The authority of Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul
Fourth Week in Ordinary Time, Cycle B, 31 January 2021
Deuteronomy 18:15-20  +  1 Corinthians 7:32-35  +  Mark 1:21-28
Photo by author, ruins of the old Capernaum where Jesus lived, May 2017.

As Jesus began his public ministry last week by the shores of the Lake of Galilee calling his first disciples, Mark presents us beginning today some glimpses into the life and person of the Lord in Capernaum where he grew up and would temporarily base himself.

Then they came to Capernaum, and on the sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit… All were amazed and asked one another, “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.

Mark 1:21-23, 27-28

First thing we notice with Jesus is his devotion to Judaism, his going to the synagogue at sabbath to worship God his Father; later we find how during major feasts he would also come to the temple at Jerusalem. What a beautiful reminder that personal faith and relationship with God has to be expressed and lived in a community like in our parishes.

In this glimpse into a typical sabbath day in the life of Jesus, we also find the reason why he launched his ministry from the province of Galilee and not at the center of Israel which is Jerusalem: and that is to serve the poor and marginalized, those neglected with nothing in life who always felt left out and forgotten by everyone.

That is no longer true as we heard him declared last Sunday, “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk.1:15).

The author with friends and former colleagues at the ruins of the synagogue at Capernaum where Jesus preached on sabbath (May 2017).

A new teaching, proclaimed with authority

Mark tells us twice in our short gospel this Sunday how the people experienced Christ’s having authority in the way he spoke that was so unlike their scribes. Most of all, the people were amazed at his authority and power of words that expelled an “unclean spirit” from a man at their synagogue.

It was definitely something totally new and different that they wondered if it were a new kind of teaching, not knowing it was already God right in their midst in Jesus Christ, the Word who became flesh!

Today Jesus is teaching us the real meaning of power, his power of authority that actualizes persons and communities. Like the first disciples he had called last week, the people at the synagogue felt his words affecting them within. Their hearts must have been stirred and moved that they felt so good, moving them to share it with everyone that they all shared in the joy of hearing something new, something fresh and uplifting.

And it did not stop there.

The people then witnessed Jesus how drove away with his words an unclean spirit from a possessed man. They were amazed more upon seeing the possessed man freed from unclean spirit that “His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.”

Such was the impact Jesus made on that day of sabbath at Capernaum that continues to our day especially when we gather for the Sunday Eucharist if we can only share in his authority.

Authority as power is always a service that sets people free.

Photo by author, a column among the ruins of the Capernaum synagogue in Galilee, May 2017.

The word authority came from the Latin verb augere, augeribus meaning “to make something increase” or become better. Akin to the word authority is also the word “author” as in the writer of a book or of a document whose words are regarded as true and correct, worth listening and following.

Therefore, real authority is not just having the power over the people to rule and subjugate them as most of us would always think.

Authority in the real sense is service, the power to enable and empower people so that they may become better persons, that they may mature and transcend themselves to grow as persons with so much potentials for change and development.

True authority always leads people to freedom from darkness and sins, sickness and evil that brings out their giftedness as beloved children of God.

That is the authority of Jesus who declared that he had come to serve and not to be served by giving his life as a ransom for many (Mt.20:28) so that we may all have life in him as our good shepherd, a life in abundance (Jn.10:10).

Jesus is the prophet promised by God to Moses in the first reading who shall come to his people to speak to them his very words of life. And by tracing our being prophets with authority to Moses, the first reading gives us too the only criterion for recognizing the true spokesperson of God: he must always speak the word of God that is always actualizing when spoken with humility and sincerity.

Notice how in our language and culture the close linkages of words and authority are so clearly pronounced and recognized: we call people with authority as “mga taong may sinasabi” because people who wield power always have a say in everything.

But what are they saying? What words would always come out of their mouths? Are they life-giving or inducing death, glorifying evil?

So many times, people say so many things that are nothing and senseless. Ang dami-daming sinasabi wala namang sinabi! That is how we call people without impact and true authority: walang sinabi.

Photo by author before celebrating a Mass at the back of Capernaum near the shore of the Lake of Galilee, May 2017.

How sad these recent years, we priests and bishops complain so often how people would no longer listen to us in the Church.

Could it be that this is due to the fact we have stopped speaking the words of God, when all we care to speak of is what we know, what we think of so we would be powerful and famous specially in the various social media platforms? (See https://lordmychef.com/2021/01/27/from-the-ear-to-the-heart/)

We say so many things but fall on deaf ears, no impact, no life at all because they are not the words of Christ whom we have long forgotten.

Worst, how tragic when we impose our own words, insisting our authority on the people that most often is self-serving, far from true and loving service of Jesus Christ.

Whatever happened to that ideal of lay-empowerment when we would not let people speak or at least listen to their voices and thoughts in running their parish?

Before we can make people listen to the words of God, we in the Church must be the first to listen to his words that come to us in a life of prayer and devotion to the Eucharist. What a hypocrisy on our part when we who are supposed to be unmarried and celibate who are “anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord” (1Cor.7:32) would not even spend time to pray and listen to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament daily.

Every day especially in every celebration of the Mass, Jesus comes to us in his authority to set us free from our fears and anxieties, sickness and sins, anger and resentments, compulsions and addictions among other things that hinder us from truly experiencing the beauty of this life.

Let us all pray today for us to have a share in the authority of Jesus Christ to set us free from our being deaf and dumb, blind and lame in the Church that is also his Body. Amen.

The old and charming Church at Baras, Rizal.

From quarantine to cleansing and proclaiming…

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Week XXXIII, Year II in Ordinary Time, 20 November 2020
Revelation 10:8-11    >><)))*> + >><)))*> + >><)))*>     Luke 19:45-48
Photo by author, National Bible Sunday, 26 January 2020.

Praise and glory to you, Lord Jesus that through this pandemic, you continue to bless us, teaching us valuable lessons we have taken for granted for so long. For the past eight months, we have been doing many quarantine measures to cleanse us and keep us COVID free and healthy, reminding us of the truth of that “cleanliness is next to Godliness”.

Today’s gospel reminds us so well of this need to cleanse ourselves first before we can cleanse people and institutions.

Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things, saying to them, “It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.” And every day he was teaching in the temple area. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people, meanwhile, were seeking to put him to death, but they could find no way to accomplish their purpose because all the people were hanging on his words.

Luke 19:45-48

People were “hanging on your words”, Lord Jesus, because they could feel power and authority in them for you are the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us.

Purify us, Jesus, like you so that our words may be filled with you.

Let your words not remain sweet only on our lips as experienced by St. John when he ate the small scroll given by the angel to him; let your words disturb us, turn our stomach sour (Rev.10:10) to cleanse us first inside, emptying us of our pride so you can fill us with your Holy Spirit to proclaim your good news of salvation.

May we desire more of being disturbed by your words than being pleased with its beauty that is superficial and can be misleading.

Most of all, may we keep in mind that it is you, dear Jesus, who must increase, who must be known not us in sharing and proclaiming your words. Amen.

Fulfilling our words

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Feast of San Lorenzo Ruiz and Companions, 28 September 2020
Job 1:6-22     >><)))*>  >><)))*>   +   <*(((><<  <*(((><<     Luke 9:46-50

How great it is, O God our loving Father that on this Feast of our first Filipino saint, San Lorenzo Ruiz, our readings today and even yesterday were all about words and how we must “walk our talk”.

San Lorenzo Ruiz remained true to his words that if given with a thousand lives, he would give them all to God when he chose martyrdom in Nagasaki, Japan in 1637 along with 15 others that included nine Dominican priests, two brothers, two laymen, and two consecrated women.

Exactly the same way Job is the best example of fidelity and complete trust in God when after losing all his children and properties in just one day, all he said was…

“Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go back again. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!” In all this Job did not sin, nor did he say anything disrespectful of God.

Job 1:21-22

So many times, Lord, we say so many things without really meaning them well, when our words and actions do not jibe at all.

Sometimes, all we have are good intentions, lacking in actions.

And worst, there are times when we our words reveal dark intentions in our hearts that cannot escape you.

Help us to be true to our words, to be your witnesses in this world where words mean so cheap that even if we say more, we still mean nothing at all because our words are empty.

Through the intercession of San Lorenzo Ruiz, grant us the gift of martyrdom, of witnessing to your Gospel not only in words but most of all in actions. Amen.

More than words

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle, 24 August 2020
Revelation 21:9-14 >><}}}*> |+| >><}}}*> |+| >><}}}*> John 1:45-51
Photo by author, Subic, 2018.

Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus, the “Word who became flesh and dwelt among us” to reveal the Father’s immense love for us all. He was not contented in just telling the prophets of Old Testament how he loved us that He came and lived with us in you, Lord Jesus!

And that is why we also rejoice on this Feast of St. Bartholomew, a.k.a. Nathanael, who was introduced to you by another Apostle you have called earlier:

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” But Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How did you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”

John 1:45-49

O dear Jesus, like St. Peter in the gospel yesterday and now St. Bartholomew, you are telling us anew to never be contented with mere words, with the “what” of who you really are, that we must always “come and see you” in order to experience your very person and truly know you.

I really wonder O Lord what your words meant that before Philip called Nathanael-Batholomew, you have seen him under the fig tree; however, I am so convinced that in your words, Nathanael-Bartholomew must have felt something deep inside him that he threw himself totally to you as your Apostle.

Most of all, teach me to remain simple and hidden in you, Jesus that like St. Bartholomew, despite the scarcity of stories and information about him except this little anecdote from the fourth Gospel, he remained faithful to you until his death by flaying reportedly in India.

May we imitate St. Bartholomew who had shown us that more than words, what matters is our oneness in you, Jesus, without any need for us doing sensational deeds, earning thousands of “likes” and “followers” in social media because only you, Lord, remains extraordinary above all. Amen.

God our foundation

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Week XII, Year II in Ordinary Time, 25 June 2020
2 Kings 24:8-17 <*(((>< ><)))*> <*(((>< ><)))*> Matthew 7:21-29
Photo by author, the Walls of Jerusalem, May 2019.

Your words today, O Lord, are so graphic and chilling about the nature of sin that unfortunately, we continue to take for granted.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”

Matthew 7:21

Forgive us Jesus when we are so complacent with our prayers and words to you that remain only in our mouths and lips, but never coming from our hearts and most of all far from our actions.

Forgive us Lord for the great divide within us, between our words and our actions, of what we believe and what we live.

Give us the grace to be rooted in you always, to have you as our foundation.

Your words are so true, Lord, that so often our lives collapse like Jerusalem in the Old Testament, like the house built on sand in your parable because we live far from you.

Help us to take these lessons into our hearts, that whatever bad befalls us is never your punishment but the result of our sins, when everything collapses in us and starts to breakdown.

May we hold on fast to your words and examples in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Photo by author, Church of the Holy Family, Taipei, Taiwan, 2019.

When we are lost

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Saturday, Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, 13 June 2020
1 Kings 19:19-21 <*(((>< ><)))*> <*(((>< ><)))*> Matthew 5:33-37
Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2019

Glory and praise to you, O Lord Jesus Christ, on this most joyous feast of St. Anthony de Padua, our patron saint for lost items like keys and money. Nobody really knows for sure why he is the one invoked upon whenever we lose something.

But, one thing so beautiful about this most humble saint of great intelligence and gift of speaking is how he leads us back to you, O Lord Jesus and to our loving Father with his teachings and homilies.

He reminds us in his writings to be always be filled and guided by the Holy Spirit in our speech and action.

The man who is filled with the Holy Spirit speaks in different languages. These different languages are different ways of witnessing to Christ, such as humility, poverty, patience and obedience; we speak in those languages when we reveal in ourselves these virtues to others. Actions speak louder than words; let your words teach and your actions speech.

From a sermon by St. Antony of Padua (Office of Readings, June 13)

Most of the time, we are lost because we have become empty of you, Lord, and filled with our very selves, with our ego and pride, insisting on what we know, what we want.

From Pinterest.com

Most of the time, Lord, we are lost that we cannot “mean ‘yes’ when we say ‘yes’, and mean ‘no’ when we say ‘no'” as you reminded us in the gospel today.

Give us the courage like Elisha who accepted God’s call to replace the Prophet Elijah by slaughtering his 12 oxen and cooking them with his plows and yokes to feed the people as he bid goodbye to family and friends for his mission.

In this time of pandemic and many other social problems, we pray for those who feel lost in life without any sense of directions, those who have lost their loved ones to COVID-19 and other illnesses, those who have lost their jobs and means of livelihood, those who have lost their faith — for all of us lost, help us find our way back to you, Lord! Amen.

St. Anthony of Padua, pray for us!

When words are not enough

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Week XIX in Ordinary Time, Year II, 04 June 2020
2 Timothy 2:8-15 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Mark 12:28-34
Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA-7 News, 02 June 2020

Remind people of these things and charge them before God to stop disputing about words. This serves no useful purpose since it harms those who listen.

2 Timothy 2:14

Dear God:

For today I just wanted to be silent before you in prayer.

But, you spoke a lot in that silence. Or, did I?

You know very well, Lord, how we have been silent since the start of this quarantine period due to COVID-19 pandemic. We bore everything in silence as much as possible, giving our government officials and lawmakers a chance to redeem themselves.

After all, we are in this mess because of their refusal to listen what others have been saying for the safety of the country, speaking of diplomacy and friendships among the originators of COVID-19, not knowing two of them have been infected with corona while here visiting. One eventually became the first fatality of COVID-19 outside China.

Photo by author, our altar decor with a snake on first week of Lent, 2020.

Those in government have always been doing all the talking that has always been non-sense and rubbish. They thought that the more words they used, the more things get clearer.

That is the problem, Lord: those in government like many of us your people are not aware that your silence always precedes your speaking; that your words are full of power, full of life, the fullness of meaning because every word comes from silence.

We humans, especially our elected officials, are all speaking out of noise and void, not from silence which is fullness.

We keep on talking in the hope and belief that the more we talk, the more our words become meaningful.

Lately, it is the opposite that is happening: the more our government officials speak, the more their words become empty while their tongues get sharper like swords, inflicting more pain and causing more shame.

They speak of lies after lies after lies hoping they become true if repeatedly said but the more they are lost.

They speak so tough, complete with warning against violators of quarantine rules but they are the ones who fall into their own pit, becoming like dogs eating what they have spit.

They speak of opening shops and offices, but they are closed to the plight of the commuters.

Worst and most unkind of all, they speak shamelessly of blaming the people for all their woes in this time of pandemic quarantine while they were busy silencing us the people, closing ABS-CBN and just this week, surreptitiously passing the anti-terror bill that silences all critics of this administration mired in profanities, lies, and insincerity.

They make so many laws, using so many words, and yet not a single word proved to be good like the scribe who asked Jesus:

“Which is the first of all the commandments?”

Mark 12:28
Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA-7 News, commuters at start of lockdown, March 2020.

Lord God of power and might, you are the only we have always count on for our protection and salvation.

You know what is in our hearts and you know very well what we are willing to do if you just say so.

For the sake of peace in our country, let our leaders eat their words or at least, keep their mouths shut to stop all their shows and start to listen, accept and love.

Thank you, Lord.

Will be more silent next time as you speak more.

Amen.

What a friend we have in Jesus!

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Wednesday, Easter Week VII, 27 May 2020

Acts of the Apostles 20:28-38 ><)))*> 000 + 000 <*(((>< John 17:11-19

Jesus praying at the garden of Gethsemane. Photo by author, Church of All Nations beside Gethsemane in the Holy Land, May 2019.

What a true and great friend we have in you, O Lord Jesus Christ! You are not only faithful and loving to us but most of all, so true to us that you pray for us that the Father may always keep up.

Every day we pray to you asking for so many things because you are life yourself.

We pray for our family and friends because we love them, and you surely love them too.

And here you are, dearest Jesus, praying for us to the Father!

Thank you so much for thinking of us always.

Forgive us Jesus for the many times we have turned away from you, when we have refused to love you in others.

Enlighten our minds and our hearts, Lord, about your prayer consecrating us in the truth, the word of the Father, when you are in fact, the Word who became flesh.

Baby Jesus in our Parish last Christmas 2019 on a bed of white roses.

Grant us the grace to be like St. Paul in the first reading who can sincerely proclaim to everyone his fidelity to your words and mission that was attested with the deep love of the presbyters of Ephesus who were deeply saddened when he bid them goodbye.

In this time of COVID-19 when life is so uncertain with so many people dying, may we give some precious moments of prayer and reflection with the life you have gifted us, you always prayed for.

Give us the courage to examine the kind of life we are leading, if we can have the sincerity of St. Paul in boldly declaring how we have lived and toiled among others.

Pray harder for us, dear Jesus that we may be always one with you in the Father and the Holy Spirit through others. Amen.

Tunay na pagpapala

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-14 ng Mayo 2020
Larawan kuha ni G. Jim Marpa, 2019.
Madalas nating isipin
mapalad o pinagpala
ang taong walang tiisin
buhay ay sagana at magaan
walang pinapasang hirap at sakit
nabibili lahat ng magustuhan:
malaking tirahan, magarang sasakyan
hindi kinakailangan may pinag-aralan
basta't mayaman
wala tayong pakialam
saan nagmula kanyang kaban
na tila di nauubusan kahit baon sa utang.
Huwag nating lilimutin
ang tunay na pagpapala 
wala doon sa kayang bilhin
anoman ibigin, pagkain o inumin
o doon sa matatamo sa pagsisikap natin:
kapangyarihan at pangalan, maski pangangatawan.
Ang tunay na pagpapala
nagmumula lamang sa Diyos
hindi materyal kungdi espiritwal
kaya nang mangaral si Jesus sa burol
lahat ay nagimbal dahil kanyang pinangaral
salungat sa takbo at hangad ng sanlibutan. 
Larawan kuha ni G. Jim Marpa, 2019
Mapapalad kayong mga aba,
mga nahahapis at mapagkumbaba;
mapapalad din kayong mga mahabagin,
mga nagmimithing makatupad sa kalooban ng Diyos,
lalo na mga gumagawa ng pagkakasundo
at mayroong malilinis na puso.
Mapalad din mga pinag-uusig
at inaalimura, 
pinagwiwikaan ng kasinungalingan
alang-alang sa Panginoong Hesus 
na di lang minsan tiniyak ang tunay na mapalad 
ay yaong nakikinig, tumatalima sa salita ng Diyos.
At sino ang unang tumanggap, 
tumalima sa Salitang naging Tao
kungdi si Maria na Ina ng Kristo
na bukod na pinagpala sa babaeng lahat!
Alalahanin matapos niyang tanggapin
bilin ng anghel ng pagsilang niya sa Emanuel
nagmadali siyang dalawin si Elizabeth
nakatatandang pinsang nagdadalantao rin;
pagkarinig sa kanyang tinig
kinasihan ng Espiritung Banal at ang nausal
"mapalad ka sapagkat nananalig kang matutupad
ang mga ipinasabi sa iyo ng Panginoon."
Larawan kuha ng may-akda, Simbahan ng Visitation sa Israel, Mayo 2017.
Ngayong panahon ng pandemya
hindi pa ba natin nakikita
walang saysay at kahulugan
mga inakala nating pagpapala
gaya ng kayamanan at kapangyarihan 
o maging kalusugan?
Sa lahat ng panahon na sadyang walang katiyakan
wala tayong ibang kaseguruhan, maaring sandigan
kungdi ang Panginoong Diyos lamang!
Kaya kung ikaw ay magdarasal
laging hilingin tanging pagpapala sa Maykapal 
pananalig at paniniwala salita niya di naglalaho parang bula. 
Larawang kuha ng may-akda, Linggo ng Bibliya, 26 Enero 2020.

Being calm in the time of corona

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Friday, Easter Week-IV, 08 May 2020

Acts of the Apostles 13:26-33 ><)))*> +++0+++ <*(((>< John 14:1-6

Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte in Atok, Benguet, 2019.

Your words today, O Lord Jesus, are so assuring, so refreshing like the rains last night. Even if all our problems and worries remain, your words are more than enough to banish their power over us as we gain that trust and confidence to forge into this day we do not know where it would lead us to.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me.”

John 14:1

Keep us by your side, Jesus.

Let us take your path of love and humility, kindness and mercy especially in this time when patience is running out among many of us and emotions in everyone go high that we lose sight of the other persons going through troubles similar with ours.

Sometimes we fail to recognize you like what St. Paul said in the first reading because we always seek something more tangible, someone we can talk to like another person.

Let us be calm and trust in you that no matter what happens, you will never leave us alone and eventually lead us home to the Father’s house in heaven. Amen.