The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Seventh Week of Easter, 25 May 2023
Acts 22:30, 23:6-11 ><))))*> + <*((((>< John 17:20-26
How wonderful and
so touching, Lord Jesus,
for you to call us
a gift from the Father.
“Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”
Help me keep, dear Jesus,
that being of a gift to you
from the Father by being
a witness of your glory
which is standing by your
side at the Cross like St. Paul
whom you have called "to bear
witness to you in Jerusalem and
in Rome" (Acts 23:11).
May we always remember
this truth, our being a gift to
you dear Jesus, so that in moments
we feel so overburdened,
when we are losing hope,
when we feel like giving up,
we may forge on
in bearing witness
to your Cross of suffering
so that eventually be one
in your glorious Resurrection.
The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the Seventh Week of Easter, 23 May 2023
Acts 20:17-27 ><))))*> + ><))))*> + ><))))*> John 17:1-11
Lord Jesus Christ,
give me the courage and
strength to choose what is
in order for me to follow you
It is in choosing
the most difficult
that we are able to
follow and do your
most holy will, Lord;
it is in the most difficult,
in the most painful,
and in the most trying
when we become truly selfless,
being able to give ourselves to you,
like your great apostle
“But now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem. What will happen to me there I do not know, except that in one city after another the Holy Spirit has been warning me that imprisonment and hardships await me. Yet I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the Gospel of God’s grace.”
Acts of the Apostles 20:22-24
How ironic, dear Jesus
that in this age when
the instant and easy ways
are glorified and desired much
especially when they bring
fame and wealth,
the more our lives
have become empty
of meaning and
Keep me close to you,
to your Cross
for it is through
your suffering and
death we also enter
eternal life in you.
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Fifth Sunday in Easter-A, 07 May 2023
Acts 6:1-7 ><}}}*> 1 Peter 2:4-9 ><}}}*> John 14:1-12
From being our “gate” as the Good Shepherd last week, Jesus today introduces himself as our “home”, our dwelling by being “the way and the truth and the life”. Our scene is still at the last supper with Jesus teaching his disciples including us today with some of his important lessons expressed in words so touching and full of mysteries.
Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.”
Though the apostles were still at a loss at the meaning of the words spoken by Jesus that night, they knew and felt something so bad would happen, that life for them would no longer be the same as before that troubled them so deeply inside.
To be troubled here means more than the feeling but experience itself of confrontation with the power of evil and death, when we get that existential feeling of our mortality, when we feel so helpless in a situation, asking “paano na ito?” or “paano na kaya ako/kami?” Like the apostles that night, we too have been into similar situations of being troubled deep inside when we realize in no uncertain terms something so sweeping is happening, altering our lives “forever” like when we or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, gets a stroke, or has to undergo a major surgery of the heart or brain, and losing a loved one.
Jesus is telling us this Sunday like on that holy Thursday evening to stand firm because these evil and death will just have momentary control over us, a passing over that is why we have to summon all our strength and courage, confidence and perseverance in him as he himself had already triumphed with his own passion, death, and resurrection.
And that is the good news! Jesus had won over all our worst fears like death. It is the gift of Easter, of the Lord’s Resurrection right there inside our hearts, already in our very core we only need to recover by abiding in him always. But before going any further, let us first confront one important lesson this gospel scene offers us: When are we really most troubled in life?
When we examine the many troubles we have been through, we find that more than the difficult and harsh situations we have faced were the many troubles within our very selves. What really trouble us most are not those outside us but within us. These are those little guilt feelings we used to take for granted, little details in life we used to ignore and dismiss as nothing for so long that suddenly now under our very nose as so serious, so important after all.
The most troubling experience of all is when we realize how we have wasted so many opportunities to love and be kind, to be more forgiving and understanding, when we know we have done something wrong and have done nothing to rectify it. We are troubled when outside conditions throw us into situations that make us confront not only death and evil but our very selves that suddenly, we feel unprepared and inadequate especially sickness and death that both surely come. Always.
And here is the big difference: Jesus was not surprised, was never caught unaware of his pasch because all his life he has been one in the Father and one with us. See in all four gospel accounts how Jesus had total control over everything that is why he was so prepared for his passion, death and resurrection because he never turned away from the Father and anyone in need of healing, of forgiveness, of comfort, of his presence. Jesus never turned away from his very essence, his mission which is oneness in the Father and oneness with us his beloved.
Jesus was so at home, so to speak, with himself and with the Father that he never fell into sin despite the devil’s temptations nor the scheming traps and plots of his enemy. This is what Jesus is telling us of preparing a room for us in the Father’s house, that we be at home with our true selves in the Father in him.
We are most troubled when we are not home, literally and figuratively speaking. And sadly, many times as we have experienced in this pandemic that even in our own homes we could not be at home because we are detached and away from our families and loved ones.
“In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places… Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.”
John 14: 2, 10
The word “dwelling” is a favorite of John especially in this part of his gospel. For John, dwelling is more than a home but unity of Jesus and the Father as well as unity of Jesus and his disciples including us. In his prologue he spoke of Jesus as the Word who became flesh and “dwelled” among us. So beautiful an imagery of the Son of God living among us, being one with us and in us, not just physically present but through and through like going through our human experiences except sin.
To dwell is not just to reside but most of all to abide in Christ, to be united, to be one in him which he would say in the following chapter when he identified himself as the true vine and we are his branches.
Therefore, to dwell is to be one, to commune in the Lord. That is why heaven is not just a place but a condition, a being of eternal union with God where Jesus assures us of a dwelling. And because Jesus is our dwelling, our home, that is why he is also our way because he alone is the truth and the life.
Now, if anyone lives in Jesus, he/she lives in the Father too as he clarified with Philip who asked him to show them the Father and that would be enough.
How lovely that Jesus taught these lessons of unity and oneness in him and the Father and with one another in the context of the table, of a meal.
Here we find his last supper was not just a prelude to his coming Passion, Death and Resurrection but to his Ascension into heaven too when Jesus was already speaking of his entrance into a new and higher level of relating with the Father and with us his disciples, his Body as the Church.
This “dwelling” continues in our Eucharistic celebrations especially the Sunday Mass and even right in our own homes too during meal time. And there lies the challenge of our gospel this Sunday.
The first major problem in the early church came in the context of the table when “the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution” (Acts 6:1) of food. The Hellenists were the Jews who have lived outside Israel that when they returned home, they have become so alienated because of language barriers even of outlook in life. The Apostles resolved the issue by ordaining the first seven deacons.
It is interesting that the word “deacon” came from the Greek word diakonia which means “to serve at the table”. In Latin, diakonia is ministerium which is service in the table too. How lovely that to serve is actually rooted in the table found in homes!
We say home is where the heart is. In that case, God is our home. Jesus is our dwelling. We are troubled when we are not at home with God in Jesus and with our own families. Any problem at home takes priority in us too because family is important to us. How sad that some people could reject their own family without realizing that no matter what happens to us, it is still our family who would save us and stand by us in the end. This is what St. Peter’s was saying in the second reading of Jesus being the stone rejected to become the cornerstone when often we dismiss our family but in the end remain with us when our chips are down.
This Sunday, let us go home in Jesus our true home found in our own families. Home in Filipino is tahanan from the root word tahan which means to stop crying. To dwell in Filipino is manahan, from the same root too. We stop crying in our home because that is where we find security and comfort, love and acceptance, most of all, life and direction. Amen. Have a blessed week ahead!
One with the Psalmist today,
O dear Jesus Christ,
I also proclaim that indeed
"The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord"
because even in our sadness,
right in our weeping and in
that is where and when you come!
Jesus said to Magdalene, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” She thought it was the gardener and said to him, “Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher.
there are times we are overtaken
by our grief and sadness over our
many disappointments and failures,
losses and defeats like deaths
that we could not see
your loving presence,
your consoling comfort
O Lord Jesus Christ.
Like the listeners of Peter on that
day of Pentecost, "cut us to the heart"
(Acts 2:37), lay bare before us this
glaring truth of your Resurrection, Jesus,
of your victory over death and darkness,
over sin and sickness
that we may be more open to accept and
embrace your loving presence
with us and in us during the most
trying times of life like death of a loved one
or a sudden shift in our lives.
Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
The Seven Last Words, 07 April 2023
It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle. Jesus cried our in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”; and when he had said this he breathed his last.
Do you have a “bucket list”, of things to do before turning a certain age or before dying? Very often we read in social media articles of sample “bucket lists”, of things to do, things to see, food to eat before one dies as if these are the ultimate things or cities or food in the world!
I am sorry I do not believe in such “bucket list” no matter how good is that movie of the same title. It is all non-sense! Why spend so much time and energies of things to do before dying or turning 50 or 60 or whatever age when we should be making the most out of every present moment because we could die any time!
We will all die one day for sure. But, will we die well? Our death is our most wonderful and lasting gift to our loved ones if we die for them and for others, if we lived a fruitful life we can leave for them. The question we should be asking is “how do we live our lives meaningfully now in the present so that when we die, our lives would continue to bear fruit in the generations that will follow us?” Stop wondering or asking about what we can do in the future or the years we have left to live because that is highly hypothetical. It has not happened yet and might not even happen at all if we die soon enough. Get real by living fully in the present! Coming to terms with death is coming to terms with life. The moment we realize we shall die one day, that is when we start living authentically. And joyfully.
Jesus died so well on that Good Friday because he was able to surrender everything to the Father and for us all because he lived fully that is why he was able to surrender or give or commend his spirit. How about us? How sad that many times our loved ones left us with much pain and regrets because we never fully lived with them nor enjoy precious moments with them while still alive. Live fully in love and joy, forgiveness and mercy. Celebrate life daily. Life is too short to spend it in dramas and wishful thinking.
At the hour of our death like Jesus on that Good Friday, can we also give others and God our spirit of love and mercy, our spirit of joy and kindness? Or, we are still busy thinking what else we can do in this life? What if we are called back to God now, at this very moment?
Let us pray.
Lord Jesus Christ,
grant me the grace to live
my life in you,
and through you
to the fullest in every here and now
so that if ever I should die any moment,
I am able to commend to the Father
my spirit back to him
but only with joy and gratitude
that my loved ones would
feel and nurture
until we all meet again
in your kingdom in heaven.
Thank you for following our reflections on the Seven Last Words of Jesus on the Cross. May you have a meaningful Holy Week and a joyful Easter! God bless you!
The Lord Is My Chef Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Maundy Thursday, 06 April 2023
Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14 + 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 + John 13:1-15
Tonight we begin the most solemn days of the year called the “Holy Triduum” of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil. All roads rightly lead to the Parish Church at sundown for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist that begins with the Tabernacle empty. There will be no dismissal at the end of the Mass, it is open ended. Most of unique of all in tonight’s Mass is the ritual of the washing of feet of some members of the community.
But there is something more beautiful to the ritual washing of feet. It is the context and words from John’s gospel that set the mood of tonight’s mood and tone of celebration as well as the hint of the meaning of Good Friday too.
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.
First thing we have to consider here is the fact that “Jesus knew his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father.” He was never caught by surprise. Jesus knew everything, was never taken over by events. Luke said it beautifully after his identification as the Christ at Caesarea Philippi, When the days for his being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem (Lk. 9:51).
We have heard in the first reading the story of the exodus of the Israelites, their passover from Egypt to the Promised Land, their passover from slavery to freedom that was perfected by Christ’s own pasch beginning tonight with his Passion, Death and Resurrection. This is our call, to live Christ’s Paschal Mystery daily, to be one in him, one with him, one through him in passing over life’s many challenges and trials.
To passover means to grow, to mature, to overcome, to hurdle. Every day we go through many series of passovers, from sickness to health, from sinfulness to forgiveness, from failures to victory, from our little deaths to our daily rising to new life in Jesus. This we can only accomplish with love, the kind of love by Jesus Christ.
That is the second, most important thing we must consider in John’s brief introduction to our gospel tonight, Jesus “loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end”. The Greek word for the “end” is telos which is not just a terminal end in itself but indicates or connotes direction. Or fulfillment and perfection, not just a ceasing or end or stoppage of life or any operation. Jesus knew everything that is why his life here on earth had direction which is back to the Father, with us. Everything he said and did was out of love for the Father and for us.
Love is the sole reason Jesus came to the world to save us because we have failed to love from the very beginning. It is love that Jesus showed us on that Holy Thursday evening to be fully expressed on Good Friday when he died on the Cross. His whole life was love because he himself is love. This he showed when he washed the apostles feet and after that, asked them and us to do the same with each other. That is love’s highest point when we are able to get to our lowest point of service and love. In our daily passover, it is love that moves us to keep on going with life’s many ups and downs because we love our parents, our siblings, your wife or husband, your children. Our vocation and the people entrusted to us. We go through our passover we because we love.
When Jesus died on the Cross, he said, “It is finished” – meaning, he had fulfilled his mission, that is, he had perfectly loved us to the end by giving us his very life. At his death on the Cross, Jesus showed us perfectly his love for us, the Father’s love for us that he had told to Nicodemus at the start of John’s gospel that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son” (Jn. 3:16).
This is the love Jesus spoke of during that supper that rightly prompted St. Paul to put into writing, the very first one to do so in the New Testament:
Brothers and sisters: I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you…” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this in remembrance of me.”
1 Corinthians 11:23-24, 25
There on the Cross this was definitively fulfilled and perfected more than ever. Jesus did not have to die on the Cross but he chose to go through it because of his love for us.
Here we find the beautiful meaning of love expressed to us in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. More than obedience to commandments and keeping the laws of God by being good and kind with everyone, love is the perfection of life.
Love is our true destiny – end – in life, our call to life from the very beginning.
Keep on loving until it hurts. Until the end because God is love as John wrote in his first letter where he beautifully expressed, Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us(1 Jn. 4:11-12).
Love, love, love.
My dear friends, only God can love us perfectly. Only Jesus can love us perfectly like what he did on the Cross.
Human love is always imperfect. That is why Jesus showed us the example of washing the feet of his apostles at the Last Supper.
In the Holy Mass, we all bow down before God and with everyone at the start to confess our sins, to admit our sinfulness “in what we have done and failed to do.”
In the Eucharist, Jesus fills up, completes our imperfect love with his love found in his words, in his peace we share with others, and most especially in his Body and Blood we receive.
St. Paul rightly reminded us of this meaning of the Eucharist, For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes (1 Cor. 11:26). This is why we have to celebrate Mass every Sunday. Most especially on holy days like tonight and Easter. Please, complete the Holy Triduum until Easter. Go on vacation some other date. Give these days to God who gave us his Son Jesus Christ by dying on the Cross for us.
Let us pray silently, be wrapped and awed by that mystery of the Eucharist Jesus established on that Holy Thursday evening at the Upper room.
teach us to love you more
by imitating your love,
of humbly going down to serve
even those who betray us,
of bending our hearts
to forego all bitterness
and festering anger within,
"let our tongues sing the
mysteries telling of your Body,
price excelling of your Blood"
in a life of loving service,
of daily dying in you
with you and
Have a blessed and meaningful Holy Triduum. Please pray and reflect on God’s love for us these days at home, in the church.
40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Fifth Sunday in Lent-A, 26 March 2023
Ezekiel 37:12-14 + Romans 8:8-11 + John 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33-45
We conclude this Sunday the three Johannine readings during this Lenten season with the story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. More powerful than the healing of the man born blind last Sunday, St. John shows in this raising of Lazarus who had been dead for four days that Jesus is truly the Christ, the awaited Messiah. Most of all, it is in this raising of Lazarus that Jesus also made his greatest “I AM” statement of all, “I am the resurrection and the life”.
Like the two previous long stories from St. John, let us focus on the opening paragraph of this long narrative that right away gives us a hint of something very striking, of why Jesus delayed his coming to Lazarus supposed to be his friend, someone so dear to him.
The sisters of Lazarus sent word to Jesus, saying, “Master, the one you love is ill.” 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.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that he was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was. Then after this he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
Don’t you find it striking that after asserting that “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus”, then, “he remained for two days in the place where he was” (vv.5-6)? How could Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus yet delayed his coming in visiting them, especially Lazarus who was sick? His love for Lazarus as his friend should have made him proceeded to visit him right away and had he gone soon enough, Lazarus would have not died at all!
Many times we are also baffled with God who claims to love us so much but too often, delays his coming to us, in answering our prayers, and even seems to allow us to suffer so much before finally coming to our rescue!
The key, my dear friends, is found in verse 4 when Jesus 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.” Like in the healing of the man born blind last Sunday when Jesus told his disciples that “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him” (Jn.9:3), St. John is reminding us in this raising of Lazarus from the dead that the love of Jesus Christ for us is manifested in works that show the glory of God by which we his disciples come to deeper faith.
When bad things happen to us making us feel in dire need of help and deliverance from God immediately, we tend to focus on what’s wrong, what’s broken and what needs help, expecting God to do something quick about it. But Jesus is teaching us this Sunday to approach situations of tragedy and deep crises like when somebody is too sick, even death by first seeking means how we can be an instrument who manifest God’s glory in this moment of great danger and need. Jesus is governed by something greater than human affection and expectations but by the Father’s will.
See at a very young age after Jesus was lost and then found in the temple when he clarified to his parents that he had to be in his Father’s home?! As he matured and later with his disciples, he would always insist on the need to seek, follow, and stand by the truths of the Father for he does and says nothing not known by the Father. When it seems to take time so long in receiving God’s assistance, never think he loves us less. In fact, he loves us so much that he finds something else so beautiful in such situations that he opts to delay in answering our prayer requests immediately.
Remember how the Israelites spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness before entering the Promised Land after their exodus from Egypt when they could have accomplished that in less than a month maybe or even a year. But in their wandering in the desert for 40 years, they were purified and bonded as a nation. It was during those years they developed their language and culture and most especially, the composition of the first five books of the bible! Many times, God delays his coming to us so as to make us stronger and deeper in our faith like Martha and Mary. Just because God does not act quickly to our needs does not mean he loves us less that we begin doubting his love for us.
The love of Jesus for everyone, especially his friends, Lazarus, Martha and Mary is best expressed in giving glory to the Father by helping them come into deeper faith. That is the greatest gift we can also give our family and friends – deepened faith through a life that points to God and not us.
There are times we feel like being grounded and even pulverized by God – dinudurog – not because he does not love us but primarily to transform us into better persons. In the first reading, God assured Ezekiel which was fulfilled in Christ that he would make us rise not only at the end of time but even in our little deaths daily in life by breathing into us his Spirt. This is the goal of every Lenten journey that leads to Easter, that amid all the sufferings and pains, even deaths we experience in life, we always emerge better, living more in the Spirit of God (second reading) than in flesh.
Hindi lang tayo mahal ng Diyos. Mahal na mahal na mahal tayo ng Diyos kay Jesus!
After each darkness in life, there is always new life in each new day with Jesus calling us to “come out” like Lazarus as a better disciple. Amen. Have a blessed week!
40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Second Sunday in Lent-A, 05 March 2023
Genesis 12:1-4 >+< 2 Timothy 1:8-10 >+< Matthew 17:1-9
Something so personal has happened with me this past week. It is something that is still unfolding, making me realize so many things in my life and ministry that as I continue to reflect on the death last Sunday of our elderly priest, Msgr. Vicente Manlapig, at the Fatima University Medical Center where I serve as its chaplain.
I was out when told about Msgr. Manlapig’s passing shortly before 3PM. It was the First Sunday of Lent. After saying a prayer for him, it suddenly dawned upon me that he was the second elderly priest I had taken cared of who also died in this blessed Season of Lent. The first was Msgr. Macario Manahan who died 16 March 2014, the Second Sunday of Lent at that time. I was with him when he died that afternoon as he lived very near my former parish assignment.
What a tremendous blessing God has given me to have attended to their spiritual needs preparing them for their deaths, of how life indeed is a daily Lent preparing for Easter when we have to go through many difficult series of temptations and sufferings that lead us to our transfiguration (https://lordmychef.com/2023/02/27/deaths-in-lent/).
It is the very path of life and death of every disciple of Jesus, from temptations in the wilderness to transfiguration on the high mountain. It is something we all have to go through in Christ, with Christ and through Christ.
Jesus took Peter, James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, conversing with him. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply, “Lord, it is good that we are here…” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone. As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, “Do not tell the vision to anyone until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
Matthew 17:1-4, 5-9
Unlike Luke’s account that was set in the context of a prayer, Matthew’s version of the transfiguration of Jesus Christ illuminates the Lenten pilgrimage of the Church that is the tragedy of the Cross being seen always in the perspective of the Easter radiance. It is the oneness and inseparability of Christ’s divinity and glory with the Cross through which we get to know Jesus correctly.
Recall that the transfiguration happened after Peter’s confession of Jesus as “the Messiah, the Son of the living God” at Caesarea Philippi (Mt.16:16) where Jesus also made the first prediction of his passion, death and resurrection. From that day on, Jesus began instilling into the Twelve his conditions of discipleship, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me” (Mt. 16:24). It was a very difficult lesson for them to learn and accept that triggered Judas to betray Jesus. The remaining disciples would only fully appreciate it after the Easter event with the help of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.
That is why the transfiguration was actually some sort of a “teaching aid” for this most difficult lesson of his disciples when Jesus gave Peter, James and John a glimpse of his coming glory after his pasch. See that very clearly, Matthew recorded Christ’s instruction not to tell the “vision” to anyone until Easter; the transfiguration did happen and was seen by everyone there as Matthew used the word vision to describe it.
Like the three disciples, many of us are given with this unique privilege by Jesus to have a glimpse and vision of Easter, of glory when we join him on the Cross with our own sufferings and trials and when we accompany those in severe tests in life like the sick and dying.
Amid the pain and hurts we go through or see in others, we “see” Jesus, we feel Jesus, we experience Jesus.
Many times like Peter we speak and do things without really thinking well about them because we are overwhelmed by the experience as well as the vision and sight.
And most of the time, the sight and experiences are very frightening when God speaks to us, telling us to listen to Jesus his Son, to simply obey him and trust him.
Here we have a deepening of our reflection last Sunday of the need to fix our eyes on Jesus son that we may not fall into temptations and sin. Many times we do not see everything clearly but if we close our eyes and have faith in Christ, things get clearer until it is him alone do we see with us especially after passing over a turmoil or a test in life. Like the first man and woman, our eyes are misled by so many things that look so good but not good at all. In fact, there are things that look bad that could really be good after all like pains and sufferings in life!
In the second reading, St. Paul tells us through St. Timothy to “bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God” (2 Tim. 1:8) which matches directly the instruction in the voice heard during the transfiguration, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (Mt. 17:5). After the transfiguration, everything that Jesus would tell his disciples and everyone that include us today is his coming passion, death and resurrection as well as the conditions of discipleship we mentioned earlier. God wants us to listen and follow his Son Jesus Christ to the Cross in order to join him in the glory of Easter.
We are transfigured and transformed into better persons by our pains and sufferings. That is the irony and tragedy of this age: we have everything like gadgets and money and other resources to make lives easier and comfortable but we have become more lost and alienated, empty and no direction in life. There cannot be all glory without sorrow; no Easter Sunday without Good Friday.
Lent is a journey back home to God who wants us all to share in his glory through Jesus Christ’s passion, death and resurrection. It is a blessed season we are reminded to always arise in Christ, to have courage and be not fearful of failures because right now, we are already assured of victory and glory in Jesus. Let us ascend with him the high mountain of sacrifices and hard work, of prayers and patience, mercy and forgiveness to be transfigured and glorified like him. Let us imitate Abraham in the first reading to respond to this call by God with faith and hope, obedience and perseverance. Amen. Have blessed and transformative week ahead.
Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 27 February 2023
Lent is my favorite season in our Church calendar: partly because of my melancholic tendencies and mostly, its closeness with the realities of life, of its daily “passovers” and exodus that eventually lead to Easter. That is why for me, life is a daily lent.
This became truest to me yesterday afternoon, the First Sunday of Lent when one of our elderly priests, Msgr. Vicente “Teng” Manlapig died past 3:00 PM at the Fatima University Medical Center in Valenzuela City where I serve as chaplain.
I am still in the process of gathering the many insights and realizations I have had these past three weeks when Mons. Teng was confined with the final five days in the ICU. What is so remarkable for me which dawned upon me yesterday is the fact that Mons. Teng is the second priest I had taken cared and died in the season of Lent. The first was the late Msgr. Macario Manahan in March 16, 2014, the Second Sunday of Lent at that time.
Yes, another monsignor I took care and died in the season of Lent. I was then assigned in San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista Parish in Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan when Mons Macario retired in an apartment with his adopted family in the next barrio to my parish. Like Mons. Teng, I gave him daily communion and anointing of the sick during his final stretch of about two or three weeks before death. The only difference is that Mons. Macario passed away in my presence that Sunday afternoon; I visited Mons. Teng Sunday morning before he expired in the afternoon.
I have been wondering what must be God’s message for me in making me directly involved with two elderly priests dying in the season of Lent.
It seems to me for now that Lent is the best time for us priests to die because it leads to Easter. It would be a great extra bonus perhaps for us priests to die on Easter Sunday like the Jesuit Father Teilhard de Chardin or on Divine Mercy Sunday of the Easter Octave like the great St. John Paul II or at New Year’s eve like Pope Benedict XVI recently.
In my 24 years in priesthood, I have found our life, and death, follow a certain pattern. That is another topic I intend to develop further but for the moment, here is God showing me a pattern in priestly deaths in Lent which is the season characterized by prayer, fasting, alms-giving and penance.
Thursday night, Mons. Teng he asked to me listen to his “story” which turned out to be a confession, his final one. And what a tremendous grace from God for it was a triumph against his final temptations by the devil. How wonderful that he died yesterday, the First Sunday of Lent when the gospel from Matthew was the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness. The hospital ICU is the modern wilderness of temptations where there is the macabre atmosphere of gloom and dead-seriousness, cold and lifeless with just the eerie beeps and whirring or humming of various machines accompanying patients in separate cubicles along with doctors and nurses garbed in overalls and masks like in those movie scenes of invasion by aliens or zombies.
I must confess that after witnessing another death of a senior priest this season of Lent with my ministry this past year being in the hospital, I actually feel more afraid than ever of getting old, of getting sick.
It seems to me for now
that Lent is the best time for us priests
to die because it leads to Easter.
I cannot say I am ready. No. The more I see myself afraid and so unprepared. It would be a big lie no fool would ever believe to claim I am ready to get sick and die. And even if I felt so tired and sleepy watching over Mons. Teng these past weeks, I could not pray in silence to God and ask him that he spare me those sufferings. Yes, the sense of entitlement crossed my mind many times like the thought “siguro naman, pwede na ako ma exempt, Lord” but no! I could not ask God. I feel so ashamed. It felt so bad on the taste-buds. Whenever such thoughts crossed my mind, there was always something or someone inside me preventing me from asking God for that privilege. Or grace? Because our suffering in sickness is precisely the very gift and grace of being one with Jesus Christ in the wilderness, fighting the devil’s temptations.
The gospel said it so well yesterday that after Jesus triumphed over his temptations, “the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to him” (Mt.4:11). See that it was Thursday when I heard Mons. Teng’s final confession, Friday night was the last time he received the viaticum because Saturday morning he could no longer speak, could not eat that I had to consent into the insertion of an NGT for his feeding Saturday night until he slowly deteriorated Sunday morning after I had anointed him again with oil and died around the hour of the great Mercy of God at 3PM.
The same thing is true with Mons. Macario. For about two weeks, I would rush to his apartment mostly at night and midnight to anoint him, pray for him, and give him the viaticum. Once I even celebrated Mass for a peaceful death around midnight when we thought he was about to expire which eventually came a few days after he had met and presumably reconciled with a family member. It was the Second Sunday of Lent, March 16, 2014 when he died. The gospel was the Transfiguration of Jesus. If there is anyone who would truly experience the Cross of Christ on the way to transfiguration, it is surely us, his priests.
A few years ago a friend commented to me that he thought priests were exempted from sickness and other sufferings. He could not believe that we priests get cancer, suffer stroke and other debilitating sickness. In fact, I told him that suffering is our life. One of the priests with tremendous impact on me was our formator in high school seminary, Rev. Fr. Leopoldo Nazareno we called “Fr. Naz” who spent maybe 40 years of his life with Parkinson’s disease that was so rare at that time in the 80’s.
Am I afraid of getting sick, of dying? Yes. Very much! But, what can I do? Like Jesus in the the garden of Gethsemane, even if I pray that God would take away this cup, it is still his will not mine.
Maybe for a good reason, to suffer unto death is the ultimate gift of priesthood. Even in old age for us priests, there is still the essence of victimhood, of offering. It is when out deathbed becomes our eucharistic table and altar where we finally offer ourselves to God in union with Jesus our Eternal High Priest, no longer the bread and wine because we could not celebrate the Mass nor even receive Holy Communion. It would be very sad for a priest to die not a martyr, a witness of Christ on the Cross, loved and forgiven like the “good thief”.
That is what I have seen in these two deaths of priests in the season of Lent: the immense and immeasurable mercy and love of God for us all, especially us priests. Yes, we are sinners, even more miserable than others. But, still loved and forgiven by God. May we strive more to be holy priests, thinking more of the people than ourselves. Pray for us your priests, and help us fix our eyes unto God more clearly through you, the people, the sheep of his flock. May we your priests find that life is a daily Lent, a daily passover, a daily carrying of the Cross and Crucifixion in Christ that leads to Easter. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Sixth Week of Ordinary Time, Year I, 16 February 2023
Genesis 9:1-13 <*(((>< + ><)))*> = <*(((>< + ><)))*> Mark 8:27-33
Three things you repeatedly
said, O God our Father,
to Noah after the great floods
to mark the new beginnings
not only for him but also for us
You blessed and consecrated man anew
in Noah and his sons,
telling them to go and multiply
with all the animals at their disposal
while assuring them with absolute
respect for human life.
With Noah, you gave the
rainbow as the sign of your
covenant to never again
destroy bodily creatures
on earth with floods.
How lovely, O God,
are your blessings and covenant
with Noah and his sons that
reached its highest point in
Jesus Christ who, upon his death
on the Cross looked like a rainbow
with arms outstretched between
heaven and earth,
establishing the everlasting
covenant sealed with his own blood
as he himself predicted at Caesarea Philippi
after being identified as the Christ.
Everyday you ask us, Lord,
like at Caesarea Philippi,
who do we say you are?
Unless we are able to
recognize you truly in our
in our own being
as the Christ who suffered
and died for us on the Cross,
we can never experience
the fresh new beginnings
you offer us daily just like
to Noah and his sons.
Let us see in Christ's Cross -
the new and perfect rainbow -
the new beginnings you
promised after the great flood,
being fulfilled daily in Jesus.