Discipline and tenderness

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Week XVI, Year II in Ordinary Time, 21 July 2020
Micah 7:14-15, 18-20 >><)))*> ] + [ <*(((><< Matthew 12:46-50
Photo by author of sheep grazing at Sacred Heart Novitiate in Novaliches, QC, 2018.

What a beautiful prayer today to you, O God our Father by your prophet Micah:

Shepherd your people with your staff, the flock of your inheritance that dwells apart in a woodland, in the midst of Carmel. Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old; as in the days when you came from the land of Egypt, show us wonderful signs.

Micah 7:14-15

Shepherd us like a true father, God, the old fashioned and right way symbolized by your staff: strong and sturdy to discipline us especially when we wander far from you, and yet at the same time, so tender and forgiving – full of clemency as Micah mentioned – when we are lost or stuck in a cliff or a crevice.

This is probably the one combination we are terribly missing these days, discipline and tenderness, the cornerstone of formation in every family expressed in the adage from the Sacred Scriptures, “Spare the rod, spoil the child” which the modern society strongly objects and frowns upon:

St. John Paul II waves to well-wishers in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican in 1978 when elected as Pope, holding his staff, symbol of his being a shepherd.

He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him takes care to chastise him.

Proverbs 13:24

Discipleship or being a disciple is primarily about discipline, of following not only the steps of the Lord and Master but also his ways.

From the word discipulos or to follow came the words follower and discipline alike.

Jesus Christ your Son perfectly said it in our gospel today when he rightly claimed that “whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Mt.13:50).

Give us the grace, O Lord, to take the right path anew of discipline to form our moral backbones tempered with your tenderness and mercy so we may truly work for a just and humane society here on earth so that your kingdom may finally come! Amen.

Loving Jesus First

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Friday, Easter VII, 07 June 2019
Acts 25:13-21 >< }}}*> >< }}}*> >< }}}*> John 21:15-19
The shore of Lake Tiberias where Jesus asked Simon thrice, “Do you love me?” Photo by author, April 2017.

My dearest sweet Lord Jesus Christ: For the past twenty one years, I have always heard you asking me the same question you asked Simon along the shores of Tiberias. And you always come to me asking me those questions most especially after I have sinned against you, just like when Simon had denied you after you were arrested.

Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep…” And when Jesus had said this, he said to Simon, “Follow me.”

John 21:17b,19b

Lord, you know everything about me: you know my innermost thoughts, you know my sins, you know my weaknesses, you know my insecurities, you know my pains and darkness and most of all, you know how imperfectly I love you.

And that is why I am so in love with you, Jesus: I am not worthy of your love and yet you choose to love me, you choose to be patient with me, you choose to forgive me. And you continue to call me to follow you.

You have given me with so much, Lord, and I have given so little to you. Teach me to give more of your love, more of your fidelity, more of your kindness, more of YOU to others.

Keep us all, especially your priests, to always love you first before following you.

So many times, especially in this age, we have forgotten you our Caller and we have been so focused and madly in love with your call which is secondary.

You will always be our first love, Jesus and it is from that love where everything else follows. Amen.

Bronze statues of Jesus conversing with Simon at the shore of Tiberias before his ascension. We have to love Jesus first before we can follow him. Photo by author, April 2017.
Continue praying for us priests.
Let us be focused more with Jesus our Caller,
not with his call.

Epiphany: New Beginnings in Christ

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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