The other half of the sky

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 06 June 2022
Photo by author, Silang, Cavite, August 2020

While reflecting last night John’s gospel for today’s memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church, the song “Woman” by another John – John Lennon – kept playing at the back of my mind as I prayed over the words of Jesus calling Mary her mother as “woman” (Jn.19:26).

It is the second time, and final one in the fourth gospel that Mary the mother of Jesus was at a scene with her Son; the other instance they were together in a scene in John’s gospel was at the wedding feast at Cana where Jesus did his first miracle by converting water into wine. In both events, John tells us Jesus addressed Mary as “woman” (Jn.2:4, 19:26).

In 1980, Lennon composed “Woman” as a tribute to his wife Yoko Ono. In that lovely song, we find two instances of how John, like the beloved disciple used the word “woman” very positively. First we hear Lennon quickly declaring right after the first few notes of the song, “For the other half of the sky” to refer to women; and secondly, by starting each verse of this song with the word “woman” which he never used in the chorus that is just “ooh-ooh, well-well”.

For the other half of the sky
Woman
I can hardly express
My mixed emotions at my thoughtlessness
After all, I’m forever in your debt
And woman
I will try to express
My inner feelings and thankfulness
For showing me the meaning of success
Ooh-ooh, well-well
Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo
Ooh-ooh, well-well
Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo
Woman
I know you understand
The little child inside the man
Please remember, my life is in your hands
And woman
Hold me close to your heart
However distant, don’t keep us apart
After all, it is written in the stars
Ooh-ooh, well-well
Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo
Ooh-ooh, well-well
Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo
Woman
Please let me explain
I never meant to cause you sorrow or pain
So let me tell you again and again and again
I love you, yeah-yeah
Now and forever
I love you, yeah-yeah
Now and forever
I love you, yeah-yeah
Now and forever
I love you, yeah-yeah
Now and forever
Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte in Atok, Benguet, February 2022.

How true were the confessions by Lennon, of our “thoughtlessness” and “childishness” in dealing with women, hurting them physically and emotionally without realizing how “indebted” we are to them in bringing us forth into this world, in nurturing us.

So true his words too that no matter how far we turn away from women, we cannot deny the fact we are always close with them, we long for them because we are meant for each other as “written in the stars”.

And most true which I like most is Lennon’s claim that women are “the other half of the sky”.

What a shame when we men think of the world as “us” and ours alone, as if the earth revolves around us, that we are not only the center of the universe but also the universe itself! No wonder we are always lost and at a loss in life.

Women as the other half of the sky tells us how we men and women complete the whole picture of reality, of how we need the feminine side and feminine touch to have a fuller grasp of life, its meaning, and its many mysteries.

This image of the woman as “the other half of the sky” I find so perfectly true with our Blessed Virgin Mary too, most especially when she stood at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ on Good Friday.

When John the beloved disciple chose to use the word “woman” for Mary as addressed by Jesus, it was the most wonderful effort to recognize the dignity and honor of women in the world especially at the very crucial moment of dying and separation of loved ones:

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

John 19:25-27

It is a scene happening daily in our lives as individuals and disciples of Christ, of how Mary addressed as “woman” signifying the Church as the Body of Christ to which we belong and we must care for always; and, as Christians, at how we disciples must obey Christ’s commandment to love one another by respecting and accepting every woman.

Photo by author, 2018.

Both man and woman were created in the image and likeness of God, with equal dignity though different in order to complement each other in coping with life’s many challenges and trials.

See how at creation God entrusted woman to man to love and care for her, to protect her which Jesus repeated to the beloved disciple before he died on the Cross. In the Hebrew language, the word for woman and wife is “ishsha” which is a play from the word for man which is “ish”. Woman came from man, woman is a part of man. Without her, he is not complete and neither shall she also be complete without man. That is why, all these talks about the battle of sexes are all insanity for we are all created to love and care for each other!

The bible tells us many instances of negative views about women along with children that they were not even counted in the feeding of five-thousand by Jesus in the wilderness. Women were never considered as reliable witnesses that is why Jesus himself corrected this by appearing first to Mary Magdalene in the gospels. Women were never seen as holy too that is why the story of Visitation of Elizabeth by Mary was a most unique scene in the whole bible of two women together so blessed by God.

As we resume the Ordinary Time in our Church calendar this Monday with a memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church, let us be more conscious from now on of the dignity of women, of finding Jesus in them by making constant efforts to change the persistent wrong impressions and ideas about women since time immemorial. Whenever you look up the sky, think of those other half of you staring at the heavens, then thank God for the women he had sent you to experience his loving presence especially in these trying times. Amen.

*We have no intentions of infringing into the copyrights of this music and its uploader except to share its beauty and listening pleasure.

Pag-ibig sa paglisan

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-03 ng Hunyo, 2022
Larawan kuha ng may-akda sa Bolinao, Pangasinan, ika-20 ng Abril 2022.

Habang tayo ay nagbulay-bulay sa pagpapala at biyaya ng bawat paglisan noong kamakalawang araw, noon din naman nag-trending sa social media ang hiwalayan ng mag-asawang Jason Hernandez at Moira dela Torre, dalawang sikat daw na mga mang-aawit na ni hindi ko alam ni kilala.

Sumabay din naman kinagabihan ding iyon ang desisyon ng korte pagkaraan ng anim na linggong hearing na sinubaybayan ng marami sa social media (ako po hindi) ang demandahan ng mas sikat na mga taga-Hollywood at dating mag-asawa na Johnny Depp at Amber Heard. Magandang pagkakataon ang dalawang naturang balitang showbiz upang suriin nating mabuti ating mga ugnayan o relationships at tingnan nasaan na nga ba ang pag-ibig sa isa’t isa.

Gaya ng ating napag-nilayan noong Miyerkules, ang bawat paglisan ay biyaya at pagpapala sa kapwa umaalis at naiiwan kapag ang pagpapasiyang lumisan ay napagnilayan at napagdasalang mabuti.

At higit na lumalalim ang ugnayan ng isa’t-isa at pag-ibig sa bawat paglisan kapag ito ay humahantong sa wakas ng buhay at kamatayan.

Kaya ang aking tanong na bunsod ng awit ni Bb. Cookie Chua noong dekada 90, sa bawat paglisan, sino nga ba ang may higit na pag-ibig, ang umaalis o naiiwan?

Larawan kuha ni Bb. Jing Rey Henderson sa Taroytoy, Aklan noong ika-30 ng Abril, 2022.

Palagi ko sinasabi sa bawat kinakasal ko na hindi paligsahan ang pag-ibig. Sino mang mayroong higit na pag-ibig, siyang dapat magmahal nang magmahal, umunawa at magpatawad, unang kumibo at bumati sakaling sila ay may di-pagkakasundo o tampuhan.

Hindi rin paligsahan sa pag-ibig ang aking nais mabatid sa aking naturang tanong kungdi ito’y sumagitsit sa aking puso at isip noong ilibing ng Martes kapatid ng yumao kong kaibigan.

Unang pumanaw noong Enero si Ate Priscilla sa sakit na kanser. Simple at tahimik na nakaibigan ko siya sa dati kong parokya na pinaglingkuran. Apat silang magkakapatid na mga dalaga na iniukol ang mga sarili sa mga pamangkin at simbahan. Nitong pagpasok ng 2022, nagkasakit si Ate Illa at ako pa ang nagkumbinsi sa kanyang pumasok na sa pagamutan kasi, ayaw niyang mahirapan sa pag-aalaga sa kanya at sa gastusin ang mga kapatid.

Kuha namin noong Enero 01, 2022 nang dumalaw sa akin si Ate Illa at mga kapatid. Hindi kasama si Ditseng Baby.

Ngunit huli na pala ang lahat.

Biglang lumala kanyang kalagayan at binawian ng buhay pagkaraan ng dalawang araw sa ospital. Noong kanyang lamay, palaging sinasabi ng nakababata niyang kapatid, si Ditseng Baby, na siya man ay ayaw nang pahirapan mga kapatid niya sa kanyang pagkakasakit din ng kanser. Halos magkasunod silang nagkaroon ng kanser bago mag-COVID pandemic. Hindi nga nagtagal, noong ika-27 ng Mayo, biglang inatake sa bahay si Ditseng Baby at pumanaw.

Kaya ako ay bumalik sa kanilang tahanan at simbahan upang siya naman ang Misahan at ihatid sa huling hantungan kamakailan.

Isa na namang paglisan na biglaan ngunit napaghandaan ng mga pumanaw.

Hindi naman natakot ang magkapatid na Ate Illa at Ditseng Baby sa buhay at kamatayan; katunayan sa aking pananaw, buong tapang nilang hinarap lalo ang kamatayan. Mas mahirap sa may katawan siguro ang maramdaman na ikaw ay papanaw at buong tapang itong tanggapin at sabihin.

Larawan kuha ni Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, 2021.

Biyaya pa rin ng Diyos ang magkaroon ng gayong lakas ng loob sa gitna ng panghihina ng katawan. At ang pangunahing biyaya na binubuhos ng Diyos sa isang lumilisan ay pag-ibig, lalo na kung ito ay hahantong sa kamatayan. Pag-ibig ang dahilan kaya ayaw na nilang mahirapan pa mga kapatid nila sa pag-aalaga at gastusin kahit mayroon silang kakayahang magpagamot. Pag-ibig hanggang sa huling sandali ang kanilang handog at ibinahagi sa lahat.

Kaya nga kapag mayroong isang taong lumilisan – pansamantala man tulad ng pangingibang- bayan o panghabang-buhay tulad ng mga naghahabilin sa banig ng karadaman – higit ang kanilang pag-ibig na binibigay sa mga naiiwan o nauulila.

Mas marami silang pabaon na pag-ibig sa mga naiiwan kung titingnan.

"Kung ang buhay ay isang umagang nakangiti
At ikaw ay ang lupang sinusuyo ng bituin
Di mo man silip ang langit
Di mo man silip, ito'y nandirito pa rin

Kung ang lahat ay may katapusan
Itong paglalakbay ay makakarating din sa paroroonan
At sa iyong paglisan, ang tanging pabaon ko
Ay pag-ibig"
- Bb. Cookie Chua ng Color It Red, "Paglisan"
Larawan kuha ng may-akda sa Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, QC, 2016.

Sino man ang magpasyang lumisan batay sa maka-Diyos na pamantayan at konsiderasyon, nakatitiyak ako siya ang mayroong higit na pag-ibig dahil handa siyang iwanan ang lahat para sa mga minamahal.

Pang-apat sa walong pagpapala o beatitudes na ipinahayag ni Hesus sa kanyang sermon sa bundok ay mayroong kinalaman sa paglisan:

“Pinagpala ang mga nagdadalamhati, sapagkat aaliwin sila ng Diyos.”

Mateo 5:4

Kapag mayroon umaalis, tayo ay nagdadalamhati, lumuluha kasi masakit ang maiwan, pansamantala man o pangmagpakailanman.

Nasaan ang pagpapalang sinasabi ni Hesus kung tayo ay lumuluha, nagdadalamhati dahil naiwan ng isang lumisan o pumanaw?

Naroon sa pag-ibig!

Pinagpala ang mga nagdadalamahati kasi mayroon silang pagmamahal, sila’y nagmamahal kaya lumuluha sa lumisan na kamag-anak o kaibigan; subalit, higit ang kanilang pagpapala dahil sila ay minahal ng lumisan!

Higit pa rin ang pag-ibig ng lumilisan kung tutuusin.

Kaya tayong naiiwan ay umiiyak, nasasaktan.

Subalit, lahat ng kalungkutan ating mararanasan sa paglisan ay pagbabadya ng higit na tuwa at kagalakan. Wika din ni Hesus sa kanyang mga alagad noong Huling Hapunan nila na mas mabuti na siya ay lumisan upang sa gayon ay maisugo niya ang Patnubay o Espiritu Santo (Jn. 16:7).

Gaya ng ating napagnilayan noong Miyerkules, ito yung ikalawang mahalagang bagay dapat nating pakaisipin sa pagpapasya kung tayo ay mananatili o lilisan: ang ating kaganapan at paglago ng katauhan (https://lordmychef.com/2022/06/01/pagpapala-sa-paglisan/).

Muli, ating makikita ang higit na pag-ibig na bigay pa rin ng lumilisan dahil sa bawat pag-alis, naroon din ang pagkakataong lumago ang katauhan ng naiiwan gaya ng lumilisan.

Larawan kuha ng may-akda sa Bolinao, Pangasinan, ika-19 ng Abril 2022.

Ganyan ang paraan paanong lumago ating pananampalatayang Kristiyano dahil sa paglisan ni Hesus, lalong nag-ibayo sa pagmamahal at pagsusumakit ang kanyang mga naiwan sa pagpapahayag sa salita at gawa ng ipinadama niyang pag-ibig para sa ating kaligtasang lahat.

Dahil sa pag-ibig na iyan ni Hesus, naging pagpapala ang bawat paglisan dahil hindi na lamang ito pagtungo sa isang dakong malayo kungdi pagpasok sa panibagong antas ng ugnayan. Wika nga ng mga kabataan, level up ang ating mga relationships.

Sa bawat paglisan, hindi tayo nababawasan o nawawalan kapag pag-ibig ang dahilan nito.

Kaya sana, ngayon pa lamang atin nang pakaingatan at pahalagahan bawat isa upang bawat paglisan ay maging makabuluhan. Nawa sa ating paglisan, bantayan at pagpalain tayo ng Diyos palagi. Mizpah (Gen.31:49)!

Pagpapala sa paglisan

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-01 ng Hunyo 2022
Larawan kuha ng may akda sa Bolinao, Pangasinan, ika-19 ng Abril 2022.

Mahigit isang linggo ko nang pinagbubulay-bulay ang pananatili at paglisan hanggang sa aking mapakinggan kahapon sa libing ng kaibigan itong magandang awit ni Bb. Cookie Chua dalawang dekada na siguro ang nakalipas.

"Kung ang buhay ay isang umagang nakangiti
At ikaw ay ang lupang sinusuyo ng bituin
Di mo man silip ang langit
Di mo man silip, ito'y nandirito pa rin

Kung ang lahat ay may katapusan
Itong paglalakbay ay makakarating din sa paroroonan
At sa iyong paglisan, ang tanging pabaon ko
Ay pag-ibig"

Noong nakaraan, ang tanong ko lang naman ay kailan tayo dapat manatili at kailan tayo dapat umalis o lumisan?

Dahil sa awit na aking napakinggan dala ng pagpanaw ng kaibigan, napalawig ang aking pagninilay ng panibagong katanungan: sa bawat paglisan, sino nga ba ang may higit na pag-ibig, ang umaalis o ang naiiwan?

Hayaan ninyo munang aking sagutin unang tanong, kailan ba tayo dapat umalis at kailan dapat manatili?

Larawan kuha ni G. Chester Ocampo sa Japan, 2017.

Napagnilayan ko ito noong nakaraang Martes nang ang mga pagbasa sa Misa ay tungkol sa pagkakulong nina San Pablo at Silas sa Filipos nang biglang mayanig ng malakas na lindol ang naturang lungsod (https://lordmychef.com/2022/05/24/prayer-to-know-when-to-stay-and-when-to-go/). Magpapakamatay na sana ang kanilang bantay sa pag-aakalang tumakas sina San Pablo at Silas nang pigilan siya mismo ni San Pablo na naroon pa rin sa kanilang selda (Gawa 16:22-34).

Hindi ba madalas kapag tayo ay nasa mahirap na sitwasyon, napakadaling pumasok sa isip natin ang basta mawala na lamang at makaalis, gaya ng pagbibitiw sa trabaho o panginibang bansa marahil?

Iyon nga nakapagtataka kina San Pablo at Silas! Bakit hindi pa sila tumakas na lamang pagkaraan ng lindol na sumira sa kanilang kulungan?

Sa kabilang dako naman, doon sa Mabuting Balita ng araw na iyon, si Hesus ay panay ang paalam ng kanyang paglisan sa kanyang mga alagad noong kanilang Huling Hapunan. Sinabi pa niya na ang pag-alis niya ay sa ikabubuti ng mga alagad niya dahil sa pagdating ng Espiritu Santo na susuguin niya (Jn.16:7).

Dalawang magkaibang sitwasyon, kailan nagiging mabuti at tama, ang manatili at umalis?

Mga sagot:

Una, sa manatili man o lumisan, pinakamainam palagi ay sundin banal na kalooban ng Diyos. Parehong mabuti ang manatili at lumisan ngunit nagkakaroon lamang ito ng kabuluhan o katuturan kung makikita batay sa kalooban at plano ng Diyos para sa atin.

Larawan kuha ni G. Chester Ocampo sa Japan, 2017.

Bakit nga ba hindi pa tumakas sina San Pablo at Silas nang mawasak ng lindol kanilang piitan habang nasa Filipos noon? Maliwanag nating makikita dito ang plano at misyon ng Diyos sa kanila upang masagip at mabinyagan bilang Kristiyano ang kanilang bantay sampu ng kanyang pamilya at angkan! Kung tumakas sina San Pablo at Silas, marahil ay nagpakamatay na nga kanilang bantay at hindi naging Kristiyano. Sayang!

Dito ipinakikita sa atin kahalagahan ng pananalangin upang maging maliwanag kung nasaan ang ating misyon sa buhay. Kung ika’y mananatili ngunit ibig ng Diyos ika’y lumayo tulad ni Abraham, kailanaman ay hindi ka mapapanatag sa buhay. Gayun din naman, kung ikaw naman ay magpipilit na umalis at lumipat dahil sa maraming magandang alok at pagkakataon ngunit hindi naman iyon ang layon sa iyo ng Panginoon, baka ikaw ay mabigo lamang sa iyong pupuntahan.

Minsan nais ko na liwanagin paborito nating salawikain na “Nasa Diyos ang awa, nasa tao ang gawa” kasi madalas, nauuna ang gawa ng tao at kapag nagkaproblema na, saka hihingi ng awa sa Diyos. Totoong nasa Diyos ang awa at nasa tao ang gawa kung bago tayo gumawa ay humingi muna tayo sa Diyos ng awa, liwanagin sa kanya ano ba ang dapat nating gawain? Hindi iyong kapag palpak na at marami nang sabit saka lalapit sa Panginoon.


Pangalawa, sa pagpapasya natin sa pananatili o paglisan batay sa pananalangin, isang bagay makikita natin palagi nangingibabaw sa Diyos ay kapakanan ng iba hindi ng sarili dahil tiyak palagi niya tayong pangangalagaan at hindi pababayaan.

Kaya, huwag matakot na manatili o lumisan, pangalawa sa Maykapal na ating batayan ng desisyon ay kapakanan ng iba, hindi ng sarili.

Batid ito ng maraming OFW at mga magulang na nangibang bansa. Mahirap at masakit ang lumisan ng bayan, iwanan mga mahal sa buhay at mahirap din naman ang maiwanan at mahiwalay sa kabiyak at magulang. Ngunit, kanilang tinitiis ang lahat para sa isa’t-isa, para sa minamahal at hindi para sa sarili.

Larawan kuha ni G. Chester Ocampo sa Japan, 2017.

Ganoon ang Diyos parati: hinihiram tayo para sa kapakanan ng iba. Ito yung katotohanan ng sinabi mismo ni Hesus na “Walang pag-ibig na hihigit pa sa pag-ibig ng isang taong nag-aalay ng kanyang buhay para sa kanyang mga kaibigan” (Jn.15:13).

Yung nanatili at lumilisan, kapwa nagmamahal at nagmamalasakit, nagiging mabunga ang buhay at pagkatao kung ang pasya ay batay sa kalooban ng Diyos.


Pangatlo, makikita natin na kapag tumpak ang proseso ng pagpapasya natin kung tayo ba ay mananatili o aalis, naroon din palagi paglago ng ating pagkatao at ng mga maiiwan natin. Sa pananatili at paglisan, higit na mahalaga ang pamumunga o “fruitfulness” at di lamang success.

May mga tao na matagumpay, successful wika nga dahil nanatili at nagtiyaga o kaya’y lumayo at nasapalaran sa ibang lugar ngunit hindi naman ganap sa buhay at tila baga mayroong kulang pa sa kanila. Kasi nga, wala namang naging lalim sa kanilang katauhan kanilang mga ginawa sa pananatili man o sa paglisan. Marahil ay sa kabila ng kayaman at katanyagan, wala silang natagpuan kahulugan sa buhay. Palaging mayroong kulang. Tulad ng Diyos na siya lamang ating kaganapan sa buhay.

Larawan kuha ng may akda sa Bolinao, Pangasinan, ika-20 ng Abril 2022.

Maituturing din ito bilang pagmamature o pagkakaroon ng gulang. May mga pagkakataon lalo na sa mga nakababata na kapag naiwanan at hinayaang mamahala sa kanilang sariling buhay, sila’y nagma-mature; gayun din naman kapag sila ay lumuwas ng lungsod upang mag-aral at manirahan ng sarili sa mga dorm, sila man ay nagma-mature.

Alalaong-baga, sa ating pananatili o paglisan, lagi ding dapat isaalang-alang paglago sa katauhan ng nanatili at lumilisan.

Kapwa puno ng biyaya at pagpapala ang pananatili at paglisan kung ito ay ating mapagpapasyahan ng mahusay at hindi ng padaskol-daskol lamang. Ito higit nating mapagtatanto kung ang usapin ng paglisan ay hindi lamang pansamantala at hindi ibang lunan na maaring marating.

Naiiba at lalong lumalalim ang kahulugan ng pananatili at paglisan kung ito ay sa larangan ng pangmagpakailanman, kapag ang paglisan ay kamatayan.

Iyan ang ating pagninilayang susunod upang sagutin ating pangalawang tanong, sa bawat paglisan, sino nga ba ang may higit na pag-ibig, ang umaalis o naiiwan?

Pansamantala, ay halina at pakinggan, sabayan kung mas mainam, itong awiting Paglisan at baka kayo man ay mayroong ibang mapagnilayan. Hanggang sa muli.

*Wala po kaming hangad na lumabag sa karapatang-pangsipi o copyrights ng may-ari ng awit at video na ito maliban sa namnamin kagandahan ng nitong musika.

Mula sa YouTube.com.

Priests and the elections

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 19 May 2022
Photo by Ezra Acayan/Getty Images.

Like many of you, the people I elected lost last May 9. Fact is, I felt the same sense of loss and sadness and disappointment – but not depression nor anxiety – many of you feel today as early as 2016 when not even one opposition made it into the Senate.

It was in the 2016 elections when I realized that our people would continue to be less discerning in electing their leaders, of how it would get worst before getting any better, not even in my lifetime. The following morning after Duterte was elected president in 2016, our kasambahay came to me during breakfast to apologize, saying, “sorry po Father… binoto ko po si Bung (Bong Revilla) kasi baka wala pong bumoto sa kanya.”

You see, I have been trying to educate Manang to be more discerning in choosing candidates since the start of the 2016 elections campaign period but no amount of explanations seemed to have convinced her. Hence, I just told her, “kakaawa mo sa kanya, hayun, naging topnother si Bong Revilla, ngayon kawawa ang bayan natin.” The same thing happened last week that we now have Robin Padilla as Senator of the Republic too.

However, I am still filled with hopes in our future. We are not a hopeless case of going to the dogs if we start learning the lessons of these 2022 elections that were similar with 2016’s if we priests return to our original mission of teaching and sharing Jesus, only Jesus and always Jesus. Enough with our political partisanship, of endorsements and campaigns for candidates no matter how worthy they may be.

Photo by Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images.

This may sound very simple, even simplistic. As a priest, I feel and fear we have forgotten Jesus in these recent elections. Even a week after, many have not stopped in their “fight”, making all those unChristian comments in social media that prove we have indeed lost Christ lately.

“Oh, men of little faith!” is how Jesus would probably exclaim at some of us priests and bishops in this post-elections period.

Instead of educating the people, some priests and bishops went too far into campaigning even at the pulpit for particular candidates that led to disillusionment than enlightenment. And now, we are into this mess – the second elections in a row since 2016 – when the people resoundingly rejected not only the clergy’s candidates but also the Church we represent as an institution. What is tragic is how we priests still do not get it, even that simple lesson in history that every time priests endorse candidates, they turn out to be kiss of death!

It is so disappointing how most of the priests and bishops were so quiet, not silent, in 2020 when the quarantine period was prolonged more than twice or thrice that kept our churches closed, denying the people much needed spiritual guidance and nourishment during the pandemic. Sadly when the campaign period for the elections started last year, many priests were suddenly out, vocal and filled with courage in joining rallies even on Saturdays and Sundays when they should be celebrating the Mass in their parishes, when they should be praying and reflecting on the gospel to nourish souls but were instead baffling the faithful if their pastors were leading them to heaven or hell.

The double standard cannot be denied: when Leny declared her candidacy last October, some priests and parishes posted on social media pictures of Gaudete and Laudete Sunday’s pink motifs but, when Red Wednesday came in November to honor those persecuted in the Church, the same priests and parishes issued clarifications that the liturgical red motif was not in any way political.

Of course, it has always been non-political until they started it! Unfortunately, the bad taste of insincerity was all over and no one felt ashamed at all. Which brings us to the many sanctimonious “sermons” – not homilies (they are different) – that followed during Lent, filled with self-righteousness and holier-than-thou attitudes as if there are no thieves and liars among us.

Photo by author, Stations of the Cross at the Parish of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, March 2022.

The question being asked by the faithful – where is God? – following the results of the recent elections is an indictment of the priests who have abandoned Jesus and so believed in themselves and their candidates, denying Christ the chance to do that much-needed miracle we were all hoping for since the start of the campaign period.

A former student now based in Canada recently narrated how he and his wife told their eight year-old daughter the need to stand and defend the truth. I was impressed and touched that I congratulated him as I recalled those first 12 years of my priesthood teaching them in our diocesan school in Malolos City. I mentioned to him how it pained me that some of our graduates have joined the “dark forces” in politics with one notoriously grandstanding during the proceedings revoking the franchise of ABS-CBN.

We can only do as much but the most important thing is to remain focused in Jesus, in words and in deeds despite our weaknesses and unworthiness. When people experience and get to know Jesus, everything good follows. We called it in my former school assignment “Sanctitas in Sapientia” or “Holiness in Wisdom” – the more we get to know Jesus, the more we grow in wisdom and holiness becoming like him so that we also follow him and love him through others.

That is the challenge to us this post-election period: let us double time, spend our energies in bringing back the people, especially the young inside the churches not to the streets to learn more about Jesus in the Sacraments. Most of all, to reach out to those in the margins, the majority we love to bash in putting into office the same “unworthy” candidates as leaders of the nation.

A few days after the elections, we had the first Confession and first Holy Communion of our Grade III and IV students at the Basic Education Department of Our Lady of Fatima University in Valenzuela City. It was then when I got more convinced how in the past 24 years that priesthood is bringing Jesus to the people first through the meaningful celebrations of the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist where his words are proclaimed and cracked open to let Jesus touch the hearts of everyone.

Both in the parish and in the school, I have seen that Jesus is the One transforming people, the One who changes people, not us priests nor anyone. We are merely his instruments.

Photo by Mr. Paulo Sillonar, Basic Education Dept., Our Lady of Fatima University, 11 May 2022.

In the beautiful story of the feeding of 5000, we are told that when Jesus saw a large crowd coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do (Jn.6:5-6).

Jesus knows very well what he is going to do in every situation, especially elections. Our job is to listen to Jesus, to make Jesus present to everyone, to share Jesus.

Later after the feeding of 5000 in the wilderness, Jesus gave his bread of life discourse to the people who have followed him to Capernaum but they could not take his words that eventually, they left him along with the other followers of Christ. Only the Twelve remained with him whom he asked, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn.6:67-68).

Do we have the same faith and focus of Simon Peter in Jesus? Why worry after we have lost these elections?

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that all our affairs in this life and in this world must always be seen beyond its social and economic, even medical and political implications but always in the light of Christ and his Cross. This reality is perfectly captured by the Inquirer photographer last August 2021 when the chapel of the QC General Hospital was converted into a COVID ward during a surge. The photo speaks loudly and clearly of the one reality we always forget, especially us priests.

Again, my views may be simple, even simplistic, compared to the learned but so many times, that is how God works too. Thank you for taking time to read. Join me in praying:

Lord Jesus Christ, 
so many times we leave you behind, 
following ourselves and others 
instead of you alone who is 
"the way and the truth and the life"
(Jn.14:6). Amen.

Have a blessed weekend!

Front page photo of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, 20 August 2021.

Beauty and blessedness at sunrise

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 05 May 2022
Photo by author, sunrise at the Lake of Tiberias (Galilee) in Israel, May 2019.

Our gospel last Sunday spoke of the Risen Lord’s third appearance to his disciples at the Lake of Tiberias. No one, except the beloved disciple recognized Jesus standing at the shore after he had told them to cast their net to the right side of the boat that led to their plentiful catch of fish.

When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea.

John 21:4-7
Photo by author, sunrise at Lake of Tiberias, May 2017.

I love the way it is narrated. What a wonderful interplay of realities, of John the beloved recognizing Jesus standing at the shore upon seeing the many fish caught in their net!

The story speaks of the beauty of every sunrise many of us seem to take for granted, of how so many of us miss the beautiful sight and silence of the morning. It is a story of every new day filled not only with promises but in itself a blessing we can surely experience when we first recognize Christ present in us.

That is perhaps one problem with us who always prefer spectacular sights and events to find God.

Unlike sunset, sunrise does not have radiant displays of colors and shades. It is very simple which is the lesson of Easter to us, of how our great God comes to us in the simplest moments of life. Recall too that Jesus was born in the middle of the darkest night of the year when everyone was asleep and rose from the dead very, very early in the morning that no one had seen! And here lies one of the wonderful mysteries in life – the hiddenness of God!

It is in God’s hiddenness that we can find him not because he is hiding but inviting us to be hidden in him too. That is the beauty of sunrise when you have to wake up early to see the beauty of life unfolding, awaiting something we are totally unaware of what is going to happen next. It is easier to wait for the sunset because you have been up and going the whole day; you just have to stop and pause for a while to await the sun going down.

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

Sunrise is different. It is like awaiting a total stranger, compared with sunset after we have befriended the the day about to end.

Every morning when we wake up, we do not know what is in store for us. Some people are excited, others are not while the rest simply got the blues or too lazy to work and study that they would rather sleep more.

Maybe that is why sunrise is more subdued with its hues and shades. Like God, sunrise is so kind, very accommodating with everyone, no spectacular display of colors so that one could buy his own time on whether to go out and move or snuggle more in bed, alone or with somebody else.

Like a beloved someone or God himself, sunrise looks soft and calm, reassuring everyone the day ahead would be just fine for us all.

Its light is so gentle, though bursting filled with life but never insistent to the eyes, so gentle. This we feel in our favorite word and activity every morning – breakfast – which came from the literal “breaking of fast” the night before by the monks in the monasteries. We can feel this gentleness of sunrise in that Christian hymn Morning Has Broken, whether you sing it or listen to Cat Steven’s cover or to its original Gaelic Scottish tune. And along this line, we find sunrise as the sweetest breaking of all in Angela Bofil’s 1981 love song Break It To Me Gently.

Photo by author, sunrise at Camp John Hay, Baguio City, November 2018.

Sometimes, sunrise can be a bit wild, bursting with light that can penetrate one’s soul with its light traveling so fast, eager to cover the whole surrounding with the good news of life coming.

Think of the Beatles’ 1969 Here Comes the Sun with its lovely guitar introduction, assuring everyone, especially your beloved “little darling” that “it’s all right” with “smiles returning to the faces.”

Photo by author, sunrise at Bolinao, Pangasinan, 20 April 2022.

That is the most beautiful part of catching the sunrise when all is silent with you all alone, listening to Jesus whispering, “Little darling, it’s all right” because whatever had happened yesterday, with all your sins and mistakes, are all forgotten and forgiven. Today is a new beginning, like what he told Peter in last Sunday’s gospel when he asked him thrice, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

Photo by author, sunrise at Bolinao, Pangasinan, 20 April 2022.

Peter was distressed that Jesus had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep… And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”John 21:17, 19

John 21:17, 19

It is said that whatever one feels in describing the sunrise is one’s perception of love – warm and refreshing, joyful and so alive, filled with hopes and raring to go.

Sunrise is beautiful because it is when we experience closest with our truest self, with those most faithful and loving to us, and most of all, with God, our very root and being. Every morning is the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy of each of us becoming a John the Baptist whose name means “graciousness of God.” This we pray every morning in the Benedictus (cf. Lk.1:68-79):

In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us, 
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the
     shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

May you be blessed every morning, every day of the week. Amen.

Photo by Ms. Jing Rey Henderson, sunrise at Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, 27 April 2022.

He touches me

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 26 April 2022
From Google.

The word “touch” is a very touching one, connoting so many meanings while at the same time gives us a “feel” of what it really is. Its literal and figurative senses always go together with the most touching reaching deep down inside us that are also the gentlest and simplest.

We are touched by words and gestures, by sights and sounds, and literally speaking, we are touched most when touched by another person. Experts claim that a five second touch is equivalent to about 300 words of encouragement so that for us to be emotionally well, we need at least three hugs a day.

Photo by author, Mirador Jesuit Villa and Retreat House, Baguio City, January 2019.

Reflecting on the very few stories of the Easter appearances by Jesus to his disciples, we find how the gospel writers did not need to write so much details to convince us that the Lord had risen for it is not the number nor length of his appearances that matter but its inexpressible intensity. Especially in the fourth gospel, we notice – and we are touched, too like the disciples – the deep intensity of Christ’s appearances that resulted only in silence and adoration among them.

And that is one very true characteristic of Jesus – he touches us. Always. Even if we can not touch him nor see him. There is always that joy of Easter bursting forth within us in moments of prayers, of intimate conversations with loved ones and friends, or upon seeing a beautiful sight or experiencing nature.

It is Jesus Christ who touches us most that is why we believe in him even if we cannot explain how it all happened. It has always been like that since he rose from the dead. In fact, I doubt Thomas really touched Jesus when they met on the eighth day because he was so “touched” upon seeing the Risen Lord that he said, “My Lord and my God”, the most intense expression of faith in the bible!

See that nothing is said if Thomas indeed touched the wounds of Jesus for he was caught up in the experience and sight of the Risen Lord.

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

John 20:27-28
“The Incredulity of Saint Thomas”, a painting by Caravaggio from commons.wikimedia.org.

Like Thomas, Jesus touches us in the most personal and unique manner that deep inside us we also cry with intensity “my Lord and my God” to him. Though we can enumerate many reasons and persons who have led us into believing in Jesus, we also admit at the same time that there is no specifically single reason nor person for our faith in God except our very selves, of our personal conviction that transcends all proofs and logic because, we were so touched.

The gospels teem with so many stories of Jesus touching especially the sick when healing them and surprisingly, as we reflect on these stories, we too are touched, even by the Lord. And our perspectives and lives eventually change because we have experienced Jesus.

The same is very true with the many people we have known and met, the few perhaps we have befriended and loved: so many things in our lives have turned for the best simply because we were touched, literally and figuratively speaking.

When I was still teaching in our all-girls’ school in Malolos City, I used to remind my students in high school to never be fooled by a man’s looks and “porma”, to always look for a man who really loves you, respects you, and touches you as a person, as a woman. And they would always ask me how can they determine that? My usual response was they would “feel” that because a man or any person with integrity would always “touch” you.

Then I would play to them Lisa Stansfield’s 2004 He Touches Me:

He don’t bring me anything but love
He don’t bring me anything but love
If you offered me the stars I would decline
I don’t need ’em I got mine
I don’t know where to start
But I know what’s in my heart
So keep your silver and your gold 
’cause I got my man to have and hold

As our lives gradually return to some semblance of normalcy following the decrease in cases of COVID-19, it would be nice that we try to remember and recall those many experiences we have had since the start of the pandemic in 2020, the people who touched us.

One beautiful lesson this pandemic had taught us is that even if we practice social distancing, we can still be emotionally close with one another in so many ways and means. And even if we still have to maintain that social distance as minimum health protocol in this pandemic, there are so many occasions for us to touch one another to express our love and concern, our gratitude and apologies to any one who have touched us.

From QuotesGram.com.

It is about time that we touch base with them again, and this time, let us get in touch with one another in the most meaningful and loving way, with intensity, so that no matter what happens next, we may have that deep sense of joy and fulfillment of being truly human, of having experienced “the warmth of a loving face” as Camus expressed in The Plague.

Everyone is drained and exhausted by COVID-19, with many still out of touch following their many losses during the pandemic – loved ones, career, studies, goals and plans in life that were disrupted, permanently or temporarily.

Let us help each other to regain composure and directions in life by being kind with everyone. Most of all, let us touch one another with our simplest gestures of a smile or a wave of hand that here is another person – also struggling, also trying to pick up the pieces of life, moving on to start anew. Many times, the simplest things have the most lasting impact on us because they are also the most touching. And that is because, with our kindness, that is also when people feel being touched and loved by God most.

I hope you were touched… a blessed day ahead of you!

Photo by author, Puerto del Sol, Bolinao, Pangasinan, 19 April 2022.

Holiness is being true

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Holy Wednesday, 13 April 2022
Isaiah 50:4-9   +   Matthew 26:14-25
Photo by author, St. John the Baptist Parish, Calumpit, Bulacan, 31 March 2022.

It’s Holy Wednesday, also known as Spy Wednesday, the night Judas Iscariot agreed to betray Jesus Christ to the chief priests in exchange of 30 pieces of silver (Mt.26:14-15). Tonight is the night of traitors, of betrayers, of those not true to us!

This is the reason why in most parishes after the Mass tonight, there is the ritual of tenebrae or gradual turning off of lights and extinguishing of candles in the church to show how momentarily darkness and evil prevailed in the world when Judas sold Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

Photo from saopedroesaopaolo.com.br.

To betray literally means to hand over a loved one to pain and sufferings like when a husband is unfaithful to his wife, when we spill the secrets of our friends, when we answer back our parents or refuse to obey them, when children waste their money on their vices and other non-essential things instead of studying their lessons while their mother or father is toiling day and night abroad as an OFW.

Betrayal is so painful and most unkind because we exchange or “sell” our loved ones like commodities for someone or something less in value; imagine the pain a betrayer inflicts on the someone who gave everything, with all the love and care only to be “traded” for lesser value? It is said that during the time of Jesus, a slave can be bought for 30 pieces of silver; how foolish Judas must have been in exchanging Jesus who loved and cared for him for a slave! And that is what we are too when we betray God and our loved ones – fools to replace someone so precious for anything else!

Betrayal is rebelling against a loving God, a beloved one, turning our back from them who are most true to us. And that is the short of it: betrayal is not being true.

Holiness is being true; holiness and truth always go together.

The word true is from the Anglo-Saxon treowe or tree. For them, truth is like a tree that evokes a sense of firmness, of being rooted in the ground. When our words and actions are not firm, shaky and always changing, flimsy or “pabago-bago” as we say in Filipino, then it must not be true. It must be a lie and not true at all because it is always changing or shifting.


Photo by author, St. Paul Spirituality Center, La Trinidad, Benguet, 2019.

Truth is always firm, does not change and remains true forever. It may be concealed or covered by lies for sometime but sooner or later, truth will always come out. It cannot be deleted. That is why the Greeks referred to truth as aletheia or phusis, the blooming of a flower that cannot be hidden and would always manifest or show. Jesus himself assured us that “nothing that is hidden will not be revealed; nor anything secret that will not be known and come to light” (Lk.8:17).

Closely linked with the word true is trust which also came from treowe: the Anglo-Saxons saw in the tree not only firmness but also rootedness or connectedness. The firmer the tree, the deeper are its roots. And that is what a true person is – always trustworthy, someone who can be trusted, someone who values relationships or ties and links. Traitors betray their loved ones because they do not value their relationships; a true person is always trustworthy because he values his relationships. A true and trustworthy person is one who would always listen to God and others, not insisting on his own plans and agenda like the Suffering Servant of God.

The Lord God has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them. Morning after morning he opens my ear that I may hear, and I have not rebelled, have not turned back. I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.

Isaiah 50:4-6
Photo from Pinterest.

Remember the scene of the scourging at the pillar in the film The Passion of the Christ (2004)? Biblical experts say that gory scene was very true as it was the most painful aspect of the Lord’s passion next to the crucifixion; every time the knuckles would hit the body of Jesus, a piece of his flesh is torn off. Pilate ordered Jesus to be flogged in the belief that people might pity him when seen so tortured and bruised, perhaps agree to let him go freely.

But it did not happen as the people shouted more for his crucifixion.

And that is what happens when we betray our loved ones, including Jesus: the more we become indecisive in life like Pilate, the more we also betray them because we could not stand for what is true. That is also when we hurt them more and ourselves in the process too.

So often, traitors are not aware of their betrayals, believing in their wrongful and misplaced convictions, forgetting the people who love them most. Many times, we absolutize the truth, forgetting that only God is absolute. Most of all, that truth is a Person, Jesus Christ who said “I am the way, the truth and the life” (Jn.16:6). Being true, being holy is always directed to a person, not just a conviction.

So be careful by being true always with one’s self, with others and with God.

What makes you forget the truth and be untrue to others?


Lord Jesus Christ,
teach me to be true and holy
not only to you but most especially
to the people you give me,
those who love me truly and dearly;
make me like a tree,
firm and reliable, 
dependable and trustworthy,
most of all, deeply rooted in you
through then people I love and care and serve.
Amen.

Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA7-News, January 2022.

Pang-intindi o pagiging kapwa?

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, ika-21 ng Pebrero 2022
Mula sa Facebook post ni P. Marc Ocariza, Abril 2020.
Kay daming nangyayari 
palaging panawagan sa isa't-isa
ay pang-unawa at pang-intindi
ngunit hindi sasapat at laging kapos
ating kaisipan upang isang tao
ay lubusang makilala at maunawaan.
Kapag mayroong may-sakit
mayroong nagigipit
ano ba ang ating nasasambit?
Mag-usisa at magsalita
huwag lang walang masabi
sa akalang makapagpapabuti?
Kamakailan sa mga talakayan
mainit pinag-uusapan
respeto daw ang kailangan;
tama din naman
at nararapat lang
igalang bawat nilalang.
Ngunit paano na lang
kung sa ating pag-respeto
at pag-galang mayroong
ibang nalalapastangan
o nasasaktan at natatapakan,
sasapat ba itong panawagan?
Sa ating kasalukuyan, 
marahil higit nating kailangan
kilalaning kapwa-tao isa't-isa
na katulad ko, higit sa respeto,
pang-unawa at pang-intindi
mayakap at matanggap kay Kristo. 
Larawan guhit ni P. Marc Ocariza, Abril 2020.

Salamin, sabihin sa akin

Lawiswis Ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-14 ng Pebrero 2022
Larawan kuha ni Jenna Hamra sa Pexels.com
Salamin, 
salamin sa dingding
sabihin sa akin at
ipakita rin
mga puwing 
na hindi ko pansin
ni ayaw kilalanin
ni tanggapin!
Ayoko sanang sabihin
ngunit ito binubulong
ng aking damdamin:
paano nga ba tayo humantong
at ganito ating narating
sa tuwing halalan darating
nagpapanting mga tainga natin
sa mga usaping alam na natin?
Paulit-ulit pinag-uusapan
walang kinahihinatnan
pagkatapos ng halalan
kaya paulit-ulit na lamang
walang katapusang 
mga pangakong binibitiwan
nakakalimutan, pinababayaan
pasan ng taong-bayan, di maibsan.
Tingnan nga natin
at suriin ang sarili
kung atin ding sinasalamin
magagandang adhikain
o mga paratang at
pambabatikos natin
dahil kung tutuusin
ang pamahalaan ay larawan natin.
Larawan kuha ni STANLEY NGUMA sa Pexels.com
Galit tayo sa mga sinungaling
dahil tunay nga sila'y magnanakaw rin;
nguni't paanong naaatim
ng marami sa atin araw-araw
magsinungaling sa kapwa
lalo na't nagtitiwala sa atin
maging Panginoong Diyos
pinagtataksilan natin?
Paanong diringgin
panawagan ng nagmamalinis
gayong batid kanilang
mga bahid na dungis
kaban ng simbahan
pinakialaman
para sa sariling kaluguran
maging kahalayan?
Sila ba'y naparusahan
marahil ni hindi pinagsabihan
at ang masaklap
hinayaan na lamang
alang-alang sa habag
at awa, palaging katwiran
kapatawaran
ng mga kasalanan.
Katapatan sa pangakong
sinumpaan, hindi rin mapangatawanan
kunwa'y maraming kaabalahanan
 ang totoo'y puro kababalaghan
maraming pinupuntahan
kasama'y mayayaman
mga aba at walang-wala
kanila ring iniiwan.
Larawan kuha ng may-akda, 2020.
Totoo na malaki ang papel ng Simbahan
na ginagampanan tuwing halalan
ngunit huwag sanang makalimutan
sa araw-araw na katapatan ang tunay na labanan
kung saan mga alagad at pastol ng kawan
magsilbing huwaran sa paglilingkod
kaisa ang bayan ng Diyos
sa karukhaan, kagutuman at kapighatian.
Salamin, salamin sa dingding
kami ba'y marunong pang manalangin?
Bakit tila hindi dinggin ating mga panalangin
gayong mabuti ating layunin?
Diyos pa ba pinagtitiwalaan,
pinananaligan natin o baka naman
lumalabis mga salita natin
habang salat mabubuting gawa natin?
Salamin, salamin sa dingding
kung kami ay magising
maging kasing ingay ng batingaw
katapatan namin sa araw-araw
na gampanin, hindi katiting
pinagaganda lang ng kuliling
lalo na kung mayroong nakatingin
para lang mapansin.
Ang dapat nating ipanalangin
hindi lamang ang halalang darating
kungdi makatotohanang pagsusuri
at pag-amin sa mga kasalanan natin;
pagkaraan ng limang-daang taon
pagkakanya-kanyang dinatnan ni Magellan
umiiral pa rin habang mga puna at pansin 
nina Rizal at GomBurZa nananatiling pangarap pa rin.
Larawan mula sa commons.wikimedia.org

Musings on Simeon’s Canticle

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 02 February 2022, Feast of the Presentation of the Lord
“Simeon’s Moment” by American illustrator Ron DiCianni. From http://www.tapestryproductions.com

Strictly speaking, today’s Feast of the Presentation of the Lord should be the closing of the Christmas season. It is the 40th day since the birth of Jesus when Mary had completed her days of purification to leave Bethlehem and offer her child with Joseph in the temple in accordance with their law that “every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord” (Lk.2:23).

And like Christmas, we find in the Lord’s presentation his Cross looming tall, enlightening us how Jesus and his Cross, joy and suffering, life and death cannot be separated. In Simeon’s Canticle, we find that life’s many contradictions make living wonderful and meaningful, too! (See our Sunday homily, https://lordmychef.com/2022/01/29/living-loving-amid-contradictions/).


He (Simeon) came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him in his arms and blessed God, saying: “Now, Master you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”

Luke 2:27-32
Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA-7 News, March 2020.

Coming to terms with death is coming to terms with life.”

First thing we realize in this beautiful canticle of Simeon is the true meaning of joy in finding Jesus wherein we learn to befriend death as we come to terms with life and living. It is difficult to explain but evidently, it was pure joy that led Simeon bursting into a song.

St. Paul had a similar experience while in prison which he tried to explain to the Philippians when he wrote, “For to me life is Christ, and death is gain. If I go on living in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. And I do not know which I shall choose. I am caught between the two. I long to depart this life and be with Christ, for that is far better. Yet that I remain in the flesh is more necessary for your benefit” (Phil.1:21-24).

Those who have cared and lost a loved one to cancer or any terminal illness have experienced Simeon’s canticle. Remember when our loved ones have finally accepted their fate, when they suddenly become more emotionally stable and even joyful in their dispositions? Unlike before when they were first diagnosed with their illness, they were so afraid, always crying but as they came to embrace the reality, they cried less with a strong sense of courage while we are the ones crying more and most stressed out?

That is because the dying must have seen their direction, their final destination in life.

Like Simeon, they have seen God in the light of Jesus Christ while we who are to be left behind cry more not only due of the pain and sadness of separation but because we do not know where we are going, where we are heading to once our loved ones die. Feel the courage and confidence of Simeon boldly telling God to take him at that instance because he had found “the way, the truth and the life”, Jesus Christ!

Too often, we Filipinos take it as a joke, perhaps laughing to dismiss the topic or cope with the reality that to see God means to die like when we say “gusto nang makita si Lord”. But, that is the truth that Simeon is telling us in today’s gospel which is more “felt” in our own language, “Kunin mo na, Panginoon, ang iyong abang alipin, Ayon sa iyong pangako, Yamang nakita na ng aking mga mata ang iyong pagliligtas” (Lk.2:29-30). Imagine Simeon like the teenagers telling God to take him “now na!”?

Here we find at the presentation of the Lord in the temple how Simeon realized that coming to terms with death is coming to terms with life.

Photo by Ms. Nikki A. Vergara, 2020.

“Coming in the Spirit is living in the presence of God.”

Second thing we find in Simeon’s Canticle is the preeminence of the Holy Spirit in his life. We can never experience and find Jesus without being attuned first with the Holy Spirit who animates us and opens us to Christ’s coming.

Imagine the great crowds of people at the temple on that day, of couples trying to fulfill the law of Moses of purification and presentation of their first-born sons to God. How did Simeon know Joseph and Mary were the parents of Jesus? How was he able to accurately spot and find Jesus is the Messiah amid the many male children being offered on that day at the temple?

“To come in the Spirit” like Simeon is more than being faithful to God; it is having a good and pure heart that is ready to believe and act openly with courage, always looking forward at the fulfillment of what we believe. Coming in the Spirit is being at the right place at the right time when we make things happen than wait, exactly how Luke portrayed Simeon and Anna who both lived in the presence of God! Coming in the Spirit in living in the present moment in God.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“Principle and foundation of life”

Thirdly, we cannot see Christ nor live in the Spirit unless we humbly submit ourselves to God, our Lord and Master. Seeing Christ and living in the Spirit presuppose humility before God – we his creatures, he our Lord and Master.

Most of all, God our origin and our end too!

It is the principle and foundation of life as St. Ignatius of Loyola stressed in his Spiritual Exercises, “El hombre es criado para alabar, hacer reverencia y servir a Dios nuestro Señor, y mediante esto, salvar su anima”, that is, “Man is created to praise and serve God his Lord and Master and by doing this save his soul”.

There is something so beautiful and lovely, so touching in the opening verse of Simeon’s canticle that underscores firmly this basic truth we have always forgotten since the fall of Adam and Eve: “Now, Master you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in sight of all the peoples” (Lk.2:29-31). Every time we sin, we act like Adam and Eve, playing gods, desiring to be like God.

Also known as Nunc Dimittis, Simeon’s canticle echoes the fiat of Mary to God during the Annunciation, expressing his fidelity and humility, his total submission to God. Most of all, it summarizes both the Magnificat of the Blessed Mother and the Benedictus of Zechariah, making Simeon’s Nunc Dimittis the finale in Luke’s Christmas “concert” on the birth of the Messiah.

This is the reason why we sing or recite Nunc dimittis at the end of our Night Prayer called Compline from the Latin completorium for “completion of the waking day”. It is the perfect prayer to close each day as we prepare for the coming brand new day to meet Jesus again, hoping we may be enlightened us in our life’s mission.

Or, if ever we do not wake up the following day, we thank God all the more in making us meet Jesus the past day, eager to finally sing to him our praises in eternity. Amen.

Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA-7 News, 18 January 2022.