Love drives out fear

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Wednesday after Epiphany of the Lord, 08 January 2019

1 John 4:11-18 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Mark 6:45-52

Flowers at our Altar, 05 January 2020. Photo by author.

We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him. In this is love brought to perfection among us, that we have confidence on the day of judgment because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.

1 John 4:16-18

How true are the words and reflection of your beloved disciple, Lord Jesus Christ! Indeed, when there is fear, that is when we refuse to love or at least fail to love.

When we are afraid of losing honor and losing possessions, when we are afraid of being disadvantaged and being out of the limelight, when we are afraid of being forgotten and unrecognized… those are the moments we fail to love because we cannot let go of our self, of our ego.

Teach us, Jesus, to take into our hearts your manifestations of your presence and power, of your love and concern for us so that our fears of being forsaken may be lessened.

Give us the grace to face our fears especially in moments of darkness and trials when we act like your disciples who cannot recognize your coming by walking on water at the middle of a storm at the sea.

Refresh our memories, Jesus, to recall those many moments you have come to our rescue to save us from so many problems and situations in the past so we may now completely trust you and give you our very selves in loving service.

Help us to let go and let God by dying to ourselves. Amen.

“Waiting for Love” by Sergio Mendes and Brazil ‘77

waiting for love

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music, 06 January 2019

            It’s the first Sunday of 2019 and we are celebrating in the Church today the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord used to be known as feast of the Three Kings.  From the Greek word epiphanes that means appearance or manifestation, today’s celebration reminds us that Jesus came for everyone especially those forgotten and unloved, the poor and marginalized, the sinner and those lost.  Most of all, Christ became human like us except in sin so that it would be easier for us to find God.  In fact, it is actually God who searches for us and always finds us.  Whenever we think we are looking for God and have found Him, it was actually God who first sought us and found us.

            While praying over the scriptures for today’s celebration, one song kept playing at the back of my mind, “Waiting for Love” by Sergio Mendes and the Brazil ’77.  Composed by Randy McNeill, it is from their 1974 album “Vintage 74” that features for the second time around the vocals by Gracinha Leporace and Bonnie Bowden.  It is a very beautiful song with a haunting music because it is so true with many of us who are so afraid to love, afraid to follow our stars, and perhaps afraid to fail and get hurt in life.  “Waiting for Love” challenges us like the Epiphany if who among us are wise enough to recognize and follow Jesus appearing daily in our lives in many occasions and circumstances?  Surely, there were other people who have seen the bright star of Bethlehem when Christ was born but why only the three magi from the East came to follow it and search for Jesus?  Matthew tells us how the whole Jerusalem along with Herod were greatly troubled upon hearing the magi looking for the newborn king of the Jews as indicated by the bright star!  This is what the song “Waiting for Love” is saying, of how often that “(And) it seems I’ve spent my whole life, Waiting for love, And when it comes, I always run away.”  This 2019, stop being “afraid of being close where I need to be the most” – follow and believe in the bright star of Jesus Christ!  Cheers to more love this 2019!

Photo from Google.

Epiphany: New Beginnings in Christ

wise-men-still-seek-him-1-728
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe
Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, 06 January 2019
Isaiah 60:1-6///Ephesians 3:2-3, 5-6///Matthew 2:1-12

            Metro Manila’s main thoroughfare is called EDSA for Epifanio delos Santos Avenue.  Its namesake is a famous scholar from the province of Rizal whose name means “manifestation” or “appearance” from the Greek epiphanes.  EDSA today may be considered as the epiphany of everything that is wrong in the country, from government inefficiency to people lacking in discipline and patriotism.  Mention the word EDSA and you feel sad and gloomy all of a sudden. On the other hand, the Epiphany we celebrate today brings joy and jubilation because it is the manifestation of the universal kingdom of Jesus Christ to the pagans symbolized by the magi from the East.  After the octave of Christmas, it is celebrated within this joyous season to remind us that while deep within each one of us is a natural search or inclination for God, it is actually God who looks for us and eventually finds us.  Though it is God who appears to us or “epiphanies” to us, we have to be like the magi who must look and find Him as well as lead others to Him too!

            When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of King Herod, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews?  We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” (Mt. 2:1-2)

            It takes a wise person to search for Jesus – and a wiser person to lead others to Him!  How sad that so many people today feel so lost and could not find the right directions to Jesus because as we have reflected last Christmas, there are so many of us who pretend to be the Christ.  When somebody comes to us, seeking comfort or counsel or simply company, do they find the newborn King in us?  When people come to our homes, do they experience Jesus in our family?  When people come to pray and celebrate the sacraments in our parish or chapel, do they find Christ present there among the people and the place itself?  How sad that so many churches are desecrated in the name of finding Christ among the people that we have allowed everything and everyone to disregard their sanctity with so much pomp and pageantry that tend to manifest more the pride and ego, or insecurities of those in charge of these sacred places.  People continue to search for that Bethlehem where they could find rest and comfort, solace and consolation in the newborn king Jesus Christ. The Epiphany of the Lord reminds us that Christ came to the world to be the fulfillment of everyone and He had become human like us in everything except sin so we can find Him easily.  There are many symbolisms that may be gleaned from these wise men representing us today.

            They are sometimes called as kings as attested from our first reading, “Rise up in splendor!  Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you… Nations shall walk by your light; kings by your shining radiance.  Caravans of camels shall fill you, dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; all from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the Lord” (Is.60:1, 4, 6).  From this part of Isaiah’s prophecy we also got that picture of the three wise men travelling as kings from the farthest parts of the world of that time riding on camels to show that even the most powerful men of the world recognize Jesus as the King of Kings.  In our responsorial psalm today, we heard ancient places that extend from the extreme west like Tarshish which is in Tartessos, Spain up to the isles off the coast of Africa and the Middle East which is part of Asia to represent rulers of the world who would come to worship Christ.  Notice how these places mentioned in Isaiah and Psalms refer to the three continents known during that time, namely, Africa, Asia, and Europe symbolizing the whole world coming to Christ.  Some Church Fathers even preached that the three kings symbolize the three stages of our life where Christ leads and guides us:  youth, maturity and old age.  In whatever state or stage of life we are, true wisdom and peace can only be found in Christ Jesus regardless of our differences.

            But above all of these we find that with the wise men coming from the East where the sun rises is that they show us the Epiphany as a new beginning in our lives.  The magi represent our inner journey in life to find and follow Jesus Christ.  Last year, I have dwelt a lot in that realization that life is more of a directional than a destination.  What matters most in life is that we keep on following Jesus Christ our light, our star.  That is direction, where He is leading us.  It never stops.  We just keep on following Him until we reach our final destination in heaven for we are all “coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Eph. 3:6).  This direction we have to follow in life never stops for the discovery of God is not the end but the beginning of a journey.  And in this journey in Jesus Christ, we do not simply go as followers but are expected to eventually become believers too.  Matthew noted at the end of the gospel today how the magi“departed for their country by another way” (Mt. 2: 12), meaning they have become believers eventually of Christ.  Their lives have changed and must have never been the same as before after finding Jesus because they have believed.  That is their big advantage and difference with Herod and the experts of Jerusalem who knew everything about the Messiah being born in Bethlehem but refused to believe Him.  This is the danger with us today:  many Christians today are mere followers but not wise enough to be believers of Christ.

            Like those young people aspiring to follow their stars at GMA-7’s talent search program “StarStruck”, we also need to dream, believe,and survive.  We all dream to be fulfilled in life.  And every lofty dream is always from above, from God as Matthew told us this Christmas the dreams of Joseph and now the dream of the magi.  It is said that those who dream with their eyes wide open are the real dreamers, the trailblazers who change the world.  That is because they did not only believe in their dreams and with themselves but most of all, they believed in God.  On this Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, He is inviting us to dream and believe so that we may live fully in Him.  Every day is a new beginning to search and follow and believe Jesus Christ our light.  Today we are given with over 350 days to begin anew in Jesus.  Be wise.  Search Him.  Follow Him.  Believe Him.  Happy Epiphany of the Lord! AMEN. Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan

*Photos from Google.

starstruck