Faithful, and most loving!

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
A Wedding Homily for Cristopher T. San Pedro & Fatima Macam
National Shrine of St. Jude, Manila, 22 February 2022
Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte, 21 February 2022.

You must have heard the saying that “God writes straight crooked lines”. And today that proves so true not only with how God wrote so crooked his straight lines in your life, Cris and Tim, but even wrote in circles to make this date your wedding day – 22 February 2022!

Cris and Tim, God has always been so sure in calling you before his altar on this date, which will similarly happen again in 200 years – 22 February 2222!

God writes straight crooked lines because everything in him is perfect, like numbers. Precise and exact.

Like this date you never chose, 02-22-2022.

When you consulted me last month when priests here offered you this date due to their recent lockdown, right away I told you it is the most wonderful date for your wedding being the Feast of St. Peter’s Chair… St. Peter as in San Pedro like Cristopher Tabafunda San Pedro and later, Mrs. Fatima Macam San Pedro!

It was God who willed in all eternity that you, Cris and Tim, be married today — not last year, not the other week nor next week because today is the day that the Lord has made!

From Facebook of couple.

You are both good with numbers like God, a mathematician who is very precise and exact like an economist and stock trader (Cris) and a marketing and sales executive (Tim) who used to do a lot of chemical research before.

But God has better and deeper plans for you that numbers cannot count nor quantify.

God wants you to always go back to basic numbers, not to those found in equations only you two can understand or multiple digits only you can count.

Jesus said it so well in the gospel today: two is equal to one, just like 1 + 1 + 1 = 1 of the Trinity.

“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”

Matthew 19:5-6

Life is not about having the most but the least. That is where faith grows and deepens.

Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte, 21 February 2022.

When we have so much in life, when we feel so sufficient, when we are so filled with things, we forget God. We stop believing in him, we believe more in ourselves.

And when we stop believing in God, we lose our faith and then, we stop loving, too. Sooner or later, we become empty and miserable.

So, be simple, Cris and Tim.

Reduce everything to the barest and simplest. Simplify, simplify, simplify as Henry David Thoreau said: “let your affairs be two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand.”

When we get complicated like our Facebook, life becomes difficult as we can’t find right away who and what matters most to us.

Kaya nga isa lang ang asawa, Cris at Tim, kasi hindi puwede marami. Hindi lang magulo. Magastos pa. Imagine kung dalawa o tatlo wedding rings? Pag isa lang, kita agad at alam na this – married na ang mamang ito na may cute na dimple o itong girl na ito na naka glasses at dalawa pa ang dimples! Hayaan ninyo sabihin ng mga makakita singsing ninyo na sayang at taken na pala siya!

You see, the lower the number, the simpler, the better. Madaling tumaya at manampalataya.

That’s faith. Parang PBA game kung saan kayo nagkakilala. And you have both experienced, walang tatalo sa faith in God ninyong dalawa!

Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte, 21 February 2022.

God is greater and more than the numbers the wizkids and supercomputers of the world can calculate and predict. His thoughts are not our thoughts, nor his ways. He first created just one man and one woman – just two – to be one with each other in him, and to be faithful to him and each other.

Because the more we become faithful, the more we become loving.

That is the message of this Feast of the Chair of St. Peter which is the “Primacy of Rome” or of the Pope: it is the primacy of faith and the primacy of love together which cannot be separated.

Forget all those numbers Cris and Tim, focus only in the One – God in Jesus Christ. Just focus on Jesus, always Jesus.

Love is not about counting or keeping tabs and tallies, like how many “likes” and “followers” we get in our posts.

The true measure of love is when we love without measure, when we simply love, love, love. And love.

That is why we only have one heart so we can love with all our heart. Forget Sana Dalawa ang Puso Ko. It is just a song.

When you have LQ (lover’s quarrel), who should blink first, or smile? Who should take the first move to reconcile, the first to offer the hand of peace?

Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte, 21 February 2022.

Whenever lovers and couples or even friends quarrel, I always say, whoever has more love to give must be the first one to initiate reconciliation, the first to blink, or smile, the first to offer the hand of peace.

To have the most love to give and share does not mean to be better or superior than the other; to have the most love to give and share is to have more faith, to have a deeper faith the he/she is ready and willing to lose everything for the sake of the loved one.

Like Jesus Christ who gave everything for us on that Cross because of love.

God bless you more, Cris and Tim.

Amen.

We are One

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Sunday Week XXVII-B in Ordinary Time, 03 October 2021
Genesis 2:18-24 ><]]]]'> Hebrews 2:9-11 ><]]]]'> Mark 10:2-16
Photo by Ms. Isa Avendaño-Umali at UP-Diliman via reddit.com.

Part of my fond memory of traveling to old Baguio will always be that long stretch of road in Tarlac with the colorful caballeros or “fire trees” abloom every summer, their vibrant shades of hot orange and tangerine serving like a canopy to a magical tunnel.

Making the scene lovelier were the branches and treetops arching over the road as if trying to “connect” with the other trees at the opposite side to remind us of nature’s design that we are all created one.

This is the gist of this Sunday’s readings from Genesis as cited by Jesus in the gospel.

The Lord God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.” So the Lord God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with a flesh. The Lord God built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man.

Genesis 1:25

Sometimes the Bible presents to us God acting so naive as if not knowing something at all like in this creation story when he said “it is not good for man to be alone”. Did he not know in his infinite knowledge and wisdom that man will only be happy with another human being like him “who is flesh of my flesh and bones of my bones”?

Of course, God knows everything but he wants us to realize ourselves – firsthand, that we can never be complete without another person, a fellow human being. There are times we learn our lessons best through our own experiences, the more painful and difficult, the better! Like this pandemic that has made us realize the value of persons, of family and friends over things like money and gadgets or any material possession.

Note that the creation account could have ended very well in man’s “discovery” of the woman but the author continued on with an explanation “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24) to show not only the reality of marriage as a creation by God but also to remind us it is a part of our nature to reach out to the other person to enter into a communion. The “I-Thou” relationship put forth by philosopher Martin Buber has always been part of human nature until sin came and hardened the human heart, misleading us often by impulses of carnal and selfish instincts towards others.

The Pharisees approached Jesus and asked, “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?” They were testing him. He said to them in reply, “What did Moses command you?” They replied, “Moses permitted him to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her.” But Jesus told them, “Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation… Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate.”

Mark 10:2-6, 9
Wedding of my former student Lery with Micah in January 2020, Malolos City.

God made all things good and beautiful

Jesus and his disciples were still in Capernaum when some Pharisees approached him to test him about their legal debates on the issue of divorce. And though he was fully aware of their evil plans against him, Jesus answered their question so well without going down to their level of discussions based on petty quarrels and differences with each other.

See how Jesus was clearly focused to his mission by asserting to everyone that he had come to reveal the will of the Father, that God created everything good and beautiful with man and woman as the crowning glory of his creation that he had to cite to them the Book of Genesis. There was no need for him to involve into the legal debates of his time about divorce that unfortunately continues to this day.

For Jesus, divorce is clearly a result of man’s sins, of human weakness due to the “hardness of your hearts” which Moses tried to remedy.

And now that he has come as our Christ and Savior, Jesus assures everyone of his grace and help in overcoming our weaknesses and sins especially in upholding the purity of marriage and the Creator’s intention when he declared, “Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate” (Mk.10:9).

In bringing back to God as the starting point of the man and woman relationship, Jesus elevated marriage to a higher status than ever, making it a “sacrament” or a sign of his saving presence among us.


In the process, Jesus reminded his disciples and us today
 of the nature of human relationships as reflection of God's beauty and holiness.  
Every human relationship is always a gift from God, a grace and a blessing 
that must be nurtured with love and care.  
More than the unity of husband and wife, 
Jesus reminds us in today's gospel of our unity as humanity, 
as children of the Father who loves us so much.

Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2019.

But the beauty of Jesus Christ’s lesson on marriage continued as they went “in the house” in Capernaum, when his disciples asked him to explain to them what he had told the Pharisees.

In the process, Jesus reminded his disciples and us of the nature of human relationships as reflection of God’s beauty and holiness. Every human relationship is always a gift from God, a grace and a blessing that must be nurtured with love and care. More than the unity of husband and wife, Jesus reminds us in today’s gospel of our unity as humanity, as children of the Father who loves us so much.

How sad when we destroy, disfigure or alter this image of God in us and in our relationships that harm human life and nature that have led to endless cycles of disorder and imbalance like wars and conflicts in various forms as nations and peoples compete for supremacy.

This is the reason why Jesus reiterates today his central message of becoming like children to enter into the kingdom of God.

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

Mark 10:13-16

It was a fitting way to cap his lessons that day about marriage and unity of men and women with creation. Becoming “indignant” with the disciples who have “rebuked” their parents in bringing them to Jesus, he stressed anew the nature of the kingdom of God being open to those who are small and weak, those with the attitude like that of children who trust, depend and rely on the powers of those above them most especially God.

Photo by Mr. Red Santiago of his son, 2019.

It is deeply sad when couples separate or divorce, hurting the children most in the process. And indeed, it is the most tragic of all when priests and bishops abuse children when they are tasked by Jesus himself to care for the children as we have heard on many occasions in the gospel.

But, God has never stopped calling men and women to the sacred vocations of married life and priesthood even if he perfectly knows our weaknesses, including hardness of our hearts sometimes, or most of the time.

As the author of the Letter to the Hebrews had reflected, the more we must strive to be one in Jesus Christ who calls us all “brothers” and “sisters” having been consecrated to God as our origin and final end.

Last Sunday, Jesus told us “sky’s the limit in doing good” regardless of our religious affiliations “For whoever is not against us is for us” (Mk.9:40); sin is the only obstacle we must avoid, striving hard to stop its occasions when he metaphorically said it is better to enter heaven with just one hand or foot or eye than lose the body to the fires of hell.

This Sunday, Jesus is inviting us back to the very root of our relationships – God, the Supreme Good of all. Let us pray for the softening of our hearts to be more loving and forgiving, kind and understanding. Like at the beginning when he created everything, God trusts us and believes in us for we are all good like him, that his grand design of communion is very possible in Christ Jesus. Amen. Have a blessed week!