Imitating the priesthood of Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Wednesday, Second Week in Ordinary Time, 20 January 2021
Hebrews 7:1-3, 15-17     >><)))*>   +++   <*(((><<     Mark 3:1-6

O God our Father, we praise and thank you in making us share in the priesthood of your Son Jesus Christ, our Lord and eternal Priest. So many times we forget – priests and lay people alike – the meaning of our priesthood which is to communicate your love to others, to become a bridge of men and women with God.

So many times we have become legalistic, paying more attention to the letters of the laws, to forms and to rituals forgetting the very essence of loving service for others. We always enter the church but never the community of believers.

Jesus entered the synagogue. There was a man there who had a withered hand. They watched Jesus closely to see if he would cure him on then sabbath that they might accuse him. He said to the man with the withered hand, “Come up here before us.” Then he said to the Pharisees, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” But they remained silent.

Mark 3:1-4

What a shame, dear God when such moments happen when we refuse to look at the persons with their sufferings and pains, choosing to look at things around us like rules and conventions. That more sad part is as we have turned blind to others around us, we have also chosen to be deaf to their cries as well.

Forgive us, Father, when we fail to enter into oneness with others made possible to us in the coming of Jesus Christ who has become our “priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (Heb.7:17).

Help us discard those old understanding of priesthood with emphasis on the mystery of being a priest, of the distinction and honor, forgetting the more important aspects of working for justice and righteousness, and most of all, for peace. Both can only be earned if we strive to be men and women of love and commitment to what is good. Amen.

Holy Rosary in the time of corona

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 17 October 2020
Bishop Dennis Villarojo of the Diocese of Malolos leading the praying of the Rosary during the 11th Healing Rosary for the World last May 27, 2020 at the Malolos Cathedral. Photo from Sandigan.

It is the world’s most powerful weapon in any war, the most potent medicine for any ailment but has always been shunned upon by many especially in this age of sophisticated technology and modern science.

This is the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, so loved by most saints in the past 800 years, encouraged by the Mother Church, and now rediscovered by many in this time of COVID-19 pandemic.

How prophetic were the words of St. John Paul II in October 16, 2002 when he declared it as “Year of the Rosary” by adding the Luminous Mysteries prayed on Thursdays.

The Rosary of the Virgin Mary… still remains, at the dawn of this third millennium, a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness. It blends easily into the spiritual journey of the Christian life, which, after two thousand years, has lost none of the freshness of its beginnings and feels drawn by the Spirit of God to “set out into the deep” (duc in altum!) in order once more to proclaim, and even cry out, before the world that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour, “the way, and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6), “the goal of human history and the point on which the desires of history and civilization turn”.

St. John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, Introduction

It is very interesting to know that the celebration of the Our Lady of the Holy Rosary was instituted following the victory by the Spanish Armada over the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Lepanto Bay on October 07, 1571. That decisive naval victory attributed to the praying of the Rosary ended the push towards Europe by the powerful Moslem Ottomans. That would be repeated less than a hundred years later at Manila Bay in 1646 when the Protestant Dutch navy retreated unable to break the defenses of the combined Spanish and Filipino forces who placed themselves under the patronage of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. Following their victory at the La Naval de Manila, the surviving soldiers walked barefoot to the Santo Domingo Church then in Intramuros.

There are so many other stories of how devotion to Our Lady of the Holy Rosary have led to many kinds of victories in various battles – not only in wars but also in plagues and diseases and other crises – waged by Christians both as a nation and as individuals not because the Blessed Virgin Mary is a “fighter” like a warrior but more of a woman of peace, a disciple par excellence of Jesus Christ.


The family that prays together,
stays together;
a world at prayer is a world at peace.
- Venerable Fr. Patrick Peyton

Image of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary whose feast we celebrate every third Saturday of October at Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Bagbaguin, Santa Maria, Bulacan.

What makes Our Lady of the Holy Rosary so unique in fighting all kinds of battle in life is the path she takes, the path of Jesus Christ which is the path of peace. Here we find how though the Rosary is Marian in character, it is in essence Christocentric.

…to rediscover the Rosary means to immerse oneself in contemplation of the mystery of Christ who “is our peace”, since he made “the two of us one, and broke down the dividing wall of hostility” (Eph 2:14). 

St. John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, #6

Jesus had told us that the peace he gives us is not like the peace of the world but a peace that is won out of love, not of violence and power. Mary as Mother of Jesus offers us the most intimate and incomparable model in contemplating Christ the Prince of Peace, his very person, his words and teachings that leads into inner peace within each person first.

And that is what every mystery of the Rosary teaches us: we remember not just by going back to the past but by making present anew Jesus Christ in the many events of his life relevant with us today because they are very similar with our own experiences.

When we contemplate the Joyful Mysteries, we realize that real joy comes from welcoming and accepting, sharing and finding Jesus who comes to us in the most ordinary ways. In the Sorrowful Mysteries, we find in whatever suffering we find ourselves into, Jesus Christ went through it all first for us, assuring us he continues to be with us even in death that leads us to the Glorious Mysteries of Easter. In these mysteries that end with the Coronation of the Blessed Virgin Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth, we are reminded and assured of our only “destiny” in life — to be back in the presence of God in heaven with Mary.

Mary in the Holy Rosary reveals to us that our fulfillment in life is found only in her Son Jesus Christ, the light of the world in whom everything must be seen and considered. All the rough edges, the dullness and darkness within us are dispelled when seen in the light of Jesus Christ. And that is why we find in the Luminous Mysteries the most “scriptural” part of the Rosary. According to St. John Paul II, though the gospels were silent about the presence of Mary in these Luminous Mysteries, it is most likely she was there present in silence, something so rare these days as we live our lives in the glitz and glamour of social media like Facebook and Instagram.


Photo by author, 2019.

The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most unique battle man has ever fought, not only because the enemy is not seen and have made such visibly tremendous impact to our way of life in a global scale like World War II; it happened in the most unusual way that attacked and disturbed our inmost being as human persons desiring peace right in our hearts.

It exposed the sickness we have all been afflicted with, the lack of love, a love that is like the love of Jesus Christ willing to sacrifice, willing to forgive, willing to let go simply because of loving someone more than one’s self.

We have been in chaos within, longing for peace and love that have remained elusive because we have always been busy with everything except with God and our true selves. Long before we have adopted social distancing, we have long been distant from each other, even with those we live with in our homes – so cold and without love. Meals have become needs to feed one’s body, not as events to share one’s self with others as more and more people are getting used to eating by themselves, with cellphones beside them. Everybody is complaining about the face masks and face shields we have to wear without realizing when was the last time we really had a good look at each one’s face as a brother and a sister in Christ, an image and likeness of God, a person to be loved and cherished?

In praying the Rosary meditating in silence its mysteries, we not only discover the mystery of God but most of all our own mystery of being a part of his grand design and plan. That is why we feel anxious and fearful all of a sudden because death has become truer and closest to us in this time of the pandemic when “resting in peace” has become so common. And we know so well we have not loved enough!

“The Assumption of the Virgin” by Italian Renaissance painter Titian completed in 1518 for the main altar of Frari church in Venice. Photo from wikidata.org.

By praying the Rosary, its beads make us enter the rhythm of life once again, that it is not just temporal and material but also eternal and spiritual. With Mary, the Rosary enables us to be conformed to Christ which is the very essence of Christian spirituality.

In the spiritual journey of the Rosary, based on the constant contemplation – in Mary’s company – of the face of Christ, this demanding ideal of being conformed to him is pursued through an association which could be described in terms of friendship. We are thereby enabled to enter naturally into Christ’s life and as it were to share his deepest feelings.

The Rosary mystically transports us to Mary’s side as she is busy watching over the human growth of Christ in the home of Nazareth. This enables her to train us and to mold us with the same care, until Christ is “fully formed” in us (cf. Gal 4:19). Never as in the Rosary do the life of Jesus and that of Mary appear so deeply joined. Mary lives only in Christ and for Christ!

St. John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, #15

I have been wondering why despite our many prayers and Masses, why have we not conquered COVID-19 yet? How many rosaries do we have to pray before God answers our prayers for a cure to corona virus?

Perhaps, Our Lady of the Holy Rosary is reminding us today that the problem with COVID-19 is not just medical but deeply spiritual, calling us to be conformed in the person of Jesus Christ that calls for many battles within us against our pride, selfishness, painful past and memories, vices and addictions, so many other negativities that please our senses but leave us empty and lost because they all lack love from which peace springs forth.

Take that Rosary again, learn from Mary that true blessedness is in believing that the words of God will be fulfilled (Lk.1:45) in us by welcoming Jesus, sharing Jesus, and becoming like Jesus in love like his Mother. Amen.

From Google.

Our dis-ease COVID-19

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 08 October 2020
Pope Francis delivering his “Urbi et Orbi” before an empty St. Peter’s Square in Rome, 27 March 2020 at the height of COVID-19 pandemic. Photo from Vatican Media/AFP via Getty Images.
In the beginning
we were counting
the days of quarantine
but when COVID-19
spread with so many dying
then we realized this is not just passing
but could be staying 
leaving the world in a standstill
shaking our very core and being
bringing us back to God
praying, surrendering everything
to him as our sole grounding.
Finding God 
during this quarantine
is indeed a blessing 
directing us to look within
to examine our being
where every healing must begin;
Any sickness is a dis-ease
a lack of order
when things are not pleasing
because of sin and wrong-doing
exactly what we are now seeing
with COVID-19.
Photo by Mr. Jay Javier, May 2020.
Consider the following:
Long before social distancing
we have always been so far away
even from those with whom we stay
foregoing all the loving,
replaced with twitting or texting;
When we were growing
we were taught to keep our hands clean
but we have pushed it to the extreme
refusing to dirty our hands
forgetting to work with honor and dignity
keeping them free from stains of dishonesty;
Of all the most disturbing
during this quarantine
is the mask that cover our face;
but, why be fazed, objections raised
when we have long erased
to see in every face
that tremendous grace
of God's trace?
In the midst of this calamity
when air became pollution-free
we rejoiced at Nature's beauty;
the remedy for every malady
is not found only in the pharmacy
but right in our hearts when we see
everything and everyone in harmony.
Oh how I long when that day shall be
when everyone is free with nothing to worry;
at ease shall we carry within the peace and serenity 
of one big family living cleanly in God's mercy.
Photo by Ms. Anne Ramos, March 2020.

Praying and greeting the peace of Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Week XXI, Year II in Ordinary Time, 26 August 2020
2 Thessalonians 3:6-10, 16-18 >><)))*> || >><)))*> || >><)))*> Matthew 23:27-32
Photo by author, Mirador Hills, Baguio City, January 2018.

Dearest Lord Jesus:

Peace!

Peace was your promise to your Apostles on your last supper on Holy Thursday; thus, Peace was your greeting to them on that Easter evening when you visited them while locked and hiding in fear at the Upper Room.

You have warned us during your last supper that your peace is so different from the peace of the world because it is a peace borne out of love – even of dying for another – a peace that comes from sacrifice and suffering, a peace that comes only from our communion in you like your great Apostle Paul:

May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. This greetings is in my own hand, Paul’s. This is the sign in every letter; this is how I write. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you.

2 Thessalonians 3:16-18

In all his letters of which the ones addressed to the Thessalonians were the very first, Paul right away made known his “identification” in all his letters with your peace, Lord.

It was not just a call sign or an I.D. of Paul; it was evidently his prayer and his life as seen in his preaching and experiences marked with many sufferings and sacrifices on his part for his love to you and your people.

How sad in our time, the expression and greetings as well as concept of peace have all degenerated to mere fad, almost like a joke that has become so mechanical among so many people wishing for peace without really praying and working hard for it.

Remind us, O Lord, that peace in the world happens first in our hearts; that the things going on outside us as are all reflections of what is within us. Give us the grace to sincerely pray and work for peace in you that we may always have your peace in our hearts and share it with others.

May we not fall into the same mistakes and sins of the Pharisees and scribes of your time – hypocrisy!

Jesus said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You are like whitewashed tombs, which appear beautiful on the outside but inside are full of dead men’s bones ands every kind of filth. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees. You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the memorials of the righteous, and you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have joined them in shedding the prophets’ blood.’ Thus you bear witness against yourselves that you are the children of those who murdered the prophets; now fill up what your ancestors measured out!”

Matthew 23:27, 29-32

In this time of pandemic, O Lord, with so many other problems we are all facing in our selves and families, there are so many hyprocrites among us pretending to work for peace. Enlighten them, O Lord. Or better, banish them for they make a mockery of your greatest gift at Easter which is peace. Amen.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The kind of people we need in this time of corona

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of St. Barnabas, Apostle, 11 June 2020
Acts of the Apostles 11:21-26; 13:1-3 ><)))*> +++ 0 +++ <*(((>< Matthew 5:20-26
Photo by Roberto Nickson on Pexels.com

Thank you very much, O dear Jesus, for the gift of your Apostles who became the foundations of your Church here on earth like St. Barnabas whose Memorial we celebrate today.

Despite his being a “Johnny come lately” replacing your betrayer Judas Iscariot, St. Barnabas proved to be a true apostle with his life of loving service to the early Church.

A Levite Jew from Cyprus who settled in Jerusalem, he was one of the first to embrace your new way of life, Lord, described by St. Luke as “a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith” (Acts 11:24).

What is so wonderful, Lord, is how he lived out the meaning of his name “Barnabas” which is “son of encouragement” or “son of consolation”, exactly the kind of people we need at this time of corona pandemic and of so many social unrests and issues happening.

Send us, Jesus, more “Barnabas” – good men and women filled with your Holy Spirit and faith who would encourage people to do what is good, direct others into reason and understanding through cooperation and collaboration to hurdle all these troubles, not divisions.

Like St. Barnabas who searched and encouraged St. Paul in Tarsus to join the Christians at Antioch in proclaiming your gospel of salvation to those outside Israel including the Gentiles, may we gather and inspire other people into working together in this troubled time instead of fighting each other.

May our words also bring more encouragement to people to rise above each one’s differences in color and language and beliefs to seek what is common so we can collaborate more for peace and common good like what St. Barnabas did in convincing the Christians in Antioch to welcome their former persecutor, St. Paul.

Help us imitate the generosity of St. Barnabas in selling his piece of property so that the Apostles may have the means to provide for the needs of the early Church and thus, consoled the poor and widows.

Most of all, like St. Barnabas who participated at the Council of Jerusalem, may we seek ways in resolving issues among us that may lighten the burdens of people saddled with so many concerns in life without diluting the essence of being your follower, sweet Jesus.

Lastly, like St. Barnabas, may we always have an open heart for reconciling with others, in setting aside past misunderstandings like his falling out with St. Paul to be one again in your most holy name, O Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

St. Barnabas, pray for us!

From Pinterest.

Mission of healing

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe, Solemnity of the Pentecost-A, 31 May 2020

Acts of the Apostles 2:1-11 <*(((>< 1 Corinthians 12:3-7, 12-13 ><)))*> John 20:19-23

Pope Francis praying at an empty St. Peter’s Square 27 March 2020. Photo from cruxnow.com.

As I prayed over the readings this coming Pentecost Sunday, my thoughts kept going back to those powerful images when Pope Francis prayed at an empty St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican last March 27 when COVID-19 was ravaging the whole Italy with so many deaths.

Now more than ever, the Church badly needs the Pentecost – a new Pentecost that will heal and rebirth the world so wounded and altered by the corona pandemic this year 2020.

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.

John 20:19-20
Modern rendition of the Pentecost. From Google.

Holy Spirit, breath of life and cause of unity

The Pentecost is not just an event remembered in the past but a reality that happens daily when the Holy Spirit comes and is received by those attuned with its life and mission which is to bring peace through unity and healing.

Promised by Jesus Christ to his followers as their Advocate and Counsellor, the Holy Spirit descended on them during the feast of Pentecost in Jerusalem when Jews from all parts of the world gathered to remember the 50 days after their Passover in Egypt at the time of Moses.

It was the perfect setting for the Christian Pentecost – this time 50 days after Easter – to celebrate the new unity of mankind in Jesus he established on Holy Thursday evening at his Last Supper. Inasmuch as the Jews went home at that time to be one with their fellow believers in Jerusalem, on that day from the holy city comes forth the new solidarity of peoples in Jesus led by his followers gathered that day in the Upper Room.

Hence, the tradition of considering Pentecost Sunday as the birthday of the Church, too.

Though we have heard two different versions of its coming, what matters most is the Person of the Holy Spirit as the breath of life and the cause of unity among the followers of Christ.

In the first reading, Luke gives us an artistic presentation of the coming of the Holy Spirit showing the unity of the peoples: first of the followers of Jesus and later with the Jews gathered in Jerusalem on that day for their feast of Pentecost. Whereas the apostles were at first presented as timid and lacking in understanding, the Holy Spirit emboldened them on that day to go out and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ. Led by Peter, they were filled with life and wisdom and courage, converting thousands of people on Pentecost day despite their speaking in different languages, exactly the opposite at the Tower of Babel in the Old Testament.

In the gospel, John gives us the theological grounding of Pentecost when we find Jesus appearing to his disciples hiding from the Jews on the evening of Easter at the Upper Room where he breathed on them the Holy Spirit that filled them with joy upon seeing him risen and alive.

The scene was reminiscent of the many stories in the Old Testament of the “breath of God” giving life to the first human beings in the story of creation, the “breathing on” by Elijah on the nostrils of the widow’s dead son back to life (1Kgs.17:21), and the promise of God to Ezekiel to restore to life the many dry bones in their graves in the time to come (Ezek. 37:1-14).

These stories now take on deeper meanings in Jesus Christ its fulfillment. And not only were the disciples breathed on with new life in Christ but also the whole creation was renewed in the coming of the Holy Spirit that we pray, “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and you shall renew the face of the earth”.

Perennial Pentecost for peace and healing

Pentecost is an event that continues to happen daily especially when we are gathered as the body of believers of Jesus Christ tasked to realize its fulfillment. This coming of the Holy Spirit is not a one-shot deal that happened only in the past in Jerusalem more than 2000 years ago — it is something we as followers of the Risen Lord must always wait and make happen every day so as to continually bring life and renewal to this world especially at this time of the corona pandemic.

In giving us the Holy Spirit, Jesus not only renewed our lives as his disciples united in him but also conferred his own power without restrictions to accomplish our mission.

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 20:21-23
The Chair of St. Peter at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome with the stained glass of the Holy Spirit above. Photo from dreamstime.com.

At the Vatican inside the great St. Peter’s Basilica is a beautiful stained glass of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove rising above as background to the Chair of St. Peter ( Feast is February 22) at the sanctuary area.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI described this beautiful work of art:

“It seems to me that a deep analysis of the essence of the Church lies hidden here, is contained here… It unites the Church with creation as a whole. It signifies through the dove of the Holy Spirit that God is the actual source of all light. But it tells us something else: the Church herself is in essence, so to speak, a window, a place of contact between the other-worldly mystery of God and our world, the place where the world is permeable to the radiance of his light… The Church is the place of encounter where God meets us and we find God. It is her task to open up the world closing in on itself, to give it the light without which it would be unlivable.”

Images of Hope, pp.29-31

Here we find part of our mission in collaboration with the Holy Spirit is the the healing of the world that can be achieved only through peace. See how Jesus had to repeat twice his gift of peace to his disciples because it is his greatest gift to us following his Resurrection.

Life thrives and blooms most where there is peace, where there are disciples of the Lord willing to work for it with love and patience.

But the peace from Jesus Christ always has a price that we must be willing to pay to achieve it.

See that after his first greeting of peace, Jesus showed his wounds — he was the first to pay the price for peace with his own life.

Bringing around our Parish the Blessed Sacrament during the lockdown, March-May 2020.

This is the meaning of the many sacrifices and sufferings we all have to go through in this quarantine period expected to continue until 2021: if we want to get out of this pandemic, aside from the need for a vaccine and medication, we all need to change our ways to make sure this will not happen again.

It is always easy to join so many advocacies and rallies calling for every kind of change in the society and the world but nothing had ever happened because whenever we come home, we do not change our own ways of living! Sayang (what a waste) were all the inspiration and energies of the Holy Spirit for our many causes that have not taken roots right in our hearts.

All the apostles of the Lord paid the price of peace with their own lives that led to the healing not only of individuals and families but even of nations and the world.

The second time Jesus offered his gift of peace, he breathed the Holy Spirit on his apostles and commissioned them to forgive all sins.

Peace is the fruit of love according to Vatican II.

As such, peace from the Holy Spirit leads to healing when there is dialogue, prayer and repentance, that lead to justice, love, and forgiveness. Peace and healing need hard work that is why they are fruits. They never come on a silver platter.

On Monday, most of the quarantine levels in the country are downgraded because it is hoped we have somehow controlled the spread of COVID-19.

As we eagerly await more freedom and mobility in this time of pandemic, what have we achieved during these three months of quarantine, said to be the longest in the world?

Have we resolved our family differences? Have we rediscovered our family members, getting more close than ever, more kind, more understanding?

How sad that all we can share as our quarantine stories are all about food and other pursuits we have undertaken forgetting the unity and life of our family and community.

How sad when we in the Church have all been preoccupied with the new communication media but failed at all to make any impact or dent in the lives of our faithful because we have not shared Jesus Christ at all, when all our “live streaming” and vlogs are powered by likes and followers, not by the Holy Spirit.

Pope Francis blessing the people last March 27 in an empty St. Peter’s Square during the height of COVID-19 in Italy that became the new epicenter of pandemic next to China. Photo from Vatican Media Office.

Jesus never takes back his gift of peace, his gift of healing, his gift of the Holy Spirit. He promised to never leave us orphans. Let us not leave the Holy Spirit behind and stop believing in our selves.

That’s the way we have been in the world and even in the Church.

That is why – to a large extent – we have this corona pandemic.

A blessed week to everyone.

Violence in time of corona

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Tuesday, Easter Week-VI, 19 May 2020

Acts of the Apostles 16:22-34 <*(((>< +++ 0 +++ ><)))*> John 16:5-11

Photo by author, Chapel of Holy Family, Sacred Heart Spirituality Center in Novaliches, QC, 2016.

Dearest Jesus Christ:

Today I pray to you for a stop of the many forms of violence going on in this time of the corona pandemic.

How sad that in midst of all the sufferings we are going through, we still cannot have prolonged moments of peace with one another.

Can we not just skip some rigidity and selective justice that make the marginalized people suffer more?

My heart is so moved with the news I saw about Mang Dodong, a fish vendor from Caloocan who was detained in Navotas May 07 due to lack of a quarantine pass. It was only tis Monday, after ten days since his detention, that his wife learned of his arrest. His wife is said to be illiterate and knows nothing about procedures for his release.

How can some people let an old man trying to make ends meet be subjected to these kinds of hardships?

It pains our hearts, Lord, to hear this kind of news vis-a-vis of a police official said to be so good that he cannot be sacked and replaced, much less suffer for violating COVID-19 rules of which he is said to be an expert?

Lord, can you not make an instant, sweeping miracle, like Moses with his powerful staff that will suddenly make us all compassionate and sympathetic with those truly deserving of understanding and mercy or clemency?

Why do we have to be so harsh, even violent, in these days of pandemic, something so similar with the experiences of Paul and Silas in the first reading today.

The crowd in Philippi joined in the attack on Paul and Silas, and the magistrates had them stripped and ordered them to be beaten with rods. After inflicting many blows on them, they threw them into prison and instructed the jailer to guard them securely.

Acts of the Apostles 16:22-23

What is most ironic is when after a powerful earthquake that flung open the doors of the jail in Philippi, the guard thought the prisoners including Paul and Silas have all escaped that he tried to kill himself when…

Paul shouted out in a loud voice, “Do no harm to yourself; we are all here.”

Acts of the Apostles 16:28

What a heartless world we have, Lord! We continue to inflict so much violence on others physically, verbally, and emotionally. And the worst part of this is that we inflict them on the most weakest among us, the least and then powerless like Mand Dodong and Aling Patring!

“Do no harm to yourself; we are all here.”

Is it not Lord when there are people around that we should all feel safe and secured, free from all harm? It is the opposite that is happening exactly today!

How I wish we could boldly say these same words by Paul to others to feel safe in buying much needed medicines, or to safely and freely go to work for much needed money to pay electric bills and buy food.

Save us, Lord Jesus, from so much pains and sufferings, and violence we inflict upon others in words and in deeds.

Send us your Holy Spirit to comfort us from all the violence we experience, we feel, we see and hear. Amen.

The peace of Jesus Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Tuesday, Easter Week-V, 12 May 2020

Acts of the Apostles 14:19-28 ><)))*> +++0+++ <*(((>< John 14:27-31

Photo by author, a bass relief of the Agony in the Garden by Jesus at the Church of All Nations beside Gethsemane near Jerusalem, May 2017.

Lord Jesus Christ, I pray for more faith and trust in you today to experience your peace within so we can truly appreciate the beauty and meaning of life.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I.”

John 14:27-28

So many sufferings, so many uncertainties in life but indeed, Lord, you have never left us.

It is so difficult to rejoice – even absurd – when “you are not with us because you are with the Father”.

I could just imagine the increased fears and anxieties your apostles must have felt when you told them to not let their hearts be troubled or afraid when you were to be betrayed and arrested, and eventually suffered and died.

I always wonder, Lord, why during this quarantine period, as I reviewed my life, there are so many painful memories coming back to me that I thought I have transcended or even outgrown, and hoped forgotten and deleted in my memory bank. Worst, the longer the time had lapsed, the more painful these memories become, like death and other losses in life.

but, no word can ever be enough to express and explain how in these painful past you have stayed in us, now coming back to remind us you will always be with us. And that is when we finally feel your peace within.

Your peace is not found outside us but within us – right in our hearts where we allow you to dwell, to reign in us amid all our trials and sufferings that we continue to forge on in this life, to keep the struggle alive.

Grant us the courage and wisdom you have given Paul and Barnabas who, despite the physical harm and emotional distresses they went through, they never wavered in their mission of proclaiming your Gospel because they have you in their hearts.

Please, Lord Jesus, reign in my heart and fill me with your humility, justice, and love. Amen.

Photo by author, garden beside St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Jerusalem, May 2017.

A prayer to be not afraid like St. Joseph

40 Shades of Lent, Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary, 19 March 2020

2 Samuel 7:4-5, 12-14, 16 +++ Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22 +++ Matthew 1:16, 18-21, 24

Photo from zenit.org, “Let Mom Rest” figurine

Praise and thanksgiving to you, O God our loving Father in giving us your Son, Jesus Christ our Savior. In sending him to us, you have asked St. Joseph to be not afraid to be the husband of the Blessed Mother of Jesus, Mary Most Holy.

…the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.

Matthew 1:20-21, 24

We pray today on this Solemnity of St. Joseph that we may also not be afraid in fighting this pandemic COVID-19.

Let us be not afraid to stay home to be with our family again, together and longer.

Photo by author, Chapel of St. Joseph, Nazareth, Israel, May 2017.

Let us be not afraid to talk and converse really as husband and wife, parents and children, brothers and sisters. Help us to be more open and more silent like St. Joseph to hear our family members’ innermost thoughts and feelings again with love and understanding.

Let us be not afraid, O Lord, to seek and work for real peace in our family now disintegrating as we disregard each other, choosing fame and wealth than persons.

Let us be not afraid to reach out also to those living alone like the sick, the elderly, the separated, those abandoned by family and friends or society, those widowed.

Let us be not afraid to share food and money to the needy, time and talent, joy and hope to those living in the margins.

Let us be not afraid to ask for forgiveness, to say again those beautiful words “I am sorry” to those we have hurt in words and in deeds; likewise, let us be not afraid to say also those comforting words “I forgive you” to those who have hurt us in words and in deeds.

Let us not be afraid to show respect anew to our elders. Forgive us, O God, in making disrespect a way of life in our time, in our society, in our government and right in our homes and family as we disregard the dignity of one another.

Let us not be afraid to pray again, to kneel before you, and humbly come to you as repentant sinners, merciful Father.

Let us be not afraid to bring Jesus your Son into this world with your love and kindness, sympathy and empathy so we may be healed of so many brokenness and pains deep within.

Let us not be afraid to be humans again and realize we are not gods, that we cannot control everyone and everything in this world.

Let us be not afraid to be open to you and to others, especially the weak and needy because the truth is, we need you O God and one another.

Please, like St. Joseph, let us not be afraid to wake up to the realities of this life to follow you always in your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.

O blessed St. Joseph, Husband of Mary, pray for us!

Photo by author, site of St. Joseph’s shop in Nazareth beneath a chapel in his honor, May 2017.

Discipleship is embracing the Cross of Jesus Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul, Wk. XIV-C, 07 July 2019
Isaiah 66:10-14 >< }}}*> Galatians 6:14-18 >< }}}*> Luke 10:1-12, 17-20
Photo by Lorenzo Atienza, Malolos Cathedral, 12 June 2019.

Please forgive me for my curiosity: lately I have noticed the sudden sprouting of many “breastfeeding stations” and “lactation sections” in many public places that I feel so tempted getting inside them just to see how the mothers would react.

One of the joys of prayer is how God would communicate with us even with the most crazy ideas we have like that thought of entering a breastfeeding station. I recalled this thought as I dwelt deeply into Isaiah’s prophecy in our first reading today presenting God like a mother comforting her children the Israelites who were exiled to Babylon.

It was one of the lowest points in the history of the Jewish people when they lost everything – family and friends, country and nation, and most of all, their Temple in Jerusalem that they felt they were forsaken by God. As exiles, they were slaves without any freedom at all.

Thus says the Lord: “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad because of her, all you who love her, exult, exult with her, all you who were mourning over her! Oh, that you may suck fully of the milk of her comfort, that you may nurse with delight at her abundant breasts! As nurslings, you shall be carried in her arms, and fondled in her lap; as a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; in Jerusalem you shall find your comfort.”

Isaiah 66:10-11, 12b-13

Sometimes, God allows us to experience several blows and beatings in life not because he punishes us or he takes delight in seeing us suffer; sometimes, we need to be like infants and children again to trust God more, to rely to his goodness. It is the surest way to remind us who we really are. That we are not god.

In our second reading, St. Paul bolstered this imagery of our being children of God by reminding us that the only bragging rights we have as disciples of Jesus is to be one with him in his Cross.

Brothers and sisters: May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Galatians 6:14
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

As children of the Father and disciples of Jesus, our mark of distinction is not found in our greatness, achievements and success but in our being weak, in our being wounded and bruised, always needing the comfort by God like a mother to her children. This is very clear with St. Paul not only in our second reading today but most especially in his second letter to the Corinthians:

“I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

It is in our weakness when God is most manifested.

Try listening to anyone bragging about his or her achievements and talents: for a time, we get impressed, we admire them but in the long run, it becomes both convulsing and convoluting. But when we come to learn or hear the sacrifices and sufferings of people even those we do not personally know, we feel uplifted. We remember God and his goodness, his mercy and love.

Crucifix at the side wall of the chapel of St. John Evangelist at Cana, Galilee. Photo by author, 06 May 2019.

Only the disciples of Christ who join him in his Cross can be filled with the gift of peace, the only possession of every disciple. See how how when Jesus sent out the 72 other disciples, he asked them not to bring anything at all. The only thing they must have is the peace of Jesus Christ that they have to share with everyone they visit.

“Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way. Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.'”

Luke 10:3-5

Remember that when Jesus visited his Apostles in the locked upper room on the evening of Easter Sunday, he also greeted them with “peace” or “shalom” which is God’s greatest gift to anyone. Shalom in Hebrew means having a good relationship with one’s self, with others, and with God. Peace is always borne out of love and only those willing to sacrifice, suffer and even die for someone are the ones who truly love.

Mt. St. Paul Retreat House, June 2017.

There can be no peace in our hearts when we are filled with pride and ego. We need to be like children again, relying solely in the powers of our parents.

Last Thursday we brought our niece to her doctor at UST Hospital. While waiting for my sister when she left to get the lab results, I saw my niece feeling sleepy. I asked her to sleep on my lap as I gently rubbed her shoulder until she fell asleep soundly and peacefully.

What an attitude of not being bothered by her sickness because she must have great trust in me her uncle, my sister her mom, and also her doctor!

When we embrace our crosses in life and rely solely in Christ, we can also experience peace within. That is when we can rejoice as Jesus assured us, “your names are written in heaven” (Lk. 10:20).

A blessed week ahead to everyone! Jesus loves you, entrust to him all your worries and woes. Amen.