Postscript-2 to St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 21 October 2020
Statue of St. Paul at the Malolos Cathedral by the famed ecclesiastical artist Willy Layug.

Today we conclude our reflections – or “postscript” – to St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians about faith we heard proclaimed in the weekday readings two weeks ago from October 05-14, 2020.

A truly faithful person 
is one who is also free.

We have said that faith is a relationship with God and with others like in marriage and friendship. When our faith with God and with persons is strong with conviction and realistic, then the more we become free because there is no room for doubts that we are not loved.

Brothers and sisters: Scripture confined all things under the power of sin, that through faith in Jesus Christ the promise might be given to those who believe. Before faith came, we were held in custody under law, confined for the faith that was to be revealed. Consequently, the law was our disciplinarian for Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a disciplinarian.

Galatians 3:22-25

Recall those times we have felt imprisoned and chained by the past with all of our broken and toxic relationships, sickness and handicaps, failures and sins, and other painful memories: that was when we wavered in our faith, when we lacked conviction in our faith.

We have to be convinced that Jesus came to set us free from all forms of slavery that prevent us from growing and maturing in faith and freedom in him. When our faith is strong, then we are able to break the many barriers that imprison us like gender, color, language, social status and even religion.

Nourish our faith to be free to become our true selves!

Photo by author, 2019.

Faith works through love.

It is God’s gift of faith that enables us to do good, to do our works of charity and love. And because we are faithful and free, then we also love!

Incidentally, being faithful and free are always tied up with being able to love because love is a choice, a decision we make, not just feelings or emotions.

Every choice is made out of freewill and here is the most interesting part of being faithful and free and loving: like love, man is able to believe and trust because it is God who first believed and trusted us!

A faithful person is always a loving person because he is free to choose what is good, what is right. And the more faithful we become to God, to your spouse, to your family and friends, the more loving you become like them!

For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

Galatians 5:6

Without faith, it is difficult for us to love because of the pains that come always in loving.

Without faith, it is impossible to forgive and be merciful, to let go of others’ infidelity and lack of love and concern because these are virtues and values that come only from within, from a loving heart that is also faithful where Jesus Christ dwells and reigns.


A few years ago, GMA-7 launched its talent search called Starstruck inviting young people to… Dream. Believe. Survive.

For us Christians, it is… Dream. Believe. Live.

The moment we believe, then we are able to see, even God hidden among each one of us. Amen.

*All photos by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD at Katmon Harbor Nature Sanctuary, Quezon, 2020.

Living in the presence of Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Memorial of St. Martha, 29 July 2020
1 John 4:7-16 >><}}}*> ))+(( <*{{{><< John 11:19-27
Photo by author, Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, Quezon City, 2018.

Thank you very much Lord Jesus Christ is sending us holy women like St. Martha whose Memorial we celebrate today. Seven days ago we celebrated the feast of her younger sister St. Mary Magdalene.

How nice of you coming to visit families, even calling brothers and sisters as your disciples like St. Peter and St. Andrew, St. James the Greater and St. John, and now, St. Martha and her siblings St. Mary and St. Lazarus.

What a beautiful reminder for us today so busy with other people like friends and clients and everybody else except family: that you always come first in the family, among husband and wife, parents and. children, and siblings.

Most of all, in the life of St. Martha, you remind us of the need to be present in you and with you every time you come for a visit.

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.” Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and anyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”

John 11:23-27

Many times, Lord Jesus, you come to us to be present with us but we are always absent from you like St. Martha.

Like her, so often we are working for you, doing for you, so busy because of you without realizing you prefer us to be doing your work by first being present in you.

There are times, we overthink of your words and of your thoughts we forget the present moment like when you told St. Martha that her brother Lazarus would rise again: we believe in our minds than in our hearts that we look more into the future than in the present moment when our departed loved ones can be truly present with us in you.

As we keep ourselves preoccupied with so many tasks here on earth, teach us also, sweet Jesus like St. Martha that in the resurrection of the dead, we shall all be present in you and with you as the one serving us all in the heavenly banquet. May we choose wisely what is most important like her sister St. Mary. Amen.

From Pinterest.

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.

True blessedness

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima, 13 May 2020

Acts of the Apostles 1:12-14 <*(((>< 000+000 ><)))*> Luke 1:39-47

Our Lady of Fatima procession at the Fatima Shrine in Portugal, 2017. Photo from vaticannews.va.

O God our Father, today we come to you on this most trying time in modern history at the heels of the COVID-19 pandemic that has disrupted our lives – for better and for worse – to ask for your mercy and healing.

As we celebrate the Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima who had appeared in Portugal 103 years ago today, we are reminded by the Blessed Mother of your Son Jesus Christ that true blessedness is not being wealthy and powerful, of being well and strong but above all of believing in you, our God Almighty.

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb… Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

Luke 1:41-42, 45

COVID-19 has shown us that in this life, true blessedness is not found in money and things, nor in popularity and influence or other things that have become the benchmark of everything that is good in this life.

Our lady of Fatima Shrine in Fatima, Portugal. Photo from Pinterest.

In less than six months, the corona virus had shown us what the Lady of Fatima has always been telling us since 1917: to go back to you, God our Father through your Son Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist and Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Thank you in giving us all a Mother in the Blessed Virgin Mary who is the perfect image and model of discipleship in Christ:

-Mary was the first to believe in Jesus by receiving him in her womb;

-Mary was the first to share the Incarnate Word by visiting her cousin Elizabeth while six months pregnant with his precursor John;

– Mary was the first to believe in the saving work of Jesus when she interceded at a wedding in Cana;

  • Mary was the first to believe in the Resurrection that she remained standing at the foot of the Cross; and,
  • Mary was the first to believe in the coming of the Holy Spirit that she accompanied the Apostles praying at Jerusalem on Pentecost day.

Like Mary, may we grow deeper in our faith, believe more in you than believe in the world or with our very selves.

Like Mary, may we bring unity to our family and community, church and nation, so we may help strengthening the faith of one another, in believing in you by submitting ourselves to your holy will.

Teach us, Lord, to be simple and humble so we may believe more in you. Amen.

Why believe?

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Memorial of St. Pius V, 30 April 2020

Acts of the Apostles 8:26-40 <*(((>< 000 ><)))*> John 6:44-51

Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA-7 News, 2020.

It is the last day of April 2020 and we still cannot rejoice, Lord, because we still have to continue with our enhanced community quarantine until the 15th of next month to further control the spread of the dreaded COVID-19 virus.

Yes, it is very difficult and sad for everyone but deep inside each one of us is the excitement too of seeing that day finally when the pandemic is finally over and the corona virus wiped away.

And that is why we have to believe in you, O God our Father for you alone is the God of history, you have the final say at how things are in this life and the good news is, you always ensure that even tragedies and miseries end for our own good.

“Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.”

John 6:47

Yes, Lord Jesus, we believe in you because we want to see how all these things will end, if not in this life then in the eternity.

We have to believe to understand further and accept how things are in this life.

Like St. Pius V, the first Dominican Pope, he believed in your presence and power in the praying of the Holy Rosary that helped the Spanish Armada crushed the Ottoman Turks in Lepanto Bay to finally stop them from getting into Europe any further.

Incidentally, every Rosary begins with the Credo, “I believe in God…”

He believed in your works, O Lord, that despite the gargantuan tasks ahead of him, St. Pius pushed for the reforms of the Council of Trent that revitalized the whole Church after the Protestantism movement that swept the whole of Europe at that time.

We have to believe because believing is the starting point of everything in you; without it, we can never see through and look beyond to discover more meanings in life here and thereafter. Amen.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Transforming presence of God

The Lord Is My Chef Simbang Gabi Recipe, 20 December 2019

Isaiah 7:10-14 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Luke 1:26-38

Manor House, Camp John Hay, December 2017. Photo by author.

One reason Christmas is the most favorite time of the year is its colors. From houses to malls and almost every building, one can find a spectacular display of different colors and lights that brighten everyone.

But everything changes when one enters the church.

Advent is so different. Color is violet near the deep blue shade to signify the importance of conversion and penance that lead into transformation while the colors of the world found in malls are about money and material things.

Our parish sanctuary area, Advent 2019.

God takes initiative

We have seen yesterday in St. Luke’s first Christmas story how God entered through human activities and history for the coming of Jesus Christ by first announcing the birth of his precursor, St. John the Baptizer.

But today, in his second Christmas story which is the Annunciation of the birth of Jesus to the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Lukes shows us how God is now acting on his own. Of course, God always takes the initiatives in life being the “prime mover”.

But in announcing the birth of Jesus, God went “out of his way” so to speak to bring us this tremendous grace of Christmas as he would always do in many instances in our lives.

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with yo.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus .”

Luke 1:26-31
Mosaic of the Annunciation to Mary at the Shrine of St. Padre Pio at Rotondo, Italy. Photo by Arch. Philip Santiago, 2018.

So different from yesterday’s story of the annunciation of the birth of John the Baptizer to Zechariah, let us see how God took the initiative in the annunciation in the birth of Jesus to Mary.

  1. Zechariah was a priest while Mary was a commoner. It was natural for God to work through his ministers but in choosing Mary an ordinary woman was something else not because of any special quality she had but simply because God is good. The angel clearly told this to Mary, “you have found favor with God”. God does not call the qualified but he qualifies the call!
  2. God used the setting of the Temple of Jerusalem in yesterday’s account because that is where he is supposed to dwell but today, everything happened in a very simple house in Nazareth, the only place of significance and importance in the New Testament never mentioned in the Old Testament. It was a place looked down upon by many like St. Bartholomew asking Philip, “can anyone good come from Nazareth?”
  3. There was a major feast going on, the Yom Kippur, with a lot of people present when Zechariah was informed of the birth of John; Mary was alone in her house when the angel came to announce to her the birth of Jesus on the six months after going to Zechariah.

Intense Presence of God and of Mary

Usually, as we have seen yesterday in the annunciation of the birth of John, God always acted in silence and hiddenness. He blends and flows with world history as well as with our own personal histories.

But, there are times even in our own experiences when God really pulls something extraordinary, a miracle to bless us, to save us.

That was the case in the Annunciation to Mary. God “freely acted on his own” for the good news to happen, regardless of whoever was the king of Judea or emperor of Rome. He set the stage and everything for the fulfillment of his plan of salvation for us.

And the very good thing here is we find a perfect congruence or an equilibrium wherein, God was intensely present and so was Mary.

In the annunciation of John’s birth, God was very much present answering the prayers of his parents but Zechariah was miserably absent, doubting the good news!

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Luke 1:38

God is always coming to us in many instances and persons who come to our lives. Are we present to him?

Notice how she entered into a dialogue with the angel Gabriel in explaining how things would happen. She was so open and so absorbed too as if the Holy Spirit must have had a perfect landing on her that she became pregnant with Jesus!

It sounds funny but that was how it happened because tomorrow, we would hear St. Luke telling us how Mary hurriedly went off to see her cousin Elizabeth, meaning there was a transforming change that occurred in Mary right away!

And that is how God truly works – if we can be truly open like Mary with God’s intense presence, we can experience overnight conversion and transformation that we have heard experienced by many unbelievers, sinners, addicts of all kinds. All they could say was there was a very brief moment when they felt God so intensely present and boom! everything changed for the best.

Mary believed

Mary was not only open to God but most of all, she has always believed in him. See how St. Luke tells us after the Annunciation, “then the angel departed from her”, never to come again to inform her of special messages from God unlike St. Joseph.

After the Annunciation, Mary was left on her own in the sense that all she had was her firm faith in God through Jesus Christ her Son.

Mary believed in everything that was spoken to her! It was all she had up to the foot of the Cross when Christ died, when she waited with the apostles in Jerusalem for the Pentecost and in all her other apparitions later. She has always believed in Jesus her Son.

Today, we complain a lot of people no longer believing in God, leaving the Church, refusing to pray and celebrate the sacraments.

Perhaps it is about time for us to ask our very selves too, especially us your priests and pastors as well as the parents: do we truly believe what we are doing, what we are practicing as Catholics?

It is always easy to say we believe in God like King Ahaz in the first reading who refused to ask God for signs that Israel would be delivered from the advancing Babylonians.

It was merely a “show” because Ahaz had already entered into alliance with small kingdoms to fight the Babylonian invaders. He had never believed God or his Prophet Isaiah; hence, Israel was conquered and crushed as a nation, thrown into exile in Babylon for a long time.

A Filipino painting of the Annunciation to Mary on a wall facing the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth. Photo by author May 2017.

God’s power and his intense presence can only work in proportion with the faith we have. This is what Jesus had told the apostles when they asked him to “increase their faith”: “If you have the faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to the mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and panted in the sea,’ and it would obey you” (Lk.17:5-6).

In another instance, the apostles failed to cast away the demon possessing the son of a certain man. After Jesus had driven away the evil spirit, his apostles came to him in private to ask, “Why could we not cast it out? And Jesus said to them, ‘Because of your little faith'” (Mt.17:19).

Like Mary, let us believe wholly to God by giving our whole selves to him. Let us create a room in ourselves for God so he can be present in us and transform us like Mary. Amen.

Advent calls us to believe again

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Thursday, Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, 12 December 2019

Zechariah 2:14-17 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Luke 1:39-47

From Catholic News Agency

Praise and glory to you, O God our loving Father in heaven who has given us along with your Son Jesus Christ our Savior his beloved Mother the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Thank you in giving us Mother Mary as our guide in this Season of Advent, along with the Prophet Isaiah and St. John the Baptist.

And the most wonderful thing about Mary as our guide in Advent is the fact she lived Advent because she was the first to truly believe in Jesus!

Renew our faith in you, O God especially in this age when we tend to believe more to our selves, to science and technology.

Strengthen our faith also so that like Mary, we may be blessed as we believe your words O God will be fulfilled in us.

Detail of painting at the Basilica of St. Juan Diego receiving roses from the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

Luke 1:45

Let us firmly believe like Mary, your Mother, Lord Jesus!

Let us give you our daily “Amen” like Mary who gave her total self to your service, Lord.

Fill us with the Holy Spirit, Father, like Mary who has continued to share your Son Jesus Christ with others, not only to Elizabeth at that time but also to St. Juan Diego at Guadalupe, St. Bernadette at Lourdes, and to the children at Fatima. Amen.

Waiting and Believing

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Monday, Memorial of St. Martha, 29 July 2019
Exodus 32:15-24, 30-34 >< }}}*> <*{{{ >< John 11:19-27
Raising of Lazarus by Jesus with Martha and Mary from Hunterian Psalter via Google.

Praise and glory to you, O God our loving Father!

Thank you for the gift of St. Martha whose memorial we celebrate today.

St. Martha is a most beautiful image of somebody busy for the Lord, believing in him as the Christ, always waiting on him, waiting for him. She believed in you as the Christ that is why she waited on you during your visit to her home at Bethany. She also believed in you as the Christ when she awaited your coming on the death of her brother Lazarus, welcoming you on the road to express her grief and sadness.

There was no guile in St. Martha, Lord, as her feelings and words matched her actions.

When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now, I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.” Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and anyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”

John 11:20-27

Grant us, O Lord, the same faith St. Martha had in you as the Christ, the “resurrection and the life” of every believer.

In this fast-paced world, faith in you has greatly eroded as most of us can no longer wait.

We have become impatient, believing less in you like the Israelites who turned to a golden calf because they could no longer wait for Moses who had stayed on top of Mt. Sinai conversing with you, God (Ex. 32:23).

Awaiting Christ’s coming and life eternal like St. Martha who actively waited and served on the Lord in her lifetime is faith in action.

Like St. Martha, help us to believe in you so we would wait on you, wait for you.

Like St. Martha, may we live in every here and now in your presence. Amen.

The problem with believing

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Saturday of the Easter Octave, 27 April 2019

Acts 4:13-21///Mark 16:9-15

From Google.

While praying your words today O Lord Jesus Christ, I remembered your servant Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI who explained the great importance of professing “I believe in God”.

It is a fundamental affirmation, seemingly simple in its essence, but it opens on to the infinite world of the relationship with the Lord and with his mystery. Believing in God entails adherence to him, the acceptance of his word and joyful obedience to his revelation… The ability to say one believes in God is therefore both a gift — God reveals himself, he comes to meet us — and a commitment, it is divine grace and human responsibility in an experience of conversation with God who… speaks to us, so that, in faith and with faith, we are able to enter into communion with him.

General Audience, 23 January 2013

Since then until now, believing in you Jesus to have risen from the dead, to be from God the Father has always been a problem because we have always refused to accept your opening to us. We always want to manipulate everything, especially God.

The problem with believing is we have refused to live by God, always leaving him behind because we feel he is outdated, old-fashioned and too conservative for our modern thoughts and perceptions of how life should be lived.

The problem with believing God then and now is we have stopped recognizing God as the foundation of our lives that like the chief priests and elders in the Acts of the Apostles, we would rather be blind from the glaring truth of your loving presence before us. Like the Apostles too during Easter, we have refused to believe others in proclaiming your rising from the dead because of many reasons and one of these is the hardness of our hearts.

Lord Jesus Christ, take away our stony hearts and give us with a natural heart that beats with firm faith in you, fervent hope and unceasing charity and love. Amen.

Choir loft of Parish Church of the Holy Family in Taipeh. Photo by author, January 2019.

Recognizing Jesus

recognizingjesus
Photo from Google.
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe, Week XIV-B, 08 July 2018
Ezekiel 2:2-5///2Corinthians 12:7-10///Mark 6:1-6

            These past weeks we have seen the growing success and popularity of Jesus Christ.  People were amazed with Him that great crowds kept on following Him wherever He would go to hear Him preach and most especially to touch Him or be touched by Him to be healed of all kinds of sickness.  Jesus was “viral” and “trending” in every town He visited around the Lake of Galilee except in His hometown of Nazareth which is His next stop today.

            Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples.  When the Sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished.  They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands?  Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon?  And are not his sisters here with us?”  And they took offense at him.(Mk.6:2-3)

             In spite of the popular enthusiasm He had aroused during His ministry, Jesus was no stranger to bitter disappointments and failures.  All four evangelists tell us of the many times Jesus was rejected by people, reaching its highest point in His crucifixion.  See how Mark noted in our gospel today how the people refused to recognize Jesus Christ, “And they took offense at him.”  It was an attack on the very person of Jesus, not on His works!  See how the people’s queries about Him were tinted with malice and suspicion.  This is the ugly side of that adage “familiarity breeds contempt” when those closest to you, when those who are supposed to know you more and better are the ones who refuse to believe you.  This is the reason Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.”(Mk.6:4)

             But it is also here where we find the good news for us this Sunday:  when we feel rejected or unaccepted or doubted by those closest to us, do not despair.  Not all days are bright and sunny for us that in everything we do we are accepted and appreciated.  Sometimes, there are dark clouds of doubts and suspicions cast over us, on our very person by those closest to us like family and relatives, friends and neighbors.  And in those moments of rejection, try to feel in your heart Jesus Christ who always believes in you because He Himself sent you as His prophets, His spokesperson.  Like Ezekiel in the first reading, we are all prophets sent to speak of God’s love and mercy in this world where everything and everyone is doubted, questioned and examined like microorganisms under a microscope.  It does not matter “whether they heed or resist – for they are a rebellious house – they shall know that a prophet has been among them.”(Ez.2:5)    Like all the prophets, keep doing what you believe is good.  Keep pursuing your dreams and keep striving to be better not to prove yourself and disprove those around you but because it is a mission from God Himself to express His love and concern for everyone.  Even if others refuse to believe in us, even if they refuse to accept us, we continue to speak to them, we continue to serve them, we continue to love them, we continue to be among them just like Jesus because we believe.  Most of all, because we love.

            This was the moving spirit behind St. Paul’s enthusiasm amidst many sufferings and rejections:  “I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.  Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak then I am strong.” (2Cor.12:9-10)   In imitating Jesus Christ, St. Paul realized power is made perfect in weakness on the Cross.  When we let go of our power and strength, God fills us with life and resurrection.  Recall the days you relied more on God, when you refused to fight back or resort to violence so as not to go down to “lowlife” level – those are the same moments of your sweetest victories and maturity because those were the moments we have truly loved.  When we love, it means we believe.  We have faith!  Note how Mark ended his story today with a note that Jesus “was not able to do any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hand on them.  He was amazed at their lack of faith.”(Mk.6:6) 

             The people took offense at Jesus for they lacked faith because they do not love Him.  The problem is not with God if nothing good is happening in our lives like when we cannot experience healing and forgiveness.  We have to believe in Jesus first for us to see Him present.  To believe in Him, like with any person demands love.  When we truly love a person including Jesus, our eyes are always opened, recognizing them even in their shadows or footsteps.  When we truly love anyone, there is no need to see because in our hearts, that person is already present in us.  And so we believe.  Then miracles happen, joy overflows.  A blessed week ahead of you! Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya Ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan