“I Love You Always and Forever” by Donna Lewis (1996)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 15 May 2022
Photo by author, Bgy. Pulang Bato, San Juan, Batangas, 14 May 2022.

Love can never be defined because love has no limits. At its best, love can simply be described. And Jesus tells us a totally different kind of love this Sunday during their Last Supper, shortly before he was arrested.

“My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.”

John 13:33-34

For this Sunday, we have chosen Welsh singer-composer Donna Lewis’ 1996 hit “I Love You Always and Forever” for its lovely tune and simple lyrics that match perfectly our gospel where Jesus describes to us his commandment to love as timely and timeless, always new, always fresh.

Immediately this is what we notice in Ms. Lewis song, her love’s timeliness and timelessness:

Feels like I'm standing in a timeless dream 
A light mist of pale amber rose 
Feels like I'm lost in a deep cloud of heavenly scent 
Touching, discovering you
 
Those days, of warm rains come rushing back to me 
Miles of windless, summer night air 
Secret moments, shared in the heat of the afternoon 
Out of the stillness, soft spoken words 

When we love truly another person, we seem to fall into a time warp where the past, present and future merge in every here and now. It is like when everything seems to happen so fast that suddenly you either lose everything and everyone or you gain everything and everyone in an instant that you cannot explain, when the universe seems to conspire in your favor as Paulo Coelho put it in one of his novels I cannot recall at the moment.

Love is always timely, always new, always fresh especially when we love in Jesus, with Jesus and through Jesus for he alone can hold the past and the future in the present. He lived only for a moment here on earth, a mere 33 years; after his Resurrection, he returned to the Father’s glory in heaven but he is still very much with us here on earth, coming to us daily in the most ordinary moments of life. And every Mass, we proclaim our firm faith of his coming at the end of time which is in the future we do not know that could be now.

There is always that tension of the here and not yet of Jesus in life: He had come, he will come again, and he is come. That is the timeliness of Jesus, that is why we need to love always in him, with him and through him.

Likewise, love is timeless. It is eternal. It is the only thing that remains in life because God is love. When we allow ourselves to be cleansed by Jesus of our sins and imperfections that was symbolized by his washing of the apostles’ feet earlier, the more we learn to love like him, the more our love becomes real and timely.

And eventually, timeless (https://lordmychef.com/2022/05/14/new-commandment-new-heaven-new-earth/).

I love you always forever
Near and far, closer together
Everywhere, I will be with you
Everything, I will do for you
I love you always forever
Near and far, closer together
Everywhere, I will be with you
Everything, I will do for you!

But even if we can describe love, it is always difficult to speak about it for it is best experienced and felt. And that is one great wonder of music in capturing our limited thoughts and feelings of love that have entertained and inspired us, accompanying us in life like Ms. Lewis’ “I Love You Always and Forever”.

Just feel and enjoy the beat, think of those people you love and who love you.

Don’t forget Jesus, the only one who truly loves us, now and forever. A blessed and lovely week ahead of you!

*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.

Jesus Christ, our reality

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Fourth Week of Easter, 13 May 2022, Feast of Our Lady of Fatima
Acts 13:26-33   ><))))*> + <*((((><   John 14:1-6
Photo from the Commission on Social Communications, National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, 2020.
Your words today, O Lord Jesus Christ
are so timely, so perfectly meant for us
these days:  "Do not let your hearts be
troubled. You have faith in God; have 
faith also in me" (Jn.14:1).
Forgive us, dear Jesus,
in believing so much with ourselves,
forgetting you and God in the process;
help us accept the many realities
in life, help us to move on with life,
and most of all, stop from being 
bitter and being unkind with others;
make us realize we cannot have the
truth when we are apart from you.
It is so timely that on this 105th
anniversary of the first apparition 
of your Mother the Blessed Virgin Mary
in Fatima, Portugal that our gospel
is very much the same truth she had
revealed to the three children and 
to the world:  that you alone, Jesus is
the true reality in this life for you 
are "the way and the truth and the life,
that no one comes to the Father
except through you" (Jn.14:6).
It was at Fatima where your Mother
told us how your way is always 
accessible and leads to fulfillment, 
so unlike our many ways in this world
that change and disappear, sometimes
become obsolete.
It was at Fatima where your Mother
assured us too that there is no other
way nor a secret road in life except you,
dear Jesus.
It was at Fatima where Mary brought us
back to reality of you Lord Jesus that
no one comes to Father except through
you.
Help us dear Jesus,
through our Lady of Fatima,
to return to you again in 
the sacraments of Penance
and Eucharist, to trust in you again,
to follow your Person as the way,
the truth, and the life.  Amen.
Photo from the Commission on Social Communications, National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, 2020.

Prayer for Mothers, and Motherland

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Mother’s Day, Second Sunday of May
Fourth Sunday in Easter, 08 May 2022
Photo by author, 2019.
O God our loving Father,
when you sent the Archangel Gabriel
to the Blessed Virgin Mary
to announce her becoming the
Mother of your Son Jesus Christ,
she was greeted “Hail, favored one! 
The Lord is with you" (Lk.1:28).
On this second Sunday of May,
I thank you for the gift of all mothers,
especially my Mom and all the other 
Moms so dear to me:  they are 
your favored ones, being chosen  
to bring life and us into this world,
enabling us to experience you, O God,
in them for you are always with every Mom
in all their love and kindness and tenderness, 
including their vast knowledge and wisdom 
in knowing almost everything; 
you know how we disliked them so much in 
acting like Google and Wikipedia rolled into one
but, lo and behold! - most of the time they
they were proven right with what they knew.
Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte, 2019.
Thank you, our loving Father,
in giving us a glimpse of your beauty 
and majesty in our Mothers; most of all, for being
our first teacher and catechist who taught
us how to love and care, respect and obey
others and most especially you, God
in prayers and spirituality.

Thank you for our Mother's patience and 
perseverance, for their being the best
economists who taught us how to save
and invest not only money and tangible
wealth but most of all with virtues and 
values that give us fulfillment and joy
in your Son Jesus Christ.

Thank you most of all for our Mother's
mercy and forgiveness like you:  
you know, dear Father, how many times
we have hurt our mothers, how we have 
disappointed them but despite all these,
they have remained most loyal and faithful to us,
ready to forgive us, giving us with countless
chances that many of us have abused.
Photo by author, 2017.
O God, take care of our dearest Mothers,
ease their pains and sufferings not 
only in body but also in heart and soul;
heal them of their sickness,
assure them of your presence and
providence so that they may not worry
so much; lighten their loads and burdens
in life and most of all, fill their hearts with
your Son Jesus Christ's peace and joy,
fulfilling their wishes and prayers 
not only for themselves but also for their
loved ones; likewise, we pray for all Mothers
who have gone ahead us - please grant them
eternal rest in your Divine Presence.
Lastly we pray for our dear Motherland,
the Philippines:  tomorrow we vote for
our next leaders; let us express our love 
and gratitude to you and our dear Motherland
by choosing candidates closest to being like
your Son Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd
who values life and every person, 
values Mother Nature and most all,
values family - leaders with that beautiful virtue
of Motherhood of nurturing and caring 
of every person and family,
not those who will promote death in all forms
and destruction of family through divorce or 
same sex union.  Amen.
Photo by author, 2018.

Beauty and blessedness at sunrise

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 05 May 2022
Photo by author, sunrise at the Lake of Tiberias (Galilee) in Israel, May 2019.

Our gospel last Sunday spoke of the Risen Lord’s third appearance to his disciples at the Lake of Tiberias. No one, except the beloved disciple recognized Jesus standing at the shore after he had told them to cast their net to the right side of the boat that led to their plentiful catch of fish.

When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea.

John 21:4-7
Photo by author, sunrise at Lake of Tiberias, May 2017.

I love the way it is narrated. What a wonderful interplay of realities, of John the beloved recognizing Jesus standing at the shore upon seeing the many fish caught in their net!

The story speaks of the beauty of every sunrise many of us seem to take for granted, of how so many of us miss the beautiful sight and silence of the morning. It is a story of every new day filled not only with promises but in itself a blessing we can surely experience when we first recognize Christ present in us.

That is perhaps one problem with us who always prefer spectacular sights and events to find God.

Unlike sunset, sunrise does not have radiant displays of colors and shades. It is very simple which is the lesson of Easter to us, of how our great God comes to us in the simplest moments of life. Recall too that Jesus was born in the middle of the darkest night of the year when everyone was asleep and rose from the dead very, very early in the morning that no one had seen! And here lies one of the wonderful mysteries in life – the hiddenness of God!

It is in God’s hiddenness that we can find him not because he is hiding but inviting us to be hidden in him too. That is the beauty of sunrise when you have to wake up early to see the beauty of life unfolding, awaiting something we are totally unaware of what is going to happen next. It is easier to wait for the sunset because you have been up and going the whole day; you just have to stop and pause for a while to await the sun going down.

Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte, sunrise at Atok, Benguet, September 2019.

Sunrise is different. It is like awaiting a total stranger, compared with sunset after we have befriended the the day about to end.

Every morning when we wake up, we do not know what is in store for us. Some people are excited, others are not while the rest simply got the blues or too lazy to work and study that they would rather sleep more.

Maybe that is why sunrise is more subdued with its hues and shades. Like God, sunrise is so kind, very accommodating with everyone, no spectacular display of colors so that one could buy his own time on whether to go out and move or snuggle more in bed, alone or with somebody else.

Like a beloved someone or God himself, sunrise looks soft and calm, reassuring everyone the day ahead would be just fine for us all.

Its light is so gentle, though bursting filled with life but never insistent to the eyes, so gentle. This we feel in our favorite word and activity every morning – breakfast – which came from the literal “breaking of fast” the night before by the monks in the monasteries. We can feel this gentleness of sunrise in that Christian hymn Morning Has Broken, whether you sing it or listen to Cat Steven’s cover or to its original Gaelic Scottish tune. And along this line, we find sunrise as the sweetest breaking of all in Angela Bofil’s 1981 love song Break It To Me Gently.

Photo by author, sunrise at Camp John Hay, Baguio City, November 2018.

Sometimes, sunrise can be a bit wild, bursting with light that can penetrate one’s soul with its light traveling so fast, eager to cover the whole surrounding with the good news of life coming.

Think of the Beatles’ 1969 Here Comes the Sun with its lovely guitar introduction, assuring everyone, especially your beloved “little darling” that “it’s all right” with “smiles returning to the faces.”

Photo by author, sunrise at Bolinao, Pangasinan, 20 April 2022.

That is the most beautiful part of catching the sunrise when all is silent with you all alone, listening to Jesus whispering, “Little darling, it’s all right” because whatever had happened yesterday, with all your sins and mistakes, are all forgotten and forgiven. Today is a new beginning, like what he told Peter in last Sunday’s gospel when he asked him thrice, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

Photo by author, sunrise at Bolinao, Pangasinan, 20 April 2022.

Peter was distressed that Jesus 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 he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”John 21:17, 19

John 21:17, 19

It is said that whatever one feels in describing the sunrise is one’s perception of love – warm and refreshing, joyful and so alive, filled with hopes and raring to go.

Sunrise is beautiful because it is when we experience closest with our truest self, with those most faithful and loving to us, and most of all, with God, our very root and being. Every morning is the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy of each of us becoming a John the Baptist whose name means “graciousness of God.” This we pray every morning in the Benedictus (cf. Lk.1:68-79):

In the tender compassion of our God
the dawn from on high shall break upon us, 
to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the
     shadow of death,
and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

May you be blessed every morning, every day of the week. Amen.

Photo by Ms. Jing Rey Henderson, sunrise at Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, 27 April 2022.

Knowing Jesus like the Apostles

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Feast of St. Philip and St. James the Less, Apostles, 03 April 2022
1 Corinthians 15:1-8   ><}}}}*> + <*{{{{><   John 14:6-14
Jesus teaching his Twelve Apostles, from GettyImages.
Lord Jesus Christ,
on this feast of your apostles 
Philip and James the Younger, 
grant me the grace to discover 
your true identity the way they
got to know you too; draw me
closer to you to be familiar with
you and your ways, to always
"come and see" you in prayers
and experiences in life.
Keep me close to you, dear Jesus,
so that I may truly lead people to you
and not to me nor to my beliefs; 
let me lead seekers of you find you 
both in your glory and in your Cross 
for without your sufferings and death,
everything becomes a novelty and
a fancy, or a philosophy and never 
a life and a union in you.

For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures; that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve.

1 Corinthians 15:3-5
Like Philip, keep me open in
expressing to you my views
when asked like at the wilderness
when you tested him where to find
food for the crowd; in another instance,
let me be like Philip entertaining requests
from others to see you like those Greeks 
who have come to Jerusalem;
most of all, keep me open to you,
dear Jesus to accept and treasure
your words and teachings even if I
do not understand immediately if that
is the way to know you more clearly
and eventually see and experience
God our Father. 
Like your cousin James the Younger,
let me keep in mind that closeness 
with you does not come  through mere
affiliations nor with names because 
knowing you is a habit that we must strive 
and work for by coming to you daily, 
following you even up to the Cross;
it is only in following you, becoming
like you we truly become your 
disciples like James who taught
and witnessed your love for everyone
by working so hard with Peter to 
intervene in the difficult relations 
between the early Christians of Jewish
origins and those of pagan converts; 
in practice and in his writings, James
showed that faith in you is fulfilled 
in a life lived in love and respect 
for each other:  "As the body apart 
from the spirit is dead, so faith apart 
from works is dead" (James 2:26).
Philip and James were not perfect,
just like me; but in their humility
and obedience, you perfected 
them in their lives of witnessing
that cost their lives; keep me
faithful to you, dear Jesus,
and let others see you in me
in words and in deeds.  Amen.

“You Are Everything” by the Stylistics (1971)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 01 May 2022
Photo by Ms. Jing Rey Henderson in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, 27 April 2022.

Every Gospel proclaimed in our Eucharistic celebrations is always about the immense love of God for us expressed in the Passion, Death and Resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

But there is something so lovely in this Sunday’s story about the third appearance of Jesus to his disciples at the shores of Lake Tiberias that calls us to be in love with the Lord also in order to see and experience his daily coming to our lives, something which the Stylistics expressed in their first gold disc that sold over one million copies in 1971, their song “You Are Everything”.

Today I saw somebody
Who looked just like you
She walked like you do
I thought it was you
As she turned the corner
I called out your name
I felt so ashamed
When it wasn't you, 
wasn't you, oh, oh

You are everything and everything is you
Oh, oh you are everything and everything is you
Oh, oh, you are everything and everything is you

You Are Everything tells us of our common experience of always seeing, even hearing the ones we love even after they are long gone. It is love’s most unique power and quality that enable us to find our beloved everywhere because they are everything to us.

Such was the experience by John the beloved and Simon Peter who recognized the Risen Lord in their each peculiar manner of loving him: John in his blessedness and Peter in his sinfulness (https://lordmychef.com/2022/04/30/jesus-in-our-blessedness-and-sinfulness/).

After a fruitless night of fishing, Jesus appeared to the disciples before dawn, telling them to cast their net to the right of their boat when suddenly they could not pull it with the plentiful catch! Seeing the great catch, John the beloved recognized the man at the shore as Jesus, telling Simon Peter “It is the Lord”! Only him recognized the Risen Lord after seeing the plentiful catch because he was the only one of the Twelve who truly loved Jesus by remaining at the foot of his Cross on Good Friday while the rest went into hiding.

Later after their breakfast, Jesus asked Peter thrice by addressing him in his real name of Simon, “Do you love me?” We are told that Peter was distressed after the third question by Jesus because he knew so well it had something to do with his three denials of the Lord on the night of his arrest and questioning by the Chief Priests. Peter’s response was so beautiful, admitting his guilt while at the same time professing his faith and love in the Lord by telling him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”

So many times, we are like Peter: we know so well that Jesus knows even our most guarded sins and yet, we know that he perfectly knows too that despite our sins and weakness that we love him.

This is the grace of this third Sunday in Easter, that we remain in love with Jesus. We cannot follow nor meet Jesus whether in our blessedness or sinfulness unless we love him first of all. Jesus perfectly knows human love is imperfect; only he can love us perfectly. We do not have to pretend to be perfect before him; just be our true selves, sinful yet sorrowful, to surely meet him who never leaves our side for he alone is our everything.

Have a blessed week ahead!

*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.

Easter is making our lives whole again in Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Second Week of Easter, 28 April 2022
Acts 5:27-33   ><))))*> + <*((((><   John 3:31-36
Photo by author, 20 April 2022.
Lord Jesus Christ,
in this season of Easter,
help me make my fragmented
life whole again in you.
So many times, I feel like 
the many members of the
Sanhedrin in the first reading
today demanding so many things
from myself that I fail to obey God;
grant me the courage like of Peter
and the Apostles who boldly declared,
"We must obey God rather than men"
(Acts 5:29). 
Like Nicodemus in the gospel,
I am still afraid to come to you
in broad daylight, still hiding in the
night because I am afraid of what
people would say and tell about me
in being faithful to you, in being one
with you.

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.

John 3:36
To believe in you, dear Jesus,
is to enter into a relationship with
you at the center; to believe in you
is to live and abide in you, Lord.
And that is why our lives are fragmented:
we are so divided and broken because
we follow the world, not you; we are
easily tempted and enticed to the 
many lures of pleasures the world
offers that only leave us more empty,
and more lost.
This season of Easter,
help me go back to you, Lord,
in prayers and silence;
let me focus on you again.
Amen.

Easter is going out, not coming in

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Second Week of Easter, 27 April 2022
Acts 5:17-26   ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[><   John 3:16-21
Photo by Cristian Palteng, 16 April 2022, Easter Vigil at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, Valenzuela City.
Praise and glory to you,
Lord Jesus Christ for making 
this Easter Season so special:
our first major celebration since 
the pandemic began in 2020 with
our church gatherings always the
target of lockdowns and restrictions;
but this Easter, we have risen with you, 
dear Jesus, when we were finally allowed 
to gather and celebrate the Eucharist
without much restrictions.
Make us realize this fundamental truth
of your Resurrection, Lord Jesus:  that Easter
is more of coming out than getting in.

The high priest rose up and all his companions, that is, the party of Sadducees, and, filled with jealousy, laid hands upon the Apostles and put them in public jail. But during the night, the angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison, and led them out, and said, “Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life.”

Acts 5:17-20
So many times, you have come
to set us free, Jesus, from our prison
cells of self-doubts, cynicisms, 
hopelessness, pains and hurts, 
guilt and sins but we refuse to 
believe you are risen, that you
have conquered evil and sin, darkness
and death; open our minds and our
hearts, Lord Jesus, to believe and accept
the love you have freely given us.
Let us go out to you, sweet Jesus,
to bask in the warmth of your light 
and truth that we are loved.  Amen.

He touches me

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 26 April 2022
From Google.

The word “touch” is a very touching one, connoting so many meanings while at the same time gives us a “feel” of what it really is. Its literal and figurative senses always go together with the most touching reaching deep down inside us that are also the gentlest and simplest.

We are touched by words and gestures, by sights and sounds, and literally speaking, we are touched most when touched by another person. Experts claim that a five second touch is equivalent to about 300 words of encouragement so that for us to be emotionally well, we need at least three hugs a day.

Photo by author, Mirador Jesuit Villa and Retreat House, Baguio City, January 2019.

Reflecting on the very few stories of the Easter appearances by Jesus to his disciples, we find how the gospel writers did not need to write so much details to convince us that the Lord had risen for it is not the number nor length of his appearances that matter but its inexpressible intensity. Especially in the fourth gospel, we notice – and we are touched, too like the disciples – the deep intensity of Christ’s appearances that resulted only in silence and adoration among them.

And that is one very true characteristic of Jesus – he touches us. Always. Even if we can not touch him nor see him. There is always that joy of Easter bursting forth within us in moments of prayers, of intimate conversations with loved ones and friends, or upon seeing a beautiful sight or experiencing nature.

It is Jesus Christ who touches us most that is why we believe in him even if we cannot explain how it all happened. It has always been like that since he rose from the dead. In fact, I doubt Thomas really touched Jesus when they met on the eighth day because he was so “touched” upon seeing the Risen Lord that he said, “My Lord and my God”, the most intense expression of faith in the bible!

See that nothing is said if Thomas indeed touched the wounds of Jesus for he was caught up in the experience and sight of the Risen Lord.

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

John 20:27-28
“The Incredulity of Saint Thomas”, a painting by Caravaggio from commons.wikimedia.org.

Like Thomas, Jesus touches us in the most personal and unique manner that deep inside us we also cry with intensity “my Lord and my God” to him. Though we can enumerate many reasons and persons who have led us into believing in Jesus, we also admit at the same time that there is no specifically single reason nor person for our faith in God except our very selves, of our personal conviction that transcends all proofs and logic because, we were so touched.

The gospels teem with so many stories of Jesus touching especially the sick when healing them and surprisingly, as we reflect on these stories, we too are touched, even by the Lord. And our perspectives and lives eventually change because we have experienced Jesus.

The same is very true with the many people we have known and met, the few perhaps we have befriended and loved: so many things in our lives have turned for the best simply because we were touched, literally and figuratively speaking.

When I was still teaching in our all-girls’ school in Malolos City, I used to remind my students in high school to never be fooled by a man’s looks and “porma”, to always look for a man who really loves you, respects you, and touches you as a person, as a woman. And they would always ask me how can they determine that? My usual response was they would “feel” that because a man or any person with integrity would always “touch” you.

Then I would play to them Lisa Stansfield’s 2004 He Touches Me:

He don’t bring me anything but love
He don’t bring me anything but love
If you offered me the stars I would decline
I don’t need ’em I got mine
I don’t know where to start
But I know what’s in my heart
So keep your silver and your gold 
’cause I got my man to have and hold

As our lives gradually return to some semblance of normalcy following the decrease in cases of COVID-19, it would be nice that we try to remember and recall those many experiences we have had since the start of the pandemic in 2020, the people who touched us.

One beautiful lesson this pandemic had taught us is that even if we practice social distancing, we can still be emotionally close with one another in so many ways and means. And even if we still have to maintain that social distance as minimum health protocol in this pandemic, there are so many occasions for us to touch one another to express our love and concern, our gratitude and apologies to any one who have touched us.

From QuotesGram.com.

It is about time that we touch base with them again, and this time, let us get in touch with one another in the most meaningful and loving way, with intensity, so that no matter what happens next, we may have that deep sense of joy and fulfillment of being truly human, of having experienced “the warmth of a loving face” as Camus expressed in The Plague.

Everyone is drained and exhausted by COVID-19, with many still out of touch following their many losses during the pandemic – loved ones, career, studies, goals and plans in life that were disrupted, permanently or temporarily.

Let us help each other to regain composure and directions in life by being kind with everyone. Most of all, let us touch one another with our simplest gestures of a smile or a wave of hand that here is another person – also struggling, also trying to pick up the pieces of life, moving on to start anew. Many times, the simplest things have the most lasting impact on us because they are also the most touching. And that is because, with our kindness, that is also when people feel being touched and loved by God most.

I hope you were touched… a blessed day ahead of you!

Photo by author, Puerto del Sol, Bolinao, Pangasinan, 19 April 2022.

Easter Intensity

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Second Week of Easter-C or Divine Mercy Sunday, 24 April 2022
Acts 5:12-16 ><]]]]’> Revelation 9:1-11, 12-13, 17-19 ><]]]]’> John 20:19-31
Photo by author at Puerto del Sol, Bolinao, Pangasinan, 20 April 2022.

Admittedly, Lent is easier to experience and express than Easter due to its many practicalities. Lent is easier to understand and embrace with the many penitential practices we can undertake like fasting and abstinence, penance, and alms-giving that all came from and directed to our daily living. Remember our expression last season that “life is a daily Lent.”

Easter is different. It is not easily understood especially in our country when it is the hottest season when everything is dried and seems to be dying unlike in Europe and North America where it is springtime with a dazzling display of wonderful colors evoking life everywhere.

Our gospel this Sunday shows us how Easter had confronted the Lord’s disciples with an entirely new reality that was far beyond the limits of their experience, something which continues to our days, in our very lives. Christ’s Resurrection has opened new possibilities in our existence that affects everyone and leads us to a new kind of future so difficult in explaining and expressing but something very true inside us perfectly captured in our Filipino expression of “ah basta!”

See how simple are the accounts of the Lord’s appearances to his disciples without much details and descriptions:

Photo by author, Holy Sepulchre Church, Jerusalem, 2017.

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

John 20:19-23

Last Sunday we have mentioned the need for us to be open and empty at the same time to truly experience the joy and grandeur of Easter, exactly what our gospel tells us today. Nothing much is said about the reactions by the disciples of Jesus except that they “rejoiced” upon seeing him breaking through locked doors and windows.

But, if we try to dwell into the scene, we can feel a certain amount of energy bursting forth, an inexpressible intensity found in Jesus and in his disciples as well on that evening of the first day of the week.

John did not tell us how long Jesus stayed with the disciples nor how they rejoiced upon seeing him but we can imagine and feel the intensity both in Jesus and among the disciples on that evening and eventually the following Sunday when Jesus appeared anew in the same manner with Thomas already present.

See in both instances how John simply stated Jesus broke through locked doors and windows that caught the disciples in deep silence and adoration of the Risen Lord, of how their fears were allayed by the the gift of peace, of how sins were forgiven and doubts erased by Christ’s presence that eventually led to their seeing and believing in him.

And what happened? Jesus rose from the dead! He did not merely resuscitate from death but broke out into entirely new form of life, a life no longer subject to death and physical realities paving the way for us to enter into new dimensions in life too.

Like Thomas, Jesus touches us in the most personal and unique manner that deep inside us we also cry with intensity “my Lord and my God” to him especially during consecration at the Mass. In the second reading, we have heard how John who was then a prisoner at Patmos Island off the coast of Greece was also touched by Jesus with his right hand and told not to be afraid (Rev. 1:17) in proclaiming his gospel of salvation.

Though we can enumerate so many reasons and persons who have led us into believing in Jesus, we also admit at the same time that there is no specifically single reason nor person for our faith in God except our very selves, of our personal conviction that transcends all proofs and logic as well. Again, that expression we have of “ah basta!”

Photo by author at Puerto del Sol, Bolinao, Pangasinan, 20 April 2022.

The grace of this second Sunday of Easter which is also the eighth day of the octave known recently as “Divine Mercy Sunday” is how God through Jesus Christ comes to us as someone so small and invisible. And so intense in his love for us, breaking all barriers just to be with us especially when we too feel so locked inside with fears like the disciples.

As we have reflected last week by becoming empty and open, we often find our mighty God in little things we usually dismiss or disregard like the mustard seed.

On that evening of Easter, Jesus came in all silence and simplicity, leaving us with not much material proofs except the testimony and works of his witnesses, the disciples.

Such is the mystery of the Resurrection by Jesus that is beyond descriptions and reason because it is of another dimension and world; but, we know it is true because we ourselves have experienced the Risen Lord in so many ways sometimes so plain and simple, even sometimes too funny to mention.

One undeniable fact of the veracity of the Resurrection of Jesus is the shift by the early Christians from the Sabbath day of worship into Sunday, the first day of the week. Remember the first Christians were all Jewish like Jesus; for them to abandon the Sabbath day worship and replaced it with Sunday means something so intense must have happened on that day itself and with them as well.

Because of Christ’s Resurrection, life is forever changed for the best amid all the many problems and chaos we have been through in the past 2000 years, giving us with so much hopes for a better tomorrow despite the many darkness coming our way. The key is to remain intense in our faith in Jesus Christ.


Dearest Jesus,
grant me the intensity to proclaim
you and your gospel of salvation 
in both words and deeds;
use my hands 
to do many signs and wonders
among your people like your Apostles
but never to replace you;
let my mission be an intense
proclamation always that you alone
is my Lord and my God.
Amen.

Video by author at Puerto del Sol, Bolinao, Pangasinan, 20 April 2022.