Our body like the Body of Christ

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, 25 March 2021
Isaiah 7:10-14, 8:10  +  Hebrews 10:4-10  +  Luke 1:26-38
Photo by author, Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth, Israel, 2017.

Last Monday I celebrated my 56th birthday in quarantine after having a close contact with a person with COVID-19. The health officers were both smiling in disbelief as they took my swab test that morning after finding out after my interview it was indeed my birthday.

Between that morning and its eve – in fact since Saturday when I went on quarantine – I felt like in another scene of the Annunciation as I awaited the “good news” with my whole world standing still in animated suspension.

Earlier that morning, I celebrated Mass in my room when I looked back to my birthday last year. It was a Sunday, the first week of the lockdown when public Masses were suspended. After celebrating the Mass alone in our Parish church, I borrowed a truck and mounted the Blessed Sacrament at the back and went around our parish that afternoon to bless the people who knelt on the road with some were crying.

This year, I felt the Lord wanted me to celebrate my birthday in quarantine to be alone with him again to realize the rich meaning of this Solemnity in relation with our lives, especially with me as his priest.

Photo by Ms. Ria de Vera, 2020.

Brothers and sisters: It is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats take away sins. For this reason, When Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; in holocausts and sin offerings you took no delight. Then I said, ‘As is written of me in the scroll, Behold, I come to do your will, O God.'” By this “will,” we have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Hebrews 10:4-7, 10

The mystery of Christ’s coming

Notice that in Mass today at the proclamation of the Creed, we are asked to genuflect at the words “conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary” to remind us that the Incarnation of the Son of God is the fundamental mystery of our faith which the Church has always proclaimed since the beginning.

This is the gist of our short but rich reflections by the author of the Letter to the Hebrews of how Jesus truly became human born by the Blessed Virgin Mary in the power of the Holy Spirit without losing any of his divinity in the process in order to save us and make us new again before God our Father.

In his reflection, the author of the Letter mentions how the Old Testament worship was more symbolic and a preparation to the perfect offering made by Jesus on the cross.

Photo by author, Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth, 2019.

In the Old Testament, priests offered animals for atonement of sins with the blood symbolizing life. They offered three animals: first for their sins so they may be cleaned before God in making the sacrifices for the people for whom the second animal stood for. The third animal was usually a goat to cover all the other sins of the world from which we got “scapegoat” as term for one who takes all the blame.

Jesus Christ came to perfect the temple worship in his very body when he told the Pharisees and scribes after cleansing the temple, “Destroy this temple and in a three days I will raise again” (Jn.2:19).

By dying on the cross, Jesus fulfilled his words to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well that someday, people would no longer worship in just one place because through his “hour” of glory – his crucifixion – people will be able to “truly worship the Father in Spirit and truth” (Jn.4:23).

On the cross, Jesus made himself the perfect sacrifice to God by atoning for our sins. The word atonement was coined by a Protestant translator of the bible to convey the idea of salvation as being one again with the Father, or “at-one-ment”.

Following the reflection by the author of the Letter to the Hebrews, we find that the very coming of Christ announced by the angel to Mary was in fact directed toward this paschal sacrifice of Jesus.

In the gospel today we have seen the angel telling Mary to name her child “Jesus” that means “God is my savior”. The angel was more explicit in the Annunciation to Joseph who was instructed, “you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Mt.1:21).

It was from this celebration of the Annunciation of Christ’s birth that we have the tradition of praying the Angelus every 6am, 12noon and 6pm to make our day holy, reminding us of this great mystery of the Incarnation of Jesus who became both “the gift and the giver” when he offered himself on the cross for us which we remember and make present in every celebration of the Mass.

Photo by author, chapel at the site of annunciation, Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth, 2019.

The life of obedience in Christ

From that beautiful story of the Annunciation of Lord we find how in the coming of Jesus Christ from the very start – from heaven to its coming on earth to Mary’s virginal conception at Nazareth – the mystery of his Incarnation has always been characterized by obedience.

In being obedient to the Father, Jesus consecrated us through him in offering his body once and for all that opened for us an avenue to a life of holiness through obedience to God. And the first to have this distinction is his Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Luke 1:38

Next to Mary is her husband, St. Joseph whose Solemnity we celebrated last week. His “yes” to following the angel’s instruction upon waking up from his dream echoed the Blessed Mother’s obedience to God’s plan and will for everyone through Jesus Christ.

Here we find Mary and Joseph, two righteous people who allowed themselves to be instruments in the fulfillment of the divine plan in Jesus Christ, relying more in the power of God, believing in his words spoken by the angel to them.

Photo by author, Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth, 2019.

On this Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, we are challenged and invited to be open and obedient to God, to his words we hear proclaimed in the celebration of the Mass and in our personal prayers.

Jesus is the word who became flesh and dwelled among us, present among us because of the obedience and faith of Mary and Joseph.

It is always very tempting to be like King Ahaz in the first reading, when we rely more in ourselves, in our wisdom and intelligence, expertise and experience that we sometimes feel it no longer needed to bother God at all for directions especially with “earthly” things and concerns like the economy or defense of the country.

Or, pandemic.

This is the saddest part with COVID-19: a year after it started and wreaked havoc on this planet, we still continue to consider it as a medical and social issue, refusing to see its spiritual meaning.

This pandemic is an annunciation moment when God is telling us something very important for our salvation like with Mary over 2000 years ago.

God has been sending us messengers since the start of this crisis to welcome his Word, Jesus Christ so that he can work in us to bring us back to the Father and with one another through our loving service especially with the weak and most needy.

It is easy for God to send us solutions right away to end this pandemic. In fact, he had blessed us with at least six vaccines that took only a year to develop unlike the normal course of 3-5 years.

But vaccines will not entirely solve and end this pandemic. This we can see right in our country where spas and gyms and malls are seen as more essential than religious gatherings. Its worst part is how we have modern King Ahaz so confident with themselves in addressing the issues from the pandemic. Incidentally, the main sin and mistake by King Ahaz during the time of Isaiah was his aligning himself with the superpower Assyria that eventually conquered Israel – something so similar with our dealings and reliance with China, the origin of this virus and pandemic!

How sad at how this government pinned all its hopes last year in the discovery of vaccines without working hard in other aspects of mitigating the effects of the pandemic when now that there are vaccines available, it is still at a loss in making any progress in the vaccination program especially with those most vulnerable like the medical frontliners who are doing a life of offering like Jesus Christ.


Early this year, we had our major revamp in our parish assignments in almost nine years. It was an Annunciation event for us priests as it directed us to new challenges in the ministry to continue proclaiming the mystery of Incarnation.

I was assigned as chaplain of Our Lady of Fatima University (OLFU) and Fatima University and Medical Center (FUMC). At first, I was afraid like Mary in going to a new ministry at the forefront of facing the pandemic. But like Mary, I gave my fiat to God, joyfully coming to my assignment with so many plans and dreams.

And just when I was starting to heat up in my ministry, I was suddenly sent on a quarantine. That was when I realized the meaning of this Annunciation of the Lord to me: becoming like the Body of Christ to be offered too for many.

As I heard news of more people including friends and relatives getting COVID-19, I promised God in my prayers during my “quarantined” birthday that whatever may be the result of my swab test, I will still serve him with same enthusiasm in my previous assignments.

Like the Blessed Virgin Mary, may we say yes to God everyday, relying more than ever in our relationships with him and with others in Christ than in the hopes of things getting better; should things get worst like Jesus dying on the Cross, like Mary, may we hold only on God’s loving mercy and presence in this world marred by sin. And pandemic. Amen.

Photo by author, Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth, 2019.

Our obedience in authority, our authority in obedience

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop, 11 November 2020
Titus 3:1-7     >><)))*>   +   <*(((><<     Luke 17:20-25
Photo from blog.obitel-minsk.com.

Glory and praise to you, O God our almighty Father, the Supreme Authority over the whole universe. As we celebrate the Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, one of your most glorious saints of the fourth century, we are reminded today by this former soldier of the important relationship of obedience and authority.

St. Paul in the first reading tells us:

Beloved: Remind them to be under the control of magistrates and authorities, to be obedient, to be open to every good enterprise.

Titus 3:1

Teach us, O God, how obedience and authority always go together, never apart from each other. May we see that obedience is not a virtue when authority is taken for granted and not rooted in you, our loving Father. At the same time, authority is corrupted when exercised without obedience to higher authority.

Your Son Jesus Christ had taught us so well that he spoke with authority, even the evil spirits obey his words; however, he had always insisted though that even if all authority has been given to him, all his life is a YES and obedience to you, God our Father.

Like St. Martin of Tours who had lived obedient to you O God all his life through his superiors and the people, may we live our obedience in authority in Jesus Christ our Savior while at the same time, may we live our authority in obedience to him by trusting in you alone.

We pray that we do not fall to the trap of the nine lepers healed by Jesus who obeyed him to present themselves to the priests after being healed; they were obedient but were not rooted in God, so mechanical in their obedience, unmindful of the authority of Jesus who healed them.

Instead, may we imitate the Samaritan who upon realizing his healing, returned to thank Jesus: here is a man whose obedience is not only rooted in you, O God, but most of all, whose exercise of authority will surely be in obedience to you for he is full of gratitude.

From being a soldier of the State into being a soldier of God, pray for us St. Martin of Tours to remain rooted in God so that in our obedience to authority as well as exercise of authority in obedience, may we begin and end in him. Amen.

Photo of St. Martin of Tours from St. Martin of Tours Parish, Bocaue, Bulacan.

Aral ng COVID 19, VI: disiplina ang gamot sa sakit natin

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-11 ng Agosto 2020
Larawan kuha ni Bb. Anne Ramos, Abril 2020
Habang tumatagal itong quarantine 
lalong ipinakikita hindi COVID-19
ang kalaban natin kungdi ating sarili din;
matagal nang sakit na hindi kayang gamutin
nakaugat nang malalim sa katauhan natin
kawalan ng disiplina kay hirap sugpuin.
Sa gitna ng kawalan ng maaasahan
sa pamahalaang abala sa kapalaluan
ayaw pakinggan mga paraan ng nakakaalam
disiplina nating mga mamamayan
ang pinaka-mabisang sanggalang
laban sa virus na galing sa Wuhan.
Tingnan, pag-aralan, at tularan
pamamaraan ng mga bansa kung saan
paglaganap ng COVID-19 ay nalabanan
laging matatagpuan dalawang bagay magkasabay:
mahusay at magaling na pamahalaan
disiplinadong mga mamamayan.
Masunurin ang turing sa taong may disiplina
na nagmula sa wikang Griyego na discipulos,
taga-sunod o alagad; sa wikang Latin, 
dalawang kataga ang pinagsama
"ob audire" na ibig sabihin "makinig na maigi"
kaya sa Inggles "obedient" ang isang masunurin.

Ang taong may disiplina
 masunurin sa tuwina
laging nakikinig sa mga sasabihin
upang kanyang tuparin 
mga ipinagbibilin
 ano mang atas na kanyang gawain.
Kung ating lilimihin lalim
ng kahulugan ng disiplina
ito rin ang siyang dahilan
upang ating matutuhan
kahalagahan ng pagtitiyaga
at paghihintay na atin nang tinalikuran.
Pagkaraan ng mahigit limang buwan
lahat na lamang sa atin ay dinaraan 
sa paspasan, pag-aagawan, at pagdarayaan
kaya hanggang ngayon wala tayong patunguhan;
kung bawat mamamayan mayroong disiplina
baka sakali tinablan ng kahihiyan mga kinauukulan
wala na silang dahilan sa kanilang kapabayaan 
dahil sila unang nagkulang sa disiplinang kinakailangan
hindi nila tayo maaring sisihin 
nagkulang sa pagsugpo sa COVID-19.
Larawan kuha ni Bb. Anne Ramos, Marso 2020.

Obeying God than men

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Thursday, Easter Week-II, 23 April 2020

Acts of the Apostles 5:27-33 ><)))*> 0 + 0 <*(((>< John 3:31-36

Photo by author, Mt. St. Paul Spirituality Center, La Trinidad, Benguet, February 2020.

Yesterday Lord was so humid but it was a lovely sight while the sun was about to set, you sent some rains to quench the thirsty earth, to remind us you have never left us, that you are still with us in the midst of this lockdown due to corona pandemic.

Thank you, O Lord!

Give us the same fervor and attitude of Peter and companions after being arrested as they stood before the Sanhedrin in the first reading, so that like them we may boldly declare:

“We must obey God rather than men.”

Acts of the Apostles 5:29

How sad, O Lord, in this time of pandemic while so many are attesting and witnessing to your saving power, there are still some who refuse to recognize you, or even believe you.

On the other hand, there are those who ride on your goodness and kindness, taking upon themselves all your blessings, claiming everything in their name on the pretext of working for you, doing your work.

Lord Jesus Christ, please clear our minds and our hearts that the very reason why we should rather obey God than men is what you have told Nicodemus that night:

“For the one one whom God sent speaks the words of God. He does not ration his gift of the Spirit.”

John 3:34

Yes, dearest Jesus, you never ration your gift of the Spirit to us.

You always pour out unto us your many gifts that indeed, you have given us with so much and we have given so little.

And in spite of that, we still complain!

Please forgive us, Lord, when we feel so afraid, so unsure, even insecured to the point of being delusional that we might be forgotten that we choose to obey men than you. Amen.

Praying at the foot of the Cross

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Tuesday, St. Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church, 28 January 2020

2 Samuel 6:12-15, 17-19 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Mark 3:31-35

What else shall I say to you, O Lord our loving God? With this beautiful prayer by your “Angelic Doctor” St. Thomas Aquinas whose feast we celebrate today, we borrow not only his prayer but most of all, his attitude and disposition in seeking you always, serving you, loving you.

He had taught us that it is at the foot of the Cross of Jesus Christ where we can best learn about love, patience, humility, and obedience (Office of Readings).

Please us that desire always to seek you right there at the foot of your Son’s Cross, Lord.

Like King David, let us get near you O God represented at that time by the Ark of the Covenant but today in Jesus Christ, your Emmanuel present among us in the Holy Eucharist St. Thomas had loved so much with his hymns and prayers composed.

Like King David who danced before your Ark of the Covenant, may we give our selves totally at your service, Lord.

Help us do your will, Father, after praying at the foot of the Cross for that is when we truly become the “mother and brother and sister of Jesus” (Mk.3:35). Amen.

Photo by Mr. Jasper Dacutanan, 19 January 2020, our parish altar.

Rejoicing the presence of God

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Monday, Week 2, Year 2, 20 January 2020

1 Samuel 15:16-23 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Mark 2:18-22

“Sleeping Sto.Niño” at our altar, 19 January 2020. Photo by author.

Praise and glory to you, O Lord Jesus Christ!

Let me rejoice this first day of work and school in your divine presence, O Lord. Let me celebrate your coming in my life! Let me live in your divine presence most especially when everybody feels and thinks you are not with us, that you do not care at all.

Forgive me, Lord, when I act like Saul in the first reading: obediently fulfilling your will and instructions and yet, insisting on my own ways as if you are not aware of what is in our minds and hearts.

Like Saul, I always confuse your will with my “good intentions”, with what I think as good and the best for you and for others when in fact, I am playing God, “presuming” you will approve and like whatever I deem best for you and others.

But Samuel said: “Does the Lord so delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obedience to the command of the Lord? Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission than the fat of rams. For a sin is like divination is rebellion, and presumption is the crime of idolatry.”

1 Samuel 15:22-23

Help me, sweet Jesus, to always “pour new wine into fresh wineskins”, to always see something new daily in you, to find you present among people and things I take for granted.

Refresh me, Jesus, in your presence! Amen.

Sunday flower arrangement, 19 January 2020.