Thank God for life’s mysteries

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity-A, 04 June 2023
Exodus 34:4-6, 8-9 ><}}}*> 2 Corinthians 13:11-13 ><}}}*> John 3:16-18
Photo by author, sunrise at Anvaya Cove, 19 May 2023

Our Sunday gospel on this Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity is one of the shortest proclaimed in the year with just three verses that may be finished in just two minutes. And yet, it contains the most popular verses from the whole Bible used in the song “Tell the World of His Love” when St. John Paul II visited our country in 1995.

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

John 3:16-18
Photo by author at the Anvaya Cove, 19 May 2023

See how these three verses powerfully summarize our Christian faith of a personal, relating God who is love himself, doing everything in love which is the very meaning of the doctrine of the Most Holy Trinity.

The word mystery is from the Greek mysterion, something hidden but now revealed by God. While it is true that a mystery is beyond human reason because it is divine, it may still be explained and understood though not fully. That is why it is described as non-logical or beyond reason but not illogical which lacks reason.

Most of all, a mystery is not a problem to be solved because it simply cannot be solved at all. In fact, we need to keep mysteries like secrets because mysteries give meaning and depth to our very existence, to our lives. This is the problem with so many people these days lacking mysteries in life when everything about them is shown, even overexposed in the social media. Perhaps that is why so many people are losing meaning in life because they no longer have depth as everything is bared and opened. Life has become so artificial for many not realizing that the most wonderful things in life are those hidden and not seen. Like mystery of God!

Photo by author at the Anvaya Cove, 19 May 2023

There lies the beauty of mystery that is not a problem to be solved but a reality we need to accept and embrace, or better, to allow ourselves to be wrapped by it. As we try to learn and understand more of every mystery in life, especially of God and of our very selves, the more we find life meaningful, the more we appreciate it especially our gift of faith.

When we allow ourselves to be absorbed by life’s mysteries, primary of which is the mystery of God in three Persons, the more we appreciate life itself and our very selves who are in fact a mystery too to ourselves. As we move on in life, as we age and mature, we realize life is not about covering distances but going deeper within ourselves, being transformed into better selves and persons like God, loving and merciful. Eventually we realize too that each one of us is in fact an indwelling of the Holy Trinity, an image and likeness of God himself.

Here we find mystery as a call to a relationship, a communion with God and with others that is why Jesus told Nicodemus in the opening verse of our gospel today that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.

A mystery is a mystery because it is shared. It is nothing if it is merely in itself. We are intrigued with stories and reports because they create relationships in us and with us. That is why God in himself as a mystery is a community of persons. Person implies relationship. From the Latin word persona which is a translation of another Greek word prosopon or the mask worn by stage actors/actresses to indicate their roles in a play or drama.

Remember the term dramatis personae or list of actors in a play and their roles? To a certain sense, there are three persons or personae, that is, roles in our God as we profess in our Creed: the Father as Creator of everything, the Son as the Savior, and the Holy Spirit as the Sanctifier. With God, his persona is eternal while in drama or play, it is temporary.

The more we enter into relationships, the more we relate with other persons, the more we discover the many mysteries of this life, of God because we sooner or later find out we in our selves and humans are not enough. Things cannot relate no matter how hard Steve Jobs and his successors tried their best to design Apple gadgets that conform to human form to give them a sense of relating. Not even animals nor plants no matter how intimate we grow closer to them. Only God suffices.

Photo by author at the Anvaya Cove, 19 May 2023. Though I do not know how to swim, I have always loved the beach where everything and me becomes one in God like the sky that is so far and yet so close. A mystery so lovely!

That is the good news of this Sunday – our awesome and all-knowing, all-powerful God opening himself to us to enter into a personal relationship in him and with him through his Son Jesus Christ who sent us the Holy Spirit to enable us in this sacred mystery.

In sending us Jesus Christ his Son, God took the initiative to be close to us. In fact, closest to us as our breath in sending us the Holy Spirit.

Every time we think of God, when we marvel at him and his creations, the more we find ourselves so different, even too distant from him while at the same time we also feel and experience in the most unique manner how closest we are to him. That is one of life’s most profound and deepest mysteries when are so surprised to our very core of our being that despite our sinfulness and worthlessness, we are still so loved and cared for by God. Difficult to explain but go back to our lowest moments in life when suddenly we sighed for a brief relief that amid our pains and tears, God suddenly comes to comfort us like when Moses met God face-to-face at Mount Sinai.

Having come down in a cloud, the Lord stood with Moses there and proclaimed his name “Lord.” Thus the Lord passed before him… Moses at once bowed down to the ground in worship.

Exodus 34:5-6, 8

Note that God is called “Lord” or “Adoni” in Hebrew because the Jews do not speak out loud the name of God spelled as YHWH, or Yahweh as we say. It is interesting to know that the first letter for God in Hebrew, Yoda, is pronounced like a breath, yahhh. Because that is who God is, our breath, our life, so closest to us but we rarely recognize him because we are so busy with our selves and many endeavors.

That is why I always insist until now to everyone especially seminarians to seriously and faithfully do the sign of the Cross which is more than a prayer but an expression of the mystery of the Trinity not far from us. Every time we make the sign of the Cross properly, that is when we let our selves be wrapped by God and his mysteries.

Photo by author, Anvaya Cove, 05 January 2023.

In the sign of the Cross, God comes closest to us in our very selves and body, relating to us in our head being the Father who is over and above us always, the creator of everything; as the Son who became human like us born by the Virgin Mary passing through her womb, experiencing everything we went through except sin; and as the Holy Spirit on our shoulders giving us balance in this life.

See that at the resumption of Ordinary Time last Monday, we transition to Ordinary Sundays today and next week celebrating the two most important doctrines and mysteries of our faith, the Most Holy Trinity and the Incarnation of Jesus which is what is next Sunday’s Body and Blood of Christ is all about.

Today we reflect on the highest truth of our faith, the mystery of one God in three Persons to remind us that our faith is more than knowing the teachings but most of all of relating in love and mercy, kindness and service like God. Finding that mystery of the Trinity in ourselves leads us to finding God in others too. Amen. Have a blessed week.

Braving the storm

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Solemnity of the Pentecost Sunday, 28 May 2023
Acts 2:1-11 ><}}}}*> 1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13 ><}}}}*> John 20:19-23
Photo from, 9PM, 27 May 2023.

Super typhoon “Betty” (aka, “Mawar”) provides us with some interesting insights on today’s celebration of the Solemnity of the Pentecost Sunday which closes the Easter Season after the last Mass tonight when the paschal candle is extinguished and brought back to the baptistry as we resume Ordinary Time this Monday.

St. Luke described in our first reading how the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary at the upper room in Jerusalem was like the coming of a powerful storm.

And indeed, it was a storm so powerful that have swept the whole world since then, still happening these days calling on us all Christians to be filled anew by the Holy Spirit to continue Christ’s saving work especially in these troubled times when the world is so fragmented and divided.

When the time for the Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.

Acts of the Apostles 2:1-4

On the other hand, we have heard in the gospel today how on the evening of the third day – that is, on Easter – Jesus came to his apostles amid locked doors and breathed on them the Holy Spirit after greeting them with peace twice. It does not really matter how the Holy Spirit came into the world, whether 50 days after Easter as narrated by St. Luke in the first reading or right on the evening of Easter as claimed by St. John in his gospel account. What really matters is the fact the Holy Spirit was given to the early Christian community who has continued to stay in the Church and in each one of us, renewing us constantly ever since. It is the same Holy Spirit alive and present in our congregations and parishes today

Photo from

Pentecost is a different kind of storm we badly need these days in the Church. Unlike weather disturbances, Pentecost does not destroy but in fact builds people, specifically the Church as the Body of Christ and People of God. But, it is also very much like a typhoon in the sense that it batters us to destroy our pride and selfishness that in the process we forget our selves and start thinking of others.

The Holy Spirit is like the power of any typhoon that can shake the very foundations of our long held beliefs and traditions to give way to new ways of living and believing, opening ourselves to the movements of the Spirit that makes Jesus Christ more present in our time.

Let us allow the Holy Spirit to sweep us and the Church like a storm to enable us to see life and world in new perspectives, to find new ways of reaching out to others especially those in the margins we have always forgotten, even taken for granted.

I used to tell people that it is always after the storms when the leaves are greenest and rich soil are deposited that become seedbeds for bountiful harvests in the future. If we can allow the Holy Spirit to sweep us like a storm, then we also learn to hope and trust more in God than in ourselves, as well as in our traditions and even technologies that have prevented us from maturing as Christians and disciples of the Lord.

Every year, more than a dozen typhoons hit and devastate our country; worst, as we have seen in the last ten years, typhoons are getting stronger every year. If we apply that reality to the Holy Spirit, Pentecost is a constant call for conversion among us. And it is in this aspect that I wish to recall another news item we have had last week to appreciate the Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Photo from, 24 May 2023.

While we were busy tracking the movements of super typhoon “Betty” last week, a huge fire razed the historic Central Post Office building early Tuesday in Manila. I personally felt so sad seeing the images on TV news of the Post Office building engulfed in fire having been there at least thrice to drop mail and visit the iconic edifice as part of our humanities class in college.

Watching it burned made me asking myself, “is there a war again?” because the last time the Post Office building was burned was at the liberation of Manila in 1945.

And indeed, there is another great war still raging, the war between good and evil, the war between life and death.

That is why, like the storm, the Holy Spirit is like fire in the positive sense. It purifies us, makes us stronger and more committed as disciples of Jesus Christ. Just what we needed in this time in history.

St. Luke tells us in the first reading how after hearing the sound of strong winds in the Upper Room on that Pentecost day in Jerusalem, “there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim” (Acts 2:3-4).

In the gospel, the Risen Lord’s breathing on the disciples was reminiscent of the Genesis account of the first man coming to life when God blew into his nostrils.

The Holy Spirit is life because of the fire and warmth it brings to every faithful and to the Church. It purifies our personhood into better persons to enable us to be converted into Jesus Christ.

It is this transforming fire of the Holy Spirit that we need to bring more warmth and life among us Christians who have become so cold in our faith, becoming more passive than ever with all the decadence going on in the world, even in the Church.

Indeed, as St. Paul said in the second reading, No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:3) because to believe in Jesus Christ is to always accept everyone as brother and sister by standing for what is true and good, protecting life especially at its weakest moments of infancy and old age.

Let the fire of the Holy Spirit dissolve the walls that separate us from each other. Let the fire of the Holy Spirit bring out her gifts for us to be more understanding and wise, being able to forge on with life with fortitude and knowledge, able to counsel those lost and weak, as well as pious and fearful of the Lord,

If fire has the power to destroy great buildings like the Central Post Office in Manila, fire also has the great power to build up not only edifices and other things but most especially people when they are open to its great potentials of conversion and transformations.

May this Solemnity of the Pentecost make us more attuned with the Holy Spirit so we may constantly be converted into better persons and Christians to sweep the world like a storm with great changes in uniting people to work for peace and like fire in having the enthusiasm to work for true development and progress of mankind. Amen.

“Never, Never Love” by Simply Red (1996)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 21 May 2023
Photo by author, Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, Quezon City, 20 March 2023.

It’s the Lord’s Ascension this Sunday with our readings showing us again that inevitable reality in every love experience, that of leaving, of departures. Last Sunday we reflected that leaving is the most painful hurt in every experience of love.

This Sunday we are reminded that despite that pain, leaving can be the source of joy when every departure is because of love, and for the sake of love because there is the relationship that persists (

And that is why we have chosen Simply Red’s 1996 hit single Never, Never Love from their album Life. Written by frontman Mick Hucknall, Never, Never Love is a modern soulful ballad of a love lost. We describe it as modern ballad because of Hucknall’s so refreshing approach by giving it with touches of jazz and electronic pop with smooth dashes of disco making it so cool and danceable especially the intro’s breezy lalalala. Notice also the thought-provoking query “what are we gonna do with it” that can be piercing at times.

So now we've got our independence, uh, uh, uh, uh
What are we gonna do with it
Learning to play different games
Already using different names
'Cause now our love bears no resemblance, uh, uh, uh, uh
To what we had before

The song, especially the video, for many would surely not instantly remind us of Jesus and his gospel or much less his Ascension but Never, Never Love teaches us a lot about the joy of leaving and separation. We really can’t say that any love is lost at all in a relationship. Remember the saying “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”? In this Simply Red song, we find the separation giving rise to a different kind of relationship and most of all to a more meaningful life and existence for the man.

Never never love, can never be enough
Never be enough, just ain't good enough (oh, oh) yeah
Never never love, can never be enough now
Never be enough, oh no

So now we've got our independence, uh, uh, uh, uh
What are we gonna do with it
Building the houses, claiming back the land
Burning the bridges, cleaning up your hands
'Cause now our love bears no resemblance, uh, uh, uh, uh
To what we had before

Now our love has something for the future
Now our love will grow the seeds to sow this real revolution
This good revolution baby
Where you're not below me anymore, oh, oh

There are many interpretations to what Hucknall meant in saying “building the houses, claiming back the land” and the following lines due to his political affiliations when he was younger but that last stanza sounds like the gospel, “Now our love has something for the future… will grow the seed to sow this real revolution… where you’re not below me anymore.”

Here we find a higher level of relationships borne out of their separation that has become more promising than before. Many times we are afraid of separations, of leaving whether temporary or permanent like death because of not knowing what would happen next. The disciples of Jesus felt the same way at Christ’s Ascension when they worshipped him and doubted themselves if they could keep up to the Lord’s commission. It is here in this aspect that we find Never, Never Love is related with the gospel and our feast of the Ascension: we grow and mature in life even after separations when we continue, when we boldly step forward to forge on in life, still believing, still hoping, and most of all, still loving!

Enjoy one of Simply Red’s early hits, Never, Never Love and try reflecting on your own relationships, of how you could level up to higher or deeper love for each other.

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

The joy of leaving

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Solemnity of the Lord's Ascension-A, 21 May 2023
Acts 1:1-11 ><}}}*> Ephesians 1:17-23 ><}}}*> Matthew 28:16-20
Photo by author, sunset in the city from OLFU-QC, Hilltop Campus, January 2023.

Last Sunday we reflected that leaving is the most painful part of loving. Every separation hurts us, whether it is temporary or permanent like death. However, leaving can also be the source of our deepest joy when every departure is because of love, for love.

When we truly love, we only wish the best for our beloved. And sometimes that happens when our beloved leaves like when Jesus told his disciples at the last supper that it is better for him to leave so that the Holy Spirit would come (Jn. 16:7).

Moreover, when a loved one leaves, we are certain he/she is coming to somewhere better, someone better. That is why we have said last week that every leaving is also a coming like our coming together as a relationship no longer bounded by time and space but happening in spirit and truth.

That is the joy of leaving – it is a coming into a deeper or higher level of relationship that no longer depends in time and space.

That is the meaning of the Lord’s Ascension we celebrate today.

That is why the Ascension is not to be seen as Jesus “floating” on air going up to heaven which is not just a place but more of a relationship with God who is everywhere. Ascension is Jesus Christ’s entry into another level of intimacy and glory with the Father he shares with us his disciples as a result of his Passion, Death, and Resurrection.

The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshipped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:16-20
Photo by author, Chapel of the Ascension at the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, May 2017.

It is in this context of a relationship, an intimate one, where we can understand fully what Matthew meant when he wrote how on the Ascension of Jesus, the disciples “worshipped, but they doubted him.” How could anyone worship but at the same time doubt?

Doubt here does not mean skepticism about the person of Jesus Christ. It has been 40 days since Easter and surely, the disciples have been convinced it was the Lord. The disciples’ doubt referred to their hesitancy to make a commitment to Jesus. No problem with Jesus. Problem was with the disciples. Just like us!

Photo by author, inside the Chapel of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, 2017.

We recently celebrated our silver anniversary in the priesthood. All six of us classmates unanimously agree on the tremendous grace of still being priests after 25 years despite our many flaws. Most of all, amid our doubts and hesitancy 25 years ago if we could really be that faithful and good as priests of Jesus Christ. That was the doubt of the disciples. “Makaya ko kaya yung ipinag-utos ni Lord?” must be the question nagging them that moment.

Or, that doubt of the disciples may be likened with the doubts of a man and a woman getting married, both so afraid with the vows and commitments they would make if they could really be faithful and loving to each other, “for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.”

Remember that the Resurrection of Jesus did not instantly lead to a perfect faith for his followers who experienced it. They were still grappling with everything but have already embraced Jesus. There is no doubt with their love in Jesus. They were afraid for themselves they might fail, they might not measure up to Jesus whom they have failed on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. They were still wavering in their understanding and commitment to the Lord.

That is the good news of the Ascension – that amid all those doubts and hesitancies of his disciples, Jesus still believed in them, entrusting his mission to them, including us today. Imagine how everyday when we wake up, Jesus reminds us to “ascend” in him and with him to a higher level of relationship with the Father through one another in the exercise of our duties and responsibilities, in fulfilling our vows to God, to the Church, or to the country, to your wife, to your husband, to your office.

Like his disciples on that Ascension day, Jesus continues to entrust to us his Church his mission to the world because he believes in us even though he knows very well our imperfect faith.

Of course, it is difficult to make a complete and irrevocable commitment especially when there is the slightest doubt within us; but, most often what we do is to still make that bold step forward to grow deeper in that faith in God and with others than reduce or remove that little faith we have. This is most true as we have experienced in our relationships, that is why we celebrate anniversaries.

Photo by author, pilgrims waiting entrance into the Chapel of Ascension, May 2019.

Have you noticed how these past ten years young lovers celebrate “monthsaries” that sometimes look so cheesy and baduy? It was only recently have a realized how our young people are really serious with their relationships, with things of the heart like faith, hope and love. Their celebrations of their “monthsaries” indicate how the young generation desires long term relationships, celebrating each month of triumph over their initial doubts of keeping their love alive.

Even parents these days post pictures of the “monthsaries” of their babies to show how they have grown since birth which also indicate how the parents themselves have grown and matured despite so many odds and doubts within them in nursing, nurturing the life of another person, of their offspring.

These are all indications of our imperfect faith that gets perfected, gets deeper and stronger in the passing of each day every time we assert it. Not when we discard it. Try recalling those instances when you doubted your abilities in fulfilling a mission or assignment, in keeping a relationship and see how far you have gone now in life.

Photo by author, part of the site believed where Jesus stepped on his Ascension inside the Chapel of the Ascension, Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, May 2017.

Nobody is perfect. Everyone, including the most accomplished and successful people among us have our strengths and weaknesses. We all have our different areas of doubts we still struggle up to this time but that does not diminish the faith we possess. In fact, that is how our faith have grown deeper, our love perfected while our relationships leveled up higher than before.

This Sunday, Jesus does not only command us to fulfill his mission entrusted to us more than 2000 years ago through his eye-witnesses who made up the first community of disciples.

We who comprise this community of disciples today are likewise assured of Christ’s grace for us to grow in our faith and commitment to him.

Like in the first reading, we are reminded by the angels not to be idle nor complacent but instead to go out to fulfill Christ’s mission of proclaiming his gospel in words and in deeds.

Every Sunday we proclaim our faith in Christ’s death and resurrection until he comes again. That second coming belongs to our time. St. Paul is encouraging us in the second reading “to enlighten the eyes of our hearts” (Eph. 1:18) to realize how God had done everything and continues to do everything in Christ for us to mature in our faith, helping us in every step of our journey as disciples of Jesus. We cannot see the whole path of the journey but each step forward is enough for us to progress in our faith expressed in our loving service to one another.

This is the gist of the Pope’s Message for this Sunday’s World Communication Day, of “Speaking with the heart” which means to communicate in love and in truth, not with lies and fake news. To speak with the heart is to have a heart opened to love in strengthening our relationships not in destroying them like what is happening in the world with so much divisions and polarizations. Speaking with the heart means leaving behind our mistrust and doubts for one another in order to make that bold step toward peace by recognizing each one as a brother and sister in Christ. Amen. Have a blessed week ahead!

Everytime You Go Away (1980) by Hall & Oates

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 15 May 2023
Photo by author, Jesuit Cemetery at the Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, Quezon City, 21 March 2023.

Hello dear friends! After almost a year of absence, we are back with our featured music we find related with our Sunday Mass gospel yesterday when Jesus told his disciples to keep his commandment of love as he prepared them for his approaching Passion, Death, and Resurrection leading to his Ascension.

In our homily, we have reflected that loving entails suffering.

And the most painful suffering in loving is when our beloved leaves us, whether temporarily or permanently like in death ( or infidelity of a partner in any relationship.

The song “Everytime You Go Away” captures that pain of leaving, of being left behind by a beloved because every leaving tears him apart as she takes a piece of him.

And everytime you go away
You take a piece of me with you
And everytime you go away
You take a piece of me with you, you

Sharing with you that part of our homily yeterday:

“Leaving is the most painful part of loving because every time a beloved leaves us, he/she takes a part of us, leaving us hollowed for the rest of our lives. The pain remains, leaving a hole in us. We merely transcend and move on but that hole remains. This is where loving and living become most challenging, most beautiful as they lead us to more amazing revelations as Christ had promised: “And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him” (Jn.14:21).

When we continue to love and live despite our loved ones leaving us, we soon realize that life is actually more of a series of coming than of leaving. When children leave home to go to college, they come to new sage in their lives; when they get married and leave home, they come to form their own family too! When a beloved leaves us in death, he/she comes to eternal life.

Meanwhile, we who are left behind live on, loving amid the pains of a beloved’s leaving, risking and hoping in love. That is when new things open up for us as we slowly discover many other things that do not necessarily replace the one we love and left us but actually make them more present in their absence. That is because we sooner or later find out that we have become like the ones we love who have left us! We are slowly transformed by their physical absence because their leaving had pushed us to love more that in the process, we have become like them. Is it not that is the reason of love, that we become like the one we love, be it God or another person?”

Everytime You Go Away was composed by Daryl Hall in 1980 that was included in their studio album Voices with John Oates. It was covered by Paul Young in 1985 and became an instant hit worldwide.

We prefer the Hall & Oates original not only because we are a big fan of the dynamic duo ever since the 80’s but we find Paul Young’s version so pop and light, even cheesy. Daryl Hall’s version is still the best, so heart-felt rendition as you could feel his soul in his impressive vocals that are so powerful yet, so lovingly muy simpatico! Here is a man truly in love despite the pains and hurts by his girlfriend’s leaving and infidelity. Worth mentioning too are the great instrumentations so characteristic of every Hall & Oates music that are mostly considered now as classics.

Hear now and listen to Hall & Oates’ Everytime You Go Away… fall in love again despite the loss.

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

Loving, living, leaving

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Sixth Sunday in Easter-A, 14 May 2023
Acts 8:5-8, 14-17 ><}}}*> 1 Peter 3:15-18 ><}}}*> John 14:15-21
Photo by author, sunrise at Katmon Nature Sanctuary & Beach Resort, Infanta, Quezon, 04 March 2023.

Jesus continues with his final teachings at their last supper on that Holy Thursday evening. This Sunday we hear him giving an aspect of his most important lesson of all which is to love: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments… In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him” (Jn.14:15,19-21).

Today is the last installment of the important lessons Jesus gave during their last supper because next Sunday will be his Ascension. That is why our gospel today is so compact and so rich we could summarize into three words – loving, living, and leaving.

Photo by author, sunrise at Katmon Nature Sanctuary & Beach Resort, Infanta, Quezon, 04 March 2023.

Loving is more than a feeling that may sometimes be high, sometimes low. Or even zero. Love is a decision, a choice we make everyday which we affirm with our actions, not just with mere words nor intentions. And the truest sign that we love is when we are able to love another person more than our self.

Love is having less of “I” and “me”, and more of “others”. If we put it in an equation, when the word “live” is replaced with an “o”, it becomes love. That is, to live is to love. When we love truly like Jesus Christ, that is when we are living meaningfully.

There comes a time in our lives that material things, even fame and name, honor and titles would no longer satisfy us. There comes a time in our lives when despite everything we have we still feel empty inside because no one is an island. No one lives by himself nor for himself alone. We live for others. We can never find our life’s meaning simply in ourselves. All our careers, passion, and dedication are propelled by our finding meaning in others that is why we serve, we sacrifice, we share and give ourselves to others.

It is difficult but that is the way it is with love. Love is always outward bound in movement, never inward. It is never private but always expressed with others. That is why Thomas Merton wrote that “Love is not only a special way of being alive, it is the perfection of life. He who loves is more alive and more real than he was when he did not love.”

The other Sunday we have reflected that when we love, there is the movement of getting nearer with the one we love which leads to oneness and unity so that his/her joy becomes your joy, his/her pain becomes your pain too. Hence, true love always entails suffering especially when more than being near, we become obedient to show and prove how far can our love go for our beloved. (See

That is why Jesus asked his disciples including us today to obey his commandments which is all about loving God through others.

Most of all, inasmuch as loving leads to living, deeper loving is found in every leaving. If we truly love Jesus, we must be willing to suffer too like him. And always, a greater part of that suffering in every loving and living is in leaving.

Photo by author, sunrise at Katmon Nature Sanctuary & Beach Resort, Infanta, Quezon, 04 March 2023.

Love entails suffering. Like life. From the very start we all came into this world in pain and suffering – kicking and crying from our mother’s womb to be alive. That is why it is proper the world has designated every third Sunday of May as mothers’ day because they know very well that love entails suffering. And the greatest suffering we go through in life, in love is leaving or separation.

In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live.

Simple words yet so mysterious. Literally speaking, Jesus was telling his disciples about his coming Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension. He is leaving them soon physically yet would remain with them, living with them so they would live fully. Leaving may be painful but it is also a prelude to a deeper relationship. As they say, absence makes the heart fonder.

Leaving is the most painful part of loving because every time a beloved leaves us, he/she takes a part of us, leaving us hollowed for the rest of our lives. The pain remains, leaving a hole in us. We merely transcend and move on but that hole remains. This is where loving and living become most challenging, most beautiful as they lead us to more amazing revelations as Christ had promised: “And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him” (Jn.14:21).

When we continue to love and live despite our loved ones leaving us, we soon realize that life is actually more of a series of coming than of leaving. When children leave home to go to college, they come to new sage in their lives; when they get married and leave home, they come to form their own family too! When a beloved leaves us in death, he/she comes to eternal life.

Meanwhile, we who are left behind live on, loving amid the pains of a beloved’s leaving, risking and hoping in love. That is when new things open up for us as we slowly discover many other things that do not necessarily replace the one we love and left us but actually make them more present in their absence. That is because we sooner or later find out that we have become like the ones we love who have left us! We are slowly transformed by their physical absence because their leaving had pushed us to love more that in the process, we have become like them. Is it not that is the reason of love, that we become like the one we love, be it God or another person?

Lately as I age, every morning as I looked at the mirror, the more I see my beloved late dad. Old relatives. especially his siblings and cousins always tell me whenever we would meet that I am a carbon-copy of my late dad.

That is how the gospel spread as we heard in the first reading: after the Pentecost, the disciples went on to love and live as Jesus had taught them. Many of them were like us who have never seen Jesus physically yet have kept on loving and living in him, being transformed somehow like him that caused many others to be added and kept in the fold of the Church.

Surely one of them who have mastered this art and grace of loving and living amid the many leaving are the mothers who made us experienced being touched and loved by God.

May we heed St. Peter’s call in the second reading to “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope” (1Pt.3:15) making the Lord really present among us in little acts of kindness and goodness in this world filled with so many sins and evil that many wonder where God is. Our little steps of loving and living are like little candles in the dark; we may not see the whole path ahead but when we look back, we find we have advanced greatly, almost nearing our destination. Amen. Have a blessed week ahead!

Jesus our home, our tahanan

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Fifth Sunday in Easter-A, 07 May 2023
Acts 6:1-7 ><}}}*> 1 Peter 2:4-9 ><}}}*> John 14:1-12
Photo by Ms. April Oliveros, March 2023, Mt. Pulag.

From being our “gate” as the Good Shepherd last week, Jesus today introduces himself as our “home”, our dwelling by being “the way and the truth and the life”. Our scene is still at the last supper with Jesus teaching his disciples including us today with some of his important lessons expressed in words so touching and full of mysteries.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.”

John 14:1-3

Though the apostles were still at a loss at the meaning of the words spoken by Jesus that night, they knew and felt something so bad would happen, that life for them would no longer be the same as before that troubled them so deeply inside.

To be troubled here means more than the feeling but experience itself of confrontation with the power of evil and death, when we get that existential feeling of our mortality, when we feel so helpless in a situation, asking “paano na ito?” or “paano na kaya ako/kami?” Like the apostles that night, we too have been into similar situations of being troubled deep inside when we realize in no uncertain terms something so sweeping is happening, altering our lives “forever” like when we or a loved one is diagnosed with cancer, gets a stroke, or has to undergo a major surgery of the heart or brain, and losing a loved one.

Jesus is telling us this Sunday like on that holy Thursday evening to stand firm because these evil and death will just have momentary control over us, a passing over that is why we have to summon all our strength and courage, confidence and perseverance in him as he himself had already triumphed with his own passion, death, and resurrection.

And that is the good news! Jesus had won over all our worst fears like death. It is the gift of Easter, of the Lord’s Resurrection right there inside our hearts, already in our very core we only need to recover by abiding in him always. But before going any further, let us first confront one important lesson this gospel scene offers us: When are we really most troubled in life?

Photo by Ms. April Oliveros, March 2023, Mt. Pulag.

When we examine the many troubles we have been through, we find that more than the difficult and harsh situations we have faced were the many troubles within our very selves. What really trouble us most are not those outside us but within us. These are those little guilt feelings we used to take for granted, little details in life we used to ignore and dismiss as nothing for so long that suddenly now under our very nose as so serious, so important after all.

The most troubling experience of all is when we realize how we have wasted so many opportunities to love and be kind, to be more forgiving and understanding, when we know we have done something wrong and have done nothing to rectify it. We are troubled when outside conditions throw us into situations that make us confront not only death and evil but our very selves that suddenly, we feel unprepared and inadequate especially sickness and death that both surely come. Always.

And here is the big difference: Jesus was not surprised, was never caught unaware of his pasch because all his life he has been one in the Father and one with us. See in all four gospel accounts how Jesus had total control over everything that is why he was so prepared for his passion, death and resurrection because he never turned away from the Father and anyone in need of healing, of forgiveness, of comfort, of his presence. Jesus never turned away from his very essence, his mission which is oneness in the Father and oneness with us his beloved.

Jesus was so at home, so to speak, with himself and with the Father that he never fell into sin despite the devil’s temptations nor the scheming traps and plots of his enemy. This is what Jesus is telling us of preparing a room for us in the Father’s house, that we be at home with our true selves in the Father in him.

We are most troubled when we are not home, literally and figuratively speaking. And sadly, many times as we have experienced in this pandemic that even in our own homes we could not be at home because we are detached and away from our families and loved ones.

“In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places… Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.”

John 14: 2, 10
Photo by author, Katmon Nature Sanctuary & Beach Resort, 04 March 2023.

The word “dwelling” is a favorite of John especially in this part of his gospel. For John, dwelling is more than a home but unity of Jesus and the Father as well as unity of Jesus and his disciples including us. In his prologue he spoke of Jesus as the Word who became flesh and “dwelled” among us. So beautiful an imagery of the Son of God living among us, being one with us and in us, not just physically present but through and through like going through our human experiences except sin.

To dwell is not just to reside but most of all to abide in Christ, to be united, to be one in him which he would say in the following chapter when he identified himself as the true vine and we are his branches.

Therefore, to dwell is to be one, to commune in the Lord. That is why heaven is not just a place but a condition, a being of eternal union with God where Jesus assures us of a dwelling. And because Jesus is our dwelling, our home, that is why he is also our way because he alone is the truth and the life.

Now, if anyone lives in Jesus, he/she lives in the Father too as he clarified with Philip who asked him to show them the Father and that would be enough.

How lovely that Jesus taught these lessons of unity and oneness in him and the Father and with one another in the context of the table, of a meal.

Here we find his last supper was not just a prelude to his coming Passion, Death and Resurrection but to his Ascension into heaven too when Jesus was already speaking of his entrance into a new and higher level of relating with the Father and with us his disciples, his Body as the Church.

This “dwelling” continues in our Eucharistic celebrations especially the Sunday Mass and even right in our own homes too during meal time. And there lies the challenge of our gospel this Sunday.

The first major problem in the early church came in the context of the table when “the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution” (Acts 6:1) of food. The Hellenists were the Jews who have lived outside Israel that when they returned home, they have become so alienated because of language barriers even of outlook in life. The Apostles resolved the issue by ordaining the first seven deacons.

It is interesting that the word “deacon” came from the Greek word diakonia which means “to serve at the table”. In Latin, diakonia is ministerium which is service in the table too. How lovely that to serve is actually rooted in the table found in homes!

We say home is where the heart is. In that case, God is our home. Jesus is our dwelling. We are troubled when we are not at home with God in Jesus and with our own families. Any problem at home takes priority in us too because family is important to us. How sad that some people could reject their own family without realizing that no matter what happens to us, it is still our family who would save us and stand by us in the end. This is what St. Peter’s was saying in the second reading of Jesus being the stone rejected to become the cornerstone when often we dismiss our family but in the end remain with us when our chips are down.

This Sunday, let us go home in Jesus our true home found in our own families. Home in Filipino is tahanan from the root word tahan which means to stop crying. To dwell in Filipino is manahan, from the same root too. We stop crying in our home because that is where we find security and comfort, love and acceptance, most of all, life and direction. Amen. Have a blessed week ahead!

Jesus the Good Shepherd, our Gate

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Fourth Sunday in Easter-A, Good Shepherd Sunday, 30 April 2023
Acts 2:14, 36-41 ><}}}*> 1 Peter 2:20-25 ><}}}*> John 10:1-10
Photo by author, Baguio City, January 2018.

Beginning this Sunday, all our gospel readings will be about the major teachings of Jesus before his arrest that led to his Passion, Death, and Resurrection. Like the Apostles, we are reviewing the Lord’s final teachings in the light of Easter to fully appreciates its meaning and significance.

First of these teachings is the Lord’s declaration, “I am the good shepherd” (Jn. 10:11).

This is very significant in the fourth gospel where we find Jesus using the phrase I AM. It was not just reminiscent of God identifying himself as I AM WHO AM to Moses in the Old Testament but most of all, for Jesus it is his self-identification as the Christ, the Son of God whom his enemies refused to accept nor recognize.

More interesting in our gospel this Sunday is how the Good Shepherd discourse of Jesus actually began with his claim as being the gate or door through whom the sheep enter and pass through.

Jesus said: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go our and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

John 10:1-2, 9-10
Photo from

Jesus spoke twice “I am the gate” in vv. 7 and 9 to emphasize and clarify that flock belongs to him, never to us. That is why Jesus is the gate, the only way through whom the sheep pass through. Hence, the true mark of a good shepherd is one who passes in Jesus as the gate, the owner of the sheep. Whoever does not pass through Jesus is a thief, a robber. A fake shepherd.

Nobody else could ever replace Jesus as Shepherd of the flock but he wants us all to be shepherds like him, passing in him our gate. This we can understand when we fast-forward to his third and final appearance to the seven disciples at Lake Tiberias after Easter. After their breakfast at the lakeshore, Jesus asked Simon Peter thrice, “Do you love me?” In every question, Peter professed his love for Jesus who asked him only for one thing, “feed my sheep” until finally adding at the end, “follow me” (cf. Jn. 21: 15-19). His call to follow him came after describing to Peter how he would suffer and die for him.

To pass in Jesus as the door to the sheep is first of all to love Jesus.

We all have experienced that loving calls for nearness which Nat King Cole described perfectly in his hit “The Nearness of You”. Whenever we love somebody, we want to be always near our beloved. The same desire we must possess if we truly love God. Furthermore, being near demands that we share feelings with the one we love – his/her joy is our joy, his/her pain is our pain. No wonder when we love somebody, we are willing to suffer. That is the first true mark of our love for Christ – we are willing to suffer for him and with him on the Cross!

That is the first meaning of Jesus is the gate of the sheep as the Good Shepherd: his Cross is our path to fulfillment, to true joy in this life and to eternal life eventually. We can only have a true relationship with him through others when we are willing to share in others’ sufferings like Jesus. Because of his Passion, Death and Resurrection, Jesus has turned suffering into a grace itself and a source of grace too because to suffer with somebody else is love. Anyone who avoids suffering does not love at all and can never be a shepherd like Jesus.

The second meaning of Jesus is the gate flows from that nearness with him – it is not enough to be close but most of all, to be obedient, submitting our total self to him in the same manner he obeyed the Father as expressed in St. Paul’s beautiful hymn found in Philippians 2:6-11.

How close can we come to Jesus is the sum of our obedience to him. Or to anyone we love. It is only in being obedient can we truly follow Christ and those we love. When we love, we are not presented right away with everything that could happen in our relationship and journey in life. Love is a wholesale, a package deal always without ifs nor buts. Nobody knows to where our lives would lead to as most couples could attest. That is why, more than being close and near to Jesus or our beloved, we need to be obedient too because that is the mark of true love when we humbly submit ourselves to the one we love.

Obedience calls us to go down to our lowest level because that is the highest mark of our love too. Recall how Jesus at their last supper “loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end” (Jn.13:1) by washing their feet. See how the Son of God went so low, lower than what slaves were not supposed to do, that is, wash feet of others. Jesus showed this in no uncertain terms the following Good Friday by dying on the Cross, of literally going under earth at his burial that led to his highest glory, his Resurrection.

That is why Jesus is the Good Shepherd by first being the gate because in him, we have shared in his pasch to share in his glory. As the gate or door, we enter in Jesus by sharing in his paschal mystery of loving, suffering, and following.

Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, 2020.

Today we are reminded that our being the flock of Jesus, a sheep of the Good Shepherd is not our choice but a gift of God himself.

Our coming together in the church, in our celebrations and sacraments is not a mere social function out of our own volition. It is a gift and a call from Jesus. That is why it is very important to celebrate the Sunday Mass.

It is Christ himself we refuse and turn down when we skip Sunday Masses because when we love somebody, we show it by being present, being near, ready to suffer and obey to show our love.

Jesus is not asking us too much except an hour each week to immerse ourselves in his life giving words, to find him with others we meet and live with.

Peter said something still very true especially in our time, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation” (Acts 2:41) where God is totally disregarded as if we can live without him, without loving like him. Let us return to Jesus, pass in him our door to life and fulfillment by loving, suffering and following him our Good Shepherd. Amen. Have a blessed week and month of May ahead!

The companionship of Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Third Sunday in Easter, 22 April 2023
Acts 2:14, 22-33 ><)))*> 1 Peter 1:17-21 ><)))*> Luke 24:13-35
The Road to Emmaus” painting by American Daniel Bonnell from

As I have been telling you, the beauty and joy of Easter is in its “nothingness” like the empty tomb of Jesus and its “darkness” found in the setting of the Lord’s appearances. We have found these in the past two Sundays when Jesus appeared to the Twelve “on the evening of the third day” and “eight days later” amid locked doors.

This Sunday is very different. It is the story of two disciples going back home to Emmaus whom St. Luke did not identify except the one named Cleopas. There is still the setting of darkness as it happened at sunset to early evening while news of the empty tomb was still trending amid reports Jesus had appeared to some women but still nowhere to be seen. But this time, darkness is more evident inside the two disciples walking away from Jerusalem – sad, disappointed and frustrated, forlorn.

Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast.

Luke 24:13-17

Did you feel the sadness of the two disciples? Today, Jesus assures us of his companionship especially when we are in a “perfect storm”, when everyone and everything are against us, when it is all darkness within us, when we are at our lowest low awaiting for the next worst thing that could happen to us.

It is during these times we think of quitting, of just going home, going back where we have been before, abandoning everything because it seems better to start all over again as everyone/everything have been lost. There need not be tragedies in life for these to happen. Many times it could be when we are in the midst of grave sins or even with our most common sins repeated over and over like venial sins. We feel discouraged, even depressed we could not see any sense at all in going back to God in prayers and the sacraments especially the Holy Eucharist. Those moments we tell ourselves and everyone, “para que?” or “para saan pa?” that we would go back to God, our Jerusalem.

Like the two disciples, we have become so nega that as we walk to the opposite direction in life, we fail to notice Jesus accompanying us, making sakay (ride on) with our trip, just listening to our woes and complaints, stories of sins and failures, pains and hurts, disappointments and frustrations.

Here we find Jesus our only true friend who allows us to be our truest self, even our worst self. He walks with us not only in darkness but in the opposite direction, waiting for the prefect timing to gently bring us back to the right path to Jerusalem. And sometimes, he does it with a splash of humor like when he told the two disciples “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that prophets spoke!” (Jn. 21:25).

Many times, we fail to bring back to God and to the right path our lost family and friends because we lack the compassion and gentleness of Jesus. Very often, fail because we react than act like Jesus who’s companionship and compassion opened the hearts of the two disciples: it was only after they have unloaded their burdens when Jesus loaded them or filled them with his words and eventually with his very presence at the breaking of the bread.

“Supper at Emmaus” by renowned painter Caravaggio from See the emotion depicted by Caravaggio with his trademark of masterful play of light and shadows. At the center is the Risen Lord blessing the bread that caught the two disciples who are seated in disbelief, one outstretching his arms and the others pushing back in his chair. The third character in the painting is the innkeeper unaware of the significance of the gesture of Jesus. It was at this instance that the two disciples recognized Christ as the traveling man with them to Emmaus.

Human transformation happens only in Christ, with Christ and through Christ in the Eucharist where we also experience a reversal of roles in our relationships with God and with others. Notice how the attitudes and perspectives of the two disciples changed when Jesus broke the bread. Remember it was the two disciples who invited Jesus inside to stay because it was getting dark, hosting a meal for him as their guest but that changed at the table: the two disciples ended up as guests of Jesus who merely joined them in their journey!

And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

John 21:30-35

One thing I have found in life these past 25 years as a priest is that we can only realize and understand, even see the clearer and bigger picture of our life later after so many years of series of trials and tribulations, joys and celebrations. And often, what we see is the Lord, the companionship of Jesus Christ even in those times we were in sin and away from him. St. Peter said it so well in the second reading that we are in a “sojourning, realizing that you were ransomed from your futile conduct with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Pt. 1:17, 18, 19).

Photo by author, Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, QC, 20 March 2023.

Many times in life we feel as if we are really the captain of our ship, we direct everything, we control everything but it is actually Jesus. There is always Christ our companion in this journey of life, our true host and we are his guests who shared himself with us on the Cross so we can share in the mystery and victory of his Resurrection. In being one with us in our brokenness, Jesus immediately vanishes the moment we recognize him so we may keep on following him by changing course and direction in our lives.

In this time when people have lost interests in the Church, the Sacraments especially the Holy Eucharist, and the Scriptures along with prayers and devotions, we who are inside the church especially us priests are reminded of this important truth by Jesus, that he is the one in command, he is our host. We only share him in our co-journeyers in life, he is the one who opens our eyes, the one who effects transformation and changes within us. Not us.

Are we one with Jesus, especially in the Eucharist we manipulate so much with our many rituals and acts not necessary? See that the more we manipulate the Mass and other devotions, the more Christ disappears and persons especially priests become the focus.

In Emmaus, Jesus walked with the two disciples going the opposite direction to lead them back and never the other way around as it happens when we priests and volunteers are the ones who mislead people away from Jesus with our lack of warmth and charity for people like the unchurched.

Jesus is truest in the Eucharist when we touch people literally with our hands, when we get our hands dirty in taking care of the sick and needy, when we are truly present with them especially in their griefs, emptiness and sinfulness. That is when they experience, not just know that Jesus is real and true in the Eucharist when they first experience him in us his disciples, in our companionship and compassion with those suffering.

Nobody is perfect. As St. Peter had noted in the first reading, we are all responsible for the suffering and death of Jesus with our sinfulness; however, God’s love for us is far greater than our sins so that in our darkness and emptiness, we are able to see and have fulfillment in Jesus his Son. Amen. Have a blessed week!

Photo by author, Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, QC, 20 March 2023.

Ultimate joy of Easter: the Divine Mercy of God

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Divine Mercy Sunday in the Octave of Easter, 16 April 2023
Acts 2:42-47 ><}}}*> 1 Peter 1:3-9 ><}}}*> John 20:19-31
Photo by author, 08 February 2023.

The ultimate joy of Easter is God’s Divine Mercy, of how his Son Jesus Christ became human like us in everything except sin, searching and finding us to bring us back to the Father by dying on the Cross. Now he is risen, Jesus overflows us with his Divine Mercy right here, right now.

Unlike other religions, Christianity is so unique because it is about God looking for us humans by becoming like us so that we may become like him in Jesus Christ. In Christ, we have come to know and experience God as a person, relating with us in all tenderness and love because he himself had gone through all our pains and hurts, betrayals and disappointments, even death! Read the Bible and you shall see from the Old Testament to the New Testament, we find series of stories of God searching for man, beginning with Adam and Eve who hid after eating the forbidden fruit reaching its highest point in the coming of Jesus Christ who on this second Sunday in Easter came looking again for us represented by the disciples who have gone hiding in a locked room for fears of their leaders who have threatened to arrest them following reports of the empty tomb.

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

John 20:19-20, 24-28
“The Incredulity of St. Thomas”, painting by Caravaggio (1601-02) from

“The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.” But we wonder, what kind of rejoicing was it? It must have been more than the rejoicing of passing the Bar or any board exam. There was something else in their rejoicing if we try to imagine being there on that Sunday evening of the third day.

What do I mean? Have you ever felt being the one actually lost when some friends or loved ones as well valuable things have gone “missing”?

That feeling of being the one actually lost because the “missing” persons and things have never left us entirely but just there waiting to be found and rediscovered like when things get hidden underneath the car seat or misplaced somewhere else and forgotten. Once “found” again, there is that deep sense of joy coupled with a sense of wonder and astonishment because the truth is, it was not us who have found the lost person or thing but they were the ones who actually found us too! Here is a case more profound than the “eureka” experience for we were the ones who were lost and finally found again.

And that’s the rejoicing of the disciples in seeing Jesus again that evening of Easter Sunday! They were the ones who were actually lost and found by Jesus!

Just like us today in many instances in life when we have been running away from God, locking ourselves inside our very selves because of fears, insecurities and false securities, pride and sinfulness, as well as doubts and incredulity, unbelief and disbelief in God and in one another. Like Thomas, many times we have been so unreasonable in our demands for proofs of God and everything, insisting that “to see is to believe” without realizing that it is when we believe that we actually see.

Recall during the ministry of Jesus in Galilee how he kept telling his disciples to search for the “lost sheep” of Israel first and later everyone who have sinned and been away from God. That was Divine Mercy in action. Consider these other concrete expressions of Divine Mercy by Jesus:

At the Last Supper, John told us that Jesus “loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end” (Jn.13:1); this he proved by washing the feet of the Twelve! He further proved his love the following Good Friday by dying on the Cross and immediately at Easter, to prove his love again, he looked for Mary Magdalene to break the news of his resurrection to his disciples.

Jesus is the one who finds us unaware of his presence like on this second Sunday after Easter when he appeared to Thomas who was so shocked and surprised that all he could tell Jesus was “my Lord and my God”! I doubt if ever had the chance to examine the Lord’s wounds at all!

Next Sunday we shall hear in the gospel how it is always Jesus who searches and finds us when we least expect him like in the opposite directions in life when he walked with the two disciples to Emmaus Easter evening, only to be recognized by them at his breaking of bread.

Last Friday we have heard in the gospel how Jesus again for the third time appeared after finding them in a fruitless night of fishing in Lake Tiberias by telling them to cast their net to the right side of the boat; their nets almost teared with the bountiful catch of fish!

“The Road to Emmaus” painting by American Daniel Bonnell from

In life, it is always Jesus who searches and finds us. We are the ones always getting lost. Many times in life we cry, asking where is God but the fact is he never leaves us, he is always with us, coming to us everyday, especially on Sundays in the Holy Mass where Jesus leads our celebrations.

On Tuesday, I will celebrate my 25th year of ordination to the priesthood. How I got ordained was a long story of getting lost for nine years when I was sent out of the high school seminary after graduation in 1982. I went to college in UST and finished AB Journalism in 1986, working as a writer then a reporter for GMA Channel 7 News until 1991 when I gave my vocation a second chance by entering the seminary again.

All those years from 1982 to 1991, I felt lost and empty despite a promising career with good pay and all the perks that went with it and a sense of security but, deep inside me was a big hole of being incomplete. That was how I went back to God in prayers, then slowly to the Mass and Confessions, and the more I moved closer to God, the more I felt empty yet eager for him that I finally consulted some priests. After a few years of discernment, I decided to leave everything and started anew in God in the seminary in 1991.

It was not easy going back to the seminary but God had such wonderful ways of finding me, even at the nick of time, to save my vocation. My turning point happened during our Ignatian retreat of 30 days when I finally committed myself to God as I felt his love and presence so irresistible, even himself so true. In 1998 with six other classmates, we were ordained priests at the Malolos Cathedral. Again, it was not an easy 25 years with so many times I often felt lost and empty mostly by my own making when I sin. But like before, Jesus in his Divine Mercy has always been the One searching and finding me even in the opposite directions when I hid amid rejections, failures, fears, sadness and weeping.

Like the early Christians in our first reading, I have found God most present in those 25 years as a priest and as an individual in the communal celebrations of the Holy Eucharist, aka, the breaking of bread as I realized too that priestly celibacy is lived in a community not only of priests but with you the laity.

With the responsorial psalm this Sunday as our prayer, “let us give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love is everlasting” because as Peter tells us in the second reading, God our Father “in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pt. 1:3). Let us rejoice in him who finds us always when we are lost. Amen. Have a blessed week ahead. Say a prayer for me this Tuesday. Thank you.

Prayer I have composed after our 30-day retreat in 1995 that until now, I still pray because it is so personally true. That is Divine Mercy for me. And hope with you too!