Becoming God’s children

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul
Feast of the Sto. Niño, 17 January 2021
Isaiah 9:1-6  >><)))*>  Ephesians 1:3-6.15-18  >><)))*>  Mark 10:13-16 
Photo by author, 16 January 2021.

Today we spend an extra Sunday for the Christmas Season’s Feast of Sto. Niño granted by Rome to the local Church in recognition of the important role played by that image of the Holy Child gifted by Magellan to Queen Juana of Cebu in 1521.

Its role in the Christianization of the country cannot be denied, considering the historical fact that when Miguel Lopez de Legazpi arrived in Cebu 44 years later after Magellan to claim the country for Spain, they were surprised to discover how the natives venerated the Sto. Niño inside a special hut for worship along with their other anitos.

Legazpi’s chaplain Fray Luis Andres de Urdaneta attested to how that devotion to the Sto. Niño in Cebu enabled them to Christianize other natives without difficulties as the Holy Child image at that time has become the favorite among the people in asking favors like children and bountiful harvests as well as protection from calamities and wars.

The late National Artist Nick Joaquin was absolutely right to claim in his many writings and talks that it was really the Sto. Niño who truly conquered the Philippines that continues to be the most popular Christ-devotion in the country along with the Nuestro Padre Jesus de Nazareno of Quiapo.

More powerful than the swords and cannons or any force in the world indeed is the Child Jesus who has continued to be a paradox in world history: the Son of God born in a lowly stable in a small town called Bethlehem because there was no room for them in the inn during the time of the powerful Caesar claiming to be the king of the whole world by ordering a census of all his subjects in the vast Roman Empire now totally forgotten, his kingdom long gone.

What an irony the God who came so weak like all of us, without any title to His name nor an army at His command still influencing the world in His weakness and silence, in His childlikeness. A reality in life until now we have refused to accept even in the Church.

People were bringing children to Jesus that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he became indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” Then Jesus embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them.

Mark 10:13-16
A child praying in our Parish, 07 November 2019; photo by Mr. Red Santiago.

Christ’s path of weakness vs. the world’s path of power

It is so timely that during this Ordinary Time we have this Feast of the Sto. Niño to remind us of the central teaching of Jesus Christ to be childlike that gets lost in the novelty and sentimentality of our Christmas celebrations.

See how this call for us to be childlike becomes more difficult even almost impossible to achieve in our world that has become so technical and “sophisticated” as we seek to shape and manipulate everything according to our own design.

The world of men, of macho men we love to relish with delight in the secular and religious world in all of its trappings of fads and fashion and “hard talks”, of external showmanships that we try so hard to project cannot hide the hypocrisies within, of keeping grips and control on everyone and everything like the disciples of Jesus. The tragedy of that scene continuing to happen in our time is how some few people who live in darkness pretend to be seeing the light that in the process are actually misleading people towards darkness and destruction.

Every time we refuse to allow others to come forward with their new thoughts and new ideas, fresh perspectives in governance and management, in the ministry, in theology, when we close our minds to hear others ideas and opinions in doing things, then we are into serious power plays that can be pernicious at the same time.

When this happens, we are all the more challenged to be child-like before God in taking all the risks in exposing what is true, what is real like those kids shouting “the emperor has no clothes”!

To be a child means to owe one’s existence to another which we never outgrow even in our adult life. It is an attitude of being open, that Jesus can be talking to us through people not necessarily like us, even different from us. It is an attitude of trusting others, unlike those hungry for power who only believe in themselves, so afraid they might be proven wrong because their minds are either narrow or closed.

Are we not surprised at all that these control freaks around us who try so hard to project images of power and strength are often the perverts and deviants hiding their childishness and immaturities and other skeletons in the closet?

Photo by author, “Sleeping Sto. Niño”, January 2020.

Becoming and living as God’s children

Jesus shows us today in this feast of the Sto. Niño that it is in the path of being weak like children when we are truly free like Him – free to be a child of God indeed! This He accomplished by dying on the Cross not only to forgive us for our sins but made us a “new man/woman” in God as His children.

Brothers and sisters: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in then heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundations of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved.

Ephesians 1:3-6

How sad that in our efforts to be in the man’s world of power and dominance, we try so hard becoming somebody else whom we are not only to end up alone, lost and unfulfilled.

Our being children of God is something innate in us, already within us that was accomplished by Christ for us at the Cross.

The key is to always go back to Jesus at the Cross.

We have said earlier that to be a child is to owe one’s existence to another that is, ultimately speaking, to God alone.

Hence, one sure sign of being like a child is having the sense of gratitude, of thanksgiving.

Incidentally, the Greek word for thanksgiving is eucharistia or eucharist! In the gospel accounts, we find so many instances of Jesus thanking the Father for everything that beautifully reminds us of His childlikeness.

The moment we feel strong enough without need for others, then we stop being grateful, then we lose that childlikeness in us as we start tinkering with power and influence, assuming to ourselves that everybody owes us, the world needs us.

That is when we stop growing and sooner or later, we collapse and eventually fall so hard on our faces.

How amazing that the Sto. Niño image given by Magellan to Queen Juana holds an orb or a globe. It is very interesting where did the maker of that image got that idea that the world is round when in fact it was the theory that Magellan had in mind in setting out to his ambitious expedition by sailing westward and returning from the east?

Records show that the first images of the Child Jesus or Sto. Niño as we know came from Flanders, a region in the Netherlands. The Flemish people have been making those images as early as the late 1400’s. That is why there is also that popular image of the the Child Jesus in Prague in the Czech Republic.

The mystery remains where did they get that idea of the Child Jesus holding an orb?

Could it be that the Flemish people who were devoutly Catholics at that time must have found the “light” from Jesus Christ in their devotions and prayers as prophesied by Isaiah in the first reading?

Nobody knows for sure but the next time you look at a Sto. Niño, be reminded always that it is the Child Jesus who holds the world in His hands. If you want to have the world in your hand too, be child-like! Be always grateful for who you are and what you have. Jesus promised it anyway.

Blessed week ahead of you!

Welcoming Jesus

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 28 December 2020
Photo by author, 28 December 2020.

“Welcoming Jesus”.

It is not really the title of this piece but the name of this image of the baby Jesus above.

See His smiles and open hands with eyes exuding with warmth and joy to anyone who sees Him. Even with the dusts and cracks held intact by scotch tapes, it is one of my most loved and cherished possessions I would never trade for anything.

Given to me by a brother priest in Christmas 2017, Welcoming Jesus measures about eight inches and seems to be Mexican or African inspired with his dark skin and lively colorful design of baby dress. I have always loved this Baby Jesus who seems so alive that I have kept Him on my desk, giving me so many inspirations and “kicks” in my studies in the past three years.

Small and handy, and so fragile, I have always imagined Him to be just like the infant Jesus when He was born in Bethlehem more than 2000 years ago.

As I turned off my lamp last night before retiring, I saw Him, smiling and yes, “welcoming” to remind me of a story I have read ten years ago about St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, India when one of their patients threw to her a crucifix in a fit of tantrum. After pacifying the patient, St. Mother Teresa picked the crucifix and pieced together with a scotch tape an arm of Jesus that was broken. She then gave it to one of her nuns with instructions to hang it again on their wall with a note that says, “Let me heal your broken arm”.

In the same manner, as I looked onto my little image of “Welcoming Jesus”, I felt it my Christmas message for 2020 as we celebrate Holy Innocents’ Day: “Let me show you tenderness, Baby Jesus.”

If there is one thing we all need at this time of the pandemic, this Christmas 2020, it must be tenderness. Like the tender compassion of God, His mercy.

Tenderness is being merciful, being soft in the heart in a very positive sense. Some people think that being tender, being merciful and forgiving is a sign of weakness; on the contrary, it is pure power and strength.

The former US President Theodore Roosevelt who was a military officer before getting into politics used to tell that in any argument or discussion, the first to use one’s fist is always the one with less intelligence, less power who resort to force because they have ran out of reasons to argue.

Very true! Exactly with that off-duty cop who brutally shot and killed mother and son in Paniqui, Tarlac whose tiny brain could not control his humongous body much less understand everything that was going then.

Mercy and tenderness, like courage, are movements within the heart. The Latin word for mercy perfectly captures its meaning: misericordia or a stirring of the heart, a moving of the heart. More than a feeling, it is taking concrete actions to bow down and be one with those suffering.

That is why the Son of God became human, chose to be born as an infant like everybody else, to be one with us, to suffer with us, that is, compassion from cum and passio, to suffer with.

The eminent theologian Fr. Hans urs Von Balthasar, a good friend of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, wrote before he died that “the central mystery of Christianity is our transformation from a world-wise, self-sufficient ‘adults’ into abiding children of the Father of Jesus by the grace of the Holy Spirit. All else in the Gospel – the Lord’s Incarnation, his hidden and public lives, his miracles and preaching, his Passion, Cross, and resurrection – has been for this” (Unless You Become Like This Child).

A baby is always welcoming to almost everyone, and vice versa, anyone even the most hardened criminal would always welcome and be moved by the sight of a baby or a child.

How sad that until now, there are still King Herods among us who are insecured with children and infants. Worst are those who abuse and molest children, the single most damning crime by some in the clergy this century because it is directly opposite the central theme of Christ’s teachings and warning – “See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven always look upon the face of my heavenly Father” (Matt.18:10).

Photo by Mr. Marc Angelo Nicolas Carpio, Baby Jesus in our Parish, Christmas 2020.

Due to COVID-19 pandemic, for the first time in our churches, the traditional kissing (pahalik) of the image of the Baby Jesus is scrapped. Perhaps it is a good reminder to us all to meditate more in our hearts the meaning of Jesus being born an infant – so weak, so dependent to adults like us.

It is a call for us too to do something concrete about the many sufferings children have to go through in this time, on one end those denied of basic goods and services while on the other extreme are the children with all the material needs except the warmth and love of their parents.

One saint I have discovered before our ordination more than 20 years ago is St. Charles de Foucauld, a French priest who lived among the Tuaregs of the Sahara desert in the early 20th century. In his room, he always had a baby Jesus and an altar for the Blessed Sacrament to adore daily.

His core value is founded on “littleness” – of finding Jesus among the little ones, of being little before the Lord.

Have that tender care that expresses itself in the little things that are like a balm for the heart… With our neighbours go into the smallest details, whether it is a question of health, of consolation, of prayerfulness, or of need. Console and ease the pain of others through the tiniest of attentions. Be as tender and attentive towards those whom God puts on our path, as a brother towards brother or as a mother for her child. As much as possible be an element of consolation for those around us, as soothing balm, as our Lord was towards all those who drew near to him.

St. Chrales de Foucauld

What a beautiful reminder of the Child Jesus this Christmas and hereafter. If we can be tender with one another in the most minute detail like Jesus, then we can truly experience His coming to us, fulfilling us with His presence and love which is the spirit of Christmas. Amen.

Praying for the Spirit of God

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Advent Week I, 01 December 2020
Isaiah 11:1-10     >><)))*>   +   <*(((><<     Luke 10:21-24
From Google.

Thank you very much, God our Father, for bringing us to this final month of 2020, December, with its chilly morning and resplendent sunrise that seem to promise us with a day filled with warmth and life like your words to the Prophet Isaiah.

On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from its roots a bud shall blossom. The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him…

Isaiah 11:1-2

On this first day of December, we pray dear Father for your Holy Spirit to rest upon us too so our minds and our hearts may be enlightened to always seek and follow your Holy Will like Jesus whose return we eagerly await.

Grant us your Spirit of wisdom and understanding, Father, that we may search for you and the ultimate truths in life, not just the information fed unto us by media that can be misleading and even manipulative sometimes.

Grant us your Spirit of counsel and of strength so we may forge on in this life amid all the problems and sufferings we are facing from the pandemic and calamities plus the personal trials we have to go through. Just keep us moving forward and resist temptations of giving up the struggle, and giving up on our loved ones.

Grant us, most of all, dear Father, your Spirit of fear of the Lord. Please forgive us, merciful Father, for being so bold and daring in the wrong sense that we turn away from you, disregard you and your precepts because many of us feel we know and could know everything in life.

Instead, give us the grace to be bold and daring in faith in you like the children, so humble to believe you and always awed with the wonders of life like shoots and flowers budding forth. Amen.

Photo by author, Mt. St. Paul Retreat House, La Trinidad, Benguet, January 2020.

Learning from Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial of St. Clement, Pope and Martyr, 23 November 2020
Revelation 14:1-3, 4-5     >><)))*>  >><)))*>  >><)))*>     Luke 21:1-4
Photo by Red Santiago, his youngest son at prayer in our Parish, 21 November 2019.

Two things have struck me today, Lord, in your words: first is how St. John could say “No one could learn this hymn except the hundred and forty-four thousand who had been ransomed from the earth” (Rev. 14:3) when he heard them singing before you in his vision of heaven; and second, how did you know that the “poor widow put in more than all the rest” (Lk.21:3) into the treasury?

Of course, you are the Son of God, Jesus, who knows everything and can read everything in our hearts but, aside from that fact, one thing that truly best describes you is how you can give up anything even your very self for us, completely trusting the Father like a child.

In the gospel, you must have seen how the poor widow thought more of God, more of the temple, more of those in need than her self that she gave two small coins’ offerings worth a fortune for her. She was willing to let go of everything she has for God because she trusted him so much!

May we keep in our minds and in our hearts that it is when we are able to give up what is most precious in us that we truly love because that is also when we truly have faith in you that whatever we lovingly surrender is never lost but gained in eternal life like the 144,000 souls singing the new hymn for the Lamb in heaven seen by your beloved disciple.

As we close the current liturgical year this week, teach us, Lord Jesus, to learn more of these things from you so we can prepare ourselves for your daily coming especially this coming Season of Advent leading to Christmas.

Like St. Clement, may we entrust everything to God’s providence and care our whole lives. Amen.

Prayer to become small

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, 19 June 2020
Deuteronomy 7:6-11 ><)))*> 1 John 4:7-16 <*(((>< Matthew 11:25-30
Photo from Google.

O most Sacred Heart of Jesus, make my heart like yours — make me small and little in standing, hidden and unknown among many, simple and humble in a world now measured in influence, popularity, and following.

On this Solemnity of your Most Sacred Heart, I thank you dear Jesus in choosing to be small and little, always hidden in the simplest things of life like soft voices of kindness and mercy, reason and wisdom, gratitude and love.

You have shown us that to be truly loving like you, we have to be small and little like children.

Most of all, free to be ourselves as beloved children of the Father!

Free from inhibitions and guilt to truly express the love and joy within.

Help us, Jesus, to cast all our worries to you, to take your yoke that is easy, burden that is light.

It is so difficult to love when we are burdened by many concerns and considerations, when we cannot be our true selves that we lack spontaneity, of being natural and easy.

In the same manner, it becomes hard for us too to love or even please someone who sees him or her self bigger than reality, when they see themselves as “big shots” and “heavyweights” who have to be pleased and “followed” or affirmed.

May we always keep in mind the words of Moses so applicable also to us today:

“It was not because you are the largest of all nations that the Lord set his heart on you and chose you, for you are really the smallest of all nations.”

Deuteronomy 7:7

O Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, you have given us your heart that bleeds due to the thorns of our sins, yet aglow with the fire of your immense love and mercy.

May we come to you, today and always to find rest, to learn from your gentle and humble ways so needed in our heartless world. Amen.

Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2019.

“Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson (1987)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music, 19 January 2019

Photo by Jenna Hamra on Pexels.com

Today we are celebrating an extension of Christmas Season with the Feast of the Sto. Niño that falls every third Sunday of January.

It is a special indult granted by Rome to the Philippines in recognition of the crucial role of the image of the Child Jesus we fondly call Sto. Niño given by Magellan to Queen Juana of Cebu almost 500 years ago when the Spaniards came to our shores to colonize and Christianize us as well.

The Sto. Niño is the second most popular Catholic devotion in our predominantly Christian nation, next to the Black Nazarene of Quiapo which we celebrated two weeks ago.

“Sleeping Sto. Niño” at our altar, 19 January 2020 photo by Jasper Dacutanan.

But a lot often, people forget the deeper meaning within the Sto. Niño that the path leading to becoming true disciples of Jesus, of following him to the Cross starts in becoming like a child, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt.18:3).

We will never be able to carry our cross and follow Jesus in selfless service and love to others unless we set aside our attitudes of being adults who know everything, insist on everything.

And that is why for this Sunday we have chosen the late Michael Jackson hit from his 1987 “Bad” album, Man in the Mirror.

It is one of the two songs in the album Michael Jackson did not write. It was written by Siedah Garrett and Glen Ballard who eventually both carved names for themselves in the music scene composing for other artists later.

According to stories, Michael and his producer Quincy Jones have asked their pool of composers to come up with a song that would serve as “an anthem” for the Bad album that would “spread some sunshine on the world”.

Michael liked the song right away and even after he had died, the song has become a classic with its timeless message that if you want to change the world, change yourself first.

And we say that looking on the man or woman on the mirror is the first step in becoming like a child as Jesus would want us all to do to enter the kingdom of heaven.

A blessed Sunday to you, dear reader and follower!

First of all, be a child of God

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul

Feast of Sto. Niño, 19 January 2020

Isaiah 9:1-6 ><)))*> Ephesians 1:3-6, 15-18 ><)))*> Matthew 18:1-5, 10

The Cross and the Bell of our parish church. Photo by Gelo N. Carpio, 12 January 2020.

Looming high always at the center of our Christian faith is the Cross of Jesus Christ. Whether inside or outside any church, there is always the Cross reminding us of our salvation in Jesus and of the path we have to follow as his disciples.

But, so often we forget that the first call of the Cross is for us to be a child of God above all in order to follow his Son our Lord in his Passion, Death, and Resurrection.

Here we find the full meaning of our celebration of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord last Sunday, of how in our Baptism we have become the children of God in Jesus Christ who became like us so that we may become like him, blessed and divine as the eternal Son of the Father.

Such is the plan of God in the very beginning of his Creation.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved.

Ephesians 1:3-6

It is only in our becoming first the sons and daughters of the Father in Jesus Christ that St. Paul declares how we are saved in this part of the second reading skipped by the liturgy today:

In him we have redemption by his blood, the forgiveness of transgressions, in accord with the riches of his grace that he lavished upon us.

Ephesians 1:7-8
A painting of Sto. Niño devotees by Bulakenyo artist Aris Bagtas, 2018.

Work of Christmas continues

We are already into the second week of Ordinary Time in our liturgy but, we in the Philippines are still celebrating an “extension” of the Christmas Season this third Sunday of January for the Feast of the Sto. Niño, the Holy Child Jesus.

And, for a very good reason! to remind us the story of Christmas continues even after the Feast of the Lord’s Baptism or when all decors have been kept.

The work of Christmas, of sharing Jesus Christ in our loving service with others continues the whole year through. In fact, it is during the 34 weeks of Ordinary Time where we are most challenged to continue Christ’s work he started at Christmas when he became a child among us.

And there lies the very core of his teachings, of his message to us: our being like a child!

At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Jesus called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.”

Matthew 18:1-5

Jesus remained the Child of God until the end

If we examine everything in the Gospel, from the Incarnation and Nativity of Jesus, his hidden and public lives, his miracles and preaching, into his Passion, Death, and Resurrection, everything is anchored in Christ’s being like a child, the eternal Son of God.

When he was lost and found in the temple at the age of 12, right away he told his Mother his being the Son of God: “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Lk.2:49)

Painting by Aris Bagtas, 2018.

At Last Supper, Jesus explained his being the Child of the Father: “The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works” (Jn.14:10).

His being one with the Father is due to his being the Eternal Son that reached its highest point of expression at the crucifixion where Jesus repeatedly called God his “Father”.

Here we find as in our gospel today the essential requirement of first becoming a child of God to make it into the kingdom of heaven. It is impossible to follow Jesus to his Cross when we remain adults who know everything!

This is the problem with the Traslacion that has become rowdy, even crazy over the years which is completely the opposite of the Pit Señor de Sto. Niño in Cebu that remains solemn and orderly despite its vast crowd of devotees.

See how in Quiapo the devotees “fight” and insist on their own ways of doing the procession, of how things are now turned upside down with the hijos lording over (pun intended) everything every January 9 with the gall to call Christ “Padre Nuestro Jesus de Nazareno”?

Everybody wants to fulfill one’s panata of jumping into the revered image of the Nazareno, in total disregard of others.

Where is the spirit of being a child, of being generous and kind with others?

What we have been seeing these past years in the Traslacion is more of machismo, of who is the greatest to be able to reach the Nazareno. And included among them are the growing members of media suddenly becoming devotees with the panata to anchor Traslacion!

Being a child is a call to daily conversion in Christ Jesus

Becoming like a child a daily call to conversion to Jesus, a going back to the story of Christmas, of being humble and small. I like that word used by Jesus today – turn – when he declared, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children…”

To be able to carry our cross and follow Jesus, we have to turn first, that is, be transformed from world-wise, self-sufficient, all-knowing adults of the world into abiding children of the Father of Jesus Christ by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

Children always have that glow within them that can disarm us of our insecurities and fears. Below is a painting by the Danish-German Modern Artist Emil Nolde (1867-1956) portrayed children with Christ in bright colors while the adults were all dark and gloomy.

“Christ Among Children” (1910) by Emil Nolde.

Being like a child is letting go of our fears and insecurities to entrust ourselves to God’s care and providence. And to others dependability and reliability too!

Maybe that is why as we get older, we mellow: we realize after all that we remain children of God and of somebody else in the end. There is always somebody out there who would look after us especially when we are already old and weak. There is always somebody whose heart would always be moved to come to our rescue or simply to warm our hearts or make us smile.

If each of us can become like a child daily, simply loving and trusting others, then we can bring light into this world deeply plunged in the darkness of sin and pride, of rat race without any winner, or arms race without any war at all.

If we can become like the child, we can become like Jesus Christ, the great light in the land of gloom bringing joy and great rejoicing (Is.9:1-2) with his life of love flowing from the great sacrifice at the Cross. Amen.

Our “Bestest” Gift of Christmas

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 30 December 2019

Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, Carigara, September 2019.

Today we conclude our series on the best Christmas gifts we have received following Christ’s coming more than 2000 years ago: the gift of childhood, of being child-like.

What a joy to keep in mind how God the Almighty chose to become human like us to show us that the path to true greatness and power is in becoming small like an infant, being like a child.

How foolish that we always “play” God to be great and powerful!

The central mystery of Christianity is our transformation from world-wise, self-sufficient “adults” into abiding children of the Father of Jesus by the grace of the Holy Spirit. All else in the Gospel, from the Incarnation of the Lord to his hidden and public lives, his miracles and preaching, his Passion, Death and Resurrection has been for this, of becoming like a child.

The late Cardinal Hans Urs von Balthasar, “Unless You Become Like this Child” (1991, Ignatius Press)

The child-like attitude of Jesus Christ

The best gift we can have this Christmas is to be child-like, to regain and reclaim our sense of childhood, of attending to that “inner child” within us when we trust more, believe more!

Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, Carigara, September 2019.

See how Jesus Christ entrusts himself not only to his Father but most of all to us!

That is the touching message of the Nativity scene, of how our Lord and God, the King of kings through whom everything was created giving himself to us like a baby, asking us to love him, to take care of him, to be gentle with him, to protect and keep him safe from all harm.

And the key to claiming this great gift of being like a child is for us to learn again how to trust more and fear less like Jesus who showed us by example, not only with words his being child-like.

His constant acknowledgement of God his Father always speaking and doing his will tells us how Jesus from childhood into is adulthood remained like a child by entrusting his total self to God, reaching its highest point on the Cross when he cried out, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Lk.23:46).

Trust more, fear less

To be like a child according to the example of Jesus Christ is to always trust God and others, and fear less.

Like us, Jesus experienced fears, getting afraid of death but unlike us, he courageously faced death by trusting the Father by “resolutely” going to Jerusalem to be crucified!

When the days for his being taken up were fulfilled, Jesus resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem.

Luke 9:51

It is normal to have fears, to be afraid.

Fear is not totally negative; it has its good effects that have actually led mankind to every great progress in life like the discovery of new lands and territories, new medicines, new inventions and other things. 

Fear becomes a liability when it prevents us to trust more like little children. 

Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2018.

Kids and young people are often “positively” fearless because they trust so much nobody would hurt them or no one would forsake them. 

As we age, our fears increase because our trust decreases:  we fear so many things because we are afraid of losing the little we have, we are afraid of getting hurt, we are afraid of starting all over again.

We are afraid of getting old, of getting sick, and of dying. 

What an irony how we started in life fearing almost nothing as babies and kids that we grew up so fast but as we aged and matured, we fear so many things that we have stopped growing and stopped living even long before we actually die.

The other day, December 28, we celebrated “Niños Innocentes” or “Holy Innocents” to remember those male children below two years old ordered killed by King Herod for fears of the “newborn king of Israel.” 

Herod lived in constant fears of being deposed in power that he ordered the killing of his three sons and ten wives after suspecting them of trying to overthrow him.

We may not be like Herod with the way we react with our many fears but like him, we end up with same effects like death of friendships, death of love, death of everything, the end of life and adventure.

Maybe that explains why somehow as we get older, we “mellow” and become like children again, realizing we cannot control everything in life, that it is always best to act than to react in every situation.

Do not miss out this great gift of Christmas of becoming like a child.

Trust Jesus Christ who called on us not to be afraid for he is with us always!

Greatness in smallness

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Tuesday, Advent Week I, Memorial of St. Francis Xavier, 03 December 2019

Isaiah 11:1-10 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Luke 10:21-24

What a blessed Tuesday we have today, O Lord, despite the threat of a super typhoon approaching us!

Your words console us, assure us of your protection and grace.

You give us today two beautiful images of greatness in being small which is the true spirit of Christmas, of you our God coming to us a child born in Bethlehem more than 2000 years ago.

First image is the “shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from its roots a bud shall blossom” (Is.11:1).

Every great thing always starts small. Most of all, they always happen where we least expect them like shoots sprouting from the stump of a tree! Help us to keep this in mind especially when we are losing hope.

How sad that in today’s world, people insist that “size always matter” that we always want to be the biggest in everything.

Second image, O Lord, that you have given us today of greatness in smallness is being childlike, your favorite:

Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.

Luke 10:21
Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2018.

Being like a child is the very essence of your life and teachings, O Lord Jesus which we seem to fail to grasp and accept. All our lives we have always insisted on being so wise and learned that have often led us to more problems and disunity among us.

Teach us to be childlike, full of trust and confidence in you and most especially, with that sense of awe.

Like our Saint for today, that great child in faith of St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Francis Xavier who kept that spirit of being childlike in his going to mission as far as China and Japan working tirelessly for the faith.

O blessed St. Francis Xavier, pray for us to remain small and simple before God our Master like you so that his greatness and majesty be seen more in us. Amen.

Angel of God, Reminder of God

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Wednesday, Memorial of Guardian Angels, 02 October 2019

Nehemiah 2:1-8 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Matthew 18:1-5, 10

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Your gospel today, Lord Jesus, brought me with mixed feelings of embarrassment and joy.

Embarrassed because like your disciples then, until now we are still preoccupied with the same old question of “who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (Mt.18:1).

How funny – and shameful too, Lord, that as we grow older, the less we believe or at least disregard your guardian angels assigned to each one of us. As we get older, we feel we know everything, we can do everything, and we can be on our own.

How sad that in similar manner of dismissing our parents and elders as guardians, we have also abandoned belief and acceptance of angels.

Thank you for never abandoning us despite of this attitude, O dear God!

Thank you most of all, dearest God, for not withdrawing from our side our guardian angels!

Joy fills my heart today on this feast of the Guardian Angels that even if so many times in the past I have turned away from you, my guardian angel never left me, guiding me back to you in those many instances of discovering your wonder anew.

Our guardian angels remind us O Lord of your great love for us.

I can still recall so many instances in my life how I felt someone I do not see yet so personally present with me, personally saving me from so many occasions and situations that were harmful and even fatal.

Yes, guardian angels are not only for kids but for everyone who believe in you, Lord, to remind us of you.

Teach us to be child-like, humbly admitting there is an angel on our side, and most of all, you are always with us, Lord Jesus Christ.

As your messengers who are very close to you and closest with us, teach us to be like our guardian angels always close to you too and with others guarding and protecting them from harm. Amen.

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com