When you say nothing at all

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C, 25 September 2022
Amos 6:1, 4-7 ><000'> 1 Timothy 6:11-16 ><000'> Luke 16:19-31
Photo by author, Pangasinan, 19 April 2022.
It's amazing how you can speak right to my heart
Without saying a word you can light up the dark
Try as I may I could never explain what I hear when you don't say a thing

The smile on your face lets me know that you need me
There's a truth in your eyes saying you'll never leave me
The touch of your hand says you'll catch me if ever I fall
You say it best when you say nothing at all

Yes, my dear friends, I am so in love these days; the Lord is doing a lot of things in my heart and soul in my ministry that songs automatically play within me like a jukebox every time I pray and meditate. The other day was Five for Fighting’s 100 Years; this Sunday it is When You Say Nothing At All by Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz first recorded by Keith Whitley in 1988 but became popular with Alison Krauss in 1995 that finally became a worldwide hit with Roan Keating’s version used as soundtrack of the 1999 Julia Robert-starrer Notting Hill.

The lyrics are so lovely, so true while the melody is so cool that is so uplifting and even spiritual as the song tells us a lot of the love of God for us expressed in his Son Jesus Christ who does everything, saying nothing at all, just loving us, understanding us, forgiving us. Most of the time, with us saying nothing at all too because he knows everything.

The more I listen to this song, the more I feel it speaking also of the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, of how we truly regard each other as a person, as a brother and sister, as disciples of Jesus when we say nothing at all, when our actions speak loudly or, silently of our love for each other.

Jesus said to the Pharisees: “There was a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day. And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores.”

Luke 16:19-21
Photo from bloomberg.com of a homeless man in New York City during a fashion week in summer 2019.

Rich Man, Poor Man

Today’s parable is uniquely found only in Luke’s gospel like last Sunday that stresses Christ’s lesson on the wise use of money in the service of God through one another; but, the parable adds an important dimension in how this wise use of money will have a bearing in our judgment before God upon death. Hence, the gravity of the message expressed in great simplicity with beautiful layers of meaning.

First of all, the rich man has no name while the beggar was named Lazarus that means “God has rescued” or El ‘azar in Hebrew. The scene is still from the previous Sundays when the Pharisees and scribes complained why Jesus welcomed tax collectors and sinners. Jesus took it as an occasion to teach through parables the value of everyone before God, including the lost, the sick, the poor, and the sinful. They are the Lazarus who are given with a name because they are special in the eyes of God who rescues them all.


Then follows the juxtaposition of Lazarus
 lying at the door of the rich man's home
 - a very powerful image that punches us hard
 right in our face, of how numb we have become
 with each other!  

On the other hand, the rich man had no name not because he was less important but because he stands for each one of us blessed and loved by God. Notice that Jesus did not say whether the rich man and Lazarus were good or bad because their character would be revealed later as the parable unfolds.

See how Jesus presented the outer appearances of the two: the rich man was dressed in colorful and fine clothes, eating sumptuous food while Lazarus was somewhat naked, covered with sores in his whole body that dogs would lick as he filled himself with scraps falling from the rich man’s table.

Then follows the juxtaposition of Lazarus lying at the door of the rich man’s home – a very powerful image that punches us hard right in our face, of how numb we have become with each other!

Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA-7 News, stranded local residents at the airport, June 2020.

Here we find a valuable lesson from this pandemic courtesy of the face mask that finally opened our eyes, including our minds and hearts to look again onto each one’s face, to recognize each person. Before the virus came, we just did not care with everyone we met as we were so cold that we would not even look at each others face, snubbing even those close to us.

There are still other Lazarus around us, living among us, not begging at all from us like this one in the parable who would not say anything at all but silently suffer in pain, hungry and thirsty for recognition and love like parents forgotten and neglected by their grownup children, wives cheated by their spouse, children left alone and misunderstood by their parents, our classmates and colleagues so maligned in the nasty talks going around us and in the social media, the poor and lowly workers exploited by their employers, or just anyone often criticized and judged but never appreciated.

Try thinking of the other Lazarus around us we never bothered to talk to nor even smiled at because we have been preoccupied with our many other worldly pursuits in life. Let us examine ourselves while amid the comforts and luxuries of life may have rightly earned with decent hard work that but may have caused us to have forgotten the “feel” of being human, of being sick and weak that we have forgotten or been totally unaware of those around us.

Death and the urgent call to conversion

See how the parable gets interesting when both characters died and a reversal of situation in the afterlife occurred. The rich man was buried, immediately going down to hell to suffer while Lazarus was carried – not buried – by angels to Abraham in heaven to be comforted. In the two conversations that followed between the rich man and Abraham, we find at the core the primary importance of daily conversion of everyone.

When Abraham told the rich man of the great chasm dividing them that Lazarus could do nothing to alleviate his torment, Jesus is warning us of the exact situation when we die which is eternity, without end. Therefore, while we are still alive, let us be aware and conscious of others too, not just of ourselves. That is essentially conversion, defocusing from our selves to see those around us more.

Remember how the dishonest steward in the parable last week who made friends with the debtors of his master to ensure his good fate after being fired? That finds its application in this Sunday’s parable wherein the rich man should have been like that dishonest steward in befriending Lazarus so he could have made it too in heaven! That is why I love so much that part of the parable of the juxtaposition of Lazarus at the gate of the rich man.

How did the rich man miss and did not see Lazarus right there at his face, hungry and with sores?

From Facebook, 2020.

Let us not be “complacent” as the Prophet Amos warned in the first reading of not being aware of the excesses and sacrilege going on during that time (Am.6:1). It could be happening right now with us when we choose to be silent and uninvolved, even blind and deaf to the suffering people around us because we are like the fool rich man who grew rich for himself instead of “growing rich in what matters to God” (Lk.12:13-21, August 1, 18th Sunday)!

In the second conversation with Abraham by the rich man, we find the pressing need for conversion more urgent, of heeding the calls of the scriptures, of the prophets and of Jesus Christ himself we hear in the gospel proclaimed daily. See also how the rich man had not really changed amid his torments, requesting that Lazarus be sent to warn his brothers living the same way he had lived in order to avoid hell. Imagine while in the afterlife, the rich man was still thinking of those he had left behind on earth!

So ridiculous was his request and yet, we too must be careful because so often, we have such illusion that a clear and irrefutable sign from heaven like what the Pharisees and scribes insisted from Jesus could lead everyone to conversion. It is an illusion because as Jesus had been telling since then, we need to have faith first to see and acknowledge him for us to be converted. It is the same faith that we need to heed St. Paul’s call in the second reading to “Lay hold of eternal life” (1 Tim. 6:12). It is faith that is vibrant and so alive that enables us to recognize our true wealth is God found among one another with us.

When we have faith, whether we are rich or poor, we always see everyone as a brother and sister in Christ. When we have faith, whether we are rich or poor, we are able to love truly because we also believe. And that is when we do not say anything at all because we just keep on doing what is good to everyone, especially the Lazarus among us.

This Sunday, Jesus reminds us of God’s immense love for each one of us, a love we have to share with everyone especially if we have so much unlike others.

Let us reflect our lives these past days and weeks when we felt like Lazarus unrecognized at all, even forgotten amid our being right in the middle of life and everyone. It must be painful and sad. Jesus knows it so well; hold on to him our Savior who is always doing something for us always, especially when he says nothing at all. Amen.

Have a blessed week ahead! God bless you more!

Photo from inquirer.net, Ms. Patricia Non of the Maginhawa Community Pantry, 2021.

Getting up to follow Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle, 21 September 2022
Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13     <*{{{{><  +  ><}}}}*>     Matthew 9:9-13
Photo by author, Lake Tiberias from the side of Capernaum where Jesus called Matthew to follow him.
You never fail to amaze me,
Lord Jesus Christ with your
unique manner and ways
of finding us, calling us, 
and loving us.
Of your Twelve Apostles, 
only five were called while
working:  the brothers Simon
and Andrew, James and John
who were fishermen and 
Matthew, a tax collector;
the first four belonged 
to the most ordinary 
and lowliest job of the time, 
fishing, while Matthew did
the most despicable job of
collecting taxes unjustly for
Roman colonizers making him
both a sinner and a traitor.
But, you have your plans
that are so different from our
ways when you told the Pharisees
and scribes that "Those who are well
do not need a physician, 
but the sick do... I did not come
to call the righteous
but sinners" (Mt.9:12, 13).
Thank you, Lord Jesus
for still calling me when
I was at my lowest point in life,
when I was most sinful,
when everyone was rejecting me;
thank you, Jesus,
for believing in me,
in calling me to come,
follow you; help me to rise
from my pit of anger and
bitterness, hopelessness 
and desolation like Matthew,
leaving all evil and sins
to follow you
and share you with 
everyone.
Help me, Jesus,
to write the fifth gospel
according to my life
like Matthew
by "living in a manner
worthy of the call I have
received" (Eph. 4:1).
Amen.

St. Matthew,
pray for us!
Caravaggio’s painting, “Calling of St. Matthew” from en.wikipedia.org.

*You may also want to check our reflection on Caravaggio’s painting “Calling of St. Matthew” by clicking this link:

Following Jesus in lights and darkness by Caravaggio

“Where is my new heart, Lord?”

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time, Year II, 18 August 2022
Ezekiel 36:23-28   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Matthew 22:1-14
Photo by author, Makati skyline at dusk from Antipolo, 13 August 2022.
Your words today, O God
are so reassuring,
so comforting and consoling:
"I will sprinkle clean water upon you
to cleanse you from all your impurities,
and from all your idols I will cleanse you.
I will give you a new heart and place
a new spirit within you, taking from your
bodies your stony hearts and giving you
natural hearts" (Ezekiel 36:25-26).
As I dwell on your words,
including the psalms taken from
my favorite chapter 51 called
"miserere nobis" (have mercy on me),
your Holy Spirit prompted me,
even insisted me to ask, "where is my
new heart, Lord?"
Many of us wonder, Lord, where is my 
new heart of flesh, the new spirit
within me you have promised?
Why do I not feel your clean water
cleansing me of my impurities?
Why do I still feel tired, sometimes
uninspired, even lost and alienated,
losing hope, getting cynical,
feeling so low?
Has the Lord taken back our new hearts
and new spirit within he had promised?
Of course not!
God has given us with new hearts,
new spirit within by cleansing us with
clean water to remove our impurities
in the Passion, Death and Resurrection
of Jesus Christ, his Son and our Savior.
In baptism, we have been cleansed
and we are continually cleansed of our
impurities in the sacraments we celebrate
like the Holy Eucharist.
And there lies the problem
when we do not feel our new hearts,
new spirit:  when we refuse to join your
celebrations, O Lord, like in your parable.
Not only that:  teach us too to rise to
your celebrations, dearest Lord;
let us change our inner selves in more
prayers and introspection and confession
of sins so that we may be transformed to 
better persons as Christians; clothe us with 
more commitment to our baptismal promises,
to live out in our lives and relationships 
what we claim as we believe in.

And so, where is our new hearts,
O Lord?  

It is right here in our very present moment 
whenever we accept your invitation, your call
to turn away from sins, from selfishness, and 
vested interests!
It is right here in our present moment when
we allow our new personhood in Christ 
lead us to pray more, listen more, forgive
more, serve more, and witness his gospel
more.  Amen.

God is the reason

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C, 31 July 2022
Ecclesiastes 1:2, 2:21-23 ><}}}*> Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11 ><}}}*> Luke 12:13-21
My former parish, photo by Mr. Gelo Nicolas Carpio, January 2020.

Last Friday I officiated at the funeral Mass of a younger first cousin; a week earlier, I had anointed him with Oil for the Sick with general absolution of his sins, commending him to God as he was afflicted with a rare disease that attacks the autoimmune system.

It is one of the difficult part in our lives as priests, when sickness and death come closest at home considering that fact that I officiated his wedding about 20 years ago and baptized his eldest son now grown up. That is why our readings today are so timely for me because my cousin Gilbert was only 49 when he died, being the most silent and “goodest” of my cousins who never got into any trouble nor any sickness while we were growing up together in Bocaue, Bulacan. How I felt like Qoheleth, saying….

Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity. Here is one who has labored with wisdom and knowledge and skill and yet another, who has not labored over it, must leave the property. This is also vanity and a great misfortune.

Ecclesiastes 1:2, 2:21
Photo by author, Pangasinan, April 2022.

Qoheleth is what the author calls himself which is not a proper name but a function of a speaker or a preacher to an assembly which is in Latin ecclesia; hence, it is called the Book of Ecclesiastes.

Despite the tone of his message of “vanity of vanities”, the author is not a “kill joy” or KJ who is provoking a culture of pessimism; in fact, he is trying to search for what truly lasts, for the Absolute good who is God. We have seen how in literature and music that poems and songs of despair are often the most beautiful because the anguish we feel can paradoxically be expressions of our burning desire for something, someone more permanent, more lasting and unchanging – who else and nothing else but God who is not vanity!

If we try to own every line of Qoheleth and reflect deeply on it, we somehow feel a strong similarity with our own cries of despair in life when nothing matters anymore especially with the lost of a loved one, or something so precious that deep inside us we felt with certitude that only God could fill that void.

Yes, all is vanity if we are cut off from God, when all our efforts and our very lives are separated from him because he alone is the Reason. Everything, everyone is meaningful because of God. That is why in the second reading, St. Paul is asking us to “seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God” (Col.3:1).

In this world where everything is measured in popularity, in being viral or trending that are all vanities because of their temporariness, so many have fallen into the trap of empty promises of modern lifestyles. See how despite the affluence we now enjoy, we have become more empty in life, more alienated from each other even from one’s self, lacking in meaning and depth in life and existence. Sometimes, results can be fatal when people realize what they have been seeing and hearing in media are not at all true and so far from reality that death becomes an escape than a direction that leads us to the Absolutely Perfect, God and eternal life.

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell. my brother to share the inheritance with me.” He replied to him, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?” Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” Then he told them a parable.

Luke 12:13-16
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, 2020.

Like Qoheleth, here we find Jesus acting like a “kill-joy” to the man requesting his help to have his share of the inheritance. His responses seems so abrupt and worst of all, very cold! But, it was not really addressed to the man asking the Lord’s intervention. Notice how Luke tells us Jesus addressing the man as “friend” before turning to the “crowd”.

Jesus is still on his way to Jerusalem and saw another opportunity today to teach the people – the crowd – not just the man asking his help of something of high importance in this life which is of being “rich in what matters to God” (Lk.12:21).

Jesus is just and fair, so loving and merciful, very mindful of our needs; however, in the light of the previous gospel scenes we have reflected, we find that Jesus concerns himself only in what matters to God. He does care about our bodily and material needs that he assures us to not worry so much about these because God will never forsake us.

Jesus had come not to be our judge and arbiter on matters about our material and worldly concerns like getting rich and famous and other vanities in life; Jesus came to teach us about what matters to God like love and mercy, kindness and care, justice and freedom. Jesus came to teach us ways of how we may inherit eternal life!

We do not have to spell out and enumerate one by one these things that matters to God of which Jesus is most concerned with; eventually, as we journey with him in life, as we carry our cross, we realize slowly in life these things that matter to God are for sure not material possessions, most often things that matter after death.

That is the grace we find ironically in every death – when somebody dies, we realize deep inside what truly matters to God. As they say, death is the best equalizer in life. And best teacher.


Last week we have the beautiful series of readings from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, teeming with life and assurances of love and protection from God. We see how the loving hands of God are like of the potter who molds us into fine earthen vessels of his majesty and glory.

Photo by author, March 2019.

Sometimes we sink into so much self-pity when things are not turning out according to our plans in life, forgetting how God loves us so much, of how he uses even the most tragic and painful events in our lives for our own good because he believes in us.

Yes. God believes in you! Everything is vanity without him, without you!

Would you rather spend everything just for a piece of land or some money or level of fame than living in peace, the greatest gift we can all have in life? That is the whole point of God in telling Jeremiah about being a clay in the potter’s hand – many times in our lives we have to be crushed and mashed, even reduced to being grounded for us to emerge finer and refined, better and more beautiful than before.

Recall those trying days of the past when you chose to bear it all, to be silent and patient. Maybe for a while or a few moments our opponents seemed to have won, or have the upper hand but in the long run, we find we are more fruitful, we are more peaceful because everything and everyone has become meaningful in God. That is because we love.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Of all that things that matter with God that we should be rich is love. Love, love, love. As the Beatles said, all you need is love! True. Sometimes it could be foolish to love, to let go of things and insults and pains and hurts.

But, God is greater than our hearts (1 Jn.3:20) and can never be outdone in generosity.

The more we love, the more we are given with more love. That is when we become truly rich in what matters to God. Amen.

Have a blessed week ahead, everyone!

Meeting Jesus who comes as guest

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Sixteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time, Cycle C, 17 July 2022
Genesis 18:1-10 ><}}}}*> Colossians 1:24-28 ><}}}}*> Luke 10:38-42
An icon of Jesus visiting his friends, the siblings Sts. Lazarus, Mary and Martha. Photo from crossroadsinitiative.com.

Immediately after Jesus our “Good Samaritan” had told this parable on his way to Jerusalem last Sunday, Luke now tells us the Lord making a stop over at the home of two sisters named Martha and Mary.

The two ladies were of contrasting attitudes in receiving Jesus as guest that he took it as an occasion to teach anew on “what we must do to gain eternal life” when Martha complained to him of Mary not doing anything to help her prepare for him.

Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.” The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need only of one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

Luke 10:40-42
Photo by author, Baras, Rizal, January 2021.

Focusing on Jesus more when he comes

We are again presented here with a very familiar story only Luke has like the parable of the good Samaritan last Sunday. Almost everyone feels like knowing Martha and Mary so well, that they have covered everything when Jesus dropped by to visit the two sisters.

And that’s the problem when we feel so familiar with a story by Jesus or in an event in his life that we take it lightly and miss the more essential aspects as well as learn new insights being presented to us.

In this story of Jesus visiting the two sisters, Martha is often presented as the “active” type while Mary is the “contemplative” who sat at the Lord’s feet to listen to his words. As a result, many have thought Jesus favored Mary over Martha, that praying is more important than acting.

That is absolutely wrong! Jesus is not saying it is best to be a contemplative than active, nor Mary is better than Martha.

From Facebook during the first wave COVID-19 pandemic in May 2020.

Through Mary and especially Martha, Jesus is reminding us today not to be so preoccupied or “anxious and worried about many things” in life like food and clothings, money and wealth and other material things.

Jesus had always been consistent in teaching everyone not to be so concerned with wealth, power and fame that prevent us from growing in the kingdom of heaven like in the parable of the sower, of how the seeds that fell among thorns “were choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life, and they failed to produce mature fruit” (Lk.8:14).

Most of all, recall that when his pasch was approaching, Jesus became more pronounced in warning us all in having that overwhelming concern and cares for things of the world especially in relation with his second coming, “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth” (Lk.21:34-35).

Such preoccupation with things of the world detracts us from the most essential which is Christ himself and witnessing him in this world so concerned with wealth and power, with fame and ego.

And that is what Martha was missing in having Jesus as guest in their home — she was so busy preparing meals that she had entirely forgotten Jesus himself was in the house! Mary was praised because she chose the most important – Jesus himself who was their guest and the Word he spoke to them! Every time we recognize Christ’s coming in our home and in our very selves, something wonderful always happens. The good news is made known to us like a mission or a plan from God we have long been praying over.

The famous icon of The Trinity visiting Abraham at Mamre by Russian artist Andrei Rublev done in the 15th century. Photo from en.wikipedia.org.

This is the reason we have the beautiful story of Abraham welcoming three guests who turned out to be God himself, the Blessed Trinity coming to his tent at Mamre in our first reading today.

More than the story of Abraham’s hospitality is the announcement of the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham of finally having a child of his own with Sarah:

They asked Abraham, “Where is your wife Sarah?” He replied, “There in the tent.” One of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah will then have a son.”

Genesis 18:9-10

In both the Old and New Testaments, the Bible teems with so many lessons and admonitions from God and his prophets and later from Jesus himself on the need to always welcome and accept strangers especially the poor and the sick for “whatsoever you do the least of these, that you do unto Christ”.

Jesus comes to us daily but are we home to welcome him, to receive him and most of all, listen and act on his words? Or, are we so preoccupied with so many other affairs that we forget his presence, not only among those in need like the priest and Levite last week who just passed by a victim of robbery left half-dead in a street?

The grace of this Sunday lies in the very fact that many times, it is Jesus himself who comes to us right in our homes, in our family members and loved ones, in the ordinary people we take for granted but we are like Martha “so anxious and worried about many things” that we miss the good news he brings to us often. That is why we only get tired with all our efforts, not bearing fruits because we miss the most important of all, Jesus himself!

Let us imitate Paul in the second reading trying to see Jesus in everyone by deepening his reflection last week of Christ as the image of the invisible God and now “Christ in you, the hope for glory” (Col.1:27).

It is our task and mission like Paul to reveal in our lives of loving service to others God’s plan that Jesus came to dwell in us his believers and followers so we may participate in his glory. But how can we participate in God’s glory when we fail to meet Jesus coming daily to our lives because we are like Martha?

Photo by author, Tagaytay, February 2022.

The simplest way to receive Jesus our guest is to seriously participate in our Sunday Eucharist which we tend to take for granted. In the Eucharist, we gather as the Body of Christ with Jesus as our head, the Church.

Notice that in Rublev’s icon of the Trinity at Mamre, the three men are actually gathered in a meal, the Eucharist. When you try to view the icon, you become the fourth person in the painting sharing the meal with the three angels.

That is the mystery of Christ’s coming to our homes daily, in our loved ones and right in our hearts too to share us himself and tell us the good news daily. The Eucharist is in fact our rehearsal in entering heaven in the future, that is why this Sunday, cast away all your anxieties and simply focus in the Lord and you will never get lost! Have a blessed week ahead! Amen.

Corpus Christi: Everybody a somebody

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, 19 June 2022
Genesis 14:18-20 ><}}}}*> 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 ><}}}}*> Luke 9:11-17
Photo by Ms. Ria De Vera in Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan, November 2020.

A week after celebrating the Solemnity of the Blessed Trinity, we celebrate today the reality of this mystery of our personal God who relates with us with the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

This Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ reminds us of the great honor of every person, of everybody as a part of the Body of Christ who became human like us to share his very self so that we too may become food for everyone. It is a very timely and appropriate feast when we are deluged with news here and abroad of how people are treated as nobody.

The recent viral video of an SUV driver bumping a security guard in a busy intersection in Mandaluyong remains a hot trending topic precisely because it is a story of how poor people are disregarded in this nation. Although the suspect had surrendered to authorities after a week of “no-show” to summons, statements especially by his mother ignited only more fire into the blazing topic. Adding insult to injuries to the nation is the press conference called by the police in presenting and speaking for the suspect which is absurd and directly opposite to how they deal with poor people involved in similar offenses.

Over in the United States where one loses count of victims of shootings happening almost every week, lawmakers grandstand for more gun controls for the protection of children when in fact, the same lawmakers refuse to consider the child in the mother’s womb as a person with a right to life that they have legalized abortion. Almost everywhere in the world, see how people take some people as somebody and others as nobody. So contrary to what Jesus is telling us in the gospel today, that everybody is a somebody. Observe how the disciples of Jesus acted in the gospel:

Jesus spoke to the crowds about the kingdom of God, and he healed those who needed to be cured. As the day was drawing to a close, the Twelve approached him and said, “Dismiss the crowd so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms and find lodging and provisions; for we are in a deserted place here.” He said to them, “Give them some food yourselves.” They replied, “Five loaves and two fish are all we have, unless we ourselves go and buy food for all these people.” Now the men there numbered about five thousand. Then he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty. They all ate and were satisfied. And when the leftover fragments were picked up, they filled twelve wicker baskets.

Luke 9:11-14, 17
Photo from istock-studios.com by Getty Images.

We have heard this story so many times and yet, we continue to miss its whole meaning that it continues to happen in our lives minus the miracle of Jesus. See how Luke tells us first that Jesus spoke to the people about the kingdom of God.

We will never experience Jesus in his person, in his Body and Blood unless we listen first to his words, to his teachings of the kingdom of God. That is why in the Mass, the first part is the liturgy of the word to prepare us for the liturgy of the eucharist. So many times in life, we dismiss right away anything that is spiritual in nature like prayers and the sacred scriptures, of faith in God.

Luke does not tell us how Jesus multiplied the loaves and fish; we have to leave it to him how he did it. After all, he is the Son of God. Recall how during his temptation by the devil to turn stones into bread and he answered that “one does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God” (Mt.4:4). Here in this scene, his words were precisely fulfilled when he fed the people after they have opened themselves to God’s words, to God himself.

Miracles happen in our lives when we first open ourselves to God himself. And opening to God means opening to others too by seeing everyone as a brother and sister in Christ whom we must care for.

Photo by Fr. Howard John Tarrayo, August 2021.

Too often, we tend to isolate ourselves from others, thinking only of ourselves and own good and comfort like the Twelve who asked Jesus to dismiss the crowds so they would find food and lodging for themselves in the wilderness.

What a sad reality still happening today, of how even parents and couples would proudly say how difficult it is to have another child because it is expensive. We have become so utilitarian in our perspectives in life that we compute everything as a cost, forgetting God except when praying which is precisely for asking for more blessings without even seeing the overflowing abundance of gifts from God.

Notice that despite the affluence of many these days, both as individuals and as nations, many are afflicted with the scarcity mentality, of not having enough, fearful of losing money and other resources like oil that we now have this exorbitant fuel prices.

When Jesus told the Twelve to “give the crowds some food yourselves”, he is telling us to look at God first for he is a God of abundance. Abraham in the first reading gives us the best example of always trusting God, of finding God behind every blessings we have. Abraham had just won a war with several kings in the region by the power of God who sent his priest named Melchizedek to bless him with bread and wine after. But unlike other victors in war, Abraham never had intentions of taking all the wealth and treasures of the kings he had beaten and instead gave Melchizedek the priest of God “a tenth of everything” (Gen.14:20).

Our response to God’s many blessings to us is to “tithe” ourselves like Abraham but not just ten percent as the Old Testament had taught but like Jesus in the New Testament by giving all of our very selves. This is the meaning of Paul’s words in the second reading of “proclaiming the death of the Lord until he comes” as often as we eat this bread and drink the cup (1 Cor.11:26).

We have learned and realized (hopefully) during the past Lenten and Easter seasons that death leads to new life in Jesus Christ when we share our very selves like him. God blesses us abundantly daily with his life and other blessings. There is enough for everyone. That is the meaning of the leftovers of twelve wicker baskets, one each for every apostle of the Lord who represented us.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Jesus we receive in the Eucharist reminds us not only of the sublime gifts of God to each of us but also of our ultimate response of dying to ourselves so we may share Christ’s life to the world so dead with ego and selfishness, a world of “I” and “me” and “my” and “mine” totally disregarding everybody as nobody.

As we celebrate today the Body and Blood of Christ honoring him with Masses, vigils and processions, remember how not everybody in the world is considered a somebody unless one has wealth and power. It is the new meaning given by modern man to the golden rule – he who has gold rules, implying that the poor are always taken as a nobody, bearing all the abuses of those in power and authority.

Let us examine ourselves how we have contributed to these abuses still going on, even in our thoughts at the way we perceive others, especially those not like us in status and beliefs and colors.

After receiving Jesus Christ’s Body and Blood in the Eucharist, silently pray:

Dearest Lord Jesus Christ:
empty myself of pride and 
fill me with your humility, justice and love;
reign in my heart now and always.
Amen.

A blessed week to everyone!

Photo by author, 2019.

Praying to recover “lost humanity”

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial of St. Anthony of Padua, Priest and Doctor of the Church, 13 June 2022
1 Kings 21:1-16   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Matthew 5:38-42   
The Church of St. Anthony called Igreja de Santo António de Lisboa built at the site of his birthplace in Lisbon, Portugal. Photo by Mr. Jilson Tio taken in his 2018 pilgrimage.
Today as we celebrate the
Memorial of your beloved Saint
Anthony of Padua famous for
interceding in the recovery of 
things lost, we pray to you O God
our loving Father also for the recovery
of something so precious becoming
so rare these days - decency and honor,
love and kindness, respect and justice.
Through the intercession of St. Anthony,
Lord, please help us recover our 
"lost humanity" so vividly exposed
last week in that viral video of an
SUV hitting and running over a traffic
aide in Mandaluyong City.
How sad, even tragic, dear God
in this modern time of too much
sophistication in science and technology,
we have lagged behind in our humanity;
aside from the war at Ukraine, how could
violent shootings continue in the States
at the loss of so many children?
What is so tragic is how politicians there
talk about protecting children when the
same politicians push so hard for abortions,
in killing the most innocent persons of all!
Have we become like Jezebel, the pagan wife
and queen of Ahab who have no regard at all
for humans, creating fake news and gossips
against people, promoting corruption among
people for material gains?

So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and, having sealed them with his seal, sent them to the elders and to the nobles who lived in the same city with Naboth. This is what she wrote in the letters: “Proclaim a fast and set Naboth at the head of the people. Next, get two scoundrels to face him and accuse him of having cursed God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death.” On hearing Naboth was dead, Ahab started off on his way down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.

1 Kings 21:8-10, 16
Your Son Jesus Christ
taught us the ways to recover our
lost humanity more than 2000 years
ago but until now, we have not recovered
it yet because of our refusal to let go 
of our pride and attachment with wealth
and other things of the world.
Like St. Anthony, help us to let go of
our possessions and comforts, "to give
to the one who asks of us, and to not
turn our back on one who wants 
to borrow" (Matthew 5:42).
St. Anthony of the World, 
Pray for us!
The room where St. Anthony was born in the year 1195 preserved in the church built at the former site of their home in Lisbon, Portugal. Photo by Mr. Jilson Tio, 2018.
The Portuguese people have always referred to St. Anthony of Lisbon than of Padua where his body is buried in Italy; in 1982, St. John Paul II visited his birthplace, and told the crowd their native saint was not St. Anthony of Padua to which the crowd cheered. Then, the Pope said he is neither St. Anthony of Lisbon and the people fell silent. But when the great Pope said their native saint is St. Anthony of the World, they cheered loudly! (Anecdote and photo courtesy of Mr. Jilson Tio)
Praying at the birthplace of St. Anthony protected by iron grills. Photo by Mr. Jilson Tio, 2018.
Mr. Jilson Tio (third from left) with fellow pilgrims outside the room where St. Anthony was born in Lisbon, Portugal in 2018.

The Holy Trinity, our Life and Love

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, 12 June 2022
Proverbs 8:22-31 ><}}}}*> Romans 5:1-5 ><}}}}*> John 16:12-15
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, 2021.

Surveys worldwide say that for most Christians, to speak of God as the Blessed Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit does not matter that much at all. They simply believe in God, period.

But sad to say, the same surveys say that many Christians are turning away from the Church, imitating those who refused to belong to any religion at all but simply profess they believe in God or that there is God. Their anthem is John Lennon’s 1971 hit “Imagine” that says, “Imagine there’s no heaven… No hell below us… And no religion too.”

Worst, there are some who regard Jesus Christ as just another great prophet who had lived in the past with unusual wisdom and teachings, not realizing that without the Trinity, Jesus would not be Jesus whom we believe.

Jesus said to his disciples: “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.”

John 16:12-15
Photo by author, St. John the Baptist Parish, Calumpit, Bulacan, 02 May 2022.

Mystery of Trinity as gift of God

For most Catholics including priests, discussion of the Blessed Trinity is shunned because it is a “mystery”, the most difficult to explain and understand of all our teachings that many find so apart from daily life. And that is totally wrong and untrue as we fail to realize that the more we understand or have some grasp of something or someone, the more we find their meaning and relation with our very selves, the more we appreciate life!

That is why on this first Sunday as we resume Ordinary Time, we celebrate this Solemnity of the Holy Trinity so we would have some understanding of this highest truth in our faith and thereby appreciate its meaning and relation with our daily living.

First of all, the Blessed Trinity as a mystery can be explained and understood but not fully. Mystery means something hidden that has been revealed. The Trinity was totally unknown among the Israelites in the Old Testament but its concept have been there in its many books beginning with Genesis and today as we have heard from the Book of Proverbs. It was revealed in and by Jesus Christ who cautioned his disciples then and now that indeed, many of his words cannot be fully grasped right away.

A mystery can be explained and understood because it is something that continues to unfold, revealing its many aspects to us in the light and guidance of the Holy Spirit. And the more we become aware of its nature, the more we realize how the Trinity can concretely evoke the unity and beauty of our lives in God!

Let us take our cue from the Lord himself who tells us today that “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.” Jesus is not insulting us but simply telling us today that learning and understanding the mystery of God is concretely an action of the Holy Spirit and not simply an effort of human intellect. There has to be a lot of praying and studying at the same time. And the most traditional Catholic gesture and prayer we can use in learning more about the mystery of the Blessed Trinity is the sign of the cross which we sadly take for granted.

Our sign of the cross, mystery life and love of the Trinity

Since becoming a priest, I have always insisted to people especially children and youth to make the sign of the cross properly because it is the very mystery of the Trinity. We sign ourselves in the form of a cross to remind us we are the indwelling of God as Jesus told to us last Sunday that “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him” (Jn.14:23).

Photo by Sis. Mira Mandal Sibal, August 2021.

What a beautiful image, of being the “indwelling” of God who is a person, not just a being who relates with us as the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

In the sign of the cross we find and experience the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection. It was Jesus Christ who revealed to us, slowly but surely, the mystery of the Triune God in his very life and teachings with its summit on the Cross and later in his sending of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

Notice how every time we are in a tight situation, when we are shocked or surprised at something, we instinctively make the sign of the cross to praise and thank God we are still alive, that we are loved. There is always the unconscious realization of life and love after pulling through a difficult situation and making the sign of the cross.

Life and love are the most common yet most profound and deep mysteries we have as persons. And the more we dwell into its beauty and majesty, the more we are absorbed into the mystery of God as a community of persons relating to us. It is a mystery we are able to grasp little by little of how God fills us with his life and love.

Both the first and second readings show us how God poured out his life (first reading) and his love (second reading) for us. In the Book of Proverbs, we are shown how “at the beginning” God “poured forth” wisdom on his creation and was so “delighted” with man. This wisdom according to Jesus in his teachings is the Holy Spirit, the very breath of God who enlivens us. On the other hand, St. Paul reminds us in the second reading how God’s love was “poured out to us by the Holy Spirit” to be saved in Christ who also promised us with eternal life we all hoper and aspire for.

Like the very mystery of how and why we are alive, why we are loved, these are the very same feelings we have with God as a person we feel and experience as the Father loves us and gives us life, how Jesus our brother forgives us and accepts us, and how the Holy Spirit enlightens and comforts us.

See how these feelings and experience of being alive, of being loved and so in love are difficult to explain and even understand but so very true that we dwell in them and even keep them to relish and enjoy often. If we could just do the same with God as Father and Son and Holy Spirit then we can find our own beauty and unity as a person too. Then we learn to value more our lives, accepting everything good and bad in us as we reach out to others too in kindness and mercy.

Celebrating the mystery of the Trinity

See how we begin and end each Mass with the sign of the cross, a sign of how we entrust in God everything we are and we have not only in the celebration but in our very lives itself.

Photo by author, September 2021.

When we start the Mass with the sign of the cross with the priest greeting us, “May the grace of Jesus Christ, the love of the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all”, we are reminded that every Mass is a celebration of God’s invitation for us to be in his presence as the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. This becomes clearer when we realize that every Mass is not just our celebration but a celebration of God’s gift of Self to us in Jesus Christ whom we receive in Body and Blood so that we may become more perfect members of his Body, the Church, animated by the Holy Spirit.

That is why we have to make the sign of the cross slowly and deliberately at the start of the Mass to get the feel of God in person and ask his help that we be able to surrender our very persons to him in the celebration.

At the end of the Mass, we again close it with a blessing by the priest with the sign of the cross again as we are dismissed and sent forth as God’s presence to the world and people we meet. By making the sign of the cross at the end of the Mass, we commit ourselves to continue in our daily life the love and kindness, the mercy and forgiveness we have celebrated. We promise to go forth and share the peace of Christ to everyone by remaining rooted in God who is Life himself, recreating the world in his Love Jesus Christ by fighting the evil and sins that beset us so that we make God’s glory and holiness present in this fractured world in the Holy Spirit.

As we make the sign of the cross especially at the start and end of the Holy Mass, may we realize this mystery of the Blessed Trinity that we are God’s indwelling and presence, his beauty and unity in the world. Amen.

Have a blessed week ahead!

Photo by author, St. John the Baptist Parish, Calumpit, Bulacan, 02 May 2022.

The joys and pains of every beginning

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the Sixth Week of Easter, 23 May 2022
Acts 16:11-15   ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[><   John 15:26-16:4
Photo by author, sunrise at Bolinao, Pangasinan, 20 April 2022.
Praise and glory to you,
O God our loving Father in 
giving us each day as a new 
beginning, a fresh start in life
with every grace we need in Christ;
how amazing are your words today,
O Lord, that both speak of the 
joys and perils of every beginning.
In the first reading,
we are inspired by the initial works 
of St. Paul in that great city of Philippi
where he met and baptized Lydia, a gentile
convert in the Lord; it was the first European
city to listen and accept the Christian message,
the beginning of a glorious history that 
transformed the continent not only in religion but
also in arts and culture.  
What a beautiful example of St. Paul 
being a "sower" of the gospel 
so that others may "reap" its fruits
until now!  
Teach us, Lord Jesus, 
to be sowers of your word 
to win more Lydias and most of all, 
so that there would always be something 
to reap in the future.
On the other hand,
your gospel today reassures us,
dear Jesus, of your presence and
defense in the Holy Spirit for the many
dangers we face in every beginning.

“I have told you this so that you may not fall away. They will expel you from the synagogues; in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God. They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me. I have told you this so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you.”

John 16:1-4
Our work in you, O God, is never finished.  
Let us continue to welcome each day as a new
beginning to sow your seeds of love and kindness,
mercy and salvation to make known to everyone
of you as our loving Father in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

“What’s Going On?” by Marvin Gaye (1971)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 22 May 2022
Photo by author, Bolinao, Pangasinan, 20 April 2022.

We are now in the penultimate Sunday of the Easter Season as Jesus reiterates in the gospel his commandment to love one another while giving us his precious gift of peace, two essential elements that keep him present among us as well our sources of joy amid the many difficulties in this life.

Right away, we thought of Marvin Gaye’s 1971 hit “What’s Going On?” as the perfect song this Sunday as it embodies both love and peace, two important realities in life we all wish and pray but afraid to work for (https://lordmychef.com/2022/05/21/love-peace-in-christ/).

From the eleventh studio album of the same title by Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On? is not only a commercial success but most of all critically-acclaimed for its superb music and lyrics so poetic with a message so Christ-like, always relevant for all time.

Mother, mother
There’s too many of you crying
Brother, brother, brother
There’s far too many of you dying
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today, yeah

Father, father
We don’t need to escalate
You see, war is not the answer
For only love can conquer hate
You know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some lovin’ here today

Picket lines and picket signs
Don’t punish me with brutality
Talk to me
So you can see
Oh, what’s going on (What’s going on)
What’s going on (What’s going on)
What’s going on (What’s going on)
What’s going on (What’s going on)

Right on, baby
Right on, baby
Right on

Mother, mother
Everybody thinks we’re wrong
Oh, but who are they to judge us
Simply ’cause our hair is long
Oh, you know we’ve got to find a way
To bring some understanding here today

Right on, baby, right on
Right on, baby
Right on, baby, right on

What I like most in this song is the priority of love. See how Marvin Gaye mentioned the need for lovin’ first in stanzas 1 and 2, You know we’ve got to find a way, To bring some lovin’ here today, yeah before there can be understanding at stanza 3 after the chorus.

It is exactly what Jesus is asking us always, to have love as foundation and motivation of everything we do. It is from love that true peace can come from, the peace of Christ that is willing to suffer and sacrifice because it is rooted in God not in man nor in our selfish and personal interests.

Peace comes from within, not from outside. And it is very ironic that while What’s Going On? is considered as Marvin Gaye’s finest composition, it was also borne out of a lot of soul-searching within him, punctuated with depression and personal struggles with drugs and debts. He died on 01 April 1984 after being shot thrice on the chest by his own father in the course of a heated and physical argumentation at his parents’ home in Los Angeles. He was only 45 years old, always searching for love and peace all his life.

*We have no intentions of infringing into the copyrights of this music and its uploader except to share its beauty and listening pleasure.

From YouTube.com.