Loving and knowing

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Week XXIII, Year II in Ordinary Time, 10 September 2020
1 Corinthians 8:1-7, 11-13  >><)))*>  >><)))*>  >><)))*>   Luke 6:27-38
Photo by author, dusk at my parish, July 2020.

Thank you, dear Jesus, for the grace of being together again with our family and relatives at this time of the pandemic. Your words from St. Paul today are so timely as we now spend more time together at home due to shortened work periods while kids have online classes.

But, despite these grace-filled moments in the pandemic while being together again with our family, frictions happen because we have never been truly at home with each other. We always forget the fact that love of one another is more important than being right.

Brothers and sisters: Knowledge inflates with pride, but love builds up. If anyone supposes he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if one loves God, one is known by him.

1 Corinthians 8:1-3

Oh yes, Lord! We are sometimes surprised at how fast we have grown in age with our parents and siblings. And yes, how we have grown apart too from each other, still carrying those sentiments and memories we have had when younger.

Purify us, Jesus. Heal our memories. Enable us to let our love flow to others specially those dearest and closest to us. Remove all emotional blockages in our hearts and mental blocks in our minds that prevent us from being kind and understanding, and be more spontaneous and more sincere with everyone.

Make us realize that the more we know, the more we must be loving and understanding.

Photo by author, Malagos Garden Resort, Davao City, 2018.

Let our knowledge make us “holier” because to know what is right always leads us to being more loving as we heed your words in the gospel today, “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Lk.6:31).

Inspire us to reflect further on these words by St. Bernard about spiritual life so that it may soothe our souls and calm our minds:

The whole of the spiritual life consists of these two elements. When we think of ourselves, we are perturbed and filled with salutary sadness. And when we think of the Lord, we are revived to find consolation in the joy of the Holy Spirit. From the first we derive fear and humility, from the second hope and love.

Office of Readings, Wednesday of 23rd Week, The stages of contemplation by St. Bernard

We pray in a very special way today, Lord, for our family and relatives, for those we live together at home. Amen.

Our foolish pride

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of St. Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church, 03 September 2020
1 Corinthians 3:18-23 >><)))*> | >><)))*> | >><)))*> | >><)))*> Luke 5:1-11
One of the best ads during the lockdown last summer from Smart.

What a wonderful lesson we have today from St. Paul about your wisdom, O God our Father that is found in the scandal of the Cross of your Son Jesus Christ!

Brothers and sisters: Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you considers himself wise in this stage, let him become a fool so as to become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God, for it is written: God catches the wise in their own ruses, and again: The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.

1 Corinthians 3:18-20

This we have realized at the start of this pandemic when everything in the world stopped and forever changed because of microscopic COVID-19 virus, affecting even the most advanced countries of the world.

Most of all, everybody – rich and poor alike – suffered greatly from this virus, teaching us to value persons more when people we took for granted for so long have become our “saviors” during this prolonged quarantine periods like vendors and delivery personnel, our househelpers, and others we used to look down upon who continued to serve us with food and other needs.

Not to be forgotten too are the members of neglected sectors of our society, specially those in the medical and healthcare system and the agriculture who showed us the importance of human and natural resources over imports and technology as well as entertainment.

What a great lesson about wisdom of God and foolishness of man in this modern time!

One thing very clear, O Lord, that to be a fool for you is first of all to let go of our foolish pride and be humble before you and others.

It is the only way we can let you do your work of changing us and the world when we learn to let go of our foolish pride like St. Peter in today’s gospel when he as an experienced fisherman heeded your command to cast his nets into the deep even though you are the carpenter’s son.

When we review the lives of all saints, they are all men and women of exceptional humility before you, Lord; like St. Gregory the Great who focused more on you that he was able to reform our liturgy, set up schools and monasteries, sent missionaries to England, and instill holiness among the clergy in his “Pastoral Instructions.”

Help us to believe more in you than in ourselves so that you may do your work in us and through us. May we value your Cross, Lord Jesus, considered as foolish in this sophisticated age yet has continued to prove that it is the only path to our transformation as persons and nations. Amen.

Photo by author, XVth Station of the Cross, the Resurrection, Mount St. Paul, La Trinidad, Benguet, February 2020.

God never fails in finding us

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Memorial of St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, 28 August 2020
1 Cortinthians 1:17-25 <*(((><< ||+|| >><)))*> Matthew 25:1-13
Philippe de Champaigne’s painting “Saint Augustine” (1645-1650) from wikimedia.org.

Whenever I look back in my life, Lord, the more I realize the truth that it is YOU who finds us when we are lost. Even before we searched for you, you have been asking us to come home to you. In fact, to look for you is a grace in itself because that is when you have finally found us!

Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you… You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness… You touched me, and I burned for your peace.

From the Confessions of St. Augustine

Thank you dearest Jesus in giving us the great St. Augustine, another version of St. Paul who started so wrong in life but ended right on your side.

Please be patient with us, Lord, specially in those times we feel so wise, thinking we know everything, that we can direct our own lives without you.

Open our hearts and our minds that we may heed the words of St. Paul like St. Augustine:

For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

1 Corinthians 1:22-25

We pray, O Jesus, for the gift of wisdom like the wise virgins of your parable that even in the darkness of our lives, our hearts may always be aflame with your love. Amen.

Photo by author inside our parish at sunset, 25 August 2020.

Understanding the parables is giving up everything for Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Week XVII, Cycle A in Ordinary Time, 26 July 2020
1 Kings 3:5,7-12 >><}}}*> Romans 8:28-30 >><}}}*> Matthew 13:44-52
Photo by author, 2020.

The other Sunday during our Mass, I saw a man wearing a black t-shirt with these signs:

– = +

Of course, it means “Less is more” because a minus (-) is equal (=) to an addition or a plus (+)!

That is also the meaning of the Cross of Jesus Christ wherein it is in giving that we receive, in dying that we live, in losing that we gain more of everything because the cross is a plus sign.

This Sunday, that is essentially the lesson Jesus is telling us on this final installment of his parables wherein we have to lose everything in order to have him, the kingdom of God.

See how the three parables present us with one situation: to get the treasure in a field, its finder has to bury it again, sell all he has to buy the field where he had found the treasure; a trader searching for fine pearls sells everything he has to acquire a pearl of great price he had found; and lastly, not all fish caught in a net thrown in the sea are good to be sold with bad ones that must be thrown.

These parables are reminding us today of the need to exercise our freedom properly by making wise choices in life. Freedom is not the ability to do whatever we want but the ability to choose always what is good.

In every situation in life, we always have to make a choice; it is never true that we have no choice left to make. Choosing not to make a choice is actually choosing what is wrong, what is bad, and what is not good for us and for others.

We are always made by the choices we make in life. And that is why the parables are teaching us to choose wisely like King Solomon in the first reading.

Photo by author, February 2020.

Choosing wisely

The Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream at night. God said, “Ask something of me and I will give it to you.” Solomon answered: “O Lord, my God, you have made me, your servant, king to succeed my father David; but I am a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act. Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and to distinguish right from wrong.” The Lord was pleased that Solomon made this request. So God said to him: “Because you have asked for this — not for a long life for yourself, nor for riches, nor for the life of your enemies, but for understanding so that you may know what is right — I do as you requested. I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you.”

1 Kings 3:5,7,9, 11-12

Here we go back again to that basic reality of a parable which is a simple story of every day life filled with profound meanings. It is something we take for granted because it is so ordinary like the seed forgetting its great potentials in the future.

Many times in life we get distracted like today when we have a plethora of products and services available that we cannot focus on what is really essential and important. Our decisions are clouded even erratic because we are so distracted with the wide array of choices to make, from food to eat to clothes to wear, movies or series to watch on Netflix or cable TV as well as music to listen from thousands of titles in our playlists.

And in our distraction, many times we miss our priorities in life, especially God and our loved ones.

Then, we end up sad and miserable, way too far from what God had envisioned for us since the beginning which is to live in joy in him.

For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined he also called; and those he called he also justified; and those he justified he also glorified.

Romans 8:29-30

St. Paul is reminding and assuring us in these short passages we heard from his letter today that God called us to be saved and glorified in Jesus Christ not by chance but by purpose. He willed it, he wanted it so because he loves us so much, assuring us all of future glory in him in eternity.

The key to experiencing that joy from God is to always abide in him like King Solomon of choosing what is good, letting go of everything that will separate us from him like sin and evil. For God’s plan and grace to operate and materialize, we need to cooperate with him like being a good soil that produces fruitful wheat.

Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2018.

Our Christian life of joy

Like the Twelve inside the house listening to Jesus explained and narrated more parables, the Lord is also asking us today the same question:

“Do you understand all these things?”

Matthew 13:51

To “understand all these things” is not about human intelligence like being smart or brilliant but of holy wisdom or spiritual intelligence characterized by humility and simplicity before God and others.

To “understand all these things” and be like “every scribe… or the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old” (Mt.13:52) is to be one in Jesus Christ, a person learned in the ways of God, who knows how to prioritize things, always making things relevant in the present even if it is an old lesson.

To be truly joyful in life is to just have Jesus, only Jesus and always Jesus.

It is easier said than done but we must try even little by little, slowly by learning more to give of our very selves to others.

It is difficult to imitate the main characters in the parables today – the finder of treasure, the pearl merchant, and the fisherman – when we always think of having more than having what is most valuable and important.

Have we noticed during this pandemic that whenever we would count or take tabs of everything we share, we feel sad and even grouchy because we feel we have lost a lot? And if we get too much in return, we cannot rejoice because we somehow feel guilty?

True joy comes when we are able to be generous, of giving without counting the costs, without thinking of what would be left for me because my only concern is what else can I give the other persons so that my joy can be complete when I see them like me – happy, contented, and peaceful with a simple smile or delighted by a hot bowl of soup or a hearty breakfast.

And that’s that greatest parable of Jesus of all that we need to understand and embrace: the less we have of created things, the more we have of the Creator, of himself who is the kingdom of God.

Then, that is heaven.

A blessed Sunday to everyone!

Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos at Infanta, Quezon, July 2020.

Journeying into God in parables

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Week XVI, Cycle A in Ordinary Time, 19 July 2020
Wisdom 12:13, 16-19 >><}}}*> Romans 8:26-27 >><}}}*> Matthew 13:24-43

Our Lord Jesus Christ invites us today to join him into a different kind of journey that would take us deep into God’s mystery in our very selves through the parables he has started to tell us last Sunday.

Recall, dear readers, that parables constitute the heart of the Lord’s preaching.

We have defined these as simple stories with deep realities that must be cracked open through prayers and reflections to get its meaning. From the French para bolein that literally means “along the path”, a parable is likewise a bridge that leads us into something unknown to us before.

In itself, a parable is a journey calling us to walk through it into our inner selves to discover the many inner beauties that lie within us but we take for granted. Ultimately, as we discover these giftedness within us, we then uncover God dwelling within us.

This is the reason why Jesus would always tell his audience after narrating his parables that “Whoever has ears ought to hear” (Mt.13:43) to insist on them to go deeper inside themselves for their meaning.

And that is when we are transformed, when our lives are changed into true disciples of Jesus Christ.

Greatness in littleness

First thing we notice in the three parables of Jesus today is his insistence on the coming of the kingdom of heaven or kingdom of God through him as the mysterious seed.

This kingdom of heaven is used interchangeably with “kingdom of God” that Jesus would always speak of in his entire ministry until his crucifixion is not according to our understanding of a kingdom: it is not about a territorial domain or the exercise of power over subjects using force.

St. John Paul the Second expressed it beautifully by declaring the person of Jesus Christ himself is the kingdom of God. No wonder, Christ would always liken himself and the kingdom of God with the seed being sown.

It is always good. It is for everyone as the sower scatters the seeds everywhere. And it is always small like Jesus who was born like any infant so fragile and even poor like most of us. He is like the seed we take for granted from which comes forth all kinds of plants like trees, big and small.

Flowers of a mustard plant from which seeds are taken. Photo by author, Israel, 2017.

Or most specially, like those seeds that turn into crops of wheat and shrubs like the mustard with leaves and branches where birds may dwell that describe the first two parables today.

Jesus then added a third parable of the yeast mixed into flour that leavened the dough into a bread.

Like him our Lord, we his disciples are also like the small seeds packed with great possibilities in God.

In all these three parables today, there is that element of smallness, of littleness that remind us how everything that is great always starts small.

When we come to think of this, we realize how we embarked on this great mission of making Jesus Christ known: it started like a small spark within us, perhaps from a single word we have heard or read, a simple inspiration by God through the most ordinary persons and situation.

Not only in things regarding our spiritual lives but even our personal lives when we recall those humble beginnings of our family and of our business.

Like a little seed or yeast, they just grew!

Now we are surprised, even amazed, how we have changed, how we have grown. Of how we are now reaping the fruits of our labors and sacrifices.

Most of all, how we have known and experienced Jesus Christ who fulfills our lives.

Weeds among the wheat

But not all days are bright and sunny. There are dark clouds that hover above us bringing storms and heavy rains that lead into floodings. A lot often in life, the darkest nights turn out to be the longest nights too.

And this is the meaning of Christ’s main parable for today.

Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seeds in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slave of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’ He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, ‘First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.'”

Matthew 13:24-30
Photo by Onnye on Pexels.com

During my prayer periods this past week, I have been filled with anger and disappointments at how things are going on in our country and even in my personal life. It pains me so much why at this time of the pandemic when we have to go through all these bad things.

Last Friday morning before our daily Mass, we discovered the glasses shattered in our windows near the office door and at the side door of the church. There were scratches outside indicating attempts to unlock the doors inside and steal from the church.

After the Mass, I grew more angry as we inspected the damages, thinking so negatively harsh against whoever tried to burglarize us.

By night time during prayers, I remembered Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables where Valjean was caught by the police stealing silver from the good bishop who had welcomed him into his rectory with food and accommodations. Instead of pinning him down for his crime, the bishop told the police he had given Valjean the silver found in his bag, even chastising him he had left behind the other silver candlesticks he had asked to take!

The wheatfield owner in our parable and the good bishop of Les Miserables are both the merciful God mentioned by the author of the Book of Wisdom in our first reading today:

But though you are master of might, you judge with clemency, and with much lenience you govern us; for power, whenever you will, attends you. And you taught your people, by these deeds, that those who are just must be kind; and you gave your children good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins.

Wisdom 12:18-19

Think of our parents and elders, our mentors or those we look up to for their wisdom gifted with wonderful insights in life called perspicacity which means “a penetrating discernment… a clarity of vision or intellect which provides a deep understanding and insight.”

Being perspicacious or having perspicacity like the wheatfield owner or the good bishop of Les Miserable means having a deeper wisdom that one can keenly see and understand things beyond ordinary perception following a long process of silent reflections in life.

Many times, our sights can be limited that we do not see the other repercussions and even ramifications of our decisions on certain situations. There are times we think only of finding solutions, of winning the battle but not the war.

Photo by Life Of Pix on Pexels.com

It is also along this line that Jesus added the third parable: the yeast is mixed with the flour to leaven the dough.

We are like the yeast who have to mix with others, including the evil ones to become bread that will feed the world.

We are the wheat, the mustard seed, the yeast thrown into the world to make a difference in Christ! We are not the ones who will change the world but Jesus Christ, the mysterious seed, the yeast in the dough who grows and effects the changes in us and among us.

Parables as inner journey in Christ Jesus

With Jesus living and nurturing within us, that is when we become fruitful like the wheat and mustard plant or leavened bread that we are able to feed more people who would eventually become bearers his in the future. That is how the kingdom of heaven comes into this world, when God is seen and felt by everyone through us

This we achieve in prayers as St. Paul reminds us in the second reading. It is not just reciting our basic prayers as Christians including the novenas we love to collect and follow through. The kind of prayer that St. Paul speaks here is a prayer guided by God’s Holy Spirit who perfectly knows God’s will.

Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos of kids she’s teaching on the values of health, education and nature at Katmon Harbor Nature Sanctuary, Infanta, Quezon.

Brothers and sisters: The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.

Romans 8:26

In this time of too much weeds among the wheat, of so many evil and sins prevailing over us, we can feel frustrated at times that make it so difficult for us to pray.

Sometimes, the evil and sins, or the plain sufferings we go through in our own family, in our community or at work and in school can be so overwhelming that we feel our prayers are useless, that God is not listening at all to us.

Then we stop praying, we stop journeying within even with weeds among the wheat. How can the flour be leavened if the yeast is not mixed with the dough to become bread or cake.

Remain in the Lord!

Pulling out the weeds will not solve the problem; worst, it may endanger us all too in the process that we become like our enemies in the end. Never lose hope in God who knows very well of the presence and source of weeds. Sometimes, these pains and sufferings from evils we go through from others may actually lead us to our being fruitful!

Evil and sins are a parable in themselves that can teach us so well in life if we handle them with prayers.

Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, Infanta, Quezon, May 2020.

Praying in the Holy Spirit is when we spend time with Jesus to reflect and crack open his words that come to us in the Sacred Scriptures and ordinary events in daily life through long hours of silent meditation and contemplation.

The more we dive into God’s mysteries in the parables he sends us in daily living, the more we see the beauty and wonder of life because our horizons are widened and get clearer.

Praying into our parables in life is like looking into a telescope or binoculars that enable us to see something distant within reach.

Like God himself.

And salvation as well as fulfillment in Christ.

Amen.

A blessed new week ahead of you!

Aral ng COVID-19, IV: nakakahawang katangahan!

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-09 ng Hulyo, 2020 
Larawan kuha ni G. Jay Javier, 2020.
Kapansin-pansin
mula nang dumating sa atin
itong COVID-19:
pairalin at palaganapin ba naman
kabobohan at katangahan
kaya't karahasan at kasamaan 
unang naranasan at nasaksihan
ng mga mamamayan 
kesa ang karamdaman.
Alalahanin paanong maliitin
ng mga upisyal banta ng COVID-19:
nahiyang patigilin pagdating 
ng mga dayuhan sa atin
patriotism daw ang pairalin
uminom ng maraming vitamin,
resistensiya palakasin,
nagbanta pa ang magaling
kanya raw itong sasampalin?
Nang ang virus ay kumalat
sumambulat kapabayaan at kawalan
ng ano mang plano nitong pamahalaan
datos ng mga bilang ng nahawahan
hanggang ngayon walang kaliwanagan;
halos walang pinatunguhan mahabang lockdown 
ekonomiyang pinahahalagahan
pilit binubuksan habang sarado naman
mga isipan ng mga hunghang, mamamayan nahirapan. 
Social distancing pinagdiriinan
sa atin na parang alipin
hindi nila alintana ang kaba
ng mawalan ng kikitain at pagkain;
kay hirap bang isipin 
face mask ay hubarin
kung ika'y kakain o mayroong iinumin?
Wala silang ibang gustong gawain
kungdi sisihin ng sisihin pati na rin mga dolphin!
Napakaraming pinahihirapan, pinagmamalupitan 
hanggang humantong sa kamatayan ng ilan
pagdiriinan ng mga patakaran
gayong silang nasa kapangyarihan
ang palaging lumalabag
walang kahihiyang nangangatuwiran
upang pagtakpan kanilang kapalaluan
kaya hindi maramdaman kanilang slogan
"we heal as one" na malayo sa katotohanan.
Itong kabobohan at katangahan
uri ng kasamaan, pinagmumulan ng kasalanan
parang isang sakit na asymptomatic:
hindi alam o ayaw malaman 
na mayroong karamdaman kaya nagkakahawahan;
at ang masaklap na katotohanan 
akala ng mga sunud-sunurang karamihan 
karunungan, kahusayan kanilang nasasaksihan
gayong pare-pareho lang silang walang nalalaman!

Magkaiba ang tanga
at mahina ang isipan;
nahahasa, napapatalim 
mapurol na isip ngunit ang katangahan
ay kalagayan na kung saan 
biyaya ng isipan ay sinasayang, pinababayaan
dahil sa katamaran at kasakiman
sariling kaluguran at kapakanan lang pinahahalagahan
walang pakialam kung mayroong masaktan o mahirapan.
Kung ating pagninilayan
ang mga santo at santa ang mga tunay
na marurunong dahil sa kanilang kaisipan
walang nanaig kungdi kabutihan;
wala sa pinag-aralan ang karunungan
kungdi sa busilak ng kalooban
kaya naman huwag nang pagtakhan
itong mga puno ng kasamaan
ay puro katangahan at kahangalan!
Mga larawan kasama na yaong sa itaas ay mga kuha ni G. Raffy Tima ng GMA-7 News, Abril 2020.

Following Jesus, our true Star

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe of the Epiphany of the Lord, 05 January 2020

Isaiah 60:1-6 ><}}}*> Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6 ><}}}*> Matthew 2:1-12

From Google.

A very blessed Merry Christmas to you, my dear reader and follower! As I have been insisting to you since January first, we are still in the Christmas Season as we celebrate today the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord.

It is the third major celebration of Christmastime after the Nativity of the Lord (December 25) and Mary Mother of God (January 01).

In some parts of the country especially the countrysides, they regard Epiphany in equal standing with Christmas, calling it “Three Kings Sunday” known as “Pasko ng Magsasaka” (Christmas of Farmers).

So, please, do not cut the Christmas Season short and stop greeting others with a happy new year.

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

Matthew 2:1-3
From Google.

Jesus Christ is our one and only true Star

Epiphany is from the Greek word epiphanes that means revelation or manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ to the whole world symbolized by the “magi” or wise men from the East.

While there are many sources that confirm to us both in history and tradition that the magi were from Persia (Iran) who have truly paid homage to the Infant Jesus, evidence pointing to the reality of the star of Bethlehem are still scarce but slowly developing.

Though it is still important to establish the factual basis on the existence of the star of Bethlehem, we who believe in Jesus Christ need to focus more on the theology behind this detail from Matthew’s Christmas story which refers to the Lord himself.

We all search for a “star”, something great and noble in life.

It is a given, a gift that every person is capable of rising above one’s self for something lofty and greater than himself/herself.

Too often, we pursue stars that are so common and ordinary – perhaps low and dull ones – like wealth and fame. Eventually we mature that we follow bigger and more luminous stars that are higher and found deeper in space so to speak like wisdom and peace within.

But no matter what we search in life, whatever star we follow, the saints and our faith teach us how we all desire and long only for the one and only true star of all, Jesus Christ.

St. Benedicta dela Cruz (Edith Stein) said that “anyone who seeks the truth eventually finds God” while the great St. Augustine eloquently wrote in his Confessiones, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI beautifully said it in one of his books:

“The key point is this: the wise men from the east are a new beginning. They represent the journeying of humanity toward Christ. They initiate a procession that continues throughout history. Not only do they represent the people who have found the way to Christ: they represent the inner aspiration of the human spirit, the dynamism of religions and human reason toward him.”

Jesus of Nazareth, The Infancy Narratives (page 97)
Old Jerusalem, May 2017. Photo by author.

Lessons of the Magi

Last January first, we reflected how we must make that conscious decision to empty ourselves of our pride to be filled with the Holy Spirit so we can bring Jesus into the world today like Mary the Mother of God.

Today on this Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, we are invited to imitate the magi, to be wise men too in continuing the beautiful Christmas story by always seeking, following and submitting ourselves to Jesus Christ, our only true star in life.

There are three important lessons we can learn from the magi in being truly wise to seek and follow Jesus:

First, welcome darkness and chaos in life. The most life-changing and enriching moments we have are also the most adversarial ones. Remember the “AQ” or adversarial quotient experts are now proposing as true indicators of success in life?

More than success is fulfillment which we desire most when we are in desolation, when we are in the middle of a storm and trial in life, when we are in darkness.

Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. See, darkness covers the earth, and the thick clouds cover the peoples; but pon you the Lord shines, and over you appears his glory.

Isaiah 60:1-2

In the gospel, we have heard how “King Herod was greatly troubled, and all Jerusalem with him” (Mt.2:3) upon hearing from the magi the birth of “the newborn king of the Jews” signified by the star they saw from the East.

Troubles and chaos are great motivators for us to seek better things like meaning in life!

Pilgrims entering through the narrow door of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, May 2019. Photo by author.

Second, dark moments in life are are an invitation to pray more, especially in meditating the Sacred Scriptures, the word of God.

Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people, Herod inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it has been written through the prophet…

Matthew 2:4-5

The bible is the word of God and when we pray it, it is God himself who speaks to us directly. It is not enough to read and study the Sacred Scriptures like the scribes and chief priests summoned by King Herod.

They knew the book but refused to recognize the Author, God himself.

The scribes and chief priests got it right that the Christ was born in Bethlehem but were not wise enough to join the magi in paying homage to him.

Prayer is a call to communion with God that requires humility and total surrender of self which leads us to lesson number three in following Jesus our true star in life.

From Google.

Third and last but not least lesson from the magi is what are you willing to give in order to follow the Star, Jesus Christ?


The magi from the East were rightly called wise men because they knew very well the most important things in life, the most essential. They did not merely leave the comforts of their home and country to follow the star of Bethlehem.

They were willing to give up so many things just to find Jesus Christ!

This 2020, many of us are having new year’s resolutions, so many plans and dreams and aspirations in life.

It is always good to reach for the stars but we must always keep our feet on the ground as Casey Kasem would always say at the end of his American Top 40 program during the 80’s.

And keeping those feet on the ground is working hard for our dreams with a lot of sacrifices. Keeping feet on the ground is doing all the hard work and avoiding shortcuts.

The magi did not mind going into Jerusalem, asking around amid dangers of suspicions from the powerful, just to find Jesus Christ. Most of all, they have brought gifts with them, precious commodities of that time to signify their sincerity in finding and following Jesus.

How about us today, in this age that is marked with so may people feeling entitled to everything in life?

This early in his Epiphany, Jesus is already showing us the path we have to follow, the way of the Cross, of forgetting one’s self, of setting aside our ego, of letting go and letting God.

Unless we are able to forget our ego, we can never imitate the magi in being wise “to depart for their country by another way” (Mt.2:12) to avoid King Herod.

That is the ultimate indication of being wise, that after finding Wisdom, we change our ways, our lives and live in Jesus Christ, the Holy One. Amen.

Merry Christmas!

From Desicomments.com. Last line should be “Lift our eyes”, not “Life”.

True mobility is in Christ Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Thursday, Week XXXII, Year I, 14 November 2019

Wisdom 7:22-8:1 ><)))*> <*(((>< Luke 17:20-25

Photo by Mr. Chester Ocampo, 2019.

Praise and glory to you, O Lord our mighty God!

We keep on searching for so many things in this life to make us more “upwardly mobile” in life: knowledgeable and affluent, healthy and everything.

Nice.

But in our pursuits, we miserably fail becoming better persons for eventually, everything ends up with about money and material things, prestige and fame.

We forget you, O God who is Wisdom beyond compare.

For Wisdom is mobile beyond all motion, and she penetrates and pervades all things by reason of her purity.

Wisdom 7:24

Let us find you right here in our hearts, in Christ Jesus who had come to dwell within us. Amen.

Prayer to cleanse our lips

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Monday, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, 11 November 2019

Wisdom 1:1-7 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Luke 17:1-6

Photo by jami jari on Pexels.com

It is the start of work and school today, Lord.

Thank you for our jobs, thank you for our schools, thank you for the food and clothes we have.

Thank you very much for the gift of self and most especially for the gift of others.

Unfortunately, O Lord, they are the ones we always hurt with our painful words, and yes, with all sorts of profanities.

If our words were like swords or clubs, or even at least like thorns of the cactus, everyone of us would be beaten black and blue or worst, mangled.

For wisdom is a kindly spirit, yet she acquits not the blasphemer of his guilty lips; because God is the witness of his inmost self and the sure observer of his heart and the listener to his tongue. For the spirit of the Lord fill the world, is all embracing, and knows what man says.

Wisdom 1:6-7

Bless us today, Lord, to be like St. Martin of Tours who always spoke with humility and gentility, full of wisdom and kindness to everyone. Most of all, bless us to be like him to see you Lord among everyone and treat them with respect and dignity always.

Fill us with your wisdom, Lord, especially our public figures that they may never let speak evil of anyone and be an occasion of sin as you warned in the gospel today.

Help us to bring back decency and kindness especially in our language for indeed, “from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Mt. 12:34).

Cleanse our lips, Lord. Amen.

Prayer for enthusiasm

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Friday, Week XXXI, Year I, 08 November 2019

Romans 15:14-21 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Luke 16:1-8

Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa in Carigara, Leyte last September 2019.

Before everything else, O loving Father as we praise and thank you for this new day, we fervently pray for our brothers and sisters severely affected by the rains and floods up north in Cagayan as well as those displaced by the effects of earthquakes last two weeks in Mindanao.

Take care of them and make us more sensitive to their plights that we may be moved to do something concrete for them.

Like St. Paul, fill us with the same Holy Spirit, with zeal and enthusiasm to always do your work, Lord.

But I have written to you rather boldly in some respects to remind you, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in performing the priestly service of the Gospel of God, so that the offering up of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:15-16

Fridays for everyone is the end of school and/or work, a time to celebrate and have fun; the most welcome break of the week. But with you, Lord, you never stop working for us, with us, and in us.

Like St. Paul, fill us with yourself, O God which is the literal meaning of “enthusiasm” from the two Greek words, “en theos”, “be filled with God”.

Like St. Paul, may we never stop proclaiming you and your salvation joyfully even among those who have known you, Lord.

In this world of so much competition and rat race with no clear winners at all, make us realize like the shrewd steward in today’s gospel that being wise is giving more importance to people and persons and relationships than money and wealth. Amen.