It is after the storm when leaves are greenest…

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 15 June 2022
Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte, Benguet, September 2019.
God our loving Father:
It has been three weeks
since June started and 
I was so happy we are already
halfway through the year
when suddenly the thermostat
went crazy, going as high as 34
and 36 in some places; but,
the most weird of all is after 
the searing heat of the day are
the evening thunderstorms that
cause floods in some areas 
due to heavy rains that poured.
It has been going on like that, Lord,
with Mother Nature reminding us
to really change our lifestyles and
way of thinking before we totally
destroy our only home, planet Earth;
what a playful way, Lord, 
for you to remind us of how things
are not going well with thunderstorms
especially for some people.
When I was younger,
you have always heard my prayers,
Lord, during thunderstorms;
thank you for keeping us all safe.
As I got older,
every thunderstorm has become
a reminder for me to pray
not only for my safety but
most especially for people
going through many storms in life. 
Photo by Greg on Pexels.com
Bless, dear God our Father,
the many people staying indoors
due to the heavy rains 
coming their way these days:  
those who are battling loneliness
and old age amid the emptiness
 in their empty nests and retirement. 
Bless, dear God our Father,
those devastated by heavy storms in life:
those diagnosed with cancer,
those immobilized by stroke,
those who have to go on dialysis
and delicate surgeries
along with their loved ones
who have to take care of them
or worst, with caregivers
because no one in their family
can be present for them.
Bless, dear God our Father,
those living under dark gloomy skies
of grief after losing their loved ones
especially during this pandemic;
many of them have not taken any
respite yet and death has come
knocking at them twice or thrice lately.
Photo by Peter Fazekas on Pexels.com
Bless, dear God our Father,
the many others being pummeled 
by so many typhoons in life:
those having problems in their 
family and relationships, those
who have lost their jobs,
those trying so hard to make
ends meet, those who wish 
to give up on life due to so many
problems that beset them.
I pray for them all, Father.
In the name of Jesus Christ your Son
our Lord, keep them strong,
enlighten their minds and hearts 
with your Holy Spirit so they may
keep on seeking and standing by
your truth; fill them with courage 
and perseverance, keep them faithful 
and hopeful even if things get worst
BECAUSE IT IS ALWAYS AFTER
THE STORMS,  AFTER THE RAINS 
WHEN THE LEAVES ARE GREENEST; 
IT IS AFTER THE FLOODS WHEN RICH TOP SOIL
ARE DEPOSITED ON THE FIELDS.
Let us hold on to you, loving Father,
to lead us to abundant life 
and fulfillment in Jesus Christ
with the Holy Spirit.  
Amen.
Photo by Fr. Pop dela Cruz, San Miguel, Bulacan, 15 June 2022.

Lent is standing with Jesus

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Fourth Week of Lent, 01 April 2022
Wisdom 2:1, 12-22   <*{{{{>< + ><}}}}*>   John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
As we move closer 
to the final week of Lent
leading to the Holy Week,
give me the courage, O God
our loving Father to confront my
true self and be true before you.
Let me strip myself naked 
before you, merciful Lord, minus
all my masks and pretensions
to truly examine myself:
on whose side am I really with,
with you or the enemies?
A lot often, when we feel we are good
and virtuous, and most especially when
we are indeed good and virtuous, we 
believe that people are inspired to 
follow our example; but, in reality, the
opposite happens.  Like in our first
reading today when the wicked dare to test
us, subjecting us to many evils:

Let us see whether his words be true; let us find out what will happen to him. For if the just one be the son of God, he will defend him and deliver him from the hand of his foes. With revilement and torture let us put him to the test that we may have proof of his gentleness and try his patience. Let us condemn him to a shameful death; for according to his own words, God will take care of him.

Wisdom 2:17-20
Yes, the words of the author
refer to Jesus Christ your Son
and our Lord but, so many times
we have felt challenged by almost 
everyone if like our Lord, we could 
bear all their taunts and tortures; 
in the gospel, you courageously stood 
and spoke dear Jesus in public 
during the Feast of the Tabernacles 
despite threats of being arrested 
and killed!
Purify me, O God,
to witness your truth, justice,
and love, avoiding any taint of
Pharisaism or holier-than-thou
attitudes so common these days, 
pretending to be a victim when
in fact a victimizer.
There were three crosses
on that Good Friday at the Calvary:
lead me to the true Cross,
standing at the foot of the Lord
Jesus Christ, witnessing his
love and mercy, justice and 
peace.  Amen.

Praying with Pope Francis this Lent 2022

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Ash Wednesday, 02 March 2022
Prayer based on Papal Message for Lent 2022
Photo by author, an oasis near the Dead Sea, May 2017.
For the third straight year
since 2020, we enter the season
of Lent, O Lord, in the most realistic
or surreal manner as our lives were thrown 
off-balance, altered in so many ways,
and some ruined by this COVID-19 
pandemic made worst recently by
Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
As we begin our 40-day journey
back to you, loving God our Father,
we pray to you on this Ash Wednesday
to raise us up "from the ash heap, 
to make us sit with princes and 
inherit a seat of honor" (Ps.113:7-8) because
"now is the acceptable time" (2 Cor. 6:2)
of salvation in Jesus Christ.
Together with Pope Francis,
help us "not to grow tired of 
doing good, while we have the
opportunity to do good to all"
(Galatians 6:9-10) despite the
great difficulties especially 
in this time of the pandemic, 
elections fever, and war in Ukraine.
Let us not grow tired of praying
because in these times of trials,
the more we need you, dear God;
help us remember the lesson of this
pandemic that we are fragile
as individuals and as a society,
that without you, O Lord, we cannot
stand firm and make it to this Lent again.
Let us not grow tired of uprooting
evil in our lives through our lenten practice
of fasting to fortify our spirit in the fight
against sin; let us not grow tired of
fighting against all forms of addictions
that drive us to selfishness and all
kinds of evil like too much social media that
has made us forget to cultivate authentic
human communications based in
"authentic encounters", face-to-face,
and personal.
Let us not grow tired of doing good
in active charity towards our neighbors
especially the poor and needy,
the marginalized and abandoned
in whom Jesus is most present.
Give us the patient perseverance
of a farmer who awaits the fruits
of the earth (James 5:7), always
persevering in doing good, 
one step at a time; may we realize
that in cultivating fraternal love to
one another, we become united to Christ
who gave his life for our sake and enabled us
to have a foretaste of the joy of heaven
when you, O God, 
will be "all in all" (1 Cor. 15:28).
Amen.

*For the full text of Pope Francis’ Lenten Message 2022, see https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/lent/documents/20211111-messaggio-quaresima2022.html

Red without fear: the Church journeying as one

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Red Wednesday, 24 November 2021
Revelation 15:1-4   ><)))*> + <*(((><   Luke 21:12-19
Photo by author, Red Wednesday 2020.
It is this time of the year again,
dear God our Father, when we 
your people unite with the Pope's
official charity for persecuted Christians
worldwide through the Aid to the
Church in Need (ACN) to celebrate
Red Wednesday.
Yes, your Church continues to suffer
persecution in various forms, some
very subtle while in others very violent;
but this year, we pray most specially not
only for our Filipino martyrs who sacrificed
their lives for the Gospel but most of all
for each one of us to be a living witness
in taking the path of your Son Jesus Christ
as one Church.
As we come to the closing of our 500 years of
Christianization while preparing for the 
Synod of Bishops in 2023, help us to 
remember, celebrate, and promote 
oneness and unity in faith as we journey 
as one Church.
Banish all our fears, let us persevere
amid the trials and persecution that 
come specially from those closest to
us, those who refuse and continue to
deny you, choosing a life of sin and evil.
Inflame us, O Lord, with your fire of love
and zeal to always seek and stand by your
truth and justice; let us not, through our 
stupid choices, face your "anger" or "fury"
John saw in his vision at the "sea of glass
mingled with fire" (Rev.15:1-4) and be 
denied entry for not being worthy. Amen.

Blessed are those who mourn

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Solemnity of All Saints, 01 November 2021
Revelation 7:2-4, 9-24 ><]]]'> 1 John 3:1-3 ><]]]'> Matthew 5:1-12
Photo by Fr. Howard John Tarrayo, 05 August 2021.

For the second time since last year, all roads do not lead to the cemeteries this November 1-2 due to the pandemic. While there is still that annual exodus to the provinces, the government has preferred to keep cemeteries closed despite the many casualties of COVID-19 while allowing malls and other establishments to operate, including the opening this week of favorite destinations of Baguio and Tagaytay.

Most unkind of all is how thousands of people were allowed including children to visit for several days Manila Bay’s newest attraction, the dolomite beach while cemeteries remain closed and religious gatherings still limited as this government is more concerned in “resurrecting” the economy than considering as “essential” at this time the people’s religious and spiritual needs.

And so, we mourn for the second straight year this November 1 and 2 not only for our departed loved ones but for the benighted souls of this Administration.

But, have a heart as we find solace and comfort in Jesus Christ who encourages us every year on this first day of November with his teachings on the Beatitudes which we hear proclaimed every Solemnity of All Saints. The Beatitudes reveal the mystery of Jesus Christ who invites us to enter into a communion in him by expressing also the meaning of being his disciples. Jesus is in fact every Beatitude – the one who is truly poor in spirit, the first to be persecuted, the one with a clean heart, and the peacemaker.

For this year, let us reflect on the second beatitude which we find very close to our situation under the COVID-19 pandemic as most of us have lost a family member or friends.

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him. He began to teach them, saying: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

Matthew 5:1-4

Photo by Irina Anastasiu on Pexels.com

In a world that thrives and promotes so much fun and merry-making, our second beatitude is difficult to understand or even grasp in this time of the pandemic. What is “blessed” with grieving and mourning when you have lost a loved one so suddenly, without having the chance to even see them before they were cremated?

There are two kinds of mourning that the gospels offer us exemplified by the two most extreme of the Apostles, Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus and, Simon Peter who denied the Lord thrice (see “Jesus of Nazareth” by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, The Beatitudes, pp.86-89).

The first kind of mourning as shown by Judas Iscariot is when one has lost hope, succumbing to the miseries of losing a beloved and becomes mistrustful of love and of truth that leads to self-destruction. It is the worst kind of mourning that eats away and destroys man within just like Judas Iscariot who hanged himself.

Then Judas, his betrayer, seeing that Jesus had been condemned, deeply regretted what he had done. He returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying “I have sinned in betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? Look to it yourself.” Flinging the money into the temple, he departed and went off and hanged himself.

Matthew 27:3-5

The second kind of mourning that Jesus must be referring to as “blessed” which leads to salvation is when the mourning is caused by an encounter with the truth that leads to conversion like what happened to Simon Peter who was struck by the gaze of Jesus that he burst into healing tears and cleansed his soul to enable him to begin anew in his life in the Lord.

Just as he was saying this, the cock crowed, and the Lord turned and looked at Peter; and Peter remembered the word of the Lord… He went out and began to weep bitterly.

Luke 22:60-61, 62

This will have its lovely conclusion eight days after Easter before Jesus ascended into heaven when he asked Simon Peter thrice, “Do you love me?” (Jn.21:15ff.) to remind him of that episode that eventually pushed him to follow Christ unreservedly “by taking care of his sheep”.


Blessed are those who weep because first of all, they have love in their hearts. Deaths and bad news that befall our loved ones sadden us, even jolt us with deep pain that move us to console them, to suffer with them, and to be one with them by reconnecting with them and their loved ones like when we go to a funeral or a wake.

This did not happen with Judas Iscariot. The little love he had in his heart when he realized his sin was completely wiped out when he chose to surrender totally to evil, finding no more hope for forgiveness and reconciliation with Jesus. When grief becomes so overpowering and consuming, it totally wipes out the embers of love left in our hearts and like Judas, that is when we choose to die miserably sad and separated from God who is love.

Never lose hope in Jesus. Seek that love in your heart. Seek Jesus in that tiny voice telling you to always come home to him. Do not be shy nor ashamed of your loss and failure. Keep that fire of love in Jesus burning.


Blessed are those who weep because more than the love they have in their hearts, they have been loved first of all. We weep and grieve the death of a beloved family member or relative or friend because of the love they have given us, of the kindness they have shown us, and the care they have lavished us.

Simon Peter did not merely have love in his heart. Luke dramatically described to us how Peter’s eyes met the merciful and loving eyes of Jesus while he was denying the Lord. It must have struck him so hard that immediately he felt contrition for his sin, feeling strongly the need to reform himself and reconnect with the Lord. He could not let the imperfect love he has in his heart to just go to waste that is why when he wept bitterly on that Holy Thursday evening, it was not the end but the beginning of another chapter in his beautiful story of love for Jesus. It was precisely what he meant when he told Jesus at Tiberias, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you” (Jn.21:17) – that despite his weaknesses and failures, he loves Jesus, he tries so hard to love Jesus in his little ways.

When in the midst of great sufferings and pain specially after we have sinned or we have lost a loved one, we are blessed as we mourn and grieve because that is when we realize strongly our weakness and limitations that we reach out to God, to be nearer to him. To desire God in itself is always a grace and a blessing too!


Photo by author, 2018.

Blessed are those who mourn because that is when we actually stand for what is true and good, for what is just and right.

When we weep, it does not mean we have lost; in fact, even in the face of apparent loss like Jesus on the Cross, mourning is the most firm expression of our belief in what is right and just, and what is true and good.

The best scene for this kind of blessed mourning that leads to salvation is found at the death of Jesus Christ where his Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary stood by the foot of his Cross with her cousin Mary the wife of Clopas, Mary Magdalene, and the beloved disciple John (Ibid.,p. 87).

By standing at the foot of the Cross and later carrying in her arms the dead body of her Son Jesus Christ called La Pieta, Mary showed us that mourning is blessed because it is the strongest depiction of our solidarity with God, of our going against evil and sin.

In this world when conformity to whatever “everyone is doing” is the rule of the game like corruption, dishonesty, infidelity, lies and manipulation of people, mourning and weeping with the victims of oppression and persecution can be our strongest signs of protest and resistance against the prevailing evils of our time.

When we weep and mourn for victims of violence and evil, that is when we become God’s instruments of his comfort to his people. From the Latin words cum fortis “with strength”, to comfort means to strengthen those persecuted or oppressed or those facing intense sufferings and tests.

When we weep, when we grieve and mourn over a lost beloved or a lost cause, that is when God comforts us, when he makes us stronger in resisting evil and sin.

Ultimately, that is when our mourning leads to salvation, that is why blessed are those who mourn and weep.


What are your griefs today?

What do you mourn?

Blessed are you in your weeping not only in having love in your heart but most of all, for being loved. Dwell in the love of God in Jesus Christ like the saints who have gone ahead of us, resisting all evils and temptations to sin for the Lord comforts us his people always. Amen.

A blessed All Saints’ Day to you!

Pagsusumakit patungong langit

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-05 ng Agosto 2021
Larawan kuha ni G. Vigie Ongleo sa Singapore, 03 Agosto 2021.
Akin nang kinalakhan
kasabihan ng matatanda,
"Kapag may tiyaga,
may nilaga!'
Ngunit sa aking pagtanda
ako ay namangha sapagkat
mayroon pang higit sa pagtitiyaga,
isang dakilang biyaya:  ang pagsusumakit. 
Sa wikang Inggles,
"persistence" kung isasalin
ang salitang pagtitiyaga
na kung saan nagsisikap
ang sino man upang matamo
 kanyang inaasam na tagumpay
kaya buong lakas at panahon
 doon nakatuon upang maging kampeon.
Ngunit higit pa sa pagtitiyaga ang pagsusumakit:
sa wikang Inggles ay perseverance
na kung saan sino man ay laan masaktan
at mahirapan upang mapanatili
 at mapangalagaan sumpa 
at pangakong binitiwan (komitment),
di lamang sa mithiing inaasam
na ibig makamtan kaya pinagtitiyagaan.
Sa pagsusumakit, 
hindi nakakaakit tagumpay
na makakamit kungdi higit 
sa lahat ay hindi maipagkait ang
nararapat at naayong tugon sa 
bawat pagkakataon kung kayat
ano man kahantungan ng bawat punyagi
kabutihan at kaganapan ang mapanatili.
Hindi pansamantala
ang pagsusumakit di tulad
ng pagtitiyaga at pagsisikap
na kadalasan ang layunin 
ay bagay at gamit na makakamit;
bawat pagsusumakit saan man
at kanino man ay paglapit 
at pagkamit na rin ng langit!
Sinabi ni Jesus sa mga tao:
"Ngunit pagsumakitan ninyo ng higit
sa lahat ang pagharian kayo ng Diyos
at mamuhay nang ayon sa kanyang
kalooban, at ipagkakaloob niya
ang lahat ng kailangan ninyo."
(Mateo 6:33)

Praying for perseverance

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Feast of St. John Marie Vianney, Patron of Priests, 04 August 2021
Numbers 13:1-2, 25-14:1, 26-29, 34-35   ><]]]]*>   Matthew 15:21-28
Photo by author, sky over Sinai desert in Egypt, 2019.
Dearest God our Father,
on this sacred feast of our
Patron St. John Marie Vianney,
I pray not only for us your priests
but most especially for everyone
going through so many trials and
tests these days as we near 
another series of lockdown due to 
a surge in COVID-19 infection.
I pray, O God, for more perseverance
in our faith, hope and love in you
so that we may remain committed to you 
like that Canaanite woman in the gospel:
a pagan yet believed so much in Jesus,
crying out to him as "Lord" and "Son 
of David" to heal her sick daughter (Mt.1521ff);
most of all, like St. John Marie Vianney,
teach us to persevere in life, in serving you
no matter how great are the odds against him
when he lived at a most unfavorable time
for the Church in France after a bloody revolution
that sowed strong anti-clerical, anti-Church 
sentiments among the people.
Perseverance.
From the Latin root perseverare
that means to continue with one's
commitment despite the lack of
any success, surviving trials and no
matter what is the result, whether
we succeed or not in our goals,
we still emerge a better person,
a winner.
Perseverance
as perseverare in Latin means doubling
the efforts in keeping up with the doubling
of sufferings and trials we face,
of continuing to work hard even after
you have already worked so hard,
in fact so tired but would not
refuse to surrender and stop
because you are so committed,
truly a winner in the Lord!
Like St. John Marie Vianney:
despite his difficulties learning
and mastering the Church language
of Latin during his time, he persevered
in the seminary until he was ordained priest; 
as Cure de Ars or pastor of the insignificant 
village of Ars with its 250 inhabitants, 
he persevered in preaching and 
hearing confessions that were so appreciated 
by everyone from all parts of France and Europe
because of his life of simplicity and humility.
And like that Canaanite woman after
being challenged by Jesus, saying
"It is not right to take the food 
of the children and throw it to the dogs",
she said, "Please, Lord, for even the
dogs eat the scraps that fall from the
table of their masters" (Mt. 15:26-27).
Let us not imitate the men sent
by Moses to reconnoiter the land 
of Canaan that instead of instilling
the virtue of perseverance on the people, 
they discouraged them from taking possession 
of the land you were giving them, 
giving up everything they have worked for
and sacrificed; most of all, rejecting your gift
that eventually, you denied them entrance 
into the Promised Land for forty years.
Let me persevere in loving you, Father
even if I am a sinner through
the mercy and salvation in Jesus;
Let me persevere in following your will
 through the Holy Spirit 
even if I stumble and fall so often;
Let me persevere in serving you
dear Lord like St. John Marie Vianney
 even if I am self-centered, 
always seeking rest and rewards.  
AMEN. 
From QuotesGram.com.

Praying to be true in prayers

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Week XI in Ordinary Time, Year I, 14 June 2021
2 Corinthians 6:1-10   ><)))*>  +  <*(((><   Matthew 5:38-42
Photo by author, May 2016.

Thank you very much, O God, for the daily gift of prayers, of being able to pray to you which is a pure grace from you. On our own we cannot pray because we do not have the courage and wisdom to speak to you, to listen to you. Most of all, we are afraid to enter into union with you especially with the example set to us by Jesus Christ your Son.

Give us the grace to be slowly true in our prayers, Lord, like letting go of revenge and vengeance.

Jesus said to his disciples:
"You have heard that it was said,
An eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth.
But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.  
When someone strikes you on your right cheek,
turn the other one to him as well."
(Matthew 5:38-39)

What is most difficult in praying is imitating you, sweet Jesus, in devoting our lives to you and your gospel by forgetting ourselves, carrying our crosses and following you closely.

So many times, we receive the grace of God in vain, wasting these gifts because we are so afraid of giving ourselves totally to others like you Lord Jesus on the cross.

Teach us how to be a sign of contradiction, a paradox in ourselves like St. Paul who truly imitated you by first of all trying to reconcile with the Corinthians who have turned against him when he failed to keep his promise of visiting them. Like you Lord Jesus, St. Paul bore all the personal attacks against him by the Corinthians, choosing to be conciliatory and gentle in his attitude in addressing them.

We are treated as deceivers and yet are truthful;
as unrecognized and yet acknowledged;
so dying and behold we live;
as chastised and yet not put to death;
so sorrowful yet always rejoicing;
as poor yet enriching many; 
as having nothing and yet possessing all things.
(2 Corinthians 6:8-10)

In the midst of pain and suffering, rejection and persecution, St. Paul found joy and peace in you, dear Jesus. He was so convinced of your love and presence even in the midst of his darkest moments in life. So unlike us who easily give up your cross, Lord, when we are criticized because the sad truth is we always seek recognition and praise for our works in you.

Help us to be like St. Paul in his unshakeable faith in you, so true in his prayers of becoming like you, a sign of contradiction to the world, a person of Christ-like paradoxes. Amen.

Photo by author, May 2016.

The ups and downs from Lent to Easter

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Second Sunday of Lent in Cycle B, 28 February 2021
Genesis 22:1-2, 9, 10-13, 15-18  +  Romans 8:31-34  +  Mark 9:2-10
Photo by author, the Sinai Mountain Range in Egypt, May 2019.

As we have been saying, life is a daily Lent: from the desert of our lives last Sunday, today we ascend a mountain with Jesus to be with God and be transformed, transfigured in him. Our efforts to become holy and better persons in itself is like going up a mountain symbolizing God as expressed in many instances in the Bible.

This is the reason that every year following the temptation of Jesus in the desert, the Second Sunday of Lent tells us the story of the transfiguration of Jesus at Mount Tabor to stress anew this lenten character of coming and meeting God in our selves and in our daily lives through many ups and downs in life like in climbing a mountain.

Our readings this Sunday give us some tips on how ascend the mountain of God with Jesus so we may be transformed and transfigured in him.


First important step is to leave everything behind, to travel light. The key to approach a mountain is to bring nothing except one’s self and other essentials only like faith in God. There are many detours with no permanent path going up the mountain like what Abraham realized when God asked him to offer his son Isaac.

Photo by author, Sonnen Berg Mountain View, Davao City, 2018.

Feel the drama of the scene when Isaac sensed something unusual while Abraham remained confident in God…

As the two walked on together, Isaac spoke to his father Abraham: “Father!” he said. “Yes, son,” he replied. Isaac continued, “Here are the fire and the wood, but where is the sheep for the holocaust?” “Son,” Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the sheep for the holocaust.” Then the two continued going forward.

When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. Then he reached out and took his knife to slaughter his son. But the Lord’s messenger called to him from heaven, “Abraham, Abraham!” “Here I am!” he answered. “Do not lay your hand on the boy,” said the messenger. “I know now how devoted you are to God, since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son.” As Abraham looked about, he spied a ram caught by its horns in the thicket. So he went and took the ram and offered it up as a holocaust in place of his son.

Genesis 22:7-13

In the gospel, we find a similar situation after Peter had confessed at Caesarea Philippi that Jesus is the Messiah, thus expressing the faith of the Twelve in Christ while making a U-turn back to Jerusalem. It was at that time when Jesus made his first prediction of his coming Passion and Death that confused Peter.

As they travelled to Jerusalem, Jesus preached to the crowds and the Twelve the three conditions of discipleship: deny one’s self, take up his cross, and follow him. It was something Jesus would be teaching repeatedly until they reached Jerusalem to underscore the importance of that instruction from the voice during his transfiguration, “Listen to him”.

After six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them. Then a cloud came, casting shadow over them; then from the cloud came a voice, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”

Mark 9:2-3, 7
Photo by Atty. Grace Polaris Rivas-Beron atop Mt. Sinai in Egypt, May 2019.

Observe my dear reader how Jesus separated the three disciples from the rest so as to be by themselves like Abraham in the first reading in order to be empty and obedient to God.

An obedient person is first of all a good listener, one who is willing to forget one’s self, to be empty and open to instructions from those above him. From the two Latin words “ob audire” that mean to listen attentively, obedient men and women from Abraham to Jesus Christ to Peter and all the saints were first of all attentive listeners to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

One cannot follow unless he/she first listens. That is why it is in obedience when our faith in God is tested, where we grow deeper in our faith in him too! Every act of obedience is an ascend to God our mountain because to obey the Lord is to trust him especially at times when God seems to contradict himself.

Imagine how painful it must have been for Abraham after waiting for so many years for the birth of his own son by his wife Sarah when God suddenly asked him to offer Isaac as a sacrifice!? Or with Peter, James, and John. After learning that Jesus is finally the awaited Messiah during their conversations at Caesarea Philippi, suddenly the Lord gave his first prediction of his passion and death, to be repeated after his transfiguration.

So many times God can be too much for us to understand that we just have to believe and trust him, to ride on or make sakay. Most of the time we find God so “malabo” or “bomalabs” —- so unclear but at the same time very clear of his great plans for us that we feel him deep inside us that we continue to push ourselves higher to him, believing and hoping he is up to something for us. And that is when he surprises us with the bestest things in life!


When we trust God, when we dare to walk the darkness ascending to the mountain with him with nothing else except our very selves and faith, that is when we are transformed and transfigured in Christ. That is when we are opened to new possibilities we have never imagined. That is when we become fruitful and fulfilled.

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

As any mountaineer would tell, the best sights are seen from above, from the top when our horizons are widened as we journey to the summit, giving us new perspectives and views on everything, especially in our selves and life in general.

Even if we climb with somebody else like Abraham with Isaac or Peter with James and John, God touches us in the most personal and unique way.

See when Abraham was about to strike Isaac, an angel stopped him that he saw a ram caught by its horns in the thicket which he eventually offered as holocaust instead of his son. Peter hardly knew what to say as they were terrified when Jesus transfigured while conversing with Moses and Elijah until suddenly, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.

Like Abraham and Peter and his companions, we have wondered many times what happened after feeling so lost and confused, when we felt “game over” but suddenly everything turns out perfectly well by the grace of God. We’re not only saved like Isaac but we also begin thinking deeper inside us of many things like the three disciples “questioning what rising from the dead meant” (Mk.9:10).

Go back to those moments of hardships and emptiness with nothing to hold on except God, when climbing up to him in faith was the only thing left to take when great things happen unexpectedly and joyously for us! How we wish to remain up there on cloud nine, in ecstasy, hoping those moments would never end, but….


The challenge of life and of Lent especially when seen in the light of our baptismal promises of being holy like God is not to remain on top of the mountain but to bring that mountain experience down into our daily living. It is an ongoing process of trusting, of being faithful to God especially in prayers, in ascending his mountain daily.

In this age of instants when everything has become so efficient and easy, more and more people are finding prayer and God in general as useless waste of time. We have reduced our lives and existence to mere activities for social media like Facebook, Instagram, and Tweeter flooding them with our photos and words empty of meaning. We have stopped living meaningfully as we have ceased probing deeper into life, exploring what’s inside ourselves who can truly lead us to fulfillment, Jesus Christ. How tragic that after quantifying everything in life to save so much precious time in doing so many things, we still lack quality time.

God is greater than our minds and our hearts (1John 3:30) that not everything can be measured in human success and failure. Sometimes, human success is failure with God while human failure can be success in God as we have seen in the experience of Abraham today.

In this time of Lent, we are encouraged to pray and sacrifice, to strive ascending the mountain of God to deepen our faith in him who has given us Jesus his Son to save us, to make us like him, divine and sublime.

Transfiguration is a process, a call to be faithful to God that to reach our glory, we have to go through a lot of pain and sufferings like the scandal of the cross of Jesus Christ. If we are faithful to God especially in our prayers, in our ascent to his mountain of purifications, we realize in the process we are not alone, that we have God by our side as St. Paul assures us in the second reading: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom.8:31)

This Sunday, let us be confident and trust in God that everything would be right. Amen.

Photo by author, sunset at Marcos Highway, 2019.

Persevering in Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Friday, Third Week in Ordinary Time, 29 January 2021
Hebrews 10:32-39   +++  >><)))*> + <*(((><<  +++   Mark 4:26-34
Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA-7 News, Batanes 2018.

Our loving Father in heaven, thank you very much for another weekend, for another day of rest approaching, for the grace of making it this far despite the many difficulties we have gone through: the chemotherapy and dialysis, surgery or physical therapy; death of a loved one, including a beloved pet for some; losing a job, giving up a business, calling it quits for a dream or endeavor.

So many trials, some we have hurdled, some we have overcome, some we have lost.

But here we are, Lord God, though wounded and bruised but still alive, still dreaming, still hoping, still fighting. All persevering in Jesus Christ our Eternal Priest and Master.

Your words today, O Lord, are so comforting for many of us. Help us to never give up, to persevere despite our sins and failures. Be patient with us, sweet Jesus. Most of all, let us be patient too in waiting for you, in your coming, in your comfort, in your solace, in bearing fruits. Help us realize that the more we are enlightened in you, the more we are purified, the more we are tested.

Remember the days past when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a great contest of suffering. You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised. We are not among those who draw back and perish, but among those who have faith and will possess life.

Hebrews 10:32, 36, 39

Like the farmer who sows seeds in his farm, may we confidently wait, never giving up until they sprout into new plants, have blades, have flowers and bear fruits.

Like the mustard seed, may we persevere to find deep within our hearts your gift of faith that someday, we shall grow and be fruitful. Amen.

Photo by author, flower of a mustard seed at Ein-Karen, Israel, 2017.