The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Week XVIII, Year I in Ordinary Time, 02 August 2021
Numbers 11:4-15 <*(((>< + ><)))*> Matthew 14:13-21
On this first working day
of August 2021, I pray to
you our loving Father
to watch over the many
others today who feel
the same way as Moses
in the wilderness
being blamed by family
members and relatives,
by friends and others
for all their troubles
and mess in life.
When Moses heard the people,
family after family, crying at the
entrance of their tents, he was grieved.
"Why do you treat your servant
so badly?" Moses asked the Lord.
"Why are you so displeased with me
that you burden me with all this people?
Was it I who conceived all this people?
Or was it I who gave them birth,
that you tell me to carry them
at my bosom, like a foster father
carrying an infant, to the land you have
promised under oath to their fathers?
I cannot carry all this people by myself,
for they are too heavy for me."
(Number11:10, 11-12, 14)
It is so frustrating, Lord
every time there is a hardship or
difficulty being encountered along the way
to every goal and aspiration, we have to resort
to the blaming game with the accusing finger
pointing on somebody else except one's self
for all the woes and miseries,
the chorus lines of wishful thinkings
and litanies of things missed most
that suddenly the higher ideals are
all forgotten for the sake of little comforts
regardless of dignity and freedom recovered.
Teach us, dear Father
to be persevering like your Son:
When Jesus heard of the death
of John the Baptist, withdrew in a boat
to a deserted place by himself.
The crowds heard of this and followed him
on foot from their towns.
When he disembarked and saw
the vast crowd, his heart was moved with
pity for them, and he cured their sick.
He said to his disciples,
"There is no need for them to go away;
give them the food yourselves."
They all ate and were satisfied,
and they picked up the fragments
left over - twelve wicker baskets full.
Those who ate were about five thousand men,
not counting women and children.
(Matthew 14:13-14, 16, 20-21)
Like Jesus our Lord,
open our eyes to see more, not less
of what we have despite the many
burdens we also carry.
Open our hearts to have more room
for those with more difficulties
and hardships going through in life.
Stretch our hands wider to embrace
those burdened and about to give up
on their dreams and aspirations in life.
When we feel so weighed down by
all the blame of everybody else,
may we see more the light of life in Christ
than the darkness of death and surrender
like Moses at the wilderness.
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 11 July 2021
Life is always beautiful, even if not all days are bright and sunny. Despite the rains and darkness above us, life is still good because of God’s great love for us expressed through the people he sends us like family and friends, even strangers sometimes.
In today’s gospel, we heard Jesus sent the Twelve to cast out unclean spirits and to heal the sick and afflicted (https://lordmychef.com/2021/07/10/we-are-missionaries-of-christ/). It is the first task given by Jesus to every missionary he sends because wherever there are darkness and sickness, you also find evil and sin. By casting out evil and sins, preaching repentance, the world is restored to its original order of beauty and truth in God.
That is why we have chosen Mr. Ryan Cayabyab’s classic composition from 1980 Tuwing Umuulan at Kapiling Ka originally recorded by Mr. Basil Valdez that was covered by other artists until recently .
One of the most beautiful OPM (Original Pilipino Music) love song courtesy of Mr. Cayabyab also known as “El Maestro” for his being a musical and lyrical genius.
The song speaks so well about the nature of life that is sometimes caught in a storm with so much rains and darkness; but, the guy is not worried at all, even asking for more rains for as long as he is with his beloved one.
Pagmasdan ang ulan, unti-unting pumapatak
Sa mga halama't mga bulaklak
Pagmasdan ang dilim, unti-unting bumabalot
Sa buong paligid tuwing umuulan
Kasabay ng ulan, bumubuhos ang iyong ganda
Kasabay rin ng hanging kumakanta
Maaari bang huwag ka nang sa piling ko'y lumisan pa?
Hanggang ang hangi't ula'y tumila na
Buhos na ulan, aking mundo'y lunuring tuluyan
Tulad ng pag-agos mo, 'di mapipigil ang puso kong nagliliyab
Pag-ibig ko'y umaapaw, damdamin ko'y humihiyaw sa tuwa
Tuwing umuulan at kapiling ka
Today, the Lord is sending us as is missionaries in his name, in his power. We merely propose but do not impose through our life of witnessing to the saving power of Jesus Christ. May we bring light and life to those going through many rains and darkness these days so they may realize that despite the storms, life is always beautiful.
*We have no intentions of infringing into the copyrights of this song and music video except to share its beautiful message of life and love. Thanks.
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Sunday XV-B in Ordinary Time, 11 July 2021
Amos 7:12-15 ><}}}'> Ephesians 1:3-14 ><}}}'> Mark 6:7-13
Everybody is saying 2020 is a very bad year that had extended its negative vibes into 2021 with the continuing string of disasters and bad news like the recent C-130 plane crash in Sulu where 50 soldiers were killed, mostly were young in the prime of their lives.
Not to mention are the persistent threats of new surge of COVID-19 that continues to mutate into deadlier and more transmissible variants despite the vaccine roll outs.
But, upon closer look and deeper reflections, we also realize what we are going through is not that totally bad. It is still a very beautiful world, so blessed by God with the people he sends us to bring hope and find meaning amid all the deaths and darkness around us.
In that recent C-130 plane crash is 30 year-old Capt. Dr. Nigel Emeterio who selflessly served our people as a medical frontliner of the Philippine Air Force fighting COVID-19 in far flung areas and as a flight surgeon of troops sent to fight terrorist rebels in Mindanao.
A graduate of the Our Lady of Fatima University’s College of Medicine Batch 2015 here in Valenzuela City, Capt. Dr. Nigel is most of all a faithful husband and loving father to his wife and kids left behind in a life so short but filled with loving service and dedication to others.
Earlier this year, another young woman in Quezon City – Ms. Patricia Non – inspired us to harness the vast powers we have in our hands to see one another as a brother and a sister by setting up a community pantry where the poor may get basic food according to their needs provided by others according to each one’s ability.
The movement soon caught the attention of more people in various parts of the country, even abroad, setting up their own community pantry with support coming in from the rich and poor alike, bringing out the spirit of Christ’s gospel in the most concrete manner.
And lastly, who was not touched by the infectious smiles and fighting spirit of America’s Got Talent contestant called Nightbirde when she courageously admitted to the world the multiple cancers she was afflicted with a 2% chance of survival?
We were all moved to tears when she sang her own composition to assure everyone that “I’m Ok”, that despite all her sufferings, she chooses to be happy due to her strong and deep faith in God?
There are still so many stories of men and women, young and old alike, being sent by God in Christ Jesus to remind us amid all the darkness hovering above us in this time that the world and life he created for us is truly beautiful because he created us meant to be filled with joy and fulfillment, not misery and sufferings.
Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick – no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic.
Our first mission is to cast out unclean spirits
Life is always beautiful, true and good. Despite all the bad news we hear and see daily, overall we realize that it is always a beautiful world out there waiting to be discovered by us. Everyday God sends us in his Son Jesus Christ to proclaim this reality by fighting the evils that try to destroy life.
For the past Sundays, St. Mark has been presenting to us who is Jesus Christ, telling us the teachings he preached, the miracles he performed, and the setbacks he went through when he went home to Nazareth.
This time, we find Jesus sending his Apostles that include us in this modern time to continue his work and mission of proclaiming the good news of salvation amid the many demons or unclean spirits in our time found not only in dire situations but among evil men and women in their arrogant display of power going unpunished, escaping justice. It is a scenario we have seen throughout history, of natural and man-made disasters happening along with a dash of human inanities and follies in every period everywhere.
But life continues and gets better largely with the prophets sent by God sent to speak his words of justice and truth to bring back order and harmony in our world distorted and marred by evil and sin.
That was the first order of Jesus: authority over unclean spirits, over “demons” who destroy lives.
From the Greek word “daemon”, a demon is someone or anything that destroys life. It refers not only to evil persons but also situations like diseases, afflictions, addictions, economic imbalances, social injustice and systematic evils happening everywhere, even among church people.
Any form of evil and sin is always a lack of order and wholeness, a privation. Too often, evil to us is something interior that is difficult to remove or even diagnose. It has entangled its roots deep within us, creating confusions and doubts. Hence, we feel Jesus very emphatic in his commissioning of the Twelve: he “gave them authority over unclean spirits”.
It is the power of Jesus Christ borne out of our deep faith that leads to boldness and courage tempered with humility and simplicity that enables us to fight evil in this world. As that famous saying tells us, “the only thing needed for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing”.
Fighting evil and sin is not a personal crusade of anyone but a sharing in the power and destiny of our Lord Jesus Christ. The mission of the Twelve that is also our mission is a direct continuation of the mission of Jesus Christ who offered his life on the Cross for our salvation.
We are the first to be affected by Christ’s preaching and actions by being transformed in him. That is why he calls us to be detached from the world and its allurements to be one in him alone.
Like the prophet Amos in the first reading, it is always a call from God, a mission from God. We are mere instruments of the Lord for he is still the one who will effect changes and transformations.
Forget all those myths and illusions of being the savior of the world or “messianic complex” as if we are indispensable and much needed in the world. We might even be surprised that the world might be better off without us!
As missionaries of Christ like the Twelve and Amos in the first reading, we only propose but never impose our message of salvation with conviction. It is not our persuasive arguments and discourses that will cast out the unclean spirits but the Christ in us with our life of witnessing.
It is never easy and can be a thankless task prone to misinterpretations and criticisms. That is why next Sunday upon the return of the Twelve, Jesus will invite them to rest at the other side of the lake that clearly shows us the very essence of being a missionary of Christ – oneness in him.
Restoring all things in Christ
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will…
For many people today, the world is very chaotic, lacking harmony and rhythm with all the bad things happening right in their personal lives and in their homes and places of work. While the pandemic drags on, there is a strong temptation to be negative and even lost hope, of being cynical.
As missionaries of Christ, we are called to imitate the courage and conviction of St. Paul to faithfully reveal God’s plan of peace and harmony in him through Jesus.
In his opening benediction that is so beautifully structured and expressed, St. Paul is inviting us to restore all things in Jesus Christ.
Like St. Paul, we missionaries of Christ must be the first to have that conviction that life is beautiful, that God has great plans for each of us despite all the sins and evil going on.
Imagine St. Paul writing the Ephesians while in prison, awaiting trial and certain death that did not deter him in being so upbeat and joyful with life?!
God knows very well the trials and difficulties we are all going through. Others have gone worst than us but never lose that sparkle of hope in Christ, giving their very lives for us to have a better world today.
Let us cast away all doubts and indifference and start living faithfully in Christ to realize the Father’s vision for us today. I pray that God hear your prayers to be filled with all the blessings you need to be a wtiness of his love and mercy. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary time, Cycle B, 04 July 2021
Ezekiel 2:2-5 ><}}}'> 2Corinthians 12:7-10 ><}}}'> Mark6:1-6
There are only two instances in the gospels that say Jesus was surprised or amazed: first is in his hometown of Nazareth as we have heard today when “He was amazed at their lack of faith” (Mk.6:6) and the second is in Capernaum when a Roman centurion asked him to heal his sick servant. When Jesus obliged to come with him to heal the servant, the Roman officer declared, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant shall be healed. When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith” (Mt.8:8, 10).
What surprises Jesus most is our faith in him. Or, its lack like the people of Nazareth.
Last Sunday, he dared us to examine our faith in him when he brought back to life the dead daughter of Jairus. On their way, Jairus was told his daughter had died, that there was no need to bother Jesus anymore; that’s when Jesus said, “Do not be afraid; just have faith” (Mk.5:36). Reaching his home, there was commotion on the dead child but later, everybody was “utterly astounded”(Mk.5:42) after Jesus brought her back to life.
Today, St. Mark deepens our reflection on the need to have faith in Jesus by telling us a surprisingly sad episode in the Lord’s life and ministry of being rejected right in his native Nazareth:
When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. so he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.
Mark 6:2-3, 5-6
The need for faith
For the past three weeks, St. Mark has slowly introduced to us that Jesus is the Christ, the awaited Messiah or Savior through his teachings and miracles like healing the sick, pacifying a violent storm at sea in the darkness of the night, and bringing back to life the dead child of Jairus.
However, it is not enough to “know” who Jesus is.
Knowing Jesus – or anyone – will not matter at all unless we believe in him and enter into a relationship with him lest we end up like his folks who “knew” him as the carpenter and son of Mary, wondering where he got all his wisdom and power.
And worst, “they took offense at him”. As we would say in Filipino, “pinersonal nila si Jesus.”
But, that is what faith is – something very personal because it is a relationship. No relationship can mature and grow unless there is faith. The deeper and stronger the faith, the most wonderful is the relationship because despite all the troubles and sufferings that may come, the ties remain because of faith.
That is why it St. Mark is telling us today the rejection of Jesus at Nazareth, of how even the Son of God experienced failures and rejections, calling us for a deeper and firmer faith in him who alone is our Lord and Savior. Aside from sickness and deaths in our lives, there are many other pains and heartaches, disappointments and failures and losses in our lives that if we do not have faith, we can never make it through with Jesus.
Yes, Jesus is with us in this journey of life in the many seas to cross while in darkness amid violent storms; but, we have to believe in him first before he can make his moves in our favor like in Nazareth where he “was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them” due to their lack of faith in him.
Surprising Jesus with our faith
Too often in our lives, we have boxed God as being stiff and stern, a disciplinarian watching us for our sins and mistakes. Wrong! God sent us his Son Jesus Christ so we may experience his tender mercy and love, his personal relationship with each of us.
Unlike most of us, Jesus is a touch person, so sensitively human, not numb, always feeling us in our gestures and looks and words like that Roman centurion at Capernaum, that sick woman in the crowd last Sunday, the widow of Nain and the sisters Mary and Martha. They all moved and touched Jesus with their grief and sufferings, and most especially with their faith and joy and confidence in him.
Most beautiful in these stories of Jesus being surprised and moved by humans are the more surprising kindness and blessings he bestowed on them – like in our own experiences! Notice that when we were so surprised by God with his blessings, that is when we have also surprised him with our faith.
Jesus is surprised with our faith when we continue to listen and speak his words of justice and truth. In this age of faith in a mass mediated-culture, we find the voice of God drowned in the cacophony of many sounds competing for everyone’s attention where the ones that prevail are those appealing to the senses that are both easy and pleasurable. Through media manipulations, what was unacceptable was first made to be tolerable until it has become acceptable like promiscuity and “safe-sex”, divorce and same sex marriage, birth controls and abortions. Any discussion of God and religion, ethics and morality and values are dismissed as limiting and narrow-mindedness or worst, as being old-fashioned and conservative. In modern man’s effort to be “fair” and “all-encompassing”, the human person has been reduced to technicalities and legalese, replacing life with lifestyles.
Hard of face and obstinate of heart are they to whom I am sending you. But you shall say to them: Thus says the Lord God! And whether they heed or resist – for they are a rebellious house – shall know that a prophet has been among them.
Jesus shows us today in his unhappy homecoming to Nazareth that even if people refuse to listen, we continue with our prophetic role of proclaiming his good news of salvation “in season, out of season”.
Even if nobody listens, even if we do not win converts or followers, we are prophets of God like Ezekiel, the voice of God, of his justice and truth amid a rebellious and wayward generation. Like John the Baptist, we are the voice in the wilderness preparing the coming of the Lord by speaking the truth, calling people to repentance and conversion.
Though God speaks in silence, our being silent in the midst of evil worsens the sinful situation as we shut doors among humanity leaving no room at all for Jesus to come and work his wonders among us. Be the voice of Jesus, be his opening, and be ready for great surprises happening soon!
Jesus is surprised with our faith when we remain standing with him at his Cross, bearing all pains and wounds with him. In this age of affluence and convenience characterized with everything instant in a click of a button, modern life has become sedentary to our own detriment. As we prefer to be seated more than standing, we have become so passive, avoiding every form of pain and suffering that make pain relievers as the most prescribed and widely used medication these days.
See how we quarrel over our places of “seat” everywhere – at home and school, office and community and parish, public and private transport – as they connote powers without realizing that what matters most in life is where we stand because that is when we are defined as a person for our faith and values in life, when we most surprise Jesus as he surprises us most with his strength like what St. Paul had realized:
Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:10
Great things begin to happen in us, in our lives when we are out standing for Jesus, with Jesus because that is when we are truly one in him as he passed over our miseries and sins to rise again with him and in him in his Resurrection.
Jesus is surprised with our faith when we are filled with joy and love in him despite everything. To love and be joyful like Jesus calls for a deep faith in him, to be kind and merciful even when others are rude and unforgiving. Notice how these days it takes a lot of guts to be good. And we are so amazed with them!
On the other hand, notice when we hear news of a band of people who are inconsiderate, corrupt, unkind, selfish, and proud: are you not surprised they are filled with anger and hate and negativities?
During the persecution of the early Church, Christians were easily spotted and rounded because they were amazingly loving and caring with the marginalized like the poor, the sick, the widows, the old, and the orphans. Pagans were most surprised that the more they persecuted the Christians, the more they grew in number! It is one of history’s most surprising facts but, that is how God moves, so unusual in the most surprising ways.
Have you been surprised by Jesus lately?
Try surprising him with your great faith in him and you will be surprised greatly by him!
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 27 June 2021
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.
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.
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B, 27 June 2021
Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24 <+> 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15 <+> Mark 5:21-24, 35-43
Once again, we find Jesus crossing the Lake of Galilee this week with a crowd following him to listen to his teachings and experience his healing. What a beautiful image of life in Jesus, of constantly crossing the sea, sometimes in the darkness of the night amid storms.
It was something like what we had gone through last Thursday on the Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist when as a nation we crossed history with the inauguration of the new Archbishop of Manila marked with the passing of former President Noynoy Aquino.
We hope and pray that like our gospel this Sunday, our recent crossing will lead us to new awakenings and realizations leading to national healing and yes, a resurrection, a rising from the dead like that young daughter of Jairus brought back to life by Jesus.
When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. So he went in and said to them, “Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.” And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out. He took along the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was. He took the child by the hand and said to her, Talitha koum, which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!” The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around. At that they were utterly astounded.
Examining our faith in Jesus
Notice, my dear reader, how similar is our story of Jesus raising to life the dead daughter of Jairus with that of the calming of the storm while crossing the lake last Sunday. In both instances, we find Mark “exaggerating” some details as if Jesus were somewhat oblivious to what was going on around him.
But again, Mark is not entertaining us with his stories narrating the powers and miracles by Jesus for he is telling us something deeper and very important with those surprising details of his stories. Primary of which is the supremacy of Jesus as the Son of God over nature like the sea and death both symbolizing evil and sin.
Mark affirms this truth today in telling us how Jesus brought back to life the dead daughter of Jairus, that Jesus is the Christ who had come launching a new world order where death and sin are overcome in him through his pasch.
Recall last Sunday how Mark ended his story with the disciples asking, “Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?” (Mk.4:41).
That question is finally answered by our story today that clearly shows Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God who is life himself when he brought back to life the dead little girl.
Unfortunately, like during the time of Mark until now, many still doubt the powers of Jesus. Then and now, there is still that crisis of faith among us expressed by people from the synagogue official’s house who arrived and said, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?”(Mk.5:35).
If you were in that crowd following Jesus, would you still go with him to enter the house? Would you heed his words like Jairus, “Do not be afraid; just have faith” (Mk.5:36)?
And while inside the house, knowing the little girl was already dead, would you join the rest in ridiculing Jesus who said, “The child is not dead but asleep” (Mk.5:39)?
These are the questions Mark is asking us today like the Christians of his time going through persecution and crisis in the early Church.
It is easy to “believe”, proclaiming with arms raised that Jesus is Lord, that Jesus is the Son of God but it is another thing to be truly convinced, to have faith in him when faced with the stark realities of life persistently attacked by sickness and death, of pains and sufferings that make us wonder why God could allow these to happen!
We have all felt our faith shaken when this pandemic struck us last year that took away those dearest to us so sudden, often without seeing them at all before they were cremated.
Like his story last Sunday, Mark’s narration of the raising to life of the daughter of Jairus is filled with many surprising details we find it so true with our own experiences of struggling to avoid or survive COVID-19, of having a sick child or spouse, of trying to make it to another day, of keeping our jobs to pay for food and rent and other needs of our family.
Do we really have that faith in Jesus, convinced that everything will be “okay” like Nightbirde who can brim with all smiles even if saddled with three kinds of cancer with a 2% chance of survival, claiming it is better than zero?
Today’s gospel is more than the revelation of who Jesus Christ is: the raising to life of the daughter of Jairus dares to invite us in examining our faith in God in the face of unrelenting attacks on life by sickness and death especially in this time of the pandemic.
Death and sickness are realities we face daily, that make us doubt God’s love and concern for us which the first reading clarifies with its declaration that
God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living. For God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him. But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who belong to his company experience it.
Wisdom 1:13, 2:23-24
Arising and being whole in Jesus
Jesus came not to remove sickness and death, pains and sufferings which did not come from God for God is love. He came to be one with us in sickness and death, in our pains and sufferings so that we may rise with him too in his resurrection and be whole again in him.
Notice the words Jesus used in every healing, “your faith has saved you” to show that healing is not just a cure of the disease but making the person whole again. The words health, healing, wholeness, and holiness are all interrelated if we examine their origins and implications. Hence, we see that whenever Jesus would heal, it is not only an eradication of an illness but restoring harmony and balance in the person – physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional aspects.
It is the same in raising the dead young man in Nain and his friend Lazarus: Jesus or the evangelists used the word “arise” as a foreshadowing of Easter when Jesus himself rose from the dead, an indication of his power over death.
All these people in the gospels Jesus had healed and brought back to life eventually died but the good news is that death and sickness are no longer dark and an ending in itself.
Jesus came to bring salvation to the world, a wholeness in life which disease and physical death can no longer control and hold. That is why we need a firm faith to believe in him in spite of the many sickness and deaths now around us. It is faith that will enable us to grasp the full meaning of this pandemic and other sufferings we are going through in life. It is our deep faith in God that will also enable us to explain and show to others especially our loved ones the true meaning of healings and resurrections performed by Jesus who gives us a share in his victory over sickness and death.
May we dwell on the beautiful exposition of St. Paul today about being poor like Christ “that though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2Cor. 8:9).
We can only be whole when we share whatever we have because that is when we allow Jesus to work in us, to be in us, to complete us. This happens when we wholeheartedly celebrate the Holy Eucharist where we become poor like Jesus, emptying ourselves of our sins, sharing with others our wealth through our contributions not only to the church collections but also to other charities where some of us share also time and talent aside from treasures.
The experience of the community pantry recently had taught us the value of St. Paul’s call for us to share and be poor like Christ when we were encouraged to take only what one needs and to give according to one’s ability – “kumuha ayon sa pangangailangan, magbigay ayon sa kakayahan”.
Yes, the realities of poverty and hunger remain with us but people are fed, sufferings are alleviated and most of all, the whole nation is united in believing again there is hope amidst the pandemic worsened by the systematic evil that has plagued us for so long.
Faith in God is deepened and strengthened when we become poor and weak like Jairus because that is only when we can arise and be whole again in Jesus Christ who is himself our Resurrection and Life. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Memorial of Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More, Martyrs, 22 June 2021
Genesis 13:2, 5-18 <*(((>< + ><)))*> Matthew 7:6,12-14
It is now getting clearer, God our loving Father, why we have to see ourselves in the way you see us as beloved and blessed: our strong selfish inclinations make us think more of ourselves, of what would give us most benefits with the least efforts as much as possible that make us forget others.
Like Abram’s nephew Lot who “chose for himself the whole Jordan Plain” settling near the city of Sodom because the whole region was well watered and prosperous, not knowing its inhabitants were very wicked in their sins whom God would punish later (Gen.13:10-11).
Teach us to be like Abram who thought more of others than himself: So Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine for we are kinsmen. Is not the whole land at your disposal? Please separate from me. If you prefer the left, I will go the right; if you prefer the right, I will go to the left” (Gen.13:8-9).
Help us to follow your Son Jesus Christ’s teaching that we “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few” (Mt.7:13-14).
May we learn from the lessons of history how powerful men like King Henry VIII of England ended miserable in life when he chose the path of the wider gate that led to his destruction when he ordered in 1535 the beheading of Cardinal John Fisher and Chancellor Thomas More for their refusal to sign his Act of Succession paving the way for his divorce from Catherine of Aragon to marry Anne Boleyn. Five more divorces later, Henry VIII never had a male successor except Edward VI who ruled England very briefly.
Grant us the courage and wisdom of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More who chose the more difficult and painful “narrow gate” of martyrdom to serve you, God, first and above all.
Choosing the narrow gate is always the best because it is choosing Jesus Christ your Son who chose the way of the Cross for our salvation and eternal life.
We pray for those trying to make shortcuts in everything in life, avoiding the way of the Cross to gain more wealth and fame without any regard for the value of other persons. We pray for those who have been blinded by power and money who could no longer see one another as a brother and sister, failing to be just and fair in their relationships and dealings. Amen.
From the 1939 classic film The Wizard of Oz sang by Ms. Judy Garland which also became her signature song, Over the Rainbow that was also featured by Hong Kong film director John Woo in the 1997 action movie Face/Off starring John Travolta and Nicolas Cage.
While praying over the gospel this past week, I remembered Woo explaining why he inserted the music Over the Rainbow in the violent gunfight scene of Face/Off between Travolta and Cage where Nicolas placed a headset on “his” son as they shoot out with the FBI:
“When I was young my life was very difficult — almost like a living hell. But when I heard Judy Garland sing this in The Wizard Of Oz, I suddenly felt as if I was on the other side of the rainbow, in heaven, in a place full of hope. When I used it in Face/Off, it was to say thanks for showing me that the world is still full of beauty.”
Woo is such a great director that aside from his beautiful choices of music for his movies, he always used symbolisms like white doves in trying to show the good side of life no matter how violent and bad is the scene or story.
And that is the meaning of our gospel this Sunday: there will always be a lot of darkness and storms in our lives that sometimes we feel and think God does not seem to care like when Jesus was sleeping soundly at the stern of their boat during a squall in the middle of the night as they cross the lake. His silence does not mean he does not care; moreover, he is silent because he had won over a long time ago at his Cross every evil and suffering in this life!
He was the first one to pass “over the rainbow” who now assures us of reaching the shores of safety and peace, joy and fulfillment with him and in him. Hence, this Sunday let us cultivate an intimacy in Christ to be reconciled with God our Father who alone is our surety in this life who had promised Noah with a sign of the rainbow as an assurance he shall never destroy earth.
In the movie Face/Off, Woo masterfully sequenced the song playing at the high point of the gunfight when Nicolas Cage’s “son” was caught in the cross fires:
Somewhere over the rainbow way up high
There's a land that I heard of once in a lullaby
Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true
Someday I'll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops
That's where you'll find me
Try watching Face/Off this Father’s Day and reflect on Judy’s music to find faith in God anew that after all these storms in life during the pandemic, there is a beautiful rainbow to delight us.
*We have no intentions of infringing the copyrights of the music except to share its beautiful message. Thank you.
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B, 20 June 2021
Job 38:1, 8-11 ><}}}'> 2 Corinthians 5:14-17 ><}}}'> Mark 4:35-41
More than a year ago in March, Pope Francis delivered an extraordinary Urbi et Orbi Message before an empty St. Peter’s Square reflecting on the gospel we heard today when COVID-19 began to wreck havoc upon us, claiming about 3.85 million deaths worldwide as per latest data show.
We are still in the same darkness, in the same storm but much have already changed since the pandemic first struck us last year. Jesus had calmed the seas and the storms with some relief offered by vaccines. Our journey continues as we cross this sea of the pandemic to safer shores.
Like the Pope’s Message last year, we must continue to call and trust in the Lord but at the same time, realize the deeper spiritual meaning of this pandemic, of the need to have a more intimate relationship with God through Jesus.
On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples: “Let us cross to the other side.” Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him. A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up.
Life is a constant crossing of the sea in darkness with Jesus.
See that in our journey in life,
it is when evening comes,
when there is darkness
that Jesus invites us to come with him to cross the sea.
When there are problems and crisis in life,
that is when Jesus calls us
to get to the other side of life's situation.
On his side.
I love that imagery painted to us by St. Mark in our gospel today, from a casual preaching last week out in the open field with the warm sun shining, Jesus invited his disciples when it was getting dark to cross to the other side of the Lake of Galilee.
Life is a journey that when evening approaches, our instinct is to find a safe place to spend the night. But, today St. Mark shows us a more appropriate imagery of life as a journey which is like crossing the sea.
See that in our journey in life, it is when evening comes, when there is darkness that Jesus invites us to come with him to cross the sea. When there are problems and crisis in life, that is when Jesus calls us to get to the other side of life’s situation. On his side.
And what a beautiful expression we have in “to cross to the other side”! There is always the cross to carry in this life that is like the sea, the uncertainty from our usual sureties like family and friends, jobs, and the status quo because Jesus wants us to have him alone as our surety in life.
A few years ago a Malaysian Air plane perished at sea; despite all the modern technologies, it has not been found yet. It is a reminder to us all of how vast is our world with so much mysteries impossible for humans to master or even fully understand.
Yet, our gospel and first reading assure us that though the world is awesome with great wonders and occurrences, its Creator – GOD – is more awesome for he alone has complete control over nature, especially the sea which is the most difficult of all!
The Lord addressed Job out of the storm and said: Who shut within the doors the sea, when it burst forth from the womb? When I set limits for it and fastened the bar of its door, and said: Thus far shall you come but no farther; and here shall your proud waves be stilled!
Job 38:1, 8, 10-11
Our awesome world, more awesome God.
St. Mark’s description of the situation inside the boat with Jesus asleep in the middle of a violent storm at sea is very surprising that seems to be exaggerated like in the movies for dramatic effects not to entertain us but to remind us of that basic reality found in his entire gospel account that Christ came to usher in a new world where never again shall sin and death prevail over us.
Recall the other scenes he would later show Jesus exercising total control over the sea like when he walked on water amid a storm (Mk.6:45ff) and ordered a legion of demons to enter a herd of swine that drowned into the sea (Mk.5:13).
As the Son of God, Jesus has total sovereignty over the sea that symbolized the realm of evil, exorcising it to free us from its clutches when he finally died on the cross.
In the first reading, we heard the fictional story of Job being assured by God who got everything under control, even the mighty sea, putting a limit by stilling its proud waves.
In our gospel, we see the reality of God in Jesus Christ calming the storm at sea.
Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”
Notice Jesus was sleeping soundly, not disturbed at all neither by the storm with its giant waves that tossed their boat nor the commotion and yelling of his disciples. He was so composed and serene.
The same scene we shall see again when St. Mark tells us how on the night of Holy Thursday when Jesus was betrayed and arrested to be tried by members of the Sanhedrin. It was all dark with Christ so composed and relaxed answering the questions of his enemies while outside was Peter so afraid, denying the Lord thrice while the rest of the apostles went hiding out of fear for their lives.
What a beautiful imagery of our Lord and of us!
Here is Jesus so composed and serene as always while us on panic mode, so terrified, even reproaching God – “do you not care that we are perishing?” – when our lives are threatened as if God does not care at all.
When we look back to last year, it was very frightening like that situation the disciples were into: nobody knew exactly the nature of COVID-19, without any known cure and method of treatment, people were dying daily, and life was at a standstill due to the lockdown.
But, with faith in God, we have moved on. Some weddings finally pushed through, students went back to school while others dared to venture into new businesses and other endeavors, crossing the sea so to speak amid the darkness. Those who got married last year now have their first born while students who enrolled last year have graduated and we who risked to move on are now better off than before.
Had we waited for the pandemic to end before deciding to enroll back in school or find a job or get married, we would surely be into great losses for there is still the pandemic that will most likely remain until 2022 or beyond.
As we have reflected last week, Jesus continues to work in silence in us, with us and for us, making us grow like the tiny seed. He never abandons us especially in times of great trials. This we have proven when we dared to venture in life during this pandemic.
Let us entrust to him our very lives for he alone has total sovereignty in this world and in this life for he himself is life – more powerful than any storm who has the whole world, especially the seas, in his hand.
A life centered in Jesus
We cannot wait for things to get better,
for the pandemic to end,
for us to be well physically, emotionally and financially.
It is right in the middle of a storm
when we are expected to make a stand for Christ,
to rely on him who is most often silently journeying with us.
After Jesus had pacified the storm and the sea, St. Mark briefly ended our gospel story by telling us how the disciples “were filled with great awe and said to one another, ‘Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?'”(Mk.4:41).
More than the stories of the Lord’s teachings and miracles, St. Mark wants us to make a stand for Jesus, to center our lives in him as we journey in this life, whether in the ordinariness of parables, the safety of the open field and high mountains, or the dangers and perils of the sea at night, with or without storms.
Remember Nightbirde last week who said, “You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.” We cannot wait for things to get better, for the pandemic to end, for us to be well physically, emotionally and financially. It is right in the middle of a storm when we are expected to make a stand for Christ, to rely on him who is most often silently journeying with us as St. Paul tells us in the second reading.
Brothers and sisters: The love of Christ impels us… So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.
2 Corinthians 5:14, 17
Now more than ever in our modern history that the whole world needs a lot of healing and reconciliation. But unlike the proposals of experts, it is not merely a reconciliation of peoples with one another. We do not need a “new normal” which is a misnomer because a norm does not change. What is true and good and fair would always be true and good and fair at all times.
That is what we need, to bring back the true normal in life which is a reconciliation of every person with God so that we may see our world in a more wholistic sense that we become more just and humane.
There can be no true reconciliation among peoples unless there is first of all our reconciliation with God in Jesus Christ so that we become in him a new creation, new persons filled with his love and mercy, justice and kindness. Of course, there will still be many storms as we cross the many seas of our lives but they will be less frightening if we have Christ on board, even if he is soundly asleep. Amen.
Homily by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Baccalaureate Mass, Basic Education Department
Our Lady of Fatima University, 16 June 2021
Congratulations! Today, everyone deserves a warm round of applause, a pat on the shoulder and perhaps, a little treat after our Mass for making it through the Academic Year of the pandemic, 2020-2021.
Most likely while you were chilln’ after your final exams last Wednesday evening, you have seen and heard this great woman of America’s Got Talent, Nightbirde who mesmerized us not only with her voice but most of all with her infectious joy and presence on the stage.
Her words last week are the most quoted in social media even in our Masses last Sunday: “You can’t wait untillife isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy.”
She connected so well with us because there is a little Nightbirde in each one of us when we look back to this past academic year when the pandemic happened before we ended classes last year and did not have any Baccalaureate Mass in our University.
Despite the uncertainties and fears and apprehensions due to COVID-19 , we decided to be happy.
We did not wait “until life isn’t hard anymore” to go back to school despite the enormous challenges and adjustments we all have to go through: parents, teachers and faculty, University admin, and most especially you, our dear students.
And if there is one most important lesson we have learned in this past academic year of the pandemic, it is GOD.
Like Nightbirde, we have realized how God never abandoned us, always with us, loving us, silently working for us even with just 2% chance of surviving cancer or COVID or passing an exam.
St. Paul said it so well in our first reading:
Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work. You are being enriched in every way for all generosity, which through us produces thanksgiving to God.
2 Corinthians 9:8, 11
The Lord never failed in providing us with all that we need, even during this pandemic.
Let us be open to more of his grace by trusting him more, and sharing his blessings with others.
Dare to “rise to the top” amid the pandemic and other challenges in life!
We did not wait
"until life isn't hard anymore"
to go back to school
despite the enormous challenges
and adjustments we all have to go through:
parents, teachers and faculty,
University admin, and most especially you,
our dear students.
God never abandoned us this year. We are still alive and we are now moving up, advancing in our pursuit for education. Some of us may have lost a loved one, others were left behind due to many reasons but we celebrate today our achievements made possible by God.
He is the most important lesson we have learned this year of COVID-19: only God suffices. Without God, we are nothing.
What would our lives be today if we all waited last year for the pandemic to be over to resume classes?
And the good news is, God is assuring us today in this Baccalaureate Mass that he shall be blessing you more this coming academic year 2021-2022.
There will surely be a lot of challenges awaiting us, even more difficult but rest assured that if you were able to complete your Prep or Kindergarten, Elementary or Junior High and Senior High stage, there is nothing you cannot do now!
Lahat kakayanin ninyo huwag lang kayong bibitiw sa Diyos!
God has beautiful plans for you despite this pandemic. Persevere and remain in him.
Study hard, work harder, pray hardest!
I have one assignment to give you my dear students as you go on your academic break this June: continue studying, continue praying.
Try to get a copy of a book called “Imitatio Christi” or the Imitation of Christ written around the years 1418-1427 by the German-Dutch monk named Thomas á Kempis.
Don’t worry… it is available in the internet and it is an excellent devotional book. You won’t regret reading it. In fact, next to the Bible, the Imitatio Christi is the other leading devotional book in Christianity.
His reflections are very timely and relevant especially in this time of COVID when he said that what matters most is that we love the Giver – God – and not the gift because God is the source of all good things in life.
A wise lover values not so much the gift of the lover, as the love of the giver. He esteems the affection above the gift, and values every gift far below the Beloved. A noble lover is not content with a gift, but desires Myself above all gifts.
Imitation of Christ, Book III, Part VI, “Of the proving of the true lover” by Thomas á Kempis (d. 1471)
Do not forget amid the many gifts we have received this year of pandemic is the giver of these gifts, God.
When you have God, you have everything. And you can do everything.
Fall in love with God.
So many times in our lives especially when we are still young and strong, we forget God, wasting our lives and precious time with less important things.
We do not realize that God alone is the one whom we must always seek and have in life because he alone loves us truly to whom alone we must always turn to.
To fall in love with God is to cultivate a prayer life, to be a man or woman of prayer.
When you love somebody, you always talk to that person.
If you love God, then you will always pray.
God loves you very much. He believes in you. He knows what you need even before you ask him.
What we do not know is what God wants from us. That is why we have to pray in order to learn what are the plans of God for us this coming academic year 2021-2022.
“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. Your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”
God is the best and most loving teacher of all. His lessons are always practical and personal. That is the meaning of “entering your inner room” – go into your heart and there you shall meet God, always waiting for you, eager to listen to you and speak to you about his love and plans for you.
He only has one lesson plan: love, love, love.
See how during the pandemic even the most powerful nations were crippled by COVID-19. Even until now these vaccines we have are not an assurance of being safe from the virus. We do not even know its other side effects.
We still have to hurdle so many problems this year.
Problem is we refuse to see that this pandemic is also spiritual in nature, not just medical and social.
Let us learn our lesson very well – God.
And so, I ask you again, my dear students to work hard, study harder and pray hardest this coming Academic Year 2021-2022 to achieve your dreams and realize God’s great plans for you in the future, now. Amen.