Jesus in our midst

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Third Sunday in Easter, 18 April 2021
Acts 3:13-15, 17-19  ><)))*>  1 John 2:1-5  ><)))*>  Luke 24:35-48 

After listening to the accounts of the beloved disciple John, we now reflect on Luke’s story of the Resurrection which is a continuation of the gospel proclaimed in the afternoon of Easter, the Road to Emmaus.

Recall how the two disciples did not recognize the Risen Lord when he joined them on their way back to Emmaus saddened with his death, doubtful of his resurrection. Upon reaching home, they invited the Lord for a meal when after breaking the bread, they recognized it was Jesus who had then vanished from their sights!

Both hurried back to Jerusalem to tell the rest of the disciples of their encounter with the Risen Lord.

While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” But they were startled and terrified and thought they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them.

Luke 24:36-43
Painting by Caravaggio of the Emmaus Meal from commons.wikimedia.org.

Many times in life
 we feel it more "fearful" in the positive sense 
to believe in God than in ghosts 
because God is very real 
when ghosts are not true at all.

Jesus appearing, speaking, and sharing meal

Both evangelists John and Luke consistently tell us in their Easter stories the three manifestations of the Risen Lord to the disciples: appearing, speaking, and sharing meal. All three acts belong together as one to remind the disciples of what transpired during their Last Supper, fulfilled on Good Friday.

But, there is something deeper in the dynamics of these three acts when seen from the perspective of Luke. And we have to look back to the beginning of this story on the road to Emmaus where we find Luke using a pattern of presenting an outward sign of Jesus appearing, speaking and sharing meal with the disciples who were then led to an inner recognition of the Risen Lord.

Notice that outwardly while walking, the disciples did not recognize Jesus as the man walking with them, speaking to them about the scriptures. Inwardly, something was happening with them: Then they said to each other, “Were not our hears burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32)

This pattern of outward signs and inner recognition becomes strongest when Jesus shared meals with the disciples: And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight (Luke 24:30-31).

Exactly the same thing happened in this manifestation we now have in Jerusalem: the outward signs of the Risen Lord appearing to the disciples, showing them his hands and his feet. The disciples were amazed, could not speak at all upon seeing Jesus Christ alive, speaking to them, reminding them of his teachings before and most especially, shared meal with them by eating a baked fish to prove he is not a ghost.

Then, he spoke again to remind them of his earlier teachings of the scriptures being fulfilled in him through his Passion, Death and Resurrection, leading to the inner recognition by the disciples: Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:45).

Painting by Frenchman James Tissot “Appearance of Christ at Cenacle Room” from commons.wikimedia.org.

Many times in life we feel it more fearful in the positive sense to believe in God than in ghosts because God is very real when ghosts are not true at all. “Mas nakakatakot maniwala sa Diyos kesa multo kasi ang Diyos ay totoong-totoo habang ang mga multo ay hindi.”

Amid the many outward signs we see unfolding right before our eyes, we could not help but believe as we are overwhelmed with God’s presence, with his love and mercy for us in the most personal way. The German Lutheran theologian Rudolf Otto called it as “mysterium tremendum” and “mysterium fascinans” when we feel so small like a tiny speck of dust in this vast universe yet so special, so loved by the almighty God.

There is that realization of our sinfulness, of our shortcomings before the Lord and yet still loved and forgiven like what Peter taught the people in his teaching after Pentecost at Jerusalem. Four times in four verses Peter spoke to the people with the second person pronoun YOU to stress their complicity in the crucifixion of Jesus, “you handed over and denied (v.13); you denied the Holy (v.14); you put to death (v.15)”; and finally, the saving declaration:

“Now I know, brothers, that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did; but God has thus brought to fulfillment what he head announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer.”

Acts 3:17-18

Whenever we commit sins. when we refuse to love others, we become that “YOU” of Peter who hand over and deny Jesus, putting him to death whenever we reduce persons into things or take God’s blessings like food for granted.

From the Facebook page of artist Mr. Dengcoy Miel, 01 April 2021.

The “essential” table fellowship

Aside from proving to his disciples that he is risen, Jesus Christ’s appearance, speaking, and sharing of meals with them continues to our time in the Holy Eucharist where he brings us to a new covenant in the table fellowship with him and the Father in heaven.

In the Holy Eucharist, Jesus gives us a share in his very life, allowing us to participate in his Resurrection through the purifying power of his Passion and Death.

From the days of the Apostles up to our own time, the celebration of the Mass had gone through many changes and reforms but its very essence has always remained as the Real Presence of Jesus Christ among us in outward signs perceptible to our senses like the proclamation of the Word, the sharing in the Lord’s Body and Blood, and the communion of members of the community gathered in every celebration.

Like the disciples of the Lord during that Easter evening, we continue to experience an inner awakening within us of his presence, of his very self.

That is why Vatican II as well as St. John Paul II had always insisted that the Eucharist is the summit of our Christian life, that everything in our lives and in our parish especially must flow from the Eucharist. This is the reason that even with the COVID-19 lockdowns, Masses continue to be celebrated by priests even in private without the congregation because it is our source of nourishment especially in these times of crisis.


These community pantries now sprouting 
are in itself extensions of table fellowship with Jesus as the unseen guest - 
appearing, speaking, sharing meals with us - 
literally giving us food for the stomach, delighting our souls.

  It is another Easter and Pentecost happening in our midst, 
of Jesus coming to us, 
truly alive in the Holy Spirit among people 
gathered in loving service for one another, 
a perfection of the love of God in us!

Photo from Elijah San Fernando, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 16 April 2021.

See the recent “miracles” happening lately about this “community pantry” that started in Maguinhawa Street in Quezon City now fast spreading to other areas in Metro Manila with some farmers from the provinces giving their share of farm produce.

What a beautiful proof of the fulfillment of John’s words in our second reading today: “But whoever keeps his word, the love of God is perfected in him” (1Jn.2:1-5)!

These community pantries now sprouting are in itself extensions of table fellowship with Jesus the unseen guest – appearing, speaking, sharing meals with us – literally giving us food for the stomach, delighting our souls.

It is another Easter and Pentecost happening in our midst, of Jesus coming to us, truly alive in the Holy Spirit among people gathered in loving service for one another, a perfection of the love of God in us!

Photo by Toots Vergara, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 16 April 2021.

This Sunday, let us experience Jesus our guest right in our family, in our homes as we gather in our table without our gadgets and prejudices against each other, having only our very presence and fellowship in love and mercy, kindness and care as we feed our bodies as well as our souls. Amen.

*Please say a prayer for me and my six other classmates today as we celebrate our 23rd year of ordination to the priesthood (18 April 1998, Malolos Cathedral by Abp. Rolando J. Tria-Tirona).  Salamuch and God bless you all!  fr nick

Pagkain sa Quarantine ng COVID-19

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-30 ng Abril 2020

Photo by Ray Piedra on Pexels.com
Sana ay huwag ninyong masamain
itong aking puna at pansin 
sa marami nating kababayan
ngayong panahon ng COVID-19
palaging daing walang makain
ating sinasambit
saan mang bahagi ng mundo sumapit
kapag tayo ay nagigipit.
Hindi naman sa kung ano pa man
pagkain lamang ba ang sadya nating kailangan
na siyang laging pinahahalagahan 
kaya naman kadalasan ito ang sanhi 
ng ating mga alitan at di pagkakaunawaan?
Anong sakit mapakinggan, malaman na
nag-aagawan, pinag-aawayan
ay pagkain lamang?
Larawan mula sa Google.
Sa Banal na Kasulatan ating matutunghayan
habilin ng Diyos sa ating unang magulang
maari nilang kainin mga munting butil 
pati na rin mga bunga ng punong kahoy sa hardin
huwag na huwag lamang nilang kakanin
mahigpit Niyang bilin 
bunga ng puno ng karunungan 
dahil magiging sanhi ng ikasasawi natin.
Hindi napigilan kanilang tinikman
pinagbabawal na bunga kaya lumuwa mga mata
sa katotohanang lumantad sa kanila na di nakaya
kaya't dating kapwa hubad ay nagdamit na!
Nang pumarito si Jesu-Kristo upang tubusin ang tao
unang tukso na kanyang pinagdaanan sa ilang
sa gitna ng kanyang kagutuman
ay gawing tinapay mga bato upang busugin Kanyang tiyan.
Hindi nalito si Kristo nang sagurtin niya ang diyablo
na hindi lamang sa tinapay nabubuhay ang tao
kungdi sa bawat salitang namumutawi sa bibig ng Diyos;
kaya noong gabing ipagkanulo siya habang kumakain sila,
nangunsap Siya sa mga alagad Niya
habang hawak-hawak ang tinapay na pinaghati-hati
"Tanggapin ninyong lahat ito at kanin
ito ang aking katawan na ihahandog para sa inyo."
Mula noon hanggang ngayon
nakikilala, naaalala natin ang Panginoon
sa hapag ng kanyang piging, sa mesa ng Misa
nang kanyang inangat katayuan at kahulugan 
nitong pangkaraniwang gawain natin na kumain:
hindi lamang upang busugin mga tiyan at laman natin
kungdi upang punuin din kamalayan at kaluluwa natin
ng diwa ng piging na mismo tayo ay maging pagkain din!
Larawan ng “Supper at Emmaus” ni Caravaggio mula sa Google.
Nakikila pag-uugali ng tao 
kapag nakita paano siyang kumain
sapagkat doon lamang sa mesa ng piging
nawawala mga pagkukunwari natin
nabubunyag tunay nating saloobin
kaya naman sa bawat pagdiriwang natin
palaging mayroon pagkain upang
magkasalu-salo, magkaniig at magkaisa mga kumakain.
Alalahanin si Hudas noong Huling Hapunan
lumisan na kaagad dahil siya ay tumiwalag
di lamang sa hapag kungdi sa kaisahan at
pakikipag-kaibigan kay Jesus at mga kasamahan;
iyon din ang sinasaad sa bawat piging ng mga 
dumadalo at hindi dumarating
mga kumakain at nanginginain
kay daming pagkain ngunit makasarili pa rin!
Sa tuwing tayo ay kumakain
laging alalahanin kaisa palagi natin
Diyos na bukal ng lahat ng pagpapala sa atin:
huwag mangangamba o mag-aalinlangan
kung sakali mang tayo ay gutumin
sapagkat hindi iyan ikamamatay natin
kungdi pagkabunsol sa labis na pagkain
lahat-lahat ay inaangkin.
Ang tunay na sarap ng pagkain
nalalasap pa rin
maski tapos nang kumain
kapag nabusog di lamang tiyan 
kungdi puso at kalooban; 
mga alitan nahuhugasan sa inuman
mapanghahawakan pagsasamahan at pagkakapatiran 
upang huwag masabi ninuman na wala silang makain!