40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Third Week of Lent, 16 March 2023
Jeremiah 7:23-28 >>> + <<< Luke 11:14-23
Lord, teach me to listen.
Let me not harden my heart
if today I hear your words,
Your people in Jeremiah's time
have indeed committed the most
grave sin of disregarding your
Thus says the Lord: This is what I commanded my people: Listen to my voice; then I will be your God and you shall be my people. Walk in all the ways that command you, so that you may prosper. But they obeyed not, nor did they pay heed. They walked in the hardness of their evil hearts and turned their backs, not their faces, to me.
But we are no different from them,
Lord! We are like them, totally
disregarding your commands,
walking in the hardness of our evil
hearts and turned our backs, not
our faces, from you! Worst than
the time of Jeremiah, we have imitated
the people at the time of Jesus,
accusing him too of casting out demons
by the power of Beelzebul
when media glorify satanic
cults, promoting same sex relationships,
abortion, and contraception;
when we speak about life
and justice, we are laughed upon
and when we cry for decency,
we are accused of hypocrisy.
Teach us to listen to your words,
O Lord; enable us to distinguish your
voice from that of the world and
the devil; most of all, help us
gather than scatter.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist, 24 June 2021
Isaiah 49:1-6 ><}}}*> Acts 13:22-26 ><}}}*> Luke 1:57-66, 80
Dearest God our Father:
Grant me the grace to be silent
so I can listen to your voice more,
of those around me and most especially
to that voice within me
that speaks freely and truly
of what is good in me like what
the psalmist sings today:
"I praise you for I am
On this Solemnity of the Nativity
of John the Baptist
whose name means
"God is gracious",
help me to remain and be still
in my own wilderness
trusting in your providence
never to voice any protest
but simply profess
my firm faith in you
as I silently await the Word
becoming flesh, dwelling in me
proclaiming his good news of
salvation especially to the
the voiceless many
as you have promised the prophet:
"He made of me a sharp-edged
sword and concealed me
in the shadow of his arm.
He made me a polished arrow,
in his quiver he hid me."
O God, like when John was born
people are wondering these days
what will we as a people be
in this year of the pandemic?
So many loud voices are heard
but none voiced out the pains
and concerns of the voiceless
left to suffer by themselves.
Let your voice come to me
that I may courageously speak
your words of sympathy and unity
comfort and encouragement
without focusing on me
for like John the Baptist
I am not worthy to unfasten
the sandals of my Lord, Jesus
who alone must increase
as I decrease.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist, 24 June 2021
Isaiah 49:1-6 ><}}}'> Acts 13:22-26 ><}}}'> Luke 1:57-66, 80
Today’s celebration of the Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist reminds us of the very important grace and gift from God we take for granted and always abuse – our voice.
Also known as the “voice in the wilderness” who prepared the coming of Jesus Christ, St. John shows us even before his birth through his father Zechariah the proper use of this gift of voice from God.
Voice is power.
In the Book of Genesis, God created everything by simply saying “let there be…” and it comes into being. When Jesus came as the “the Word who became flesh”, he witnessed to us this immense power of the voice of God when he would simply speak to heal people, cast away evil spirits, and still the seas and quiet the storms.
Only us humans were gifted with this unique power of God to speak using the voice.
How sad that we have forgotten or have been totally unaware of the fact that we merely share in the power of God in speaking, in voicing out what is in our minds and in our hearts. Like freedom or the power to choose what is good, we have abused this power of the voice so evident in this digital age as we drown in a cacophony of voices from everybody wanting to be heard, wanting to rule.
And the tragedy is that
those with the loudest voice and
easy access to all kinds of media platforms
are also the ones in power who only voice
out their selfish interests like our politicians.
And the tragedy is that those with the loudest voice and easy access to all kinds of media platforms are also the ones in power who only voice out their selfish interests like our politicians.
Have you noticed how most of the loud voices we hear these days come from those not involved at all in any kind of suffering? They are not only loud but also so quick to voice their views empty of any concern at all. Worst, many of these loud voices we hear come from people who have little or no concern at all for those truly in pain like the poor and marginalized who have remained voiceless in our society.
When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father; but his mother said in reply, “No. He will be called John.” So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God.
Luke 1:59-60, 62-64
Silence is the voice of God.
At the eve of our celebration today, we have heard how the angel had made Zechariah deaf and mute after he doubted the good news announced to him of the coming birth of their son to be named as John.
Now after nine months of being silent, Zechariah recovered his voice and speech that he spoke blessing God.
Imagine the power and stature Zechariah must have commanded at that time: both he and his wife Elizabeth were from the priestly clans. They were like the royalty at that time, living in an affluent section of the country. Both were born into wealth and fame. And power.
Zechariah’s voice must be one of the most sought after in Judea with his wisdom and influence.
Suddenly gone when his very voice questioned the source of its power, God represented by Archangel Gabriel.
The experience of Zechariah teaches us of the value of silence that has become a very rare commodity these days.
Many of our misunderstandings are due to our lack of silence, of listening to what others are saying or telling us.
Contrary to what
we also believe,
silence is not emptiness
Contrary to what we also believe, silence is not emptiness but fullness: it is different from being quiet when we do not simply speak but allow our minds to work on what we believe in or hold on to. Silence is trying to listen to every voice, especially the faintest ones that usually speak the truth. In the Bible, we find a common pattern in both the Old and New Testaments how God’s communication is preceded always with silence.
Zechariah was forced into silence to experience again its fullness, of being connected anew with God as it gave him opportunities to truly listen intently to God in prayers. That is why everyone was surprised not only when Zechariah confirmed the name of his son would be “John” but most of all when he spoke and his voice heard again by the people. According to Luke, Zechariah sang a blessing to God called the Benedictus.
Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?” For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.
Becoming the voice of God like John the Baptist
See how Luke presented the scene in pure simplicity as if we were also there, everybody asking “what will this child be?” for surely the hand of the Lord was with him. The scene is packed with the power of God. No voices were heard except the few “pakialamera” or “mahadera” neighbors who wanted the child named Zechariah like his father.
Elizabeth was so cool but emphatic by declaring her son shall be named John. No debates nor arguments among the women who approached Zechariah – surely, not to ask him to voice his decision as he was deaf and mute at that time. Everybody was amazed when he asked for a tablet and wrote “John is his name”.
There was the deafening silence of God’s voice heard loud and clear, perhaps even for several days after the circumcision and naming of John.
Such is the power of God, of his voice.
Always preceded by silence.
Never harsh nor imposing.
Soft but always felt, always consistent, very clear and simple.
Most of all, refreshing and blissful.
It is a voice kept in one’s heart, nurtured through time in prayer and simplicity of life until the listener becomes the speaker and carrier of the voice of God.
In our digital age where humans and machines speak with voices competing for our attention, we are reminded that the true power of the voice is not in its volume but in God himself who is also the message.
Like images, voices can also be enhanced with the help of modern technology and human ingenuity, especially by image makers and propagandists who are paid to advance one’s power and influence.
Let us be more discerning in listening to the many voices competing for our attention.
Let us begin first in that soft and feeble voice inside our hearts we disregard but consistently speaks to us daily. That voice could be God speaking to us.
Let us rediscover silence and the true power and beauty of the voice of God.
Recall how often in our lives and in human history, the most important voices ever heard, ever written come after long moments of silence, of reflections and listening to God and with others.
The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel.