my mind, showing me how Jesus must have reacted upon seeing Mary weeping over the death of her brother Lazarus.

He became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Sir, come and see.” And Jesus wept.

John 11:33-35

Like our gospel today, Lerma’s photo of a mother crying over her son lost to “tokhang” at the height of this administration’s war against drug in July 2016 is very conversant, so moving like the Pieta by Michaelangelo in Rome. In fact, the government doubted the veracity of the photo, claiming through its trolls it was merely “staged” or “drawing” as we say in journalism. The photo is authentic because the event truly happened. And continued to happen before this lockdown.

What I like most with this photo is the composure of the mother. You can feel she was deeply sad and troubled, weeping without the hysterical theatrics or palahaw in Tagalog that we see in many instances like funerals.

Photo by Mr. Jay Javier, Quiapo, January 2020.

Multiply that to the highest degree and we get the image of Jesus “perturbed and deeply troubled, weeping” at the death of his friend Lazarus.

There is the gentle yet firm mastery by Jesus of the situation, of the loss and tragedy.

No hysterics nor theatrics. Pure and all-encompassing presence.

It would be the same mastery and composure Jesus would exhibit at his coming Passion and Death, reaching its highest point on Easter.

Here we find Jesus Christ truly human, truly Divine. Yes, he was perturbed and deeply troubled; he cried and wept not because of weakness but rather more of strength, of being true and determined in overcoming not only his coming Passion but most of all, our own setbacks and losses.

Have faith, my dear reader. Jesus is surely “perturbed and deeply troubled, weeping” again with us in this time of the corona pandemic. Step back and let him be himself in being one with us; then, wait and see what he is going to do next for us.

Photo from theguardian.com, 19 March 2020 reporting how a “generation has died” in Bergamo, Italy struggling with 1959 deaths from corona virus that has overwhelmed the nation’s funeral sector.

Jesus joins us in death so we can rise to life in him

Today is not a beautiful day to die, especially for victims of COVID-19. No wakes. No Masses. Just simple blessings after cremation. If ever possible.

The scenes from Italy are deeply disturbing that has become the new epicenter of corona pandemic. According to a report last Monday, the obituary page of a local newspaper had increased tenfold in a week, listing up to 150 deaths daily! More disturbing is the fact that “death and mourning happen in isolation”.

Our readings this Sunday speak a lot about death symbolized by graves.

But not on a morbid sense like a defeat or a loss; rather, as a victory, a raising to new life!

Thus says the Lord God: O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them, and bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and have you rise from them, O my people! I will put my spirit in you that you may live.

Ezekiel 37:12-14

Ezekiel proclaimed these words of the Lord to the Israelites during their Babylonian Exile when they lost everything and everyone, including God as they thought have forsaken them for their sinfulness. This prophecy is finally fulfilled in Christ’s coming and victory over death on Easter.

In calling back Lazarus to life, Jesus shows us in this scene his tremendous power over death and defeat, agony and pain, sin and evil. It is a prefiguration to a grander scale of his own Resurrection on Easter after the Good Friday.

And when he had said this, he cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, tied hand and foot with burial bands, and his face was wrapped in cloth. So Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.”

John 11:43-44
Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA-7 News. Used with permission. Seen here from atop the GMA Network Center in QC is Mt. Samat in Bataan with the Memorial Cross visible, across the Manila Bay, taken on 26 March 2020.

Do you believe this?

Jesus is calling us to have faith in him, to believe in him especially in this time of COVID-19 pandemic. And like his question to Martha which he repeated twice, the Lord is asking us the same question today:

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?

John 11:25-26

Do you believe in him, Jesus the Christ?

Good things have also been happening lately in this two-week old lockdown.

Families are again getting together, staying together. Finally we now have more time than ever to converse once again as husband and wife, children and parents, brothers and sisters.

Some people have rediscovered God and are back to praying again, to believing again.

Even Mother Nature is said to have taken a big break during this lockdown, giving us spectacular views never seen before due to cleaner air, less pollution and congestion in the cities.

These are all conversations going on – thanks to COVID-19!

Let us join the conversations with our loved ones, with nature, with our self, and with God.

Below is one of my favorite photos this week taken by GMA-7 reporter Mr. Raffy Tima. Again, another photo conversing with us, like Jesus in the story of the raising to life of Lazarus.

See the Memorial Cross on Mt. Samat in Bataan?

The raising of Lazarus is the “sign” or miracle as the other evangelists would say, that prefigures the definitive victory of Jesus on the cross.

Like the sisters of Lazarus, believe in Jesus who is awakening us today amid the threats or crosses of corona virus to bear all these sufferings, to passover like him to the life that bodily death cannot touch “through his Spirit dwelling in us” (Rom. 8:11). Amen.

Para saan, daan sa kabukiran?

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-28 ng Pebrero 2020

Larawan kuha ng may-akda sa Pulilan, Bulacan, 25 Pebrero 2020.
Sa aming lalawigan 
na tinuturing luntian
maraming halamanan at kabukiran
unti-unti nang napapalitan yaring kalikasan.
Ako'y kinakabahan 
sa darating na kinabukasan
ating mga palabigasan wala nang laman
mga bata'y kumakalam sa gutom kanilang tiyan.
Ang sabi ng karamihan 
ito'y para sa kaunlaran
ngunit kung ating titingnan 
malayo sa katotohanan.
Doon pa rin sa Pulilan, Bulacan, 25 Pebrero 2020.
Kailangan daw ay kongkretong daan
upang mapabilis kalakalan 
nguni't paano naman
kung wala nang aanihan?
Repormang pangsakahan, tinalikuran
mga magsasaka tinatapakan 
lupaing ginawang daanan di binayaran 
presyo ng palay kulang at alangan!
Hindi masama ang kaunlaran
ngunit kung ang maliliit ay kinalilimutan
kapakanan nila ay pinababayaan
wala rin itong patutunguhan.
Doon pa rin sa Pulilan, Bulacan.
Hindi ba natin namamalayan
sa pagkawala ng ating mga kabukiran
kasabay nababaluktot ating katuwiran
pati katinuan at katarungan nasasalansang?
Buksan natin ating isipan
sa sasapiting pagkawasak at kawalan
kapag mga sakahan ating pinabayaan
hindi lamang tiyan mawawalan ng laman.
Sementuhin mo man maraming daan
ngunit sarado naman puso at kalooban
sa higit na malalim na mga katotohan
wala patutunguhan kungdi kapahamakan.
Doon pa rin sa Pulilan, Bulacan.