Lord My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 21 June 2020
A blessed happy Father’s Day to all the great dads of the world, especially those who have gone ahead of us and still watching us, guiding us, inspiring us.
Like David Gates who composed our Sunday Music today “Make It With You” in 1970, how I wish I could “make it to the other side climbing rainbows” to be with my dad even for a while to share him my joys and accomplishments, thanking him for all the love he had showered me with.
Hey have you ever tried
Really reaching out for the other side?
I may be climbing on rainbows
But, baby here goes
According to an interview I have read last year which I can no longer remember where, Gates had admitted that he wrote this song primarily for his late father, of how he wished his dad were still around to see him successful as a composer and a musician.
It was only during its recording when they fine-tuned his composition to make it a love song that eventually became the theme song of so many couples and lovers during the 70’s up to this time that the popular group Ben&Ben made a cover early this year for a movie or a series.
See how the song is not just a flight of fantasy or a dream but something so real within, something those of us who are so close with our dads that even if they are now in eternal rest, we can still feel their presence among us.
Dreams they're for those who sleep
Life is for us to keep
And if you're wond'ring
What this song is leading to
I want to make it with you
I really think that we can make it, girl
In our Sunday Gospel today, we find Jesus telling us not to be afraid in fulfilling our missions in life for he is always with us, ensuring that “we make it through” with him and in him.
That is what makes a dad so special: he is full of courage, facing every fear in life to ensure his family can make it through in this life.
And just maybe, dads are always the first to go to heaven because even in eternal life, they still see to it “we make it through” here on earth and to eternity, but not so soon.
Life can be short or long
Love can be right or wrong
And if I choose the one
I'd like to help me through
I'd like to make it with you
I really think that we can make it, girl
Cheers to all the dads who face all fears, both here and hereafter! Amen.
*Photos of my dad Wilfredo Sr. who died June 17, 2000, the 61st birthday of my mom. He is most happy with my mom with whom he is so faithful.
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A, 21 June 2020
Jeremiah 20:10-13 ><)))*> Romans 5:12-15 ><)))*> Matthew 10:26-33
Finally, today we can truly feel the Ordinary Time as we celebrate Sunday in shades of green with a new sequence of readings from the gospel of St. Matthew who will guide us in our journey with Jesus this year until the Solemnity of Christ the King in November.
Set after the naming of the Twelve Apostles who were sent to search for the “lost sheep of Israel”, the Lord now warns them of persecutions and dangers; hence, today until the next two Sundays, Christ will encourage his disciples including us to take on the challenges of his mission, assuring us of his loving presence and protection.
Notice how the Lord tells us three times to be not afraid of the mission:
Jesus said to the Twelve: “Fear no one… And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna… So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Matthew 10:26, 28, 31
The problem with our fears
Christ’s words today suit us so perfectly in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic made worst by the growing social unrests not only in our country but also elsewhere in the world that proves how the Lord’s mission remains unfulfilled in us.
Almost everywhere we hear reports of continued oppression of peoples in various forms of discrimination, disrespect and injustices.
But we do not need to look far to do our mission. We start with ourselves first — for we are the “lost sheep of Israel” in so many ways. All oppression and injustices going on around us are the reflections of what is within us that often result from our fears.
So often, the many fears within us push us to be selfish, forgetting others in the process. And that is when we start hating each other, creating this vicious circle of sufferings as the Jedi Master Yoda warned Anakin Skywalker in “Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace.”
We all have fears. It is normal to feel afraid especially when threatened by a grave danger or threat to life.
Being brave, having courage does not mean having no fears; on the contrary, courage is facing one’s fears in life. Cowardice, on the other hand, is refusal to face our fears.
Jesus is asking us today to face our fears with him and in him so we can be free to follow him in his mission.
Facing our fears in Jesus Christ
What are our fears that lead us to anger and hate, that immobilize us to reach out to God and others? Let us examine them in the light of Christ’s reassuring words this Sunday.
“Fear no one. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. What I say to you in darkness, speak in the light; what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.”
Fear of not being loved and appreciated
One of the things I fear most is not being loved and appreciated, of being neglected and taken for granted.
It is a fear akin with low self-esteem or self-worth that make me afraid of others I deem as better and superior than me.
There are many contributing factors to this fear, mostly not of our own making like growing up in a very strict environment where we are not able to measure up to the expectations of those around us. Sometimes it is due to traumatic experiences that have truly hurt us inside and outside.
As I grew up meeting so many people from various walks of life, including those I looked up and admire including some personalities, I have realized that indeed nobody is perfect. No one has the monopoly of every good thing — looks and intelligence, wealth and health. We all need one another, and we are also needed. And loved as well as appreciated too!
We are all broken and lost, wounded and hurt; no need to fear anyone. What is most important is to always remember God loves us very much — no matter what.
At night before we sleep, do not just count your sins and failures; think also of the good things you have done, people you have helped and made happy. Listen to God thanking you for being so nice with someone. That is what Jesus is telling us to “speak in light” what he said to you in darkness!
Every morning when you wake up, be silent and still, pray and little, listen to God whispering to you the words “I love you… I believe in you” to inspire your for the brand new day. These are the words Jesus is asking you to “proclaim on the housetops”.
Forget those pains inflicted on us by others, in words or in deeds — they must be hurting too, feeling more unloved and unappreciated than us, more fearful than us!
Afraid of getting hurt, physically and emotionally
Another fear I always have is being hurt because I might not be able to take or absorb the pains. Worst, adjust to changes and disturbances that may result.
I was a very sickly child when growing up that I dreaded injections and other medical procedures. Aside from getting hurt, I feared that things could never be the same again, altering or disturbing what I have been used to.
But, as I aged fighting many battles in life, enduring so many pains and hurts with some help from family and friends, I have learned that pain is part of growing up. In fact, growing up becomes nicer with more pains and hurts that make us stronger and wiser with the many lessons we can learn. Most of all, pains and hurts have opened up many doorways to new beginnings that made me grow and mature as a person and as a priest.
Indeed, as the Lord had told us, do not be afraid of those who can kill the body but not the soul. It is what is inside that makes us who we really are. Replace those fears with Jesus and dare to get hurt and bruised that may destroy you outside but stronger inside.
Fear of getting lost, of being alone.
This fear has recurred in me lately during this quarantine period when I am all by myself in my parish with no one to talk to or share whatever may be inside me.
Sometimes it is so tempting to just vanish and die than be lost and alone!
Recently I celebrated a funeral Mass for a young man who committed suicide: he came from the Visayas last February to try his luck here in our barrio to work as a helper in a small candy shop. With the imposition of lockdown in mid-March, he lost his job and had to stay with his cousins who were also laid off from work. The teenager grew homesick, getting depressed later that no amount of alcohol of their nightly drinking sessions could give him a sense of mission that he decided to hang himself on a tree while his drinking companions were all drunk.
Sad that nobody had reminded him of his mission in life that he decided to just end it all. He had forgotten not only his dreams and mission but also his parents and six other siblings in the province looking up to him.
Even if we are in our worst situations in life, for as long as we are alive, still breathing, may we never lose that sense of mission from God because that means we are important, that God believes in us in entrusting us with a mission. Truly, we are worth more than a thousand sparrows that God takes care of.
Experiencing God in the midst of trials
Life is like a rollercoaster: it is something we all fear but we still keep on riding because it is so fulfilling, very liberating, so exciting. It knocks out all the fears in us, making us so aware of life, of being alive.
That was the experience of the Prophet Jeremiah in the first reading: he would always complain to God of his own inadequacies, especially his many fears for the mission and yet, he could not let go of God’s call because he is so in love with him! He could not resist God like a rollercoaster.
I really hoped the lectionary had included the first three verses to the start of our first reading today:
You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me, and you triumphed. All the day I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I must cry out, violence and outrage is my message; The word of the Lord has brought me derision and reproach all the day. I say to myself, I will not mention him, I will speak in his name no more. But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.
Jeremiah was a timid man who was also hypersensitive; yet, God called him to an impossible mission. And despite a long process of purifications marked by arrests, imprisonment and public humiliations, Jeremiah remained faithful to his mission to God that later cost his life. Eventually, the more he became great after his death that he is regarded a major prophet in all three major religions of the world, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
That is the joy of staying in love with God who is like a rollercoaster: he “seduces” us to come to him and then “scares” us, sometimes “hurts” only in the end to surprise us with greater things beyond our imaginations.
We come to experience God most and closest in darkness and trials where he is so real as another person to us. The key is to let go of our fears in Jesus Christ who was no stranger too to fearful situations.
It is nice to know that the greatest and holiest men and women of God were all like us — people so fearful yet brave enough to face their fears in Christ who never fails to provide us with the courage and strength needed in fulfilling our mission.
40 Shades of Lent, Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary, 19 March 2020
2 Samuel 7:4-5, 12-14, 16 +++ Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22 +++ Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24
Praise and thanksgiving to you, O God our loving Father in giving us your Son, Jesus Christ our Savior. In sending him to us, you have asked St. Joseph to be not afraid to be the husband of the Blessed Mother of Jesus, Mary Most Holy.
…the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.
Matthew 1:20-21, 24
We pray today on this Solemnity of St. Joseph that we may also not be afraid in fighting this pandemic COVID-19.
Let us be not afraid to stay home to be with our family again, together and longer.
Let us be not afraid to talk and converse really as husband and wife, parents and children, brothers and sisters. Help us to be more open and more silent like St. Joseph to hear our family members’ innermost thoughts and feelings again with love and understanding.
Let us be not afraid, O Lord, to seek and work for real peace in our family now disintegrating as we disregard each other, choosing fame and wealth than persons.
Let us be not afraid to reach out also to those living alone like the sick, the elderly, the separated, those abandoned by family and friends or society, those widowed.
Let us be not afraid to share food and money to the needy, time and talent, joy and hope to those living in the margins.
Let us be not afraid to ask for forgiveness, to say again those beautiful words “I am sorry” to those we have hurt in words and in deeds; likewise, let us be not afraid to say also those comforting words “I forgive you” to those who have hurt us in words and in deeds.
Let us not be afraid to show respect anew to our elders. Forgive us, O God, in making disrespect a way of life in our time, in our society, in our government and right in our homes and family as we disregard the dignity of one another.
Let us not be afraid to pray again, to kneel before you, and humbly come to you as repentant sinners, merciful Father.
Let us be not afraid to bring Jesus your Son into this world with your love and kindness, sympathy and empathy so we may be healed of so many brokenness and pains deep within.
Let us not be afraid to be humans again and realize we are not gods, that we cannot control everyone and everything in this world.
Let us be not afraid to be open to you and to others, especially the weak and needy because the truth is, we need you O God and one another.
Please, like St. Joseph, let us not be afraid to wake up to the realities of this life to follow you always in your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.
O blessed St. Joseph, Husband of Mary, pray for us!
Wednesday after Epiphany of the Lord, 08 January 2019
1 John 4:11-18 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Mark 6:45-52
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.
Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 30 December 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!
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.
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.
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!
Monday, Dedication of the Basilicas of Sts. Peter and Paul, 18 November 2019
Acts of the Apostles 28:11-16, 30-31 ><)))*> Matthew 14:22-33
My dearest Lord Jesus:
It is again the start of work and studies.
How I pity Monday!
It is perhaps the most hated day of the week primarily because of the many fears it brings upon us.
Inner and outer fears that lead us to doubt our selves, our talents and abilities, even people around us.
And worst, of doubting YOU.
There are times we are like the Apostles who could hardly see you coming to us in times of darkness and storms in life.
Though you keep on calling us, assuring us of your presence, to be not afraid, we still choose to be afraid that we sink deeper into sin and evil.
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
Hardly a day passes in our lives, Lord, without our experience of so many fears, doubts, apprehensions, and anxieties that drain us of so much energies to do more good things for you through others.
Some of us have long been held captive by this dark power of fear within and without that we hardly experience true freedom!
As we celebrate the dedication of the two Major Basilicas in honor of your two great Saints and Apostles, Peter and Paul, teach us to come home to your dwelling place of love and freedom, not of fear and doubts.
Teach us to be at home with you, to always find you even in the midst of darkness and giant waves of uncertainties. Amen.
Wednesday after Epiphany of the Lord, 09 January 2019
1 John 4:11-18///Mark 6:45-52
God our loving Father, we praise and thank you in giving us your Son Jesus Christ who taught us and showed us everything about love. He is your love, Father, as He is love. Indeed, “no one has ever seen You. Yet if we love one another in Christ, You remain in us and Your love is brought to perfection in us” (1 Jn. 4:12)
Our love is always imperfect. Only You can love us perfectly. Remind us always this truth so we stop looking for perfect love among us. Instead, keep us loving one another even in the darkness of fears and doubts of Your presence when we are so afraid we would lose everything and everyone, when we are afraid of being naked and hungry, when we are afraid of not being loved and forgiven. Let us always find Jesus Your Son amid the storms of life, like the Black Nazarene carrying His Cross, speaking to us, “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!” (Mk. 6:50). AMEN.Fr.Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan.
Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 28 December 2018
Christmas is always regarded as for children, of being like children. What a joy to always remember that God the Almighty chose to become human like us – who likes to always pretend being like Him and powerful – that the path to true greatness and power is in becoming small like an infant, being like a child. The late Cardinal Hans Urs von Balthasar claims in his last book shortly before he died in 1988 that 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” (Unless You Become Like This Child, Ignatius Press, 1991).
This probably explains why we adults as we mature and age, we mellow: we realize that we cannot simply control everything. That it is always best to act than to react in almost every situation in life. The gospel tells us today how King Herod reacted furiously after realizing the Magis have tricked him that he ordered the murder of every male child in Bethlehem below the age of two for fears of the “newborn king of Israel.” Herod lived in constant fears of being deposed in power that he also had three of his sons as well as some of his ten wives killed after suspecting them of trying to overthrow him. It is crazy but very true! We may not be like Herod with the way we react and deal with our many fears but have the same effects: death of friendships, death of love, death of everything, the end of life and adventure.
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. Kids and young people are often “positively” fearless because they trust so much that nobody would hurt them or that nobody 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. That’s the irony of life: we start fearing almost nothing that we grow so fast but as we age, we begin to fear everything that we stop growing and stop living. Christmas is a beautiful reminder to be children again like God the Son Jesus Christ who entrusted Himself to us, to care Him, to love Him, to protect Him, to keep Him. Let us reclaim that childhood again by casting away our fears so we can truly love faithfully and freely!