“Here, There And Everywhere” by the Beatles (1966)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 25 July 2021
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It is a very “bed weather” these days here in Metro Manila, so perfect for family gatherings, sharing stories and of course, music from the yesteryears like the Beatles‘ 1966 classic romantic love song composed by Paul McCartney, Here, There and Everywhere.

To lead a better life, I need my love to be here
Here, making each day of the year
Changing my life with a wave of her hand
Nobody can deny that there's something there

There, running my hands through her hair
Both of us thinking how good it can be
Someone is speaking
But she doesn't know he's there

As I have mentioned in my homily this Sunday, this classic love song had inspired me to dwell on the demonstrative pronouns used in our gospel today when Jesus conversed with his apostles Philip and Andrew before feeding the more than 5000 people from just five loaves of bread and two pieces of fish (https://lordmychef.com/2021/07/24/when-where-and-there-are-persons-not-locations/).

McCartney admits that it is one of his favorite compositions of all time which happens to be his only song truly appreciated by his fellow composer John Lennon.

The song jibes so well with our gospel this Sunday wherein the here, there and everywhere do not merely refer to locales and locations; there are times when these demonstrative pronouns point to particular persons like in this song, McCartney’s girlfriend at that time, Ms. Jane Ashley.

Jesus remains true as our here, there and everywhere in our lives, in everything that we need. When Jesus asked Philip where can they buy food for the crowd, his where was not actually a place like a store or bakeshop but himself. It was as if telling Philip and everyone of us today, where can you find solace and peace in this time of pandemic? Where else but in Christ alone!

Every where is where God is, where Jesus is!

I want her everywhere
And if she's beside me
I know I need never care
But to love her is to need her everywhere

Knowing that love is to share
Each one believing that love never dies
Watching their eyes
And hoping I'm always there

Going back to McCartney, his relationship with Ashley did not bloom after she caught him cheating on her, in fact while in bed with another woman as the story went. He would get involved with other women that ended in divorce but probably found his here, there and everywhere most with his third wife Linda with whom he remained married until her death in 1998 due to cancer.

In today’s gospel, we find the downside of demonstrative pronouns replacing persons, when we see and value more our very selves and things than others like Andrew who never bothered to ask the name of the boy who gave his five loaves and bread and two fish that Jesus took to do his miracle.

This time of calamity, may we find in Jesus our every where as our source of strength to guide others there to safety. Have a blessed week ahead!

*We have no desire of infringing the copyrights of this song and video except to share its beautiful message and hope brighten the day of everyone.

“Lost Stars” by Keira Knightley (2013)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 18 July 2021
Photo by Atty. Polaris Grace Rivas Beron, Mt. Sinai in Egyot, May 2019.

This is the second time we are featuring this lovely song from the 2013 movie Begin Again starring Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo and Maroon 5’s Adam Levine who also sang the same song in the said movie. But, like most people, we have always preferred Knightley’s version.

In Begin Again, Knightley is dumped for another woman her boyfriend Levine had met after signing up with a record studio in LA.

Knightley was naturally left broken-hearted and lost in New York City where she was discovered by a struggling recording executive (Ruffalo) in a local bar singing one of her songs.

It is a beautiful love story with excellent selection of songs but Lost Stars is the movie theme composed by Gregg Alexander with Danielle Brisebois that earned an Academy Award nomination for best original song that year.

It captures so well the pains and fears of being lost with no one to turn to which is part of the theme of our Sunday Mass readings when Jesus was moved with pity upon seeing the crowd who have followed them for they were “like sheep without a shepherd” (https://lordmychef.com/2021/07/17/being-lost-getting-lost-in-christ/).

But, being lost is not totally a loss at all like what Knightley – and Ruffalo – have both realized in the movie for their losses led them to gaining back everything they have initially lost like family and career, most of all, one’s self.

Cupid's demanding back his arrow
So let's get drunk on our tears
And, God, tell us the reason
Youth is wasted on the young
It's hunting season and the lambs are on the run

Searching for meaning
But are we all lost stars
Trying to light up the dark?
Who are we?
Just a speck of dust within the galaxy
Woe is me

Jesus came to the world to search for those lost so they may find life again. And the beautiful part of it is that even if we are lost, we are like lost stars the still shine brightly leading others unto life and meaning.

This Sunday, get lost in Jesus Christ to find your self and others. Have a blessed week ahead!

*We have no intentions of infringing into the copyrights of this music and video but simply to share its beautiful message. Thank you.

“Biggest Part of Me” by Ambrosia (1980)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 04 July 2021
Photo by author, Pater Noster Church, Jerusalem, Israel, 2019.

Love presupposes faith. It is not enough to know the person in order to love him/her; you have to believe the person too. To love and to believe both call us to be one with the other, to become the part of the other person, of the beloved.

This is most especially true with Jesus who was amazed at the lack of faith in him of his folks at Nazareth though they knew him as the “carpenter son of Mary” (https://lordmychef.com/2021/07/03/surprising-jesus/).

That is why we have chosen for this lazy Sunday the 1980 hit by Ambrosia composed by their lead singer David Pack, Biggest Part of Me. It is a love song sometimes sung in weddings because of its expression of love and faith with the beloved, of what is essentially the life of married couples of being a part of each other.

Faith is essential in any relationship most especially when failures and rejections happen, when things we hope for do not push through like when Jesus was rejected in Nazareth.

In the seventh stanza of Biggest Part of Me we find the importance of faith, of believing essential in love and any relationship.

More than an easy feelin'
She brings joy to me
How can I tell you what it means to me
Flow like a lazy river
For an eternity
I finally found someone who believes in me
And I'll never leave
(Now I've found all I need)

Need your lovin' here beside me
(To guide me) Keep it close enough to guide me
(Inside of me) From the fears that are inside of me
You're the biggest part of me

Got a feelin' that forever
(Together) We are gonna stay together
(Forever) From now until forever
You're the biggest part or me
You're the life that breathes in me
You're the biggest part of me

You changed my life
You made it bright
And I'll be a savior to you
For the rest of my life
Oh, oh the biggest part of me

There are only two instances in the bible that Jesus was amazed: first in Nazareth which is the gospel we heard today when he was amazed for their lack of faith in him. The second was in Capernaum when he was amazed with the faith of a Roman centurion who asked him to heal his servant remotely, saying, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; but only say the word and my servant shall be healed” (Mt. 8:8). Jesus praised the pagan officer for his great faith.

It is when we believe, when we have faith in Jesus and with our beloved that great things begin to happen in our lives because that is when we make them the “biggest part” of our selves.

Have a blessed Sunday!

*We have no intentions of infringing into the copy rights of this song and video except to share its beauty and joy with others.

From Youtube.com.

“Through the Fire” by Chaka Khan (1984)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 27 June 2021
Photo by Dr. Mai B. Dela Peña, M.D. at Athens, Greece 2016.

Chaka Khan’s Through the Fire is one of the songs that have intrigued me for some time not because I love it. In fact, it is one of my least liked song of all time. I have never liked it – until now – though I have always admired Ms. Khan as a musician, especially as a percussionist (I Feel for You is my favorite).

My interest for this song began about 12 years ago when I asked help from a millennial to make me a playlist in my new laptop wherein she included more than one – maybe three copies of Through the Fire.

I felt the young lady was making fun of me but I never had the chance to ask her why she was so fond of the song.

Years later as I interacted with young people in schools and parishes, I found that so many of them who belonged to a different generation in fact love this song very much! It was only this week when I finally found the answer: it is a most unique romantic song about a true love being found by a woman who was so willing to put it to test, hence, through the fire.

Love is like faith that has to be tested, that must be passed “through the fire” to make it more firm and deeply rooted in Christ. And like love, faith dares us to let go of everything for it to truly grow and mature.

Through the fire
To the limit, to the wall
For a chance to be with you
I'd gladly risk it all
Through the fire
Through whatever, come what may
For a chance at loving you
I'd take it all the way
Right down to the wire
Even through the fire

Composed by David Foster in 1984, he claimed in an interview that Through the Fire is the only song he had written with just one particular singer in his mind, Ms. Chaka Khan. And it proved to be so good as it earned numerous awards aside from staying on top of the charts for several weeks.

The melody is very comely, so perfect with Ms. Khan’s sweet voice that is unusually formal and laid-back in this particular piece.

In our gospel today where Jesus brought back to life the dead daughter of the synagogue official name Jairus, we are challenged to examine our faith in God especially in these trying times of sickness and death due to the pandemic (https://lordmychef.com/2021/06/26/arise-be-whole-again-in-christ/).

How far are we willing to go, to risk all through the fire in following Jesus in the midst of the many trials and sufferings COVID-19 had brought to us not only with our health and well-being but also with our means of livelihood.

May we keep and deepen our faith in Christ as we go through the fire for it is only in him can we arise and be whole again in the face of many sickness and deaths of this time.

Have a blessed week ahead!

*We have no intentions of infringing the copyrights of this beautiful music except to share its pure joy and listening pleasures.

From YouTube.

“Don’t You Worry ’bout a Thing” by Stevie Wonder (1973)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 13 June 2021
Photo by Roberto Nickson on Pexels.com

St. Paul reminds us on this lovely Sunday that we walk in faith, not by sight while Jesus tells us in his parables that God is always present with us, silently working in us, with us and for us in the same manner he makes a seed grow into a huge tree or a crop with abundant harvests without us knowing how it all happened (https://lordmychef.com/2021/06/12/the-silent-works-of-god/).

This Sunday’s readings perfectly match Stevie Wonder’s 1973 hit Don’t You Worry ’bout a Thing that is bursting in happiness with its lyrics telling us to focus on positive things, taking things in stride, not to worry too much and just chill.

Everybody's got a thing
But some don't know how to handle it
Always reachin' out in vain
Accepting the things not worth having but

Don't you worry 'bout a thing
Don't you worry 'bout a thing, mama
Cause I'll be standing on the side
When you check it out

They say your style of life's a drag
And that you must go other places
But just don't you feel too bad
When you get fooled by smiling faces but

It is exactly what Jesus is telling us today in his parables: the kingdom of God begins with little things like the seeds that grow without us doing much because it is God who takes care of everything and so….

Don't you worry 'bout a thing
Don't you worry 'bout a thing, mama
Cause I'll be standing on the side
When you check it out...Yeah
When you get it off...your trip
Don't you worry 'bout a thing...Yeah
Don't you worry 'bout a thing...Yeah

Making this music so perfect after you have come from the Church’s Sunday celebrations is its joyful music so infectious in Latin beat with a lot of piano and percussions waxed perfectly by Stevie’s superb voice and usual warmth felt even if you do not see him.

The song reminds us too of AGT’s recent golden buzzer winner Nighbirde, a cancer patient said on that episode that “You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.”

So true! Celebrate life in Jesus always and don’t you worry ’bout a thing as he takes care of everything!

*We have no intentions of infringing into this material’s copyrights; we wholly recognize its rightful owners. We just want to spread joy and fun…. thank you!

“Got to be There” by Michael Jackson (1971)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 06 June 2021

It’s a lovely and warm Sunday perfect for reminiscing our pre-COVID-19 days when we could all be together with family and friends without fears of getting sick, sharing meals and conversations as we unwind and prepare for another week of work and school.

It is what we miss most in this more than a year of pandemic and quarantine – the gift of presence of everyone.

It is also the essence of our Sunday celebration of the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus when our Lord gave a new meaning to our most common human activity of sharing meal to become his everlasting sign of presence among us (https://lordmychef.com/2021/06/05/god-simply-present-always-here/).

That is why we have chosen Michael Jackson’s debut solo single released in 1971 called Got to Be There which also became the title of his first solo album released the following year.

Though it is a characteristically Jackson 5 song, Got to Be There is so irresistibly a Michael Jackson masterpiece with his artful grace of a voice so moving and touching that was still full of innocence when recorded in 1971-72.

It is a classic MJ song when listened to in this time of the pandemic that makes you miss him and our era of good old days.

Imagine it is Jesus Christ telling us how he would always be here present with us to face every challenge in life, to fill us with his love, and share his life with us. That is the meaning of God becoming human, of being present Body and Blood among us so we can also be present with others with our very own presence.

Got to be there, got to be there (got to be there)
In the morning
When she says hello to the world
Got to be there, got to be there (got to be there)
Bring her good times
And show her that she’s my girl
Oh, what a feeling there’ll be
The moment I know she loves me
‘Cause when I look in her eyes I realize
I need her sharing the world beside me
So I got to be there, got to be there (got to be there)
In the morning
And welcome her into my world
And show her that she’s my girl
When she says, “hello world!” (got to be there)
I need her sharing the world beside me

Try being a present – a gift – with those in need, especially the lonely and sick.

Have blessed Sunday and week ahead, everyone!

God. Simply present, always here.

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, 06 June 2021
Exodus 24:3-8  ><}}}'>  Hebrews 9:11-15  ><}}}'>  Mark 14:12-16, 22-26 
Photo by Fr. Pop Dela Cruz, Binuangan Is., Obando, Bulacan, May 2021.

The one most important thing this pandemic has cost us for over a year now is the simple joy of presence of our loved ones. For more than a year, we have stopped or limited our visits and celebrations with relatives and friends for fears of spreading the virus especially to our older folks.

It has become so insane for many of us, most especially with those health protocols when even couples were prevented from riding together in bikes!

But at least, the pandemic had taught us the value and importance of presence of everyone, of being present to those we love who, unfortunately, many have also died this year due to the virus and other sickness without us even seeing them at all.

This is the gist of our celebration today, of the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ: the simplicity of God and his simple presence among us.

For the second Sunday in a row after the Pentecost, we celebrate another major feast of the Lord in Ordinary Time to show us that our God is a reality, not just a mystery of the Trinity that we cannot fully understand nor explain.


When Jesus Christ said 
"this is my body" and "this is my blood of the covenant", 
he brought to new significance 
the insignificant gestures of hosting a meal 
and the insignificant food of bread and wine 
so common among peoples in every nation and culture. 

Photo by author, 2018.

The simplicity of God.

Last Sunday we celebrated and reflected on the central mystery of our one God in three Persons called the Holy Trinity. Today we celebrate his meaning and reality as a person, a God who relates with us in the most personal manner with his presence.

Recall our basic catechism of God being perfect – all knowing, all powerful, and always present because of his main attribute: his simplicity.

In our world that has become so complicated like our Facebook relationships or with all those gadgets and apps we have including our “intelligent” cars and homes, God remains so true, so real, so present with us because he is simple. No fuss, no nothing. Just pure presence among those who are willing to be still and simple. And present in the moment.

The disciples then went off, entered the city, and found it just as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover. While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.”

Mark 14:16, 22-24

See the simplicity of the story, the simplicity of Jesus Christ who took the initiative to prepare everything for their Passover meal that his disciples “found it just as he had told them”.

When Jesus Christ said “this is my body” and “this is my blood of the covenant”, he brought to new significance the insignificant gestures of hosting a meal and the insignificant food of bread and wine so common among peoples in every nation and culture.

During their supper, Jesus gave a new meaning not only to their Passover meal but even to our most basic and common act of having a meal, of eating together to become a celebration of life, not just to feed one’s body but also one’s soul!

In becoming human like us, sharing in all of our experiences except sin, Jesus leveled up our very being and lives at his Last Supper when he established the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist to be the everlasting sign of his loving presence among us and thus, revealed to us the deeper meaning of the common meal we used to take with everybody as a giving and sharing of our very selves with others.

Brothers and sisters: When Christ came as high priest of the good things that have come to be, passing through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made by human hands… he entered once for all into the sanctuary, not with the blood of goats and calves but with his won blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption… cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.

Hebrews 9:11, 12, 14

Like Jesus Christ, it is not really the food and drinks that we share whenever we eat together and dine with others but our very selves. No wonder, in every celebration and milestone of our lives, from a simple date of a young man and woman trying to get to know each other to weddings, birthdays, and other significant occasions, there is always a meal we host to share our joys, our triumphs, our lives with others.

And the most beautiful part of these meals we share with everyone is the deeper meaning we convey that it is essentially a thanksgiving to God for all of his abounding love and grace poured upon us which is the meaning of the Greek word “eucharistia”.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Our presence in the Lord with others

The word present, of being here now, is the other word we use to refer to “gift” like when we say birthday present or Christmas present. And that is the meaning of this Solemnity of the Lord’s Body and Blood: God as the gift and the giver in Jesus Christ.

In the Holy Eucharist, we receive Jesus Christ wholly, nourishing us, blessing us, and most of all, enabling us to offer also ourselves to him through others.

But, are we present to him?

Are we willing to give ourselves to him?

From the very start since God entered into a covenant with his chosen people, he had shown his simple presence demanding nothing except our simple presence too to him and with others. This is the meaning of the offering of blood which symbolizes life, our sharing in the life of God.

But unlike the pagans, we offer our selves to God not to lose but to transformed our lives in him. With Christ’s self-sacrifice on the Cross on Good Friday foreshadowed by his Last Supper on Holy Thursday, we discover how life given to God is not lost but saved which is the meaning of the ratification by Moses of the covenant in the wilderness with the Israelites:

Taking the book of the covenant, Moses read it aloud to the people, who answered, “All that the Lord has said, we will heed and do.” Then he took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words of life.”

Exodus 24:7-8

Every time we celebrate the Holy Mass, we ratify the new covenant of Christ with us, when we give our great “Amen” to him like the Israelites at the desert, vowing to “heed and do” whatever he told us. That is also the meaning of attending a party or a dinner hosted by a relative or a friend: we renew our ties with them, promising to be there to give ourselves to them especially in times of need and danger.

But, how willing are we to remain true and faithful, always present to God, our family and friends especially in this time of the pandemic?

What a tragedy that while celebrating the Sunday Eucharist, we turn away from God in our sins in the same manner we turn against those people we share meal with and attended parties they hosted.


Let us be still 
in the calming presence of God 
in Jesus Christ's Body and Blood.  
He is more than enough 
to suffice all our needs and longing in this life.  
Like the bread and wine, 
we can all be transformed 
into his Body and Blood 
to be a present to others.

In celebrating this Solemnity of the Lord’s Body and Blood on this second Sunday of Ordinary Time, we are challenged in our faith and conviction of truly being present like Jesus before him and with others in our daily life especially in this time of the pandemic with so many in great need of basic necessities.

Like the Lord Jesus Christ, do we take the time and effort to prepare for every Sunday Mass celebration as he prepared their Passover meal?

Jesus is not asking us to be particular with the details. All we need is the essential: our very presence with the Lord. Simply be our selves: no need to fake anything, to be somebody else because Jesus loves us as we are.

It is good to remember on this Solemnity too how take simplicity for granted as being bare, without much fanfare and even spectacle as we always want something to feast our eyes on like what we have done to many of our rites and rituals. We are never contented that less is always more that many times, our religious celebrations have become banal in nature with all the pomp and pageantry we have added like to our processions. Instead of turning to God, our attentions had turned into our very selves, clearly a case of “triumphalism” when we “exaggerate” even spiritual activities.

Let us be still in the calming presence of God in Jesus Christ’s Body and Blood. He is more than enough to suffice all our needs and longing in this life. Like the bread and wine, we can all be transformed into his Body and Blood to be a present to others. Amen.

Photo by Fr. Pop Dela Cruz at Binuangan Is., Obando, Bulacan, May 2021.

“Breakout” by Swing Out Sister (1986)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music, 09 May 2021
Photo by Roberto Nickson on Pexels.com

A blessed happy Mothers’ Day to all the sweet and hardworking moms! Thank you for bringing us out into this world and most of all, thank you for making this planet a better place to live in filled with love and joy. Like Jesus, you make our joy complete with your kindness and affection, fidelity and dedication.

That is why we have chosen this greatest hit by the Swing Out Sister in 1986, Breakout. Composed by lead singer Corinne Drewery, its video features her former profession as fashion designer who also modeled her creations.

Though she looks formal, Corinne exudes with great spunky spirit in her singing filled with courage and joy that one feels the intense love and passion she has in her art and maybe even life – exactly what the gospel tells us today of the need to remain rooted in the love of Christ so we may bear fruit with much love for him and with others.

Love and joy are closely linked with each other: when there is love, there is joy. Without love, there can be no joy; without joy, clearly there is no love at all (https://lordmychef.com/2021/05/08/let-our-joy-be-complete-in-christ/).

Breakout may not be speaking about love and joy but as you listen to its music and lyrics, it is very affirming of one’s worth as being loved so much by God even by others.

When explanations make no sense
When every answer's wrong
You're fighting with lost confidence
All expectations come
The time has come to make or break
Move on don't hesitate
Breakout
Don't stop to ask
Now you've found a break to make at last
You've got to find a way
Say what you want to say
Breakout

This Sunday, we are so blessed with so much love from God and others. “Breakout” from your negative thoughts and other imprisonments that prevent you from experiencing complete joy in Jesus!

A joyful Sunday to everyone especially to our dear Mothers!

“Location Unknown” by HONNE (2018)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 02 May 2021
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD in Rhode Island, April 2020.

It’s a warm and laid back Sunday, perfect for some chilling especially with family and friends, or simply favorite people and loved ones who have kept our sanity through all these trying 14 months of the pandemic and quarantine. That is why we have chosen a new genre called “electronic music” – so bagets if you wish – as we try on new artists and “make sakay” (ride on) with the times.

It was the pre-COVID period of November 2019 when I read the return engagement in the country by the British duo of Andy Clutterbuck and James Hatcher who call themselves HONNE.

They sounded interesting that after trying their music on YouTube, I got hooked on them especially after finding out their interests with anything that is Asian. In fact, their name HONNE refers to a person’s true feelings and desires in Japan that literally means “true sound” or hon’ne, like this 本音.

And that is what we like with their 2018 hit “Location Unknown” – it sounds raw yet sophisticated in its appeal to the senses that evokes one’s hidden feelings of emptiness and loss, wishing and desiring to connect again, to be one anew to the one you love who truly loves you. It is what Jesus is telling us in today’s gospel: as the true vine with us his branches, we have to remain in him because we shall never be fruitful in life without him (https://lordmychef.com/2021/05/01/remaining-in-christ-the-true-vine/).

Sometimes in life, even if we are successful and we have everything like fame and wealth, we feel something greatly missing in our lives, like a big hole no one can fill except God, the only who truly loves us, working for our own good without us knowing.

HONNE captures so well in this song that feeling of loss – Location Unknown – after being separated, of not remaining with a beloved. Don’t wait for it to happen. Remain in Christ, our true vine. And with your loved ones!

I wish I knew where I was
‘Cause I don’t have a clue
I just need to work out some way of getting me to you
‘Cause I will never find love like ours out here
In a million years
A million years

My location unknown
Tryna find a way back home
To you again
I gotta get back to you
Gotta, gotta get back to you
My location unknown
Tryna find a way back home
To you again
I gotta get back to you
Gotta, gotta get back to you

Listening to HONNE is like having an exquisite piece of sushi – as I have told you, raw yet sophisticated, simply flavorful that delights even the soul. Try their music and you will surely love!

Bon appétit!

Remaining in Christ, the True Vine

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Fifth Sunday in Easter, Cycle B, 02 May 2021
Acts 9:26-31  ><}}}'>  1John 3:18-24  ><}}}'>  John 15:1-8
From Facebook of Fr. Marlito G. Ocon, SJ via GMA News, 30 April 2021.
"Ang lungkot, Father.  
Wala na akong asawa na mauuwian, 
abo na ang asawa ko."

This broke my heart last Friday evening from a post by Jesuit Fr. Marlito G. Ocon of a woman who came by herself to the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) to deliver her baby. Her husband had just died of COVID-19 while she and her baby are both COVID positive. Worst, she has not informed her parents-in-law about the death of her husband because they are also in critical condition in the province for COVID-19.

“Ang lungkot, Father. Wala na akong asawa na mauuwian, abo na ang asawa ko. Hindi man lang kami nagkausap. Hindi ko man lang maibalita na may second baby na kami. Hindi man lang sila nagkita ng anak namin.” (“It is so sad Father. I do not have a husband anymore to come home to, he’s all ash now. We did not even have the chance to speak to each other. I cannot even tell him the news we have our second baby. He did not even get the chance to meet our new baby.”)

Fr. Ocon is one of the chaplains at the PGH, the largest public hospital in Metro Manila. He said, “I have no words because I know any word can’t explain enough why horrible things like this happened. But I realized that it is in our deep, deep silence and it is when we run out of words, and when theology can’t explain enough, that our faith can speak louder.”

Very true.

Lately I have noticed a shift in prayer requests by relatives and friends, from the usual healing prayers for those afflicted with COVID-19 to prayers for their and loved ones’ emotional and psychological well-being.

More and more people have been coming to me for counseling via Zoom and Messenger apps as they hurdle so many crises in marriage, work, livelihood and self since the pandemic started last year. We have resumed yesterday in our parish our weekly confessions and everyone who came cried not only for their sins but most of all for their emotional baggages either triggered or worsened by this pandemic.

And like Fr. Ocon, I could not say anything at all except to pray and tell them to hold on to God, to never let go of him, “kapit lang at huwag bibitiw sa Diyos”, exactly what Jesus is telling us this Sunday:

Jesus said to his disciples:
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
Remain in me, as I remain in you.
Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own 
unless it remains on the vine, 
so neither can you unless you remain in me.
I am the vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in me and I in him
will bear much fruit because without me you can do nothing."
(John 15:1, 4-5)

“Remain in me.”

In St. John’s vocabulary, “remain in me” is one of the key phrases he used 68 times in his writings (gospel, three letters and the Revelation), 11 times in this whole discourse in John 15:1-17, and if you have listened attentively, that phrase was mentioned eight times in eight verses!

In its strongest sense, “to remain in me” speaks of the intimate bond of the Father and the Son, of the Son and the Spirit that only St. John recorded for us during the Lord’s discourse at his last supper found in John 14-15. Most of all, “to remain in me” follows that great revelation by Jesus as the Christ in the fourth gospel like “I AM the bread of life”, “I AM the good shepherd”, “I AM the way, the truth and the life” and now “I AM the true vine”.

To remain in the Lord is to live in him in faith even if nothing seems to happen like during this pandemic when God seems to be silent and even distant from us.

It is first of all a call to prayer life. Not just recitation of prayers we have memorized since childhood but to cultivate a deep and personal relationship with God when we do not have to speak at all but simply be in his loving presence.

There are times we feel nothing is happening with our prayers but unknown to us, that is precisely when something is actually happening because prayer does not change the situation but the person!

As we grow and mature in our prayer life, we become more aware of God and of the other persons that we become less focused with our very selves. And that is when we change, when we realize our mistakes and sins, our weaknesses, teaching us to be humble, patient and persevering. It is worth keeping in mind this four-letter word PUSH – Pray Until Something Happens.


Most of the time, 
we do not see things in our lives the way God sees them.  
He tells us in Isaiah 55:8-9 that his ways are not our ways, 
his thoughts are not our thoughts for God is totally different from us!  
We have to trust him and remain in him 
"for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything" (1Jn.3:20).  
And that is for sure - as we have proven so many times in our lives.

Photo by author, 27 April 2021, ICSB-Malolos city.

Remaining and being fruitful

Remaining in Jesus means being faithful especially when things get worse, when even in bad times, we consistently stay in the Lord in silence.

Remember how we have been so sullen in March, wondering if God has forsaken us with the deadly surge of COVID-19 cases amid the glaring incompetence of this government when suddenly our hopes were raised high by this community pantry movement?

Who would have thought of Ms. Patricia Non in the quiet street of Maginhawa in Quezon City would rally the whole nation with her “Community Pantry” now helping so many people going hungry?

Not only that. The most beautiful thing Ms. Patricia Non had done is her bringing out the best in every one of us, rich and poor alike, young and old to share whatever we have for our suffering brothers and sisters!

Most of the time, we do not see things in our lives the way God sees them. He tells us in Isaiah 55:8-9 that his ways are not our ways, his thoughts are not our thoughts for God is totally different from us! We have to trust him and remain in him “for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything” (1Jn.3:20). And that is for sure – as we have proven so many times in our lives.

In the first reading we find the very difficult and almost impossible situation of St. Paul following his conversion: nobody would believe him and everybody suspected him of possible sinister plots against them! But, St. Paul remained consistent in his prayers and studies in Tarsus until Barnabas introduced him to the apostles who gave him the opportunity to preach in Jerusalem. Despite his dark past, St. Paul won so many converts in his preaching in the name of Jesus that eventually, he was sent to missions abroad that led to the growth of the early church.

That is remaining in the Lord – allowing God to work in us and through us like St. Paul so that we become fruitful, not just successful.

Fruitfulness is the result of remaining in the Lord, of letting God do his work in us. Most often, this leads to pains and failures as Jesus tells us of the need to be pruned like the branches of the vine to be more fruitful. But, despite these failures and defeat in our lives, we experience that sense of fulfillment within us because we have grown and matured in the Lord. We have not really failed at all because we have become fruitful.

On the other hand, being successful means relying more on our human efforts like our strengths and intelligence that is usually measured in tangible things like money and popularity. But, we have also experienced or heard many successful people still feeling empty and lost, that despite their fame and wealth, they have no peace and joy within, feeling nobody truly loves them for who they really are.

Many times in life we have experienced that even if we feel safe and sufficient, that is when we feel so empty, something is missing. As we usually say, parang may kulang pa.

This Sunday, Jesus our Good Shepherd reminds everyone of us to remain united in him who is our true vine. It is only in him can we find life and meaning amid the many sufferings and trials going our way especially at this time of the pandemic.

Only in remaining in Jesus is the surest path to fulfillment despite our pains and sufferings, as well as losses in life. Just stay and remain in him as he is always doing something beautiful for us. Amen.

A blessed and fruitful week to everyone!

Posted by Jean Palma on Facebook, 18 April 2021 with the caption: “All these community pantries in four days, and counting. What a powerful movement.” #CommunityPantry