God remembers… don’t quit!

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the Second Week of Ordinary Time, Year I, 17 January 2023
Hebrews 6:10-20     ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>     Mark 2:23-28
This prayer I offer 
for those losing hope,
wanting to quit and leave,
losing patience and sense
in all their efforts for the
betterment of others and the world,
for those disappointed or frustrated,
for those always on the distaff side,
always seen as odd and weird
because of their firm stand for
their beliefs and values:
remind them, Father, 
that you are aware of all their
noble efforts for the uplifting
of lives of many,
for their fight for justice
and truth.

Brothers and sisters: God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name by having served and continuing to serve the holy ones.

Hebrews 6:10
Dearest Jesus,
you know so well
how difficult and even
painful to remind people 
of their giftedness,
of their dignity,
of their honor;
many times, we feel tired
and sad at how others see us
and all our efforts for their good;
we are not asking for quick fixes
nor shortcuts for we know that indeed,
doing your work is never easy,
it is always a process;
all we are asking is rest,
a break perhaps
like your apostles one sabbath
who picked the heads of grain;
many times like the Pharisees
people give more emphasis and
importance to rites and rituals,
to rules and laws without any regard
for persons.
Lord Jesus,
remind us always that when
people fail to see our personhood,
our self-dedication to you and
your works,
remind us to never sag in spirits,
to never be sluggish
but instead be filled with more
fire and ardor in doing your work
until they realize that "The sabbath
was made for man, not man for 
sabbath.  That is why the Son of Man
is lord even of the sabbath"
(Mark 2:27-28).
Amen.

Something old, something new

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the Second Week of Ordinary Time, Year I, 16 January 2023
Hebrews 5:1-10     ><000'> + ><000'> + ><000'>     Mark 2:18-22
Glory and praise to you,
O God our loving Father,
for this brand new day
to begin anew in life,
to bridge and process
our past so we may live fully
in every present moment 
as we project our future.
Beginning today,
teach us in Christ Jesus your Son
the need for us to understand fully
and put into practice his teaching
"new wine is poured into
fresh wineskins" (Mk.2;22).
Enable us to always welcome change,
to find you coming to us in new
and often unexpected situations or
things and persons;
may we learn to bridge,
in fact become a bridge like Jesus,
the old and new,
the past and the present,
God and your people:
"In the days when he was in the Flesh,
he offered prayers and supplications
with loud cries and tears to the one
who was able to save him from death,
and he was heard because of his reverence.
Son though he was, he learned obedience
from what he suffered; and when he was made
perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation
for all who obey him" (Hebrews 5:7-9).
Dear Jesus,
teach me to have new perspectives,
new outlook in life in you,
by focusing more on you,
by believing in you,
in seeking and following you,
most of all, 
in seeing everything in you
so that I may learn to accept 
things of old
like pains and sufferings,
need for trials and difficulties
so that I may grow in
strength and maturity,
love and compassion
like you.
Amen.

The human child, mystery of God’s love

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Sunday in the Second Week of Ordinary Time, Cycle A, 15 January 2023
Isaiah 9:1-6 ><]]]]'> Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-18 ><]]]]'> Matthew 18:1-5, 10
Photo from reddit.com.

The photo above is a sculpture called “Love” by Ukrainian artist Alexander Milov he created in 2015. I have kept the photo as a bookmark in one of the books I have read and saw it recently. Milov rightly called it “Love” because it shows how that mystery of love expressed to us by God in Christ’s coming continues if we could only be like a child!

See how the sculpture depicts two adults after a disagreement sitting with their back to each other while their inner child in both of them wanting to connect. What a beautiful expression of our condition when despite our vast learning and knowledge, we seem to can’t live without ego and pride, hatred and grudges that prevent us from forgiving and moving on in life. The free spirit exhibited by children in this sculpture shows our true nature which is the very core of Jesus Christ’s teaching, of being a child always.

At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven… See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.”

Matthew 18:1-3, 10

On this Sunday of the second week in Ordinary Time, we extend our Christmas celebration for a day with the Feast of Sto. Niño or Child Jesus in honor of the crucial role of that image gifted by Magellan to Queen Juana of Cebu 500 years ago. It was the Sto. Niño who actually conquered our country to become the only Christian nation in this part of the world – proof enough of Christ’s teaching about being a child so powerful in God’s eyes!

This Feast is a very timely for us too as we go into the busyness of our lives to be reminded anew even for a day of the meaning of Christmas, of Jesus Christ’s coming in love. He came because of love, coming as love himself by being a child, an infant.

It was only recently as a chaplain in the hospital have I felt and realized why a baby is called a “bundle of joy” – my heart melts whenever I visit mothers with their newborn babies especially twins. It is said that even the most hardened criminals are softened upon seeing babies and children. And that is because of what Jesus told us today in the gospel,

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.”

Matthew 16:10

What is there with children and the face of God?

I think that is God’s gift of love in each of us, so innately in us right during our moment of conception when life begins as the Church rightly insists based on Sacred Scriptures. It is nurtured and cared for first by the mother that even after we have matured, we call on our mother when surprised or shocked as in “Inang ko po!” or “Nanay ko po!”. See how those approaching death would always speak of seeing their departed mother, coming and visiting them.

This shows and proves to us the deep impact of a mother’s love to each of us because she is always the first to make us experience God’s love in her womb that even long after our umbilical cords have been cut off at birth, there remains an invisible line always between us and our mothers.

It is not only with our mother but also with everyone. This love innately gifted upon each of us by God who is our very first love remains in us through our family and friends and later the people we meet in life as living representatives of that invisible love of God in us. This is what Jesus meant when he warned his disciples in the gospel today,

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.”

Matthew 18:10

How sad when this love that has always been in us and in the world suddenly becomes unrecognizable – even unrealistic – because of the darkness of sins and evil. When the child is born and begins to see, experience and realize the absence of love in the family, of a lack of that love between the child’s mother and father who quarrel or separate, or when the child himself/herself is threatened or hurt by anyone he/she looks up to, then trouble happens.

Children can only grasp the gift of life and of their existence when they experience the concreteness, the reality of love first right in their homes. One thing we adults always forget which I insist on every man and woman entering marriage that it is always the children who bear all the pains and sufferings when they separate. Experts claim that criminals mostly come from families where children witness domestic violence, especially when the husband beats the wife.

It is unfortunate that today’s gospel did not include Jesus Christ’s most terrible curse against those inflicting harm on children when he said in the same scene that “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and drowned in the depths of the sea” (Mt. 16:6).

As chaplain of a university, I have been hearing the confessions of our students, recently from junior and senior high school. After listening to their stories and woes, I tell them point blank about their parents and family, of the love among them and they start crying. I do not blame parents for their apparent lack of love for their children nor for their separation nor for their need to work abroad; I stress to young people human love is always imperfect. Only God can love us perfectly.

When the world and the people around us miserably fail in showing us the face of our loving God, that is when all the more we have to be like children anew as Jesus tells us today. It is is in going inside our inner child within, in becoming like a child trusting in the great love of God in us like when we were in our mother’s womb can we grasp again this invisible love poured upon us in Jesus Christ.

This is the challenge for us of the Sto. Niño: let us keep the face of God aglow in us, on our face and in our lives like the light Isaiah spoke of in the first reading when the Messiah comes. Anyone who lives in the gospel of Jesus Christ, even amid all pains and sufferings, would always be aglow with that radiant face of God filled with love and mercy, kindness and compassion despite our many imperfections. The beloved disciple said it so well, “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. 4:12). Simply love, love, and love. No ifs nor buts. Just love.

Let us remain children of God most especially in our adulthood like Jesus Christ who upon his death on the Cross called God Abba – Father – because he has always been the Son, the Child of God. Remember how at the Last Supper when he gave the new commandment of loving one another as he loves us: it is “new” because unlike the love the world knows which is all feelings and self-centered, Christ’s love is rooted in God through him, in him, and with him.

Let us pray:

Blessed be the God and Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us in Christ
every spiritual blessing in the heavens (Eph. 1:3),
as he chose us to be born
and be filled with his love as 
icons and representatives of his love;
enlighten the eyes of our hearts, Father,
so we may always answer your call
in your Son Jesus Christ for us to follow
him in being like a child
manifesting your face full of
warmth and love,
kindness and care
especially to those 
feeling unloved.
Amen.

The gift of “rest”

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the First Week of Ordinary Time, Year I, 13 January 2023
Hebrews 4:1-5, 11     ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>     Mark 2:1-12
Photo by author, Bolinao, Pangasinan, April 2022.
O God our loving Father!
You are so wonderful and amazing,
so marvelous that you lavish us
daily with love and mercy.
What else can I ask you except 
that I "enter your rest" which 
the author of the Letter to the
Hebrews had enunciated so well
in the first reading today.
In fact, I have counted six times 
he had used in six verses that 
little yet powerful word "rest"  we 
often take for granted especially in
this restless world.

Let us be on our guard while the promise of entering into his rest remains, that none of you seem to have failed… Therefore, let us strive to enter into that rest, so that no one may fall after the same example of disobedience.

Hebrews 4:1, 11
How ironic, O God
that while we all desire 
to enter your eternal rest
in heaven, no one really cares
to value your day of rest
in this life as we busy ourselves
with everything except you
and our loved ones;
make us realize that rest is
primarily about you, 
being with you,
returning to you
just like when you
rested after creating everything.
Make us realize that to rest 
is to be one in you and with you
in Christ Jesus; to rest is to let
your will be done again like in
paradise before the fall;
to rest is enter you in Jesus.
That is why 
I love our Filipino word
for rest which is "pahinga" -
to be breathed on.  
By whom?
By you, O God!
Let us rest 
and be breathed on 
through your words
and sacraments,
through our private 
and communal prayers,
through our personal experiences
and through one another.
Dear Jesus,
help us imitate 
those courageous men who
opened up the roof above you
to lower their paralytic friend
because to rest is of God,
from above; enable us, Jesus,
to rest in you always
in every here and now
so we may finally rest 
in eternity.  Amen.

The gift of “today”

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the First Week of Ordinary Time, 12 January 2023
Hebrews 3:7-14     ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>     Mark 1:40-45
Photo by Mr. John Ryan Jacob, Liputan Island, Meycauayan, Bulacan, 10 January 2023.
The word "today"
resonates so clearly this day
in your words, O Lord our God:
indeed, let us not harden our hearts
if today we hear your voice;
let us not be like your people at 
Meribah who quarreled and rebelled
against you for lack of water in the
desert; let us not be like your people 
in Massah where they failed your test
of faith and trust, even Moses who
struck the rock twice instead of once
as you have commanded him.
Meribah and Massah continue to exist
today right in our hearts when we rebel
against you and those above us like 
our parents and teachers, 
our elders and superiors
and leaders in the Church;
until now we refuse to heed your
voice,
recognize your presence
in Jesus Christ in every
here and now,
in each day,
in the TODAY.
Forgive us, merciful Father,
let us hold on to faith to be
"partners in Christ"
by finding him, loving him,
and serving him in the
here and now.
Like that leper,
let us have that complete
trust and faith in you, Jesus,
waiting for you each day,
in every TODAY to tell you,
"If you wish, you can make me
clean" (Mk.1:40) because you
have always been present with
us in all our lives, especially in
our pains and sufferings;
you always have that compassion
for us that always, your grace appears
most when we are in our crosses.
And for that, we praise and
thank you,
dear Jesus!
Fill us with your Spirit,
make us enthusiastic like
that leper in every TODAY
to proclaim you saving presence.
Amen.

Prayer of upliftment

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the First Week of Ordinary Time, Year I, 11 January 2023
Hebrews 2:14-18     ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>     Mark 1:29-39
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, 2022 in France.
Lord Jesus,
allow me to imitate today 
your Apostles Simon and Andrew,
James and John in "immediately 
telling you" (Mk. 1:30) 
of how sick and down with all kinds 
of problems our own family members
and relatives, friends and everyone
going through trials in life;
come, Lord Jesus, "grasp their hands"
like Simon's mother-in-law 
and "help them up" (Mk.1:31).

Because he himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.

Hebrews 2:18
At this very moment,
Lord Jesus, I pray for those
going through their medical
exams - please calm them,
assure them of your presence;
accompany too, dear Jesus,
those going through dialysis,
chemotherapy,
surgery, and other medical procedures
for their ailments;
comfort and console those
living separately who have to endure
the pains and troubles of worrying
their loved ones going through
difficulties in far and distant lands;
touch and ease the pains of those
who have experienced failures
and disappointments, even frustrations
to assure them that it is better to be
fruitful than successful in life;
uplift, O Lord, those with sagging
spirits in being good,
in being holy,
in being honest and true,
in being faithful and just;
touch them, Jesus,
pat their shoulders
that they may forge on
with you in being good.
Amen.

When ordinary is extraordinary

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the First Week of Ordinary Time, Year I, 10 January 2023
Hebrews 2:5-12     ><000'> + ><000'> + ><000'>     Mark 1:21-28
Photo by author, Nasugbu, Batangas, 06 January 2023.
Today we begin the Ordinary Time
in our liturgical calendar; please do not
let us be misled, O God our Father, 
taking these days for granted,
of thinking ordinary as bland,
or usual
or nothing special;
make us realize that ordinary
means something about order,
of being orderly,
of being the rule
and ordo.
Make us see like the psalmist
the beauty of what is ordinary:
"O Lord, our Lord, 
how glorious is your name 
over all the earth!
What is man that you should be
mindful of him, or the son of man
that you should care for him?
You have made him little less 
than the angels, and crowned him
with glory and honor.
You have given him rule over 
the works of your hands, 
putting all things under his feet"
(Responsorial Psalm 8:2, 5, 6-7).
Our loving God,
you have made Jesus your Son
and our Lord so ordinary like us
to be one with us in our sufferings
and pains, even death, so that in his
resurrection we may share in his
extraordinary glory; Jesus is able to
help us because he has become ordinary
like us that is why, let us embrace
wholeheartedly our humanity
including our frailty
to be one in Jesus.
Cleanse us, dear Jesus,
of our impurities,
of our sins,
of our narrow-mindedness
and biases that make us
resist your holiness found
in ordinariness like that
unclean spirit possessing
a man in the synagogue;
let us not stop in just admiring,
of being astonished with your
words and works and wonders;
let us submit ourselves to your
authority, Lord Jesus, beginning
with the most ordinary things in life
like listening and putting into practice
your words and teachings so we may
experience your extraordinary
healing and presence.
Amen.

Maturing in Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Christmas Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, 09 January 2023
Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7 ><}}}}*> Acts 10:34-38 ><}}}}*> Matthew 3:13-17
Photo by author, September 2022.
God our loving Father,
thank you for this most wonderful 
Monday when we close 
the Christmas Season 
with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, 
we also celebrate the feast 
of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo 
which is the most popular
devotion in our predominantly
Catholic nation. 
As you opened the heavens
with your outpouring of love
and life upon us today like
what happened at the baptism in Jordan,
open our minds and our hearts, Father,
to recognize Jesus as your Anointed One;
most of all, may our double celebrations
this Monday remind us of the need for us to mature
in our faith in you.
Photo from flickr.com by Mark S. Abeln, Resurrection Cemetery in Affton, Missouri, USA, 16 November 2010.
Fix our eyes on your Chosen One,
Jesus Christ, upon whom you have 
put your Spirit who brought forth
salvation to us all,
not crying out,
not shouting,
not breaking a bruised reed
nor quenching a smoldering wick;
let us imitate the gentle humility
of your Servant, our Lord Jesus Christ
in whose person you have made your
covenant, a light for the nations,
healing us of our infirmities of 
body and most especially of soul,
not yielding to anyone nor anything
because you and him are one
(cf. Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7).
Let us continue the teaching of Peter
in the house of Cornelius with our own
experiences and meditations, with our
own witnessing "of how God anointed 
Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. 
He went about doing good 
and healing all those oppressed
by the devil, for God was with him"
(Acts 10:38).
Photo by Mr. Jay Javier, Quiapo, 09 January 2020.
God our loving and merciful Father,
let us see Christ's presence and
coming in our lives daily,
his coming out of Jordan
with your mission to save us,
to journey with us in this life;
most of all, let us heed your voice,
Father, to be one in Jesus in all
sufferings and trials, standing 
and fighting for truth and justice
even to the point of death on the 
Cross because he is your beloved Son
with whom you are well pleased
(Matthew 3:16, 17).
Lord Jesus Christ,
our Nuestro Padre Nazareno,
make us realize that more than
the devotions and panata,
more than that lovely robe of your
royalty as King of kings,
help us penetrate your dark skin
in Quiapo to realize your being
called "Nazarene" does not only mean
your origin, Nazareth, but most of all,
from the Hebrew word "nezer" or shoot -
that you are, O Lord Jesus is the "shoot
from the stump of Jesse" (Is.11:1),
the one completely consecrated
to God from your mother's womb
until your death on the Cross.
Make us realize this, Jesus Nazareno,
that we too, in our baptism, are 
consecrated to God:  let us manifest
your love,
your justice,
your humility,
your healing,
your mercy
in our lives.
Amen.
From google.com.

Christmas is “manifesting” Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Christmas Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, 08 January 2023
Isaiah 60:1-6 ><}}}}*> Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6 ><}}}}*> Matthew 2:1-12

Still, a blessed Christmas to everyone! As I have been telling you, let us continue greeting one another with a Merry Christmas for it is still the Christmas Season. Forget those happy new year greetings. Insist on Merry Christmas especially today when our celebration reminds us that Christmas is manifesting, showing Jesus Christ!

In fact, our celebration today is a high point of Christmas – even the Christmas in some parts of Europe, the US and even the Philippines. As a result, so much focus have been given on the magi that we forget the very essence of Epiphany is Jesus Christ – not the names of the magi nor their gifts nor their number.

From the Greek word epiphanes that means “manifestation”, the Epiphany of the Lord celebrates the discovery of Jesus by the foreigners known as magi from the East, learned men who were seeking the truth. In discovering Jesus, he was made known to all the world as the Savior and the King of Kings.

It is very interesting that what we have we heard proclaimed in the gospel today is the first conversation ever recorded by Matthew in his account that was uttered by the magi searching for Jesus:

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.”

Matthew 2:1-2

That spoken question by the magi which stirred the whole of Jerusalem and bothered even King Herod – “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? – is a theme that resonates throughout Matthew’s gospel because in the Jewish thought, God is their only king. King for them is more than a political ruler but a manifestation or reflection of the face of God who alone is the king of the universe.

Matthew is teaching us something very important in recording the first conversation spoken in his gospel account was by the magi asking “where is the newborn king of the Jews” to remind us that every day, it is Jesus Christ whom we must seek first in our lives, in our prayers, especially in the scriptures.

Upon waking up in the morning, what is the very first thing you do – check on your cellphone for messages? turn on the radio or TV or laptop? What or who do you look for first thing in the morning? Do you at least light a candle on a little altar in your room to pray the Morning Offering or meditate on the scriptures of the day?

The person(s) or things that we immediately focus upon waking up indicate very much the persons or things that rule us daily. See how the magi from the east were seriously seeking Jesus Christ by daring to ask even King Herod about the newborn king of the Jews! Don’t you find that funny considering that the magi were regarded as men of wisdom but dared to inquire and trouble Herod with that question? Were they insulting Herod?

Definitely not. They were just sincerely searching for the true King of all!

That is the essential point in Matthew’s telling us of the magi searching for Jesus: the experts of Jerusalem knew where their newborn king was born based on the scriptures but they never bothered to look for him! Many times we are guilty like them when God is just in our head as an idea or a concept but not a reality in our life.

Next to assiduously seeking Christ, I love to reflect on that aspect of these wise men asking (with sarcasm?) King Herod where is the newborn king of the Jews: the magi must have noticed and felt King Herod was not a true king after all in the Jewish thought and tradition. They must have heard and personally proven upon meeting him that he was indeed ruthless and evil when he ordered the massacre of all boys two years old and below in Bethlehem and vicinity after they have left by going through a different route.

See how Matthew as well as the other gospel writers showed in their accounts the kindness and goodness of Jesus in healing the sick, forgiving the sinners, teaching and guiding the people who were so lost. When we pray the gospel accounts, what we find and experience is the immense love and mercy of God through Jesus Christ. He is rightly called the face of the unseen God – so gentle, so loving, so humble, so merciful. Because of Jesus, we were able to have a glimpse and experience of the great love of this God Jesus taught us to call as Father. That is why at his crucifixion we saw Jesus hailed as truly the “King of the Jews, truly the Son of God” (Mt. 27:37, 54) because he manifested God’s love and holiness, compassion and mercy, kindness and care.

This is the essence of the Epiphany. It was not just the discovery of Jesus by the magi nor his manifestation to all the nations but most of all, the making known of God’s goodness when like the magi who “departed for their country by another way” (Mt.2:12), we change our ways to become icons of Jesus Christ.

Don’t worry; it is a lifelong process. The magi saw Jesus as a child, not as an infant anymore because of their long journey. What matters is that like them, we never stop persevering in following and manifesting Jesus in our lives.

Perhaps this Sunday, we must examine ourselves in the way we deal with other people especially in our family and in our office or school, especially in our parish and community: do we reflect the Kingship of Jesus Christ or that of the world like Herod in our lives?

This Solemnity of the Epiphany is inviting us not just to seek Christ our King but most of all, to manifest Christ’s Kingship based on loving service to others. That is the best gift we can offer Jesus, our very gift of selves just like him. Let us pray:

Dearest Lord Jesus Christ:
let me search you always in my life,
in my prayers,
among the people I meet,
in the Sacraments;
most of all, 
let me manifest you Jesus
not only my words and thoughts
but most of all in my daily living,
in my actions
of loving service to others
especially the sick and lowly,
the marginalized and misunderstood;
let me be your light, O Lord,
to guide people in darkness of sin
and ignorance and indifference;
most of all, let me reveal like St. Paul
your mystery of love and salvation
to the many among us who have turned
away from you,
seeking to follow and imitate
King Herod in his ruthless ways
of control and too much pride.
Amen.

Come and see so you will see greater things!

The Lord Is My Chef Christmas Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Weekday of Christmas, 05 January 2023
1 John 3:11-21     ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>     John 1:43-51
Phot by Mr. John Ryan Jacob, 02 January 2023 in Paco, Obando, Bulacan.
Lord Jesus Christ,
now I can feel your insistence
for me to come so I may see you;
I think it should be the first thing
to preoccupy us every new year:
how we must come in order to see
you each day, each year.

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said to him, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.”

John 1:45-47
Let us be sincere, O Lord Jesus,
like Nathanael or St. Bartholomew
who never hesitated to tell Philip
the prevailing belief of your time that
nothing good comes from Nazareth;
problem with us is we always deny
such truths deeply ingrained within us
like our personal biases against others
due to region and religion,
language and politics,
color and inclinations.
Let us come so we may see
you more in others that despite
our many biases and prejudices,
you do come in our many differences;
let us be bold and brave to subject
our beliefs and perceptions to tests
by personally coming to see the reality,
the truth so that we may realize
that you are not only the Messiah
but most of all, like Nathanael,
you are "the Son of God, the King of Israel"
(John 1:49).
Most of all,
Lord Jesus Christ,
let us come and see
with all our reservations
and doubts,
biases and mistrust
so that we may see
far more greater things
than what we have already seen
in passively following you -
let us come so we may see
"the sky opened and 
the angels of God
ascending
and descending
on the Son of Man"
(John 1:51).
Amen.