Birthday prayer

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Fourth Week of Lent, 22 March 2023
Isaiah 49:8-15 >>> + <<< John 5:17-30
Photo by author, sunrise at the Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, QC, 22 March 2023.
Loving God our Father,
Your words say it all today,
my birthday:

Thus says the Lord: In a time of favor I answer you, in the day of salvation I help you; and I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people… Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.

Isaiah 49:8, 15

The Lord is gracious and merciful.

Responsorial Psalm, Ps. 145:8
Photo by author, Sacred Heart Novitiate, QC, 22 March 2023.
More than words, dear Father,
I praise and thank you 
for your boundless love
and kindness to me all these 
58 years!
You have always been present with me,
in me, for me, and through me in Jesus Your Son.
And so, I pray this to you:

Dearest Lord,
you have given me with so much,
I have given you so little;
teach me to give more 
of my time and talents,
to give more of my self 
so I can give Christ Jesus to others,
especially his love and mercy,
kindness and forgiveness;
empty me of my pride, Lord,
and fill me with your humility,
justice and love.
Amen.
Photo by author, Sacred Heart Novitiate, QC, 22 March 2023.

Lent is more of questions than answers

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Second Week of Lent, 08 March 2023
Jeremiah 18:18-20   >>> +++ <<<   Matthew 10:17-28
Photo by author, sunrise at Katmon Nature Sanctuary & Beach Resort, Infanta, Quezon 04 March 2023.
Many times you have
heard me O God our Father
asking the same question by
your prophet Jeremiah,
"Must good be repaid with evil
that they should dig a pit
to take my life?" (Jeremiah 18:20).
Many times too, 
like with Jeremiah,
you have not answered 
my questions directly
but consistently in my life
you have shown how much
you love me by giving me
the strength and courage,
the assurance to keep on
doing what is good
simply because
it is good,
it is right,
it is just,
it is your will.
Many times
even without 
your clear answer
I just feel you 
inside me,
beside me.

Into your hands I commend my spirit; you will redeem me, O Lord, O faithful God. I hear the whispers of the crowd that frighten me from every side, as they consult together against me, plotting to take my life. But my trust is in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” In your hands is my destiny; rescue me from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors.

Psalm 31:6, 14, 15-16
Your Son Jesus Christ
our Lord and Savior
had shown us that indeed
in this world, people are not
ready nor willing to accept
whatever is true and just;
hence, good is always repaid 
with evil because many are
not on the side of what is 
right and true.
Teach me, O Lord,
to forget all about
the perks of discipleship
if there is really any at all
but instead be simply
focused in remaining 
faithful to you,
always sharing in your 
sufferings and death
without desiring any
rewards;
most of all, 
like St. John of God
and other saints,
let me be content in
asking you questions
that is a prayer
in itself because
it is always answered
in ways so different
from what I expected
until I find myself
totally giving myself
to you
for you alone
are my Lord,
my God,
my Teacher,
my Father.
Amen.

Lent is believing again

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the First Week of Lent, 01 March 2023
Jonah 3:1-10   <*{{{{>< +++ ><}}}}*>   Luke 11:29-31
Photo by author, 08 February 2023.
O loving Father,
teach us to believe again
during this blessed season of Lent;
help us rediscover our faith
to believe in you again amid our many
sins and guilt feelings;
help us to believe again in people
after so many betrayals by friends and family;
most of all, help us to believe again
in ourselves despite our failures
and weaknesses.
So many times we are like your
prophet Jonah, 
so reluctant in answering your calls,
so stubborn and hardheaded in our
biases and prejudices against others,
many times we resort to pessimism
and cynicism with how life in the world
is going, feeling lost and hopeless.

So Jonah made ready and went to Nineveh, according to the Lord’s bidding. Now Nineveh was an enormously large city; it took three days to go through it. Jonah began his journey through the city, and had gone but a single day’s walk announcing, “Forty days more and Nineveh shall be destroyed,” when the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast and all of them, great and small, put on sackcloth.

Jonah 3:3-5
Help us in our unbelief, Lord!
Help us stop asking for many signs
except Jesus Christ present to us
in the Sacraments especially
the Eucharist and Confession
we often receive these days.
Help us to simply believe
and obey your words
like Jonah at Nineveh.
Amen.

Lent is God consoling us, assuring us

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the First Week of Lent, 28 February 2023
Isaiah 55:10-11   <'[[[[>< +++ ><]]]]'>   Matthew 6:7-15
Photo by author, OLFU-QC, Basic Education Dept., 20 February 2023.
Praise and glory to you,
O God our loving Father!
Thank you for this wonderful
gift of Lent, of being so close 
to us, consoling us in our
pains and disappointments,
assuring us of your love and
most especially of your plans 
for us!  Help us to be more open 
to your coming, to your presence, 
to your words.

Thus says the Lord: Just as from the heavens the rain and the snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:10-11
Your Son Jesus Christ taught us
to call you Father, Abba, 
for indeed, you are a Father to us
who taught us how to walk
and stand and fight in this life;
as a Father, you are so loving 
and caring, ready to rescue us 
in times of distress; let us come
to you, call you, and to listen to you;
let us rediscover the beauty
and value of silence this Lent
so we would hear and learn 
your plans for us because 
there is no need for us to speak to you  
as you know very well our thoughts;
what matters is that we hear
and learn your plans for us!
May we "look to you, O Lord, 
so we may be radiant with joy
in the midst of our brokenness
and rise from our crushed spirits"
(Ps. 34:6, 19) in order to bring 
your loving assurance
and consolation
to those burdened
and lost like us.
Amen.

Lent is for fixing our “eyes” on God

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
First Sunday of Lent-A, 26 February 2023
Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7  +  Romans 5:12, 17-19  +  Matthew 4:1-11
Photo by Noelle Otto on Pexels.com

Lent is the season we fix our eyes to see clearly our selves, God, and others. It is the season where the dictum is “less is more” with no flowers allowed at the altar, only plants and leaves used as decorations. Ideally, images and icons inside the church are covered during these forty days when the Gloria and the Alleluia are also omitted in the liturgy because Lent invites us to look more inside our hearts than outside to find God.

Today’s first reading reminds us the problem with our eyes that lead us to falling into sin like the first woman who was tempted by the serpent into believing that eating the forbidden fruit would open her eyes to know what is good and evil like God. See the interplay of how the fruit was pleasing to the eyes and after they have fallen into the trap of the devil, “the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked” (cf. Gen. 3:4-7).

A big part of our temptations to sin happens in how we “see” things, literally and figuratively speaking. In the wilderness during the temptations of Jesus, the devil showed us what he often “sees” that if we follow could lead us into sin. Let us see what Jesus “saw” during those moments of temptations and triumphed over evil.

Detail of mosaic “Temptations of Christ” at St. Mark Basilica, Venice, Italy. Photo from psephizo.com.

At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry. The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread.” He said in reply, “It is written: One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”

Matthew 4:1-4

First temptation of the devil is for us to see scarcity, to see nothing, to see too little, to see there are not enough that the tendency is for us to hoard and be selfish. But Jesus tells us today even in the barrenness of the wilderness where there was no food nor water, there is always plenty and abundance when we see God.

When we were in elementary school, we were told how food and water would run out in the future with worldwide hunger and thirst happening in apocalyptic proportions. It had never happened. Yes, our natural resources are depleting not because of our normal consumption but largely because of human greed. We see everything so few, not enough for everyone that our tendency is to get more, driving prices up with the poor left to fend for themselves of whatever is left behind.

What we see more is what we do not have, not seeing the beautiful and precious ones we have like family and friends, health and life itself as well as faith in God. There is always the temptation most especially in the midst of difficulties and trials to see everything as ugly and dismal like the first parents after the fall when “they realized they were naked” whereas before, “they felt no shame” because they were good.

Observe how the eyes and the mind are closely intertwined, of how wrong judgments result when our eyes are deceived by what we see or do not see. Look inside your heart when you feel like alone and abandoned or when in the wilderness of sickness and sufferings. See God in everything even in nothingness by reading and praying his words in the Sacred Scriptures and you shall find life and abundance.

Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written: He will command his angels concerning you and with their hands they will support you, lest you dash your foot against a stone.” Jesus answered him, “Again it is written, “You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”

Matthew 4:5-7

Second temptation is when see more of power and entitlement that lead us to becoming like gods.

See the deception of the devil as he brought Jesus to the temple, the house of his Father, making him stand on the parapet to test his obedience and submission to God. It continues to happen to us these days, especially for us priests and bishops, those inside the church like its volunteers and servants, or those who see themselves as devout and pious Catholics who feel entitled here on earth and even in heaven!

No one, not even Jesus Christ claimed any entitlement for being the Son of God. In fact, in his being the Christ, he taught us the importance of submission and obedience always to the will of God our Father.

The first sin was not just pride and disobedience of Adam and Eve. It was a sin rooted in the heart, of feeling so special in paradise, daring to be like God. A feeling of entitlement, of manipulation and control to play like God.

The second temptation of Christ reminds us all supposed to be close to God, his servants to always look and examine our hearts if it is truly God whom we love and follow or just rules and commandments, rites and rituals that we forget the people we are supposed to lovingly serve and care for.

The sad reality in our church is how the devil’s temptation of Jesus is realized among us priests who are being served wrongly, even adored and worshipped by the many people so deceived of the temptation to get close to clergymen or the church. This is the reason why the poor and sufferings are still marginalized because they have remained outside our reach as we all tend to see ourselves being protected by the angels in our positions of power.

Let us all get down from our ivory towers of power, of pride and entitlement especially in the church to begin seeing the poor people on the ground and stop testing God if he would work miracles on them lest we have forgotten we are his arms and limbs.

Then the devil took him up to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in their magnificence, and he said to him, “All these I shall give to you, if you will prostrate yourself and worship me.” At this, Jesus said to him, “Get away, Satan! It is written: The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve.”

Matthew 4:8-10

Third temptation is clearly idolatry, of self-worship, of vanity. See how Jesus told Satan to get away after this third temptation because this is the most insidious as far as Matthew is concerned (in Luke’s version, this is the second temptation).

This third temptation is also very surreptitious which Al Pacino as the devil described in “The Devil’s Advocate” opposite Keanu Reeves as “my most favorite sin.”

We may not be kneeling before strange gods and idols but as Simon & Garfunkel sang in the “Sound of Silence”, so many of us “bowed and prayed on the neon gods we made” with our obsession with signature and expensive things and gadgets, whether original or fake.

It is also the temptation of being famous with our obsession not only with all the beauty augmentations readily available and the fitness craze of some who practically live inside gyms but also with too much living in social media where some have gone crazy counting the likes and reactions they receive in their posts.

See how Jesus won against Satan in all his temptations including in this final one because his focus was on God alone. Jesus is telling us this Sunday as we embark on our Lenten journey to remain in God above all.


Our eyes can be easily deceived because they cannot see everything at one instance. It takes times for us to recognize what or who we are looking at. There are times we need to use instruments to see everything clearly like telescopes and microscopes.

Most of all, what we see may not even be true at all. That is why we have to close our eyes in order to see better, to experience better and understand better like when we are deeply in pain and sorrow or in ecstasy and bursting with joy.

How sad that when Adam and Eve sinned and their eyes were opened, they hid themselves and sewed figs to cover themselves. Today, people go out into the open, even taking pride and not troubled at all in filming or recording and uploading sinful scenes in their lives. And everyone is so glad to take a look on them without realizing how it could lead them into shame like Adam Eve.

Let us heed St. Paul’s invitation in the second reading to live in Jesus so we may show our new humanity in Christ, we who are so loved and forgiven by God and restored to grace. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus alone to fight temptations for we are no longer slaves to our passions and desires like Adam (Rom. 5:12, 17-19). Amen. Have a blessed first week in Lent!

From bible.com.

Blessed are we

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time, Year I, 07 February 2023
Genesis 1:20-2:4     ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>     Mark 7:1-13
What a blessed Tuesday we have today,
God our loving Father as Genesis tells us
in the first reading how you blessed thrice 
the last three days of creation:
on the fifth day, you created and blessed
all water creatures and winged birds;
on the sixth day you created and blessed 
man and woman;
and finally on the seventh day,
you blessed the day of sabbath.
Lately we have been meditating 
what is to be blessed:  Elizabeth called
Mary "blessed" because she believed your words
spoken to her would be fulfilled;
the other Sunday in his sermon on the mount,
Jesus called the poor in spirit, the meek,
the merciful, the grieving, the hungry and thirsty
as "blessed"; and today, after creating the birds and fish,
man and woman, and day of sabbath,
you blessed them all.
In today's story of creation, you bestowed 
your blessing O God to fish and birds and people
after creating them, telling them to be fertile
and to multiply in number;
in blessing the seventh day as sabbath,
you also blessed it as a day of rest;
whether it is used as an adjective or a verb,
being blessed and to bless mean being 
filled with grace, abounding in grace,
and most of all, spreading and keeping
that grace from you as expressed by
your command to the fish and birds and people
to go and multiply; to fulfill that command, we
need to rest on sabbath so that we may keep our
ties and link with you, thereby, to have the
strength to care for all creation,
to keep your grace from flowing!
Forgive us, dear Father, in failing to keep your
command to care for your creation, 
most especially in neglecting one another as
a brother and sister in Christ when we
"nullify the word of God in favor of our many 
traditions we have handed on" like the
Pharisees (Mk.7:13);
help us cleanse our inner selves,
recover our blessedness in you
so we may share your blessings anew.
Amen.

From shadow to image

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, Bishop & Doctor of the Church, 24 January 2023
Hebrews 10:1-10   ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[><  -  ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[><   Mark 3:31-35
God our loving Father,
help us grow from being 
your shadows into your
image and icon among peoples;
thank you for sending us
your Son Jesus Christ who came
to do your will of offering his
very self as a sacrifice for the
forgiveness of our sins
so that in the process,
we too may learn to
offer ourselves to you, 
surrender ourselves wholly to
you like Jesus to become your mirror.

Brothers and sisters: Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of them, it can never make perfect those those who come to worship by the same sacrifices that they offer continually each year. Then he (Jesus) says, Behold, I come to do your will. He takes away the first to establish the second. By this “will,” we have been consecrated through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Hebrews 10:1, 9-10
There are times, dear Jesus,
that I listen and speak of your words, 
very much "inside" with you
in the church, 
in our community,
among our family and friends;
but sadly, Lord, I am so far
from doing the will of the Father
after listening and preaching
your words.
Teach me to be like your Mother,
Mary:  though she was "outside"
that house where you were staying
teaching the people gathered around you,
she was very much "inside",
in you in her total identification with you
and your mission until the end.
Enable me, Jesus,
like St. Francis de Sales
who used to have a fiery temper
and problem in handling his anger
to surrender myself to you,
to make the Father's will my own,
experience liberation from sin
and sanctification in your Spirit
to become united as one in 
the Father, his mirror
and image.
Amen.

Coming to Jesus who comes

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the First Week of Advent, 28 November 2022
Isaiah 4:2-6   ><000'> + ><000'> + ><000'>   Matthew 8:5-11
Photo by author, 27 November 2022.
Thank you very much,
dear Jesus for the gift of Advent,
for your promise to come again
after you have come
and still come;
let me come rejoicing
to your house, O Lord!

I rejoiced because they said to me, “We will go up to the house of the Lord.” And now have set foot within your gates, O Jerusalem. Because of my relatives and friends I will say, “Peace be within you!” Because of the house of the Lord, our God, I will pray for your good.

Psalm 122: 1-2, 8-9
As I look back to 2022 about to end,
the more I believe in your Second Coming,
Lord Jesus; with grateful heart,
I praise and thank you, Lord,
in letting us survive this year,
in letting us survive this pandemic
as you washed us all clean from our sins
that was long seen by Isaiah
and fulfilled in your coming.
Let me come to you, Lord,
like that centurion,
filled with faith and trust
in his belief in you,
in your powerful coming
even in words.
Amen.

Heaven our Promised Land

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Solemnity of All Saints, 01 November 2022
Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14 ><}}}}*> 1 John 3:1-3 ><}}}}*> Matthew 5:1-12
Glory and praise to you,
O God our loving Father 
in fulfilling your Promised Land
to us all in Jesus Christ
in heaven!

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the land.

Matthew 5:5
Thank you for the gift
of All Saints Day as we remember
and emulate those who have gone
ahead us into heaven,
the real Promised Land you
had promised since the beginning;
more than a piece of land nor a country
nor a continent nor a place in this planet,
your Promised Land dear God is heaven -
a sacred space within us where YOU and I,
Father, commune, live together as one in
Jesus Christ.
Heaven is the paradise Jesus
promised the thief on the Cross;
Heaven is when we live in communion
in Jesus Christ not only after we have died
but while we are still here on earth,
when we are meek and humble 
bearing in you and with you
the pains and sufferings
of lovingly serving others,
of working for peace, 
of hoping in eternity.
Inheriting the land, dear Jesus,
means orienting our goals into
striving to let your reign of peace
be a reality despite all the troubles
we have here on earth; after all,
history has shown us how the violent 
and powerful conquerors have come
and go when it is always the humble
and lowly who remain and last longer
just like the Saints now in heaven.
Enable us dear Jesus 
to alway listen and pray,
most of all abide in your words
like the Saints who have truly
lived out the Scriptures that they
have inherited heaven; like all the
Saints now in heaven, may we put
into practice the words of the Sacred
Scriptures no matter how we may 
sound and look foolish like with the experiences
of St. Paul, St. Francis, and St. John Paul II;
the Saints are the best examples 
of being meek to inherit the land
because in living out the Sacred Scriptures,
they have opened so many possibilities 
of good things in life in the future,
not only in heaven but here on earth
as testified by their many works
and teachings still continuing to this day.
As we slowly return
to normal these days, Jesus,
may we humbly return to you
in our Sunday Masses when
you as Prince of Peace reigns
supreme in your words proclaimed, 
in your offering of your Body and Blood,
when we also create a sacred space 
for you in our hearts so that every Eucharistic
celebration becomes a dress
rehearsal of our entry into heaven.
Amen.

*Photo credits: from en.wikipedia.org painting by Fra Angelico called “The Forerunners of Christ with Saints and Martyrs”.

Powerless before God, powerful in God

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C, 16 October 2022
Exodus 17:8-13 ><000'> 2 Timothy 3:14-4:2 ><000'> Luke 18:1-8
Photo by author, Baguio City, February 2020.

Time flies so fast that there are only five Sundays left in our liturgical calendar before Advent comes in preparation for Christmas. For the next three Sundays beginning today, we shall again hear three gospel stories found only in Luke that underscore the importance of faith and prayer, revealing to us the beautiful image of God who “does justice” to defenseless people like the widow today, “justifies” those who humble themselves like the publican next Sunday, and “saves” sinners like Zacchaeus two Sundays from now.

As we reflect on God’s goodness, we discover along the way our own giftedness that we must share with people around us, especially those suffering and in need.

Jesus told his disciples a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, “There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.'”

Luke 18:1-5
Painting “Le Juge Inique” (Unjust Judge) by Swiss artist Eugene Burnand (1850-1921) from http://www.eugene-burnand.com/Parables/unjust%20judge.htm.

Both the widow and the unjust judge exhibited admirable traits we are all invited to emulate: the widow being persistent and the unjust judge eventually becoming a just one in handing a good decision.

Jesus intentionally used the image of the widow in this parable because widows in his time were particularly powerless and vulnerable. Recall how Jesus was moved with pity on a widow upon witnessing the funeral of her young son in Nain (Lk.7:11-16).

Imagine the very sad plight of widows in ancient time when women were not even considered as persons at all that they were not counted like the children; women were totally dependent to their husband and sons in their lives that if they die, the widows left behind were reduced to nothing at all because they could not inherit their husband’s estate that was passed on to the deceased man’s sons or brothers.

Painting of “Parable of the Unjust Judge” by Pieter de Greber (1628) from Web Gallery of Art,https://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/html/g/grebber/pieter/parable.html.

The widow in this parable tells us of the need for us to be powerless like her, to totally entrust ourselves to God who is our only hope in life. The widow had no other recourse but to persistently beg the unjust judge for a favorable ruling for her. That is the spirit and attitude we must have when praying which is a call for our total surrender of self to God.

And here lies the difficulty for us especially these days when we spend so much efforts to be powerful than powerless. This we have been practicing extensively in social media where we always want to be the one in control of everything, of being the first to post the latest and hottest news and gossips, of flaunting our newly acquired expensive gadgets or received gifts, of making known to everyone our sumptuous meals or how we have gone to some expensive far-away vacation spot. Come on, one can easily determine when we are posting simply to share or to brag.

As much as possible, we try to resolve our problems using our own powers. We pray and come to God only when all options have been exhausted, when we feel hopeless because it is already beyond our powers. Prayer is more of a last resort than our first recourse because God is only a “footnote” or a safety-catch in our lives in case we go through severe tests like tragedy, illness, death of a loved one, or failure in whatever form.

The widow in this parable reminds us of that beautiful lesson we have reflected these past Sundays that faith is a relationship nourished and nurtured by our prayer.

People who love always talk. They always relate and communicate for no reason at all simply because they love and care for each other. Like the widow, wala nang iba talaga!

If prayer is conversing with God, then, we would always relate with him whether our problem is big or small, serious or not, or even if we have no problem at all because we love him! Without God, we find no meaning and strength to hurdle life’s challenges.

This is the meaning of that story of Moses praying to God on top of a hill while Joshua battled the forces of Amalek in the wilderness; it was the power of God that prevailed over Israel’s enemies because they all relied in him alone. It is the similar story of the Feast of our Lady of the Rosary when the outnumbered Spanish fleet defeated the Ottoman Turks at Lepanto Bay (07 October 1571) while Christians prayed the Holy Rosary as instructed by St. Pope Pius V.

When was the last time have you felt like the widow before God, of having that attitude there is nobody else who can fulfill us except God?

Photo from https://freebibleimages.org/photos/persistent-widow/

On the other hand, we are also the unjust judge in this parable for we are not only sinful and unjust like him but also blessed with great powers to help those in need!

Many times, we act like the unjust judge when we refuse to recognize and admit the great powers – with its great responsibilities – God had given us in our various capacities and positions in life. We may not be issuing verdicts in courts but everyday, our decisions matter so much to those around us right in our own families, in our schools, in our offices and in our neighborhood and community.

Confronted by the persistent widow without any means to pay and bribe the unjust judge, we are reminded most especially to have a heart in favor of those who have less in life. One of the most important lessons I have learned in priesthood happened during our final year of formation in the seminary when our former bishop, the Most Rev. Rolando J. Tria-Tirona of Naga City told us in a conference that “those who have less in life must have more of God”.

Beautifully true but sadly, far from happening in our Church because we rarely use the powers God has shared with us to love and save, to heal and raise to new life people saddled with so many sufferings and sins in life. Like the unjust judge, may we open our eyes and hearts to the plight of the powerless around us.

Have faith that even the most evil persons are capable of doing the right thing. Imagine if every disciple of Christ is a man of faith despite of his/her sinfulness and weaknesses? That would be so nice as life could be a bit better and fair for everyone! This is the reason why at the end of the parable, Jesus asked the crucial question:

“But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Luke 18:8
Photo from Photo from https://freebibleimages.org/photos/persistent-widow/.

Has anyone ever told you that you are “the answer to his/her prayers?” In life, God answers our prayers through one another, through faithful disciples who are both powerless before God and powerful in God.

We all have this great power of God in our hands, in effecting change, in bringing peace and justice to this world through the power of his word as St. Paul reminds us today in the second reading.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power; proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.

2 Timothy 4:1-2

We live in a world characterized not only with great desire and display of power but also of instant gratification. We have lost the virtues and values of patience, persistence, and perseverance. Everything must be had instantly. Now na!

This Sunday’s parable invites us to recover our great power in God by being powerless before him again so we may be the answered prayers of many people suffering and thirsting for justice and mercy, forgiveness and salvation.

Be that person of faith and power of God. The widow and needy person who comes to you could be Jesus Christ himself. Amen. Have a blessed week ahead!