Praying for peace

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

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

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

Jesus and our Vote

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Third Week of Easter, 06 May 2022
Acts 9:1-20   ><))))*> + <*((((><   John 6:52-59
Photo by author, Puerto del Sol, Bolinao, Pangasinan, 19 April 2022.
Our readings today,
O God our Father, 
are very much alike with
our situation these days:
so many tensions, so many
quarrels among friends and
families due to elections on
Monday.

Saul, still breathing murderous threats against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, that, if he should find any men or women who belonged to the Way, he might bring them back to Jerusalem in chains.

Acts 9:1-2

The Jews quarreled among themselves…

John 6:52
Only Jesus Christ your Son,
our Lord can dispel all these 
negative feelings and disharmony
if we can be humble like Paul and 
Ananias who prayed over him;
"level up" our thoughts to higher
realities in life, in spirituality so
that we may realize the inner truth
and beauty of Jesus our bread of life;
how sad that in this highly advanced
age and time, we can "shift" our 
thoughts to higher levels or 
advanced stages in terms of material
things only like garnering most scores
or sales or followers and other numbers
that rarely speak about realities in life.
In this final stretch of the campaign
period, remind us anew like Paul that
we are all brothers and sisters in Christ,
that whatever we do to one another,
we do exactly to you, dear Jesus;
open our minds and hearts to listen
to your voice, Lord Jesus Christ
on whom to vote this Monday based
on your teachings of love and truth.
Amen.

Lent is trusting God’s promises

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the Fourth Week of Lent, 28 March 2022
Isaiah 65:17-21   <*[[[[>< + ><]]]]*>   John 4:43-54
Photo by author, view of Israel from Mt. Nebo in Jordan, May 2019.
How sweet are to the ears
your words today, O God our
loving Father, when you promised
to create new heavens and
a new earth, when the things of
the past shall not be remembered
or come to mind, when there shall 
always be rejoicing and happiness.

No longer shall there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not round out his full lifetime; he dies a mere youth who reaches but a hundred years, and he who fails of a hundred shall be thought accursed. They shall live in the houses they build, and eat the fruit of the vineyards they plant.

Isaiah 65:20-21
Sana now na, Lord!
Sanaol, God!
But I know you are speaking
not in literal sense though that
time would surely happen when
we experience no more pain and
sufferings nor crying and wailing
nor death of any infant nor of anyone
less before 100 years of age.
Yes, I know Father
this life will always be filled
with pains and sufferings,
trials and tribulations but these
are meant to make us stronger
and more trusting to your coming
to us in Jesus Christ; give us the
grace to be wholly committed
to you in Jesus, in your words
like that royal official from Capernaum
for it is only in our total trust in you
can we experience peace 
and healing that only you
can give in Christ while in these
troubled earth.  Amen.

Love is “being” than “doing”

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Week XXIII, Year I in Ordinary Time, 09 September 2021
Colossians 3:12-17  ><]]]]*> + ><]]]]*> + ><]]]]*>   Luke 6:27-38
Photo by author, 07 September 2021.
Never has it been, merciful Father
have we realized in our lives except
lately that waking up every day,
that being alive is indeed a great gift
from you; with all the deaths now 
happening, with those closest to us
getting infected with COVID-19,
what an honor and joy to keep in
our minds and hearts that we are
your chosen ones (Col.3:12).
If we can appreciate this gift you
bestowed on us through Jesus Christ,
then we learn that your call for us
to lead moral lives is not just a list of
"do's" and "dont's" but an outflow
from inner motivation of our being
renewed in Christ.

Brothers and sisters: put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience… And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were called in one Body. And be thankful.

Colossians 3:12, 14-15
Let us praise you, O God, with our very lives
with our "being" and not with our "doing"
that is an outpouring,
a fruit of our status as your chosen ones.
It is always easier to just do things,
obey laws and precepts,
observe your teachings
for as long as they do not
affect our being;
we can just do what is good
even without any meaning at all
like towing the line.
Everything changes, dear God
when it is our person that is hurt,
that is violated and transgressed,
 when every good deed is reduced
to a mere act and social contract
because there is no love
that made peace elusive:
we have forgotten who we are,
that we are your children,
your chosen people in Christ won
over by his blood. 

Jesus said to his disciples, “To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. But rather, love your enemies and do good to them… Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful.

Luke 6:27-28, 32, 35, 36
Remind us, dear Father
that we are brothers and sisters
in Jesus Christ who have all come
from you as your beloved children,
forgiven and blessed.
Amen.

Keep us calm, Lord

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Week XX, Year I in Ordinary Time, 17 August 2021
Judges 6:11-24   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Matthew 19:23-30
Photo from Facebook, April 2020.
You know so well the hardships
we are all into these past months,
God our Father.
And you must have heard all our 
complaints to you, even those we
have kept in our hearts for you also 
know how we feel like Gideon.

Gideon said to him, “My lord, if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are his wondrous deeds of which our fathers told us when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ For now the Lord has abandoned us and has delivered us into the power of Midian.”

Judges 6:13
You are so kind, dear God
in allowing us to bring out to you
what we feel which after all, we cannot
hide from you; and here lies your blessing:
after allowing us to recognize before you 
the problems and misery we are into, 
you send us to work on its solution.

The Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have and save Israel from the power of Midian. It is I who send you… Be calm, do not fear. You shall not die.” So Gideon built there an altar to the Lord and called it Yahweh-shalom.

Judges 6:14, 23-24
We all want peace,
we all desire a world with less
pains and sufferings like an end
to this pandemic but no one among us
would dare to follow your instructions,
your commands to do our part in finding
solutions to our many problems in life,
in doing our part in alleviating the pains
and sufferings of the sick and dying
for until now we have refused to give up
and surrender our selves to you, Lord.
We are afraid of detaching from whatever
or whomever attachments we have,
so we can be truly free for you and for others.
Most of all, we are afraid to get hurt,
to lose and to get lost in order to have you
and find life and fulfillment.
Give us the grace to realize
and keep in mind always
your Son's words today:
"For men this is impossible,
but for God all things are possible."
(Matthew 19:26)
Keep us calm, Lord, amid
the darkness and uncertainties
around us these days of the pandemic.
Amen.

Praying to be bridges, not walls

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Memorial of St. Clare, Virgin, 11 August 2021
Deuteronomy 34:1-12   ><)))*> >><)))*> ><)))*>   Matthew 18:15-20
The Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco during the wildfires across California last year. Photo from MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images; 10 September 2020.
God our loving Father,
today we pray that we become
bridges among people, bringing 
them together, closing their gaps
instead of becoming a wall who
prevent unity and harmony.
As we end our readings from 
the Book of Deuteronomy with
the death of Moses by recalling
his greatness in the history of Israel
and of the story of our salvation,
we remember his great role
of reconciling people with you,
O God our merciful Father;
Moses was indeed another prefiguration
of your Son Jesus Christ who came 
to unite and reconcile in you mankind
separated by sin and evil. 
"Amen, I say to you,
whatever you bind on earth
shall be bound in heaven, 
and whatever you loose on earth
shall be loosed in heaven.  Again,
amen, I say to you, if two of you
agree on earth about anything
for which they are to pray, it shall
be granted to them by my heavenly Father."
(Matthew 18:18-19)
As we remember today
St. Clare who was a collaborator
of the great St. Francis of Assisi
and foundress of the Poor Clares,
she is most remembered too
in reconciling warring families and
kingdoms in Italy during her time;
in her life of prayer and austerity,
she had lived bridging people
with one another and with God,
exactly what we need these days
of the pandemic and social distancing.
We pray, dear God
with the intercession of St. Clare,
may we take this time of quarantine
to bridge our gaps with one another
especially with our family and friends
so that at the end of this pandemic,
we may start afresh anew
in Jesus Christ, working together
for a better world where we can live
in peace and harmony,
justice and freedom in the spirit
of humility and reconciliation.  Amen.

Imitating the priesthood of Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Wednesday, Second Week in Ordinary Time, 20 January 2021
Hebrews 7:1-3, 15-17     >><)))*>   +++   <*(((><<     Mark 3:1-6

O God our Father, we praise and thank you in making us share in the priesthood of your Son Jesus Christ, our Lord and eternal Priest. So many times we forget – priests and lay people alike – the meaning of our priesthood which is to communicate your love to others, to become a bridge of men and women with God.

So many times we have become legalistic, paying more attention to the letters of the laws, to forms and to rituals forgetting the very essence of loving service for others. We always enter the church but never the community of believers.

Jesus entered the synagogue. There was a man there who had a withered hand. They watched Jesus closely to see if he would cure him on then sabbath that they might accuse him. He said to the man with the withered hand, “Come up here before us.” Then he said to the Pharisees, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” But they remained silent.

Mark 3:1-4

What a shame, dear God when such moments happen when we refuse to look at the persons with their sufferings and pains, choosing to look at things around us like rules and conventions. That more sad part is as we have turned blind to others around us, we have also chosen to be deaf to their cries as well.

Forgive us, Father, when we fail to enter into oneness with others made possible to us in the coming of Jesus Christ who has become our “priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (Heb.7:17).

Help us discard those old understanding of priesthood with emphasis on the mystery of being a priest, of the distinction and honor, forgetting the more important aspects of working for justice and righteousness, and most of all, for peace. Both can only be earned if we strive to be men and women of love and commitment to what is good. Amen.

Holy Rosary in the time of corona

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 17 October 2020
Bishop Dennis Villarojo of the Diocese of Malolos leading the praying of the Rosary during the 11th Healing Rosary for the World last May 27, 2020 at the Malolos Cathedral. Photo from Sandigan.

It is the world’s most powerful weapon in any war, the most potent medicine for any ailment but has always been shunned upon by many especially in this age of sophisticated technology and modern science.

This is the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, so loved by most saints in the past 800 years, encouraged by the Mother Church, and now rediscovered by many in this time of COVID-19 pandemic.

How prophetic were the words of St. John Paul II in October 16, 2002 when he declared it as “Year of the Rosary” by adding the Luminous Mysteries prayed on Thursdays.

The Rosary of the Virgin Mary… still remains, at the dawn of this third millennium, a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness. It blends easily into the spiritual journey of the Christian life, which, after two thousand years, has lost none of the freshness of its beginnings and feels drawn by the Spirit of God to “set out into the deep” (duc in altum!) in order once more to proclaim, and even cry out, before the world that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour, “the way, and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6), “the goal of human history and the point on which the desires of history and civilization turn”.

St. John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, Introduction

It is very interesting to know that the celebration of the Our Lady of the Holy Rosary was instituted following the victory by the Spanish Armada over the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Lepanto Bay on October 07, 1571. That decisive naval victory attributed to the praying of the Rosary ended the push towards Europe by the powerful Moslem Ottomans. That would be repeated less than a hundred years later at Manila Bay in 1646 when the Protestant Dutch navy retreated unable to break the defenses of the combined Spanish and Filipino forces who placed themselves under the patronage of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. Following their victory at the La Naval de Manila, the surviving soldiers walked barefoot to the Santo Domingo Church then in Intramuros.

There are so many other stories of how devotion to Our Lady of the Holy Rosary have led to many kinds of victories in various battles – not only in wars but also in plagues and diseases and other crises – waged by Christians both as a nation and as individuals not because the Blessed Virgin Mary is a “fighter” like a warrior but more of a woman of peace, a disciple par excellence of Jesus Christ.


The family that prays together,
stays together;
a world at prayer is a world at peace.
- Venerable Fr. Patrick Peyton

Image of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary whose feast we celebrate every third Saturday of October at Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Bagbaguin, Santa Maria, Bulacan.

What makes Our Lady of the Holy Rosary so unique in fighting all kinds of battle in life is the path she takes, the path of Jesus Christ which is the path of peace. Here we find how though the Rosary is Marian in character, it is in essence Christocentric.

…to rediscover the Rosary means to immerse oneself in contemplation of the mystery of Christ who “is our peace”, since he made “the two of us one, and broke down the dividing wall of hostility” (Eph 2:14). 

St. John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, #6

Jesus had told us that the peace he gives us is not like the peace of the world but a peace that is won out of love, not of violence and power. Mary as Mother of Jesus offers us the most intimate and incomparable model in contemplating Christ the Prince of Peace, his very person, his words and teachings that leads into inner peace within each person first.

And that is what every mystery of the Rosary teaches us: we remember not just by going back to the past but by making present anew Jesus Christ in the many events of his life relevant with us today because they are very similar with our own experiences.

When we contemplate the Joyful Mysteries, we realize that real joy comes from welcoming and accepting, sharing and finding Jesus who comes to us in the most ordinary ways. In the Sorrowful Mysteries, we find in whatever suffering we find ourselves into, Jesus Christ went through it all first for us, assuring us he continues to be with us even in death that leads us to the Glorious Mysteries of Easter. In these mysteries that end with the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth, we are reminded and assured of our only “destiny” in life — to be back in the presence of God in heaven with Mary.

Mary in the Holy Rosary reveals to us that our fulfillment in life is found only in her Son Jesus Christ, the light of the world in whom everything must be seen and considered. All the rough edges, the dullness and darkness within us are dispelled when seen in the light of Jesus Christ. And that is why we find in the Luminous Mysteries the most “scriptural” part of the Rosary. According to St. John Paul II, though the gospels were silent about the presence of Mary in these Luminous Mysteries, it is most likely she was there present in silence, something so rare these days as we live our lives in the glitz and glamour of social media like Facebook and Instagram.


Photo by author, 2019.

The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most unique battle man has ever fought, not only because the enemy is not seen and have made such visibly tremendous impact to our way of life in a global scale like World War II; it happened in the most unusual way that attacked and disturbed our inmost being as human persons desiring peace right in our hearts.

It exposed the sickness we have all been afflicted with, the lack of love, a love that is like the love of Jesus Christ willing to sacrifice, willing to forgive, willing to let go simply because of loving someone more than one’s self.

We have been in chaos within, longing for peace and love that have remained elusive because we have always been busy with everything except with God and our true selves. Long before we have adopted social distancing, we have long been distant from each other, even with those we live with in our homes – so cold and without love. Meals have become needs to feed one’s body, not as events to share one’s self with others as more and more people are getting used to eating by themselves, with cellphones beside them. Everybody is complaining about the face masks and face shields we have to wear without realizing when was the last time we really had a good look at each one’s face as a brother and a sister in Christ, an image and likeness of God, a person to be loved and cherished?

In praying the Rosary meditating in silence its mysteries, we not only discover the mystery of God but most of all our own mystery of being a part of his grand design and plan. That is why we feel anxious and fearful all of a sudden because death has become truer and closest to us in this time of the pandemic when “resting in peace” has become so common. And we know so well we have not loved enough!

“The Assumption of the Virgin” by Italian Renaissance painter Titian completed in 1518 for the main altar of Frari church in Venice. Photo from wikidata.org.

By praying the Rosary, its beads make us enter the rhythm of life once again, that it is not just temporal and material but also eternal and spiritual. With Mary, the Rosary enables us to be conformed to Christ which is the very essence of Christian spirituality.

In the spiritual journey of the Rosary, based on the constant contemplation – in Mary’s company – of the face of Christ, this demanding ideal of being conformed to him is pursued through an association which could be described in terms of friendship. We are thereby enabled to enter naturally into Christ’s life and as it were to share his deepest feelings.

The Rosary mystically transports us to Mary’s side as she is busy watching over the human growth of Christ in the home of Nazareth. This enables her to train us and to mold us with the same care, until Christ is “fully formed” in us (cf. Gal 4:19). Never as in the Rosary do the life of Jesus and that of Mary appear so deeply joined. Mary lives only in Christ and for Christ!

St. John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, #15

I have been wondering why despite our many prayers and Masses, why have we not conquered COVID-19 yet? How many rosaries do we have to pray before God answers our prayers for a cure to corona virus?

Perhaps, Our Lady of the Holy Rosary is reminding us today that the problem with COVID-19 is not just medical but deeply spiritual, calling us to be conformed in the person of Jesus Christ that calls for many battles within us against our pride, selfishness, painful past and memories, vices and addictions, so many other negativities that please our senses but leave us empty and lost because they all lack love from which peace springs forth.

Take that Rosary again, learn from Mary that true blessedness is in believing that the words of God will be fulfilled (Lk.1:45) in us by welcoming Jesus, sharing Jesus, and becoming like Jesus in love like his Mother. Amen.

From Google.

Our dis-ease COVID-19

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 08 October 2020
Pope Francis delivering his “Urbi et Orbi” before an empty St. Peter’s Square in Rome, 27 March 2020 at the height of COVID-19 pandemic. Photo from Vatican Media/AFP via Getty Images.
In the beginning
we were counting
the days of quarantine
but when COVID-19
spread with so many dying
then we realized this is not just passing
but could be staying 
leaving the world in a standstill
shaking our very core and being
bringing us back to God
praying, surrendering everything
to him as our sole grounding.
Finding God 
during this quarantine
is indeed a blessing 
directing us to look within
to examine our being
where every healing must begin;
Any sickness is a dis-ease
a lack of order
when things are not pleasing
because of sin and wrong-doing
exactly what we are now seeing
with COVID-19.
Photo by Mr. Jay Javier, May 2020.
Consider the following:
Long before social distancing
we have always been so far away
even from those with whom we stay
foregoing all the loving,
replaced with twitting or texting;
When we were growing
we were taught to keep our hands clean
but we have pushed it to the extreme
refusing to dirty our hands
forgetting to work with honor and dignity
keeping them free from stains of dishonesty;
Of all the most disturbing
during this quarantine
is the mask that cover our face;
but, why be fazed, objections raised
when we have long erased
to see in every face
that tremendous grace
of God's trace?
In the midst of this calamity
when air became pollution-free
we rejoiced at Nature's beauty;
the remedy for every malady
is not found only in the pharmacy
but right in our hearts when we see
everything and everyone in harmony.
Oh how I long when that day shall be
when everyone is free with nothing to worry;
at ease shall we carry within the peace and serenity 
of one big family living cleanly in God's mercy.
Photo by Ms. Anne Ramos, March 2020.

Generosity comes from the heart

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Week XXV-A, Ordinary Time, 20 September 2020
Isaiah 55:6-9   >><)))*>   Philippians 1:20-24, 27   >><)))*>   Matthew 20:1-16
Photo by the author on the way to Petra in Jordan, May 2019.

There was something amusing I realized while praying this Sunday’s gospel of how in our time we no longer hear or use the word “generous” anymore — except when the topic is about food like in the expression “generous servings”!

We all love and enjoy “generous servings” of food and drinks whether in restaurants or at home or at parties because it means something more than what we pay for or come for. And that is the essence of generosity: the giving of more than what is required and just. It is love in the real sense like the prayer for generosity by St. Ignatius of Loyola.

Dearest Lord:
Teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve,
To give and not to count the cost,
To fight and not heed the wounds,
To toil and not seek for rest,
To labor and ask not for reward, except
To know that I am doing your will.  Amen. 
Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2019.

Generosity bonds every community in Christ

Sorry if I have to start our reflection through the stomach because today is our “Pistang Pasasalamat” (Thanksgiving) in the Parish…

Going back to our reflection, my dear reader, recall how in the past two weeks we have heard Jesus teaching us important lessons how our relationships must be based on mutual love through fraternal correction and forgiving of those who have sinned against us.

This Sunday through another parable, Jesus teaches us the importance of generosity as a wonderful expression of love we forget most in our relationships and dealing with others.

Generosity is the glue that keeps our ties stronger and keeps us filled with joy because it is thinking more of the other person than of self. It is love at its finest – charming and elegant as in suave – but so disarming and revealing when overlooked as we shall see in this parable.

Jesus told his disciples this parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for is vineyard. After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. Going out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.’ So they went off. And he went out again around noon, and around three o’clock, and did likewise. Going out about five o’clock, he found others standing around, and said to them… You too go into my vineyard.’ When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.’ When those who had started about five o’clock came, each received the usual daily wage. So when the the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage. And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’ He said to one of them i reply, ‘My friend, I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?'”

Matthew 20:1-15

Notice how Jesus again elicited our feelings to drive home his lesson today about love as basis of our relationships. Last week we totally agreed with the king in punishing the merciless servant whose debt he had forgiven but was unmerciful to a fellow servant and debtor.

This Sunday, with whom did we take sides with? Be honest. Did you side with the workers hired in the morning and worked all day only to receive a pay exactly the same with those who worked only for an hour? Did we also feel treated unfairly like them?

But, why are we reacting the same way as those workers who toiled under the sun? What is our complaint? Are we envious because the owner is generous?

Recall our reflections last month about the parable as a simple story conveying deeper truths about life and our selves. From the French parabolein -along the way – Jesus is inviting us to read anew this parable we have heard so many times in the past so we may enter into a dialogue with him to purify and cleanse us to get its whole picture. And hopefully, become generous too.

Nuns bringing goods to the poor during the height of the Luzon-wide lockdown last summer.

Human justice, Divine kindness

The parable is not about social justice and just wages: it is about the immense love of God for us all. Jesus said it at the start, “The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner…” – it is a parable about God and his kingdom.

See the great love of the landowner who went out five times during the day, even at late afternoon so people may have a job to earn some money for the day. We have to keep in mind that the workers were hired because the owner is kind. Period.

The owner is like the good shepherd Jesus described as who would leave the rest of his flock to search for one missing sheep.

How many times have we acted like those early workers, complaining to God when we feel “shortchanged” for our work and efforts, or being better and more good perhaps than others?

It happens so many times when we question him even in the Church and specially in the society and government when we cannot understand how God who is supposed to be just and fair is allowing all injustices and evil to happen like during this time of COVID-19.

The first reading reminds us that to think that way as if we know everything is dangerous because we could be very wrong and mistaken after all. God sees and knows everything that in the end amid all the twists and turns in history and in our personal lives, it is always his will that prevails which proves best for us and mankind. In times like these, we need to have faith in God and trust him more through prayers and reflections.

Seek the Lord while he may be found, call him while he is near… As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:6, 9
Photo by author, Jaffa in Israel, May 2017.

We keep on saying that one immediate fruit of having a prayer life is the heightening of our sensitivities when we see more of God in others than more of ourselves. The problem with those workers hired earlier in the day that instead of thanking God for his kindness in hiring them, they even wanted more in their pay than what they have agreed upon — so selfish and feeling so entitled like some among us!!!

God as the landowner is teaching us not only to be thankful for the blessings we have received from him but also to rejoice when others aside from us are also blessed. As everyone would say these days, “sana all” are blessed, not only a selected few.

Again we find here a similar situation in the parable of the prodigal son where the father told the elder one that “everything I have is yours” (Lk.15:31) when he refused to come home to celebrate the return of his younger brother, citing how he had obeyed the father all his life without being given a young goat to feast with his friends.

Like that loving father of the prodigal son, God is reminding us this Sunday in this parable to rejoice that others have been blessed, instead of grumbling and complaining, demanding for more than what we have, forgetting everything is out of God’s goodness, never because of our merits.

Looking inside our hearts

My dear friends, this time of the pandemic invites us to be generous by looking deep into our hearts, of seeing God more and others than just our self. At this time when life is so difficult and death is so closest to home with everyone, the best thing we can do is to thank God for his gift of life to us each day and to deepen our faith in him.

Lately I have been praying to God to grant me St. Paul’s clarity of mind and purity of heart as we find ourselves in his similar situation of being imprisoned: him for the gospel, us due to COVID-19.

See the faith of St. Paul in God that even in prison with his death approaching each day, he continues to rejoice and experience peace within because he had realized that the success of the gospel is not on human efforts but in Jesus whom we cannot box in our little worlds and beliefs, rites and rituals. In fact, he was so confident that even with his death, the more the gospel would spread.

Photo by Dra. Mylene A. Santos at Katmon Harbor Nature Sanctuary, Infanta, Quezon, March 2020.

Brothers and sisters: Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death… conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ.

Philippians 1:20, 27

Last Sunday, Jesus taught us to forgive from the heart, that is, to see one another as a brother and sister in God our Father who forgives us without limits for our many sins.

Today, Jesus is asking us to give from the heart – to be generous – not for anything else but because we are brothers and sisters in God our Father who blesses us without limits despite our sinfulness.

Generosity comes from the heart when in that heart is Jesus whom we find dwelling, giving us peace and joy no matter how much suffering we go through because him alone suffices that we are willing to let go of everything.

Share a generous serving of God’s blessings today to someone in need. Amen.

A blessed Sunday and week to you!