Seeing Christ in what is traditional and what is new

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Memorial of St. Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church, 
03 September 2021
Colossians 1:15-20   ><)))'> ><]]]]*> ><)))'>   Luke 5:33-39
Photo by Dr. Mai B. Dela Peña, MD in Barcelona, Spain, 2018.

The scribes and the Pharisees said to Jesus, “The disciples of John the Baptist fast so often and offer prayers, and the disciples of the Pharisees do the same; but yours eat and drink.”

Luke 5:33
Oh yes, God our Father!
So many times we are like
the scribes and the Pharisees
asking Jesus not to seek the truth
but to confirm what we believe 
as true and proper, trying to find
justifications for what we are
doing which we hardly understand
the deeper meaning.
Like the gospel last Sunday,
we cannot distinguish what is
traditional and what is new,
what is clean and unclean,
and most of all, what is good
and what is evil because 
we are more focused with our
selves than with you and Jesus.

And he also told them a parable. Likewise, no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins, and it will be spilled, and the skins will be ruined. Rather, new wine must be poured into fresh wineskins. And no one who has been drinking old wine desires new, for he says, “The old is good.””

Luke 5:36, 37-39
Like St. Gregory the Great,
refresh us in your Son Jesus Christ,
dear Father.  
Make us "new wineskins"
to be poured with Jesus, the "new wine";
indeed, old wine always tastes good
but we have to become new wineskins too
to be able to adjust to the new wine
to bring out its goodness and zest.

For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the Blood of his cross through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.

Colossians 1:19-20
Let us always seek first Jesus Christ,
loving Father in looking at things
in life and especially in the Church;
like St. Gregory the Great who
accomplished so much not only
in the Church but also in civil society
despite his short stint as Pope for
only 13 years, help us to center our
lives in Christ Jesus because
"he is the image of the invisible God,
the first born of all creation"
(Colossians 1:15).
Amen.

Directions where to go

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 07 July 2021
Homily for Wednesday in the 14th Week in Ordinary Time
Genesis 41:55-57;42:5-7,17-24  ><)))*>   Matthew 10:1-7
Photo by Jens Johnsson on Pexels.com

There are two essential questions each of us asks in our lifetime that give meaning to our lives and existence: “Who Am ?” and “Where am I going?”. Both questions go hand in hand even if their answers unfold or evolve through time because the directions we take in life flow from how we have known ourselves (identity).

But of the two questions, it is the second one that we keep asking, thinking it is easier to answer that so often, we take many directions in life without much reflections.

And prayers.

Today our readings speak about “going”, directions from God that we must take in life, inviting us to pray and reflect about the many directions we have taken in life.

From the beautiful story of Joseph the “dreamer” in the Old Testament to Jesus in our gospel, God gives us directions, telling us where to go to find fulfillment and fulness in life.

Photo by author, Egypt, 2019.

When hunger came to be felt throughout the land of Egypt and the people cried to Pharaoh for bread, Pharaoh directed all the Egyptians to go to Joseph and do whatever he told them.

Genesis 41:55

Go to Joseph…

God directs us to go find people of credibility and integrity who will mold us into better persons by discovering our true selves, harnessing our talents, learning and growing from our mistakes and painful past.

Here we see the need to have a true friend, a good spiritual director, a faithful co-journeyer in life who can nourish us with their holiness and spirituality, positive outlook in life, maturity and sincerity.

The other day I came across an anecdote from the late Filipino taipan John Gokongwei who claimed that the most important decision one has to make in life is choosing the person to marry because your spouse is your lifetime partner with whom you shall make your dreams come true, clarifying things for you when there are uncertainties and doubts, showing you other perspectives to consider, and one who would always stand and believe in you.

That’s is very true!

God speaks and comes to us most of the time through people he sends us like family and friends, colleagues and superiors, even strangers and people we hardly know.

Important thing is for us to be open not only to learning new things but to simply meeting people because life is about interacting with persons. See that the author of Genesis narrated how the Pharaoh told the Egyptians to “go to Joseph and do whatever he told them.”

Photo by author, view from temple of Jerusalem, 2017.

Jesus sent out these Twelve after instructing them thus, “Do not go into pagan territory or enter a Samaritan town. Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

Matthew 10:5-6

Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

This is the most striking but also most beautiful direction of God that he sent us Jesus Christ our Savior: to go and search for the lost, the weak and sick, the forgotten and those in the margins. We find God most among those people.

This direction of God is also a call to service, to a loving charity to share and bring his Son Jesus Christ among the poor and rejected.

It is among the poor that we find Jesus because whenever we come to them sharing Jesus, we are surprised to find out that the Lord has been with them – also waiting for us to meet him among them! And that is when grace happens and blessings abound: the Christ among the marginalized affirming the Christ in those serving and proclaiming his gospel.

That is heaven, union with God who directs us to go and share life, to have life in its fullness.

From the FB post by Julian Arguilla, 05 July 2021.

This brings us to the heroism of the 50 soldiers who died in the plane crash last July 4 in Patikul, Sulu.

One of those who perished there is an alumnus of Our Lady of Fatima University’s College of Medicine, Capt. Dr. Nigel Emeterio of Batch 2015.

From what I have gathered among some people in the University and those who have known him and his wife who is pregnant with their second baby, Capt. Dr. Nigel was a “fearless fighter in life” who have selflessly given himself to everyone since medical school, helping friends and strangers alike in every way he could.

He had always wanted to serve in the Philippine Air Force and was the flight surgeon of the the C-130 that crashed in Sulu last Sunday while transporting troops from Cagayan de Oro City.

As a flight surgeon of the Air Force, Capt. Dr. Nigel was not only at the forefront of the government campaign against terrorists.

The young military doctor is also a medical frontliner against COVID-19 when the pandemic struck early last year, serving people in remote areas of the country being served by the Philippine Air Force.

In him we find the truth that life is not measured in years but the life in years. Though he died so young at the age of 30, Capt. Dr. Nigel had lived life to the fullest. In his six years of being a doctor, he had served and saved so many lives mostly those from the margins of the society.

He had lived life to the fullest most of all with his love not only for the people but most of all to his family, especially his wife, Dr. Dana who was also a classmate at Fatima University. She is now pregnant with their second child.

From the FB post by Julian Arguilla, 05 July 2021.

I have not talked to his widow but from the screen grabs of his posts to her shared with me by their friends, the more I admired this Capt. Dr. Nigel who had followed God’s directions in life.

His messages to his wife who is also a Doctor are filled with love and respect, hopes and dreams in the future.

Most of all, Capt. Dr. Nigel was fond of speaking about the beauty of life he had found in her and their first child, his gratitude for her love and support, and “after a year of prayers”, for the gift of a second baby.

Here is a man in touch with God, who followed the Lord and Master in serving the poor, who went to follow the divine direction to go and marry his wife to raise a family.

Last Sunday, Capt. Dr. Nigel was again sent to go as flight surgeon of some 90+ troops and civilian volunteers to fight terrorists in Sulu.

Like in his previous missions of saving lives, Capt. Dr. Nigel followed orders.

Their plane crashed and exploded after missing the airport.

Though they did not make it to their destination, surely, Capt. Dr. Nigel and the soldiers and civilians with him must have found fullness of life, now in the presence of God where we shall all go in the end.

It was a mission well-accomplished in the Lord.

Eternal rest grant unto Capt. Dr. Nigel, and companions, O Lord;
May your perpetual light shine upon them.
Amen.
From the FB post by Julian Arguilla, 05 July 2021.

*Please do pray also for those wounded, for those left behind by the casualties of this accident, their friends and colleagues as well as for our military men and women who serve selflessly our country, always going wherever the Lord directs them.

Life in the Spirit

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Week X in Ordinary Time, 08 June 2021
2 Corinthians 1:18-22   ><)))'> + <'(((><   Matthew 5:13-16
Photo by author, sunrise at the Lake of Galilee, the Holy Land, 2017.

Praise and thanksgiving to you, O God our loving Father, for this brand new day, so blessed and filled with many opportunities for us to change and grow in the Holy Spirit, to test our limits and see your wisdom in calling and sending us to make you known in the world.

How amazing that in every day you give us, you keep qualifying your call so that even if we are not qualified at all, you still call us because you believe in us.

Not that of ourselves
 we are qualified to take credit for anything
as coming from us; rather, our qualification
comes from God, who has indeed qualified us
as ministers of a new covenant, 
not of letter but of spirit; 
for the letter brings death,
but the Spirit gives life.
(2 Corinthians 3:5-6)

Forgive us, dear Father, when so many times we refuse to obey your laws especially when they go against our whims and caprices, claiming them to be archaic and irrelevant but at the same time, when we complain of the Church’s many changes and reforms that do not suit us, when we choose to revert to the pass than embrace the changing world.

Let us understand the gospel today where Jesus declares, “Do not think I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill” (Mt.5:17).

Let us live in the Holy Spirit to find and rediscover daily the person of Jesus Christ so that we may be gentle and kind like him with one another than being stuck in the rigidity and stagnation of our conservatism that make us harsh and legalistic in our relationships.

Let us live in the Holy Spirit so we may be free and faithful to you always, bubbling with spontaneity and creativity that express your glory, O Lord.

We pray today for those who choose to be sad, who insist on bringing back the past without understanding the true meaning of growing and changing in Christ, of maturing in freedom and love to fully appreciate the beauty of your gift of life. Amen.

Photo by author, 2018.

When going out is the way in

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the Sixth Week of Easter, 10 May 2021
Acts 16:11-15   ><)))'> + ><)))'> + ><)))'>   John 15:26-16:4
Photo by author, Caesarea in Israel, May 2019.

How wonderful are your words today, Lord, found in our readings. How amazing is your loving presence, your concern for each of us especially in this trying time of the pandemic. Give us the grace to make the necessary efforts to meet you halfway when going out is the way for us to get in.

On the sabbath we went outside the city gate
along the river where we thought there would be 
a place of prayer.
We sat and spoke with the women
who had gathered there.
(Acts 16:13)

This struck me, dear Jesus because it proves that every prayer is answered, every prayer is always a grace and gift from you. How nice it is for St. Paul and company to go out of the city gate to find a place to pray but you gave them a fertile ground of doing their ministry among some women who were not only baptized and converted but even befriended to become collaborators in the mission.

Give us the grace to always find ways of seeking you in prayers, in being faithful to our prayer life even if sometimes we feel nothing is happening, when you seem to be far and even not interested with us.

Let us go out of our selves, out of our many excuses and conveniences to get into you in prayer, Lord.

Keep us open to the coming of the Holy Spirit to enlighten our minds and our hearts so that when occasions come that we are expelled and driven out from our comfort zones and usual way of life, we may follow the Spirit’s direction to keep us from “falling away” from you, dear Jesus (Jn.16:1-4).

May in every going out that we do in life, may we get inside you to meet you, to love and serve you our Lord and our God. Amen.

Easter is being led by God

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the Second Week of Easter, 12 April 2021
Acts 4:23-31   ><)))*> + <*(((><   John 3:1-8
Photo of an Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD at Barrington, Rhode Island, 10 April 2021.
Jesus answered Nicodemus, 
"Do not be amazed that I told you, 
'You must be born from above.'  
The wind blows where it wills, 
and you can hear the sound it makes, 
but you do not know 
where it comes from or where it goes; 
so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."  
(John 3:7-8)

Lord Jesus Christ, like Nicodemus in the gospel today, we continue to be amazed amid the darkness surrounding us at this time of the pandemic. Enlighten us as we grapple in the darkness of this experience so surreal and unreal.

Many among us feel at a loss, many are losing hope, many are angry, and more are suffering, grieving in pain after losing a loved one.

Clear our minds and our hearts, dear Jesus. Break all barriers that prevent us from finding you, from embracing you, and following you. Let us see your wounds left by the nail marks on your hands and the side pierced by a lance so we may experience your presence in us with the wounds we now bear.

Rekindle the fire and intensity of the Baptism we have received and renewed this Easter Season.

Reawaken our zeal and stimulate us like Peter and John after being released from prison in the first reading to set our sights to the directions and ideal toward which we must strive at the moment with open hearts and confidence in the possibilities granted by the Holy Spirit.

Give us the courage to trust God wherever he is leading us in the Holy Spirit so we may properly respond to the challenges of this pandemic.

Oh, yes..! We are ready, Lord Jesus Christ, to answer God’s call through the Holy Spirit to lead us to new directions in life beginning today. Amen.

From Facebook, 04 April 2021: “There is an urgency to announce the Joy, the joy of the Risen Lord.”