Desiring God

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Week XI in Ordinary Time, Year I, 15 June 2021
2 Corinthians 8:1-9   ><)))'>  +  <'(((><   Matthew 5:43-48
Photo by Ms. Ria De Vera, 01 June 2021 at Bgy. Lalakhan, Sta. Maria, Bulacan.

Thank you very much again, O God our loving Father for the grace of prayer, most especially in the grace of desiring you which is what prayer is all about. Keep us steady in our desire for you, to be with you, to be like you – holy and loving.

Enrich us today with your holiness and love by being poor of our selves like Jesus Christ your Son as experienced by St. Paul.

For you know the gracious act
of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that for our sake he became poor 
although he was rich,
so that by his poverty you might become rich.
(2 Corinthians 8:9)

Being poor like Jesus and St. Paul is thinking less of myself, more of others. How ironic that in our world of today where there is a surplus of everything, the more we have become worried of having less because we remain unconvinced of your love and blessings as we live detached from you. Hence, our constant feeling of being impoverished, needing to be filled and satisfied.

Teach us to be poor by being intimate with you, O God our Father so that we worry less of ourselves because we already have you, disposed to being like you, able to love freely.

"So be perfect,
just as your heavenly Father
is perfect."
(Matthew 5:48)

Make us realize that in this life, it is only you whom we must desire first of all in order to be sufficient and enriched that we are able to love everyone, even our enemies because we are confident in ourselves of your love and intimacy. Amen.

Forgiving from the heart

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Week XXIV, Cycle A in Ordinary Time, 13 September 2020
Sirach 27:30-28:7     >><)))*>   Romans 14:7-9   >><)))*>   Matthew 18:21-35
Photo by author, dusk in our parish, July 2020.

This Sunday we go deeper into the lessons gathered by Matthew from Jesus regarding love as the basis of our relationships. Last week we were told how mutual love is the sole reason why we correct brothers and sisters going stray in life.

But, more sensitive and delicate, not to mention most difficult than fraternal correction is the question of forgiving.

How many times should we forgive?

Peter approached Jesus and asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a kind who decided to settle accounts wit his servants. When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before hm who owed him a huge amount. Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all is property, in payment of the debt. At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’ Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan.

Matthew 18:21-27

Forgiving is always difficult because it is from God, calling us to be one with him, one in him, and be like him as that saying perfectly summed up, “To err is human, to forgive is divine.” It is beyond human abilities, reserved only for God until he became human like us in Jesus Christ who made us share in his greatest expression of love which is forgiveness. Hence, every time we forgive, we also become like God, divine and holy that unfortunately, we refuse and even hate!

Yes, it is very difficult because like love, forgiving is the nature of God. In fact, any kind of love is best expressed when it is forgiving. The good news is that we now share in this great love of God in forgiving others like him as we shall see in today’s parable, keeping in mind also that it was the Risen Lord’s commission to his disciples when he appeared to them on that Easter evening (John 20:22-23).

Photo by author, Baguio Cathedral, January 2018.

Forgiving like God our Father

The beauty of forgiving is that it is always a grace from God freely given to us. It is doable in Jesus Christ. The problem is when we refuse to let God work in us, when we refuse to level up our relationships to that of brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.

There is always that pride in us exhibited by Peter at the start of the gospel today when he asked Jesus how many times he must forgive his brother. Must it be seven times?

Of course, seven being a “perfect number” does not specify a numerical figure of times to forgive except that it gives enough room to let go of a sinner or an offender. However, it still connotes some form of “counting” or taking tabs at how many times must one forgive, implying a limit.

But Jesus pushed it further when he told Peter to forgive “not seven times but seventy-seven times” — that is, twice the perfect number he had cited!

The Lord is telling Peter, and us today, to forget all about keeping tabs, of counting how many times you must forgive because God forgives us without limits which his parable tells us.

The king or master in the parable is God, so wealthy that he could lend sums exceeding the normal level of what one can borrow. Most surprising is like God, the master lent so much amount beyond the debtor’s ability to pay!

That is how rich our God is — so rich in love and mercy, giving us with so much even beyond our ability to pay him back in return. Exactly what we have in the responsorial psalm: “The Lord is kind and merciful; slow to anger and rich in compassion.”

And when that servant prostrated before his master, then the more we see in that religious gesture the deeper meaning of the parable: the rich mercy of God forgiving us for our debts even after we have lost everything like that debtor with nothing enough to pay his loans, not even his wife and children.

See the contrast of the king moved with compassion echoing the same attitude of Jesus so often like in the wilderness where he fed more than 5000 people and that servant so lost with nothing else left but still forgiven.

The parable could have stopped there but Jesus went on to continue what happened next to teach us the deeper truth of forgiving, which is imitating God our Father because we are brothers and sisters in him.

From Google.

When this servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’ Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him… but he refused. Instead, he had the fellow servant put in prison until he paid back the debt. Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair. His master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’ Then in anger is master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.”

Matthew 18:28-35

Forgiving from the heart

After hearing the second part of the parable, we all felt like the master, angry and indignant with that merciless servant whose action was very shameless and scandalous. But, more than being like the king who properly judged the conduct of that merciless servant, Jesus is also inviting us to probe deeper into our hearts the realities why we felt like the king in the parable?

How many times have we felt so angry and frustrated during this pandemic period at the many occasions when we heard news of injustices and abuse of powers against the little ones like Mang Dodong or the Marawi verteran shot to death in Quezon City? Of those punished in violating the protocols when its chief implementor got away free after attending a mañanita party?

The list goes on specially in our country where laws favor the abusive rich and powerful, those with connections while ordinary citizens with lesser violations, even without any crimes at all suffer the same fate as the servant with lesser debts.

Photo by author, “patak-dugo”, 2019.

We all feel so angry and very sad because more than the injustices and lack of mercies committed by those in powers, they have forgotten we are brothers and sisters in one God our Father. Parang sila lang ang anak ng Diyos…

We feel like the king in the parable because we felt left out, disregarded, and disrespected despite our kindness and mercy with others.

Forgiving from the heart means to forgive others not because we are fellow servants but most of all as brothers and sisters of a loving and merciful Father who forgives us always from our unpayable debts of sin and evil against each other.

This is the very thing St. Paul is telling us in the second reading, that “None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself” (Rom.14:7). Sometimes we need to be in control of our lives but the truth is, when we try to live St. Paul’s message that our lives belong to one another in Christ, the more we become truly free and happy.

It is the same reminder from Ben Sirach in the first reading telling us how we must avoid anger and resentment specially revenge because it is contrary to our faith in God. Most of all, we also know so well that we need the mercy of God in forgiving our countless sins.

The example of St. John Paul II about forgiving like God

I know what I am telling you are easier said than done. And I confess that I also find it so hard to forgive people who have wronged me, specially those I have loved and helped. Allow me to end this reflection with this beautiful bit of history that happened in our lifetime.

We were in high school seminary when Mehmet Agca shot and almost killed St. John Paul II at St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981. We were shocked, so sad for him and very angry with Agca. But, two years later after Christmas in 1983, we were more shocked in disbelief while at the same time in tears with joy when news came out that St. John Paul II came to visit Agca in his cell to forgive him!

It was a major news that landed on TIME magazine the following year with the cover story so relevant with our gospel today:

From Pinterest.

Those who do not forgive are those who are least capable of changing the circumstances of their lives…

Not to forgive is to be imprisoned by the past, by old grievances that do not permit life to proceed with new business.

Not to forgive is to yield oneself to another’s control. If one does not forgive, then one is controlled by the other’s initiatives and is locked into a sequence of act and response, of outrage and revenge, tit for tat, escalating always. The present is endlessly overwhelmed and devoured by the past. Forgiveness frees the forgiver. It extracts the forgiver from someone else’s nightmare. “Unless there is a breach with the evil past,” says Donald Shriver, “all we get is this stuttering repetition of evil.”

Lance Morrow, TIME Magazine, 19 January 1984

As I searched for photos of the assassination attempt on him by Agca, I came across this photo below of their meeting with an accompanying report that made me admire and love St. “JP2” more than ever.

It said that while recuperating in the hospital, St. JP2 learned from the news how people hated Agca, prompting him to ask everyone to “pray for my brother (Agca)… whom I have sincerely forgiven.” That is how holy is this great Pope of our time! Long before visiting Agca in 1983, St. JP2 had already forgiven him, calling him a “brother” despite the evil and sin done to him.

What a great Amen!

Have a blessed and wonderful week ahead, brothers and sisters in Christ!

From https://rarehistoricalphotos.com/pope-john-paul-mehmet-agca-1983/.

“Where Is the Love?” by The Black Eyed Peas (2003)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 06 September 2020
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, April 2020 at Infanta, Quezon.

The most severe test of our being Christian lies in our being able to love one another specially when it is so difficult to love them, when the one we love like a brother or a sister or a friend sins (https://lordmychef.com/2020/09/05/presence-and-love-of-christ/).

Jesus said to his disciples: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you… If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector… Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

Matthew 18:15-16, 19-20

In our Sunday gospel today, Jesus is asking us to have love as basis of our relationships, whether at home or in the community, in the church or in the society. When there is love, there is Jesus, there is order, there is peace and harmony. Even when there is imperfection and sin, when love prevails, life and its struggles become bearable, even fulfilling. But when there is no love, there is always disorder and chaos and life becomes more difficult.

And that is why we go back to Black Eyed Peas’ 2003 hit “Where Is The Love?” for our Sunday music today which is very timely and relevant in this time of the pandemic.

People killin’ people dyin’
Children hurtin’, I hear them cryin’
Can you practice what you preachin’?
Would you turn the other cheek again?
Mama, mama, mama, tell us what the hell is goin’ on
Can’t we all just get along?
Father, father, father help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me
Questioning
(Where’s the love)

Of course, we all know our kababayan apl.de.ap is part of this group and one of the composers of this smash hit that was also the largest selling record of 2003, earning a nomination to the Grammy the following year for Record of the Year and Best Rap/Sung collaboration. From their third album Elephunk, “Where Is the Love?” gave Black Eyed Peas its first commercial success that also put them onto the mainstream music scene. Not mentioned at its single release was the back-up vocals rendered by Justin Timberlake who showed support to the group even though he was from another record label.

Very interesting is the last stanza which I just realized while reflecting on the song relating it to the gospel this Sunday: our problem is not really the corona virus but a disease within us when we refuse to accept and share that love freely given us by God.

I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders
As I’m gettin’ older y’all people gets colder
Most of us only care about money makin’
Selfishness got us followin’ the wrong direction
Wrong information always shown by the media
Negative images is the main criteria
Infecting the young minds faster than bacteria
Kids wanna act like what they see in the cinemas
What happened to the love and the values of humanity?
(Where’s the love)
What happened to the love and the fairness and equality?
(Where’s the love)
Instead of spreading love we’re spreading animosity
(Where’s the love)
Lack of understanding leading us away from unity
(Where’s the love)

Some people have been asking me this early how would Christmas 2020 be?

We need not read the news for we can feel and readily see around us the bleak prospects of this coming Christmas — financially and materially speaking. But I am filled with hope that Christmas 2020 amid the pandemic will most likely be one, if not the most meaningful Christmas we shall ever have because when we have less of the material things, that is also when we have more of the spiritual things in life, more of love, more of kindness, more of the person next to me, and most of all, more of Jesus. All we have to do is honestly answer the question, “where is the love?”

Have a blessed Sunday everyone!

Music video by Black Eyed Peas performing Where Is The Love?. (C) 2003 Interscope Geffen (A&M) Records A Division of UMG Recordings Inc.

Presence and Love of Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Week XXIII, Cycle A in Ordinary Time, 06 September 2020
Ezekiel 33:7-9 /// Romans 13:8-10 /// Matthew 18:15-20
Photo by Mr. Gelo N. Carpio, January 2020.

For the next three Sundays beginning today, our liturgy directs our gaze to the nature of the Church as the mystical Body of Jesus Christ. For today we hear from Matthew how we as a church or a community of believers are signs of the presence and love of Jesus Christ.

Recall how two weeks ago at Caesarea Philippi Jesus called Simon as “Peter” (“Rock”) to head his “church”, giving him the keys to the kingdom of heaven that whatever he binds on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever he looses on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Mt.16:17-19).

Matthew is the only evangelist so particular in using the term “church” that he devoted chapter 18 of his gospel on its nature, collecting and giving some of the Lord’s teachings about community life to his own group of disciples or early church.

And off he went to start with the most important part of community life:

Jesus said to his disciples: “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you… If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church. If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector… Again, amen, I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

Matthew 18:15-16, 17, 19-20
Photo by author, dome of the Malolos Cathedral, 2019.

Presence of Jesus in the love and unity of community

In a very short teaching taking a step by step method, Jesus tells us today how our mutual love shall always take precedence above all in our community life as his disciples and sign of presence.

Though we do not find in our gospel this Sunday the word “love”, it is clearly the Lord’s lesson for today: it is mutual love for one another that must guide everyone specially in the delicate matter of fraternal correction when one is going wayward in his/her path of life.

This explains why Jesus spelled out step by step how we correct others primarily because we love, not because we are better than them or that we have such authority or task and duty. Paul beautifully says it in our second reading:

Brothers and sisters: Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.

Romans 13:8, 10

But of course, we need to clarify that all these lessons of love from the Lord and Paul are based on the love of Jesus Christ who clearly mandated us during his last supper how we must love:

I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

John 13:34-35

What makes this loving one another a “new commandment” is loving like Jesus Christ, unlike the pagans in ancient times that are still imitated to this day even by many among us who are also Christians. So often we find specially in media how love is portrayed as mere feelings like physical attraction that always leads up to sex, devoid of any sanctity and inner beauty at all.

St. Augustine called it “disordered love” when we become self-centered and selfish, directing our love solely to attaining what pleases us that we use persons and love things like money.

Love is not just a feeling but a decision, a choice we make and affirm every day specially when times are very rough and tough for us like when we are not loved in return.

Most of all, love is when we find somebody else we can love more than ourselves (Thomas Merton). This is the kind of love that Jesus and Paul as well as all the other saints speak of: the self-sacrificing love Christ showed us when he offered himself on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins.

Photo by author, Chapel of the Monastery of the Sisters of Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the Milk Grotto in Bethlehem where the Holy Family hid before fleeing to Egypt to escape Herod’s order to massacre the Holy Innocents, May 2019.

Love of Jesus builds, not destroys

Applying the law of love to our community is the most severe test of our being disciples of Jesus when we are challenged to be sincere in our love by hating what is evil and holding on to what is good like blessing those who persecute us, foregoing vengeance against those who have wronged us along with other expressions of mutual love in our community that Paul tells us in Romans 12:9-21.

In teaching us mutual love for one another in a step by step manner, it may seem to be a duty that one must follow in the church. It may even sound as contradictory that Jesus seems to be commanding us to strictly follow his law of command because no law can ever impose love.

However, when we try to reflect the ending of his teachings today – “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” – we find Jesus not ordering us to love but asking us our love because he loves us. He comes to us, grants our prayers because he loves us; therefore, when we love, when we gather as his disciples, we become his presence. And that is when our prayers are most effective because Jesus is in our midst!

Jesus and his love always build people and community; without him and his love, all we have is destruction and divisions. Hence, love is the only debt we owe to anyone. Love as a debt and “duty” is never paid back because the more we love, the more we have love, the more we are indebted to Jesus. It is the only debt that is never burdensome; in fact, the opposite happens when we refuse to love – we are burdened, life becomes heavy and so difficult.

This is what Ezekiel is telling us in the first reading: we are a “watchman”, a brother’s keeper of everyone. St. Pope Gregory the Great wrote a beautiful homily on being a watchman:

Note that a man whom the Lord sends forth as a preacher is called a watchman. A watchman always stands on a height so that he can see from afar what is coming. Anyone appointed to be a watchman for the people must stand on a height for all his life to help them by his foresight.

Office of Readings, Memorial of St. Pope Gregory the Great, 03 September
Photo by author, sunset inside our parish, 25 August 2020.

In the Church, those designated as watchman of the flock of Jesus is the Bishop or episkopos in Greek that means watcher or overseer. It is the bishop’s duty to always be above others in the loving service of the Church that sometimes out of love for Christ, he has to discipline those going astray as instructed in our gospel today, “If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector”, that is, excommunication or suspensions and other measures not meant to punish but to convert and correct the sinner.

Next Sunday, Matthew deepens our lesson on mutual love when he presents us the teachings of Jesus on how often we must forgive our brother or sister who repeatedly sins against us.

See my dear reader, how after presenting to us who is Jesus Christ last month, in how much he loves us and seeks us, these following Sundays we are challenged by the Lord to be like him – loving and merciful – to truly keep our relationship with him.

It is the first Sunday of September, the -ber months that tell us Christmas is around the corner. But, it seems we are still in a long haul in this pandemic. Having a vaccine will not totally eradicate COVID-19 nor guarantee us this won’t happen again in the future because the disease that is truly plaguing us until now is our refusal to love and live as brothers and sisters in Christ. Let us give it a try. Slowly. Jesus is not rushing us. All he is asking us is be open to his words expressed earlier in our responsorial psalm: “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.”

Have a heart and have a blessed, lovely week, everyone!

How ugly sin can be

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Week XI, Year II in Ordinary Time, 16 June 2020
1 Kings 21:17-29 <*(((>< <*(((>< ><)))*> ><)))*> Matthew 5:43-48
Photo from Google.

O God our heavenly Father, we come to you today begging for your mercy, for more enlightenment, for prudence and for self-control amid all the things going on in our land and elsewhere abroad while still under threats with this COVID-19 pandemic.

Every day we are beginning to see how ugly sin can be, often expressed in so many forms of injustice to one another; its ugliness can be seen in the “punishments” King Ahab shall suffer following the death of Naboth whose vineyard he had so desired to own.

Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me out, my enemy?” “Yes,” he answered. “Because you have given yourself up to doing evil in the Lord’s sight, I am bringing evil upon you: I will destroy you and will cut off every male in Ahab’s line, whether slave or freeman, in Israel. When one of Ahab’s line dies in the city, dogs will devour him; when one of them dies in the field, the birds of the sky will devour him.”

1 Kings 21:20-21, 24

Help us to turn away from sins, Lord, and cleanse our hearts and our hands of our many sins of dishonesty and insincerity, of lies and injustices, of pride and power tripping.

All these things happening to us today are largely due to our past sins that until now we refuse to admit and confess to you.

Give us the grace of honesty within, of confronting our true selves and admit our guilt, confess our sins to you to start anew like King Ahab towards the end that moved you, merciful God, to let go of your wrath in him.

May we find the wisdom and the immense beauty and power of your love as preached by Jesus to us in the gospel today.

Inspire us to be perfect, to be holy today just like you, our Father, is holy, perfect, and beautiful.

Holiness is not being sinless, Lord; fill us with your Self, O God so we may be strong enough to ward off sins and evil and be truly a reflection of your image and likeness in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Photo by author, January 2020, Pulilan, Bulacan.

Love: Morality of Christianity

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul, Week VII-A, 23 February 2020

Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18 ><)))*> 1 Corinthians 3:16-23 ><)))*> Matthew 5:38-48

Altar of the modern Minor Basilica of the Holy Trinity at Fatima, Portugal. Photo by Arch. Philip Santiago, 2017.

Jesus concludes his Sermon on the Mount this Sunday just in time for the start of Lent this coming Ash Wednesday. He taught us last Sunday that righteousness is not only measured by acts but most of all by the purity of the heart’s intentions that we call “education of the heart”.

Today Christ comes to the demands of charity and love, the fullness of the Laws in himself.

Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one as well… You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father..”

Matthew 5:38-39, 43-45

See again the Lord’s pattern in his preaching like last Sunday: a recall of the laws to show his adherence to them contrary to claims of his enemies, and then his infusion of his teaching that perfects the laws: “You have heard… But I say to you…”

Jesus focuses only on two laws today, that of revenge or “lex talionis” (from Latin talio for the word such) and that of hate for enemy which needs some clarifications.

Nowhere do we find in the Laws of Israel “to love your neighbor and hate your enemy”. Experts say Jesus must be citing a popular saying of his time in this part of his teaching. Besides, the Aramiac spoken by the Lord does not connote the harsh meaning we have today for the word “hate”. In short, Jesus is correcting here the norm among Jews of his time to “just love those who love us”.

This is why he adds this beautiful explanation with the most unique conclusion of all.

“For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Matthew 5:46-48
Photo by Lorenzo Atienza, 12 June 2019, Malolos Cathedral.

A fraternity of humanity in the Father

Here we find a beautiful dimension of Jesus Christ’s assertion last week that he had come to fulfill the Laws: more than having a broader approach to the spirit of the laws, education of the heart leads us to see everyone as a brother and a sister.

No one is different. Every one is a family – a kin! which is the root of the word “kind”.

Being kind is more than being good as we say in Filipino, mabait or mabuti.

Being kind is treating the other person as a kin, a relative or family; someone who is not different from us. When we say “he is kind to me”, it means more than being good to me but treating me as a family, a brother or a sister – not as “another” or “iba sa akin” as we say in Filipino.

Photo by author, Mt. St. Paul, Baguio City, 03 February 2020.

This is the essence of our “Year of Inter-religious Dialogue, Ecumenism, and Indigenous Peoples” in preparation next year of our 500 years of Christianity in the country.

Everybody is included in that celebration as we reach out to peoples of other faith and beliefs as well as to the indigenous peoples whose forefathers were actually the first settlers of the country.

This is very important in any dialogue and relationship and partnerships including marriage: there must always be the acceptance of everyone in equal footing with same dignity as a person. It is from here we start that fullness of the Laws in Christ in love.

Human holiness as a reflection of God’s holiness in love

Love can only happen where there is equality and fairness. Love demands we are first of all at equal footing with each other. This is why Jesus became human like us: the Son of God became human to stand on equal footing with us that we cannot argue that he is greater because he is truly human, too, going through everything we have gone through except sin.

When he said that we offer our other cheek, to give our cloak, and go for another mile, he is not referring to criminal or penal codes but more into our humanity, that spirit of universal brotherhood so that even our oppressors and enemies come to realize within them that we are one, that we should be caring for one another, not hating and hurting each other.

Loving our enemies does not mean we let evil continue; loving our enemies means continuing to “love” perpetrators of evils until they realize we are brothers and sisters, keeping each other, caring for each other.

Loving our enemies is making them realize that there are nobody else here on earth for them except us – why fight and perish?

Yes, these are easier said than done. And admittedly, I must confess it is the most difficult part of the gospel, of being a Christ-ian. But it is something Jesus is asking us in the most personal manner.

From Google.

Let it be clear that Jesus is not asking us to behave with naiveté that we give in to injustice, evil, and violence but that we always be peacemakers, the blessed ones he said in his Beatitudes. In our fight for justice and peace, we fight with the moral persuasions of love which is the morality of Christ.

The American civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. had shown in our modern time that the Lord’s teachings are doable: we just have to be convinced and must truly believe in Jesus.

“Love is the most durable power in the world. This creative force is the most potent instrument available in mankind’s quest for peace and security.”

Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

When we love truly in Jesus Christ, asserting what is true, what good, what is just, we make God truly present in the world. When that happens, the more we allow him to do his works of changing us within, of transforming us within. It is in our imperfect love that we make God present, the perfect I Am.

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the whole Israelite community and tell them: Be holy, for I, the Lord your God, am holy. Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your people. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.”

Leviticus 19:1-2, 18
Photo by Dra. Mai B. Dela Peña, Santorini in Greece, 2016.

Hubris, our greatest temptation and sin

The Season of Lent is fast approaching us, set to start with Ash Wednesday this week. It is a season characterized by barrenness: no Gloria and Alleluias, no flowers, no decorations, no images to make us turn back to God again, our Lord and Master alone.

St. Paul reminds us today in our second reading that we are “God’s temple… that there is no need to boast of anyone including one’s self” (1Cor. 3:16, 21). Instead of embracing or holding on to anyone including one’s self, we have to embrace the scandal of the cross of Christ, that is, power in weakness, wisdom in what the world considers folly.

For the ancient Greeks as depicted in their epics, the greatest temptation and sin of man is hubris – the arrogant presumption that he is god, that he can do everything, he can have everything that he defies the gods.

Hubris is the sin of pride that has led everyone from Adam and Eve to all the powerful men and women of history into their downfall. It is absolute power crumbling absolutely, always tragically.

In his Sermon on the Mount where we heard many of the Lord’s teachings this whole month of February, Jesus shows us the path away from hubris, his path of love and holiness in the Father. Let us heed his calls, give his teachings a try and a chance to be fulfilled in us.

A very lovely and loving Sunday to you!

Love that is sincere

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Tuesday, Week XXXI, Year I, 05 November 2019

Romans 12:5-16 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Luke 14:15-24

Photo by Mr. Chester Ocampo, October 2019.

Lord Jesus Christ, I come to you in darkness, desolate and sad with so much pains and fears. And anger.

You are the only one I can turn to, Lord.

You alone are the one who can heal me and console me.

You alone can fill me with life and love.

Like the psalmist, it is only in you, O Lord, can I find peace.

Help me to respond to St. Paul’s call today:

Brothers and sisters: Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor.

Romans 12:9-10

How can our love be sincere and not hate evil or even show honor to those who continue to do evil against us?

O sweet Jesus, give us the courage to come to your “banquet”; enable us to let go of our many excuses like those you have invited to your banquet.

It is only in communing in you, in being with you can our love be sincere, Lord, when we are able to disarm ourselves of our doubts and anxieties, fears and hatred to receive you and share you with others. Amen.

Clothed in Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Thursday, Week XXIII, Year I, 12 September 2019

Colossians 3:12-17 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Luke 6:27-38

Sacred Heat Novitiate (Novaliches), July 2016.

It is only Thursday, Lord Jesus Christ, but suddenly your Most Sacred Heart came to mind, especially this beautiful hymn:

Heart of Jesus, meek and mild
Hear, O hear, Thy feeble child,
When the tempest’s most severe, Heart of Jesus, hear!
Sweetly we’ll rest on Thy Sacred Heart,
Never from Thee, oh let us part,
Hear then Thy loving children’s pray’r,
O Heart of Jesus, Heart of Jesus, hear!

Everyday, Lord, we think of the clothes we would wear and too often, our choices seem endless, taking so much of our time so we would always look good to others.

Today, O Lord, I pray, you clothe me with your person: through your “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, may everything I do be done in your most holy name, O Jesus”, (Col. 3:12, 17).

From Google.

To be clothed in you, O Lord Jesus, means to see the good in others than to see myself as the only one good.

To be clothed in you, O Jesus, is to get into the very heart of your gospel message of “loving our enemies” (Lk.6:27). It is the most radical words in your preaching that seems so impossibly hard for us to follow – unless we are clothed in you, O Christ.

That is why it is very important for us to be clothed in you, Jesus, because loving our enemies is the clearest expression we are your disciples, that is, Christians in the truest sense.

Help us to take off our clothes of pride and selfishness, our clothes of greed and insecurities that make us want more than what we have and what we need, and thus lead to our making enemies because we try to possess and defend.

Instead, let us be clothed in you, Jesus, so that we become poor like you with nothing to keep except everything to give and share.

In that manner, we become open and hospitable instead of being hostile with others. Amen.