The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 13 September 2020
Above is a photo I have taken of some pilgrims entering through the small door of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem last year. I have always loved the story why this entrance door is so small as it leads to a huge and very important church where the site of Jesus Christ’s birth is located.
According to tradition, pilgrims used to bring even their animals inside the church whenever they would come to worship at the site of the Lord’s birth. The priests and monks were so kind that they could not tell them to leave their horses outside to keep the church clean; and so, they built another entrance into the church with a door so small that even pilgrims have to bow in order to get inside.
Eventually, the small door taught everyone especially pilgrims the important lesson that to experience the coming of the Son of God to the world, one must learn to be humble, to bow or get low to get inside the Church of Nativity.
I know Christmas is still four months away but that is one reality we always forget, the we are all brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. That is the meaning of Christ’s call in today’s gospel to “forgive from one’s heart” son we can forgive without limits because we are all brothers and sisters in God the Father who loves and forgives us all (https://lordmychef.com/2020/09/12/forgiving-from-the-heart-2/).
It is for this reason that we have chosen for our Sunday music “Every Kinda People” by the late English singer-songwriter Robert Palmer. It was his first top 40 hit released in 1978 that was rereleased in 1992 climbing the charts again for its beautiful music and superb lyrics that convey love and respect for every person.
Though the word forgiveness is nowhere to be found in the lyrics, it is implied because after all, the best expression of any love as shown to us by Jesus Christ is also the ability to forgive others and forego any revenge.
There’s no profit in deceit Honest men know that Revenge do not taste sweet Whether yellow, black or white Each and every man’s the same inside
What really hurts us most that we find it difficult to forgive those who have sinned against us is not only the injustice done to us but our being disrespected as a person who is a family like a spouse or a wife, a brother or a sister, a son or a daughter, a father or a mother, a kin or a friend, a confidant.
Our offenders thought only of themselves and forgot all about us, our love and kindness to them. Our oneness with them.
That is the unkindest cut of all, my brothers and sisters.
Have a blessed Sunday and a week ahead, keep loving and forgiving even if others do not. At least we remind them of that basic reality of every kinda people…
Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-11 ng Agosto 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
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.
The Lord Is My Chef Simbang Gabi Recipe, 16 December 2019
Isaiah 56:1-3. 6-8 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> John 5:33-36
When we were still seminarians, our spiritual director became a victim of “hold-up” while walking home from an evening mass nearby. He is now a Trappist monk at Guimaras, a very kind and gentle priest we fondly call “Fr. Esteng”.
According to Fr. Esteng, everything happened so fast. But, after taking all his money, the suspect demanded Fr. Esteng’s big bag too, his “mass kit”. This time, Fr. Esteng refused to give into the demand of the hold-up man, insisting there’s nothing of value inside because they are things for celebrating the Mass of which no one would really buy.
To convince the hold-up man, Fr. Esteng got the “brilliant idea” of inviting the suspect to come with him to the seminary to get some food so he would no longer need more money.
Good that the hold up man did not accept the “invitation” of our good priest who got some “scolding” the following morning from his brother priests the following day after learning his brilliant idea, telling him to never to invite thieves into the seminary again!
“For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. Thus says the Lord God, who gathers the dispersed of Israel: Others will I gather to him besides those already gathered.”
Inclusive God, exclusive people.
It’s the start of our Simbang Gabi, our nine-day novena before the Lord’s birthday on Christmas.
God tells us in the first reading how he welcomes everyone into his house without any exceptions. That is how good and loving our God who is not contented in calling us all into his house but even sent us his only Son Jesus Christ to gather and lead us back to him.
Our God is very inclusive, always including everyone especially those rejected, those in the margins.
So unlike us people who are very exclusive and judgmental of others too.
We want everything exclusively ours. Just us. And when we meet strangers, those who do not look like us or do not speak and dress like us, we feel uncomfortable.
Worst is when we meet people of different faith and beliefs that we feel uneasy and even threatened simply because they are not like us!
It is good that for this final year before we celebrate our 500 years of Christianization, our bishops have dedicated 2020 to be the “Year of Ecumenism, Interreligious Dialogue, and Indigenous Peoples”.
This is to “celebrate human fraternity by promoting the culture of dialogue as a path of peace.” The Church wants to “work for unity and harmony while respecting diversity and to recognize peoples’ identities, spiritualities and ancestral domain.”
Jesus told the crowd, “But I have testimony greater than John’s. The works that the Father gave me to accomplish, these works that I perform testify on my behalf that the Father has sent me.”
See everyone and everything in Christ.
In our gospel today, Jesus was questioned by the Jews for healing a man sick for 38 years on a sabbath day at Bethesda.
Jesus was so different from them who have fallen into rituals and replaced God himself with their laws and traditions. They wanted Jesus stopped and even put to death simply because he did things so differently when, in fact, he was trying to bring back what was lost like the precedence of God and human life over laws and rituals.
Pope Francis reminds us that the Church exists to remind us that God loves and welcomes everyone. He is absolutely right that so often it happens right in our churches, in our celebrations we go on our own exclusivistic ways forgetting we are supposed to be a community.
On this first day of our Simbang Gabi, let us focus more on Jesus so we may find him among other people easily because when we are focused with our “work” and ministry, the more we see ourselves and forget Christ among the poor and marginalized.
Do we find Jesus when we serve and celebrate the liturgy or do we simply have ourselves?
Is it Jesus Christ whom we share with others in our dealings and service in the Church or our proud self?
Where is Jesus really in our lives today that we simply do things for the sake of doing it, because it is a tradition and not because of a personal conviction and relationship with him?
Romans 15:14-21 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Luke 16:1-8
Before everything else, O loving Father as we praise and thank you for this new day, we fervently pray for our brothers and sisters severely affected by the rains and floods up north in Cagayan as well as those displaced by the effects of earthquakes last two weeks in Mindanao.
Take care of them and make us more sensitive to their plights that we may be moved to do something concrete for them.
Like St. Paul, fill us with the same Holy Spirit, with zeal and enthusiasm to always do your work, Lord.
But I have written to you rather boldly in some respects to remind you, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in performing the priestly service of the Gospel of God, so that the offering up of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
Fridays for everyone is the end of school and/or work, a time to celebrate and have fun; the most welcome break of the week. But with you, Lord, you never stop working for us, with us, and in us.
Like St. Paul, fill us with yourself, O God which is the literal meaning of “enthusiasm” from the two Greek words, “en theos”, “be filled with God”.
Like St. Paul, may we never stop proclaiming you and your salvation joyfully even among those who have known you, Lord.
In this world of so much competition and rat race with no clear winners at all, make us realize like the shrewd steward in today’s gospel that being wise is giving more importance to people and persons and relationships than money and wealth. Amen.
Thank you very much, O Lord our God, for this wonderful Tuesday! Thank you for the changing of season with the coming of Amihan’s cool northeasterly winds replacing the warm and humid winds of Habagat.
Please do change also our perception of people around us, especially those we have boxed and stereotyped simply because they are not like us in beliefs, ways, and color.
Help us to believe in everyone’s ability to become better persons, receptive to your words and mercy like the people of Niniveh during the time of Jonas and of Mary, the sister of Martha whom Jesus visited in a village on his way to Jerusalem.
So often, we are like Jonas and Martha, so focused with our very selves that we are the only ones worthy of your love and mercy as if we have been endowed with special blessings and privileges from you.
How sad that we always feel so exclusive instead of being inclusive like you, sending rains to sinners and non-sinners alike.
May we let go of any hint of “self-entitlement” that have kept us apart from each other and worst of all, prevented us from truly being one in you whom we call “Our Father”. Amen.
Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 15 July 2019
This is not another homily about yesterday’s Parable of the Good Samaritan. I am very sure you have heard so much about it. In fact, you must have memorized that parable, too. And most likely, you also believe there is nothing else new in that parable. Its conviction remains true that we are all neighbors, that the question we must be asking is not “who is my neighbor” but, “do I act as a neighbor to others”?
However, in this complicated age of tweets and hashtags when everything is shortened, either abbreviated or initialized, the question “who is my neighbor” has become very legitimate again these days when technology has taken the center stage of our lives and relationships.
Two months ago I officiated the wedding of a friend’s youngest brother who sent me a gist of their “love story” that I may incorporate in my homily. Fact is, I have already worked out the outline of my homily for his wedding except that I really had a hard time deciphering the meaning of the three letters he had mentioned about their love story: “LDR”.
After several minutes, I finally got what he meant with those letters that stand for “Long Distance Relationship”.
Okay, I admit being too old for those kind of talkies with so many abbreviations that litter Facebook posts from “OMG” to “ootd” with a host of other letter combinations that I really do not understand at all even when given with their meanings.
This sudden surge in usage of so many abbreviations and initials is spawned by modern technologies in communication that still continue to evolve. Truly, the medium is the message. When we were growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, typewriters reigned supreme. We knew only two important abbreviations that time, “cc” for “carbon copy” and “asap” for “as soon as possible”.
With the demise of Messrs. Remington and Underwood following the rise of PC’s and Macs along with smartphones that all use the venerable “qwerty” board of old, we are now deluged with all of these initials and abbreviations. At least, those hardly used signs on the typewriter keys like @, #, and _ finally came more alive in this age of dot.coms.
There is nothing wrong with these developments but when these abbreviations and initials as well as signs and symbols are applied onto humans, problems begin to happen. This is when people are “materialized” while things are “personalized”. See how the benighted souls on television, from program hosts and celebrities to journalists using the Filipino personal pronoun “siya” for he/she/his/her when speaking of food and typhoons like “masarap siya” (he/she is delicious) or “siya ay magbubuhos ng ulan” (he/she will pour rains). How insanely they use the Filipino demonstrative pronoun “ito” or this for persons like “ito ang nanay ko” (this is my mother instead of she is my mother) or “ito ang mahal ko” (this is my beloved instead of he/she is my beloved)!
You see how we have now come to regard persons as things and things as persons?
And worst, we now see persons as food to be eaten and consumed when good looking men and women are described as “yummy” and “delicious”. It is utilitarianism at its worst when people are seen like food as if they are good only when “fresh, hot and tasty” but when already old and sickly, they are regarded like leftovers kept on the fridge, even discarded. In the same manner, see how in our country we take people like ice cream with those belonging to the “AB” crowd or the rich and famous as “flavor of the month” or “all-time favorite” while those from the lower segment of the society, the “CDE” or “chineleas-duster-estero” crowd as “dirty ice cream” or sorbetes.
Here lies the legitimacy of the question who is my neighbor? — when we not only shorten words for the sake of convenience and do the same to persons, shortchanging them with the respect and dignity we all deserve.
A friend and fellow blogger recently wrote a piece about the growing number of young people who are so inconsiderate in using specific lanes and counters reserved for seniors and PWD’s in malls and stores. Even in churches, there are also inconsiderate, and hypocrite or unChristian, able-bodied people occupying pews reserved for seniors and PWD’s, claiming they will just leave and move when they arrive?! How I really feel like adding to our notes that “This pew is reserved for seniors and PWD’s. And morons too.”
How ironic that in this age when almost everyone is supposed to be tech savvy, being able to read every sign and logo yet refuse to respect give way to our seniors and PWD’s. Here is a classic case of us having smartphones but not so smart people, guided missiles and misguided children. They are like the Levite and the priest in the parable of the Good Samaritan who simply “saw” the victim lying on the road, failing to see him as another person in need. Unlike the Samaritan who saw the victim and was moved with compassion to help him.
The question “who is my neighbor” becomes more legitimate and pressing when we in the Church, in our own homes and family are overtaken by things of the world, from money and gadgets to fame and convenience that we not only forget one another but ultimately Jesus Christ our Lord and Master.
When we are more concerned with raising funds or earning money for more buildings, more gadgets, for more privileges and convenience, becoming vain even if beyond our means or not in our calling and state of life, that is when people start asking again “who is my neighbor” because nobody seem to care anymore. No one is with compassion and mercy anymore that everybody seem to have become robots and sadly, inhuman when all we see are things than persons.
The Church since Vatican II has always seen these modern means of communications as gifts from God meant to be used for the the “advancement and unity” of man (Communio et Progressio). Let us put technology and things at their proper place. And that is always at the service of mankind and glory of God.
The Lord Is My Chef Special Recipe, 02 February 2019
Feast of the Presentation of the Lord at the Temple
Malachi 3:1-4//Hebrews 2:14-18//Luke 2:22-40
Here’s good news to those who have not yet removed their Christmas decors: today’s Feast of the Presentation of the Lord is the actual end of Christmas Season when the Child Jesus was presented at the Temple in Jerusalem 40 days after Epiphany. According to this tradition, it is also on this day when the Vatican removes its giant Christmas tree at the St. Peter’s Square. And so, after this day and you still have your Christmas tree and other decors hanging, then you must be a certified slob or simply one who refuses to move on to meet Jesus Christ.
Today’s feast has many names because it has many facets. This was first celebrated in Jerusalem in the early year 300 as “the Feast of Presentation at the Temple” based on the Gospel account of St. Luke we have heard earlier. The Syrians adopted the feast 300 years later, reaching the seat of the Eastern Church in Constantinople where it came to be known as “the Encounter” or Ypapante in Greek, emphasizing the “meeting” of the Savior and the two elderly people, Simeon and Ana. At about that same time in Rome, Pope Sergius I adapted the same feast from Jerusalem with a procession of lighted candles to show Jesus as the “light for revelation” to Simeon and everyone. When it reached France in the year 800, the French adapted it further with a new designation as “Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary” or“Chandeleur” which came to be known as “Candlemass” in English-speaking countries and “Candelaria” in Spain and her colonies like the Philippines. Over a thousand years later in 1969 during the Vatican II reform of the liturgy, the Church decreed it to be known in its original name, Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.
That’s the beauty of our Catholic faith when certain feasts evolved depending on the various emphases of the many periods in history yet remaining true to its very essence who is Jesus Christ our Savior and Son of God. Anyone who truly meets or encounters Jesus is always enlightened by Him to meet Him among other peoples. Recall how we started the celebration with the paschal candle also at the entry to our church. It is the same paschal candle we have lighted and blessed during the Easter Vigil last year to symbolize the risen Christ lighting our path of salvation. Today in our procession, the light of Candlemass announces that paschal candle: inasmuch as we celebrate today the presentation of Jesus at the Temple by His parents, 33 years later or a little more than two months from now, Jesus would be back in Jerusalem to offer – or present – Himself to the Father in fulfilling His pasch or Passion, Death, and Resurrection. This is the meaning of Simeon’s beautiful canticle we all sing at bedtime: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in sight of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel” (Lk. 2:29-32).
Jesus is the light of the nations – lumen gentium – or light of men or peoples because He enables us to see the face of every human being as a brother and a sister in Him. How sad that this human face has so often been disfigured, trying to hide or even remove the face of Christ in whose image we have all been created. Imagine how Simeon and Anna were able to recognize Christ among the many infants being offered that day at the Temple in Jerusalem because both have always been opened with God. We can never meet God unless we also meet others as brothers and sisters. Remember during our Simbang Gabi how we reflected about true holiness through St. Joseph who always found God in everything so that upon learning Mary’s pregnancy, he decided to divorce her silently so as not to put her into shame. But upon learning from an angel in a dream the circumstances about her pregnancy, St. Joseph took her as wife and Christmas happened with him standing as the Lord’s legal father. When Joseph saw God in Mary, Jesus came; when he saw Jesus coming, Joseph accepted Mary. That is the light of Candlemass when we are able to see God in each one’s face – most especially among our senior citizens.
In a society where old age is seen like a disease with ads telling everyone to “arrest ageing”, giving so much premium on being young and looking young so glorified in media, we all fail to see the significance of this stage in life. Worst, we abhor it, refusing to talk about it as if it is a curse. Wrong! Actually, most of the people God called for His mission in the Old Testament were mostly old people starting with Noah and Abraham as well as Moses who all performed great wonders for Him in their advanced ages! Today’s gospel is no exception as it invites us to see Christ among our elderly brethren in the church and community, especially in the family whom we often take for granted. See how St. Joseph and Mary shared Jesus with Simeon and Anna. In 1999, St. John Paul wrote a letter to his fellow elders, saying that “The line separating life and death runs through our communities and moves inexorably nearer to each of us. If life is a pilgrimage to towards our heavenly home, then old age is the most natural time to look towards the threshold of eternity (14).”
Today’s Feast of the Presentation of the Lord at the Temple reveals to us the mystery of every encounter with God is often preceded with an encounter with another person, even strangers. Every encounter with God is often verified by our encounter with others because through them, we experience that “invisible line” that seems to bind all of us as one big family. And this is most true when we encounter the elderly people, especially those who have “aged gracefully” who often confirm with us the presence of God in our lives which they have already started to experience. Every encounter with an elderly is an encounter with Jesus Christ because it is a prelude to our final encounter with Him in eternity. And all these encounters are made possible by the grace and light only of Jesus Christ. Remember: the moment we are able to recognize the face of the person next to us as the face of a brother and sister in Jesus Christ, then we are sure that darkness has ended and day has begun. Amen.Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan.
Like during the season of Lent, Lord, I have always been amazed with the antiphons and prayers of Advent. Since Monday, we have been praying after Communion for the grace to focus more about things of heaven than of earth. And the most amazing thing about it is we really do not have to look up high to see what is heavenly; we simply have to look at one another just like what you did on the mountain today in the gospel.
After receiving the heavenly food last Monday, we prayed “to love the things of heaven and to hold fast to what endures”; then at Tuesday we implored “to judge wisely of the things of earth and to hold firm to the things of heaven” while today we asked “to be cleansed of our faults and prepare us for the coming feasts” in heaven. These are all calls from you, Lord Jesus, for us to see you among our suffering brothers and sisters.
Stir our hearts, O Christ, and move them into pity like when you worried at the great crowd of people that included “the lame, the blind, the mute, and many others” (Mt.15:30) who have followed you for three days on the mountain with nothing to eat. Make us worry like you for all the sufferings of those forgotten by the society and even by their families. Use our hands to “wipe away the tears from all faces” (Is. 25:28) and let us be the heavenly food and drinks to be partaken by everyone after receiving your words and your Body and Blood in the Eucharist.
Come, Lord Jesus, this holy season of Advent, “illumine what is hidden in darkness” (Entrance antiphon) and let your light penetrate my inner self so I may truly see how far I have been from you and from others, and most especially that I may see you as you are so that in the process I may also see my real self. Renew me this season, Jesus, and let me enter your fullness of life. AMEN. Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan 3022.
*Photo by Jim Marpa, a former colleague at the Varsitarian of UST (circa 1986). Used with permission.
I still feel tired, Lord Jesus Christ after celebrating the Solemnity of your Kingship this Sunday. But I must confess and I am sure you knew it all along why we are so happy with Christ the King celebration: it signals the end of November, ushering the merry month of Christmas!
How foolish I am, O Lord! Sorry that until now I still don’t get it; it has been like a system within to count days, to count things and objects like money and everything I think to be leading to you. How foolish I am that I count days and weeks and months leading to you but never do I count on you. What a fool I am that I count everything except people and persons!
You have shown John all the peoples of all time represented by the 144,000 faithful standing before you in heaven in his vision. That early, you have counted us all to be included in your glory but sadly, here we are still counting things and objects like those people of your time when you observed how they dropped donations to the temple treasury.
You said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest” (Lk.21:3) because she had counted more on the people to be helped with her donation that was so little compared with others. But her donation mattered most to you because she gave her very best thinking more of the people, not of the money.
Teach me, Christ the King, to see more of people, to seek the persons in my heart whom I have long taken for granted. Teach me, Christ the King, to forget all those ideas and thoughts in my mind about people and focus more on their face as subjects to be cherished and loved. Teach me, Christ the King, to cleanse my heart, to always seek your face.AMEN. Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan 3022.
Heavenly Father, today I join St. Paul in the first reading in praying that our joy may be complete “by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing.” Help me to “do nothing out of selfishness or vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than me, as I look out not for my own interests but also for others.” (Phil. 2:2-4)
Most of the time, we cannot share with the “complete joy” your Son Jesus Christ promised us when He said He is the true vine and we are His branches (Jn. 15:11) because we keep on separating from Him. Worst of all, like in His parable today, we have created divisions among us when we chose to associate only with those who look like us, think like us, expecting like us for rewards, of being repaid for any good things we do unto them (Lk. 14:12).
Let me be the one to make that first move of completing our joy, and your joy too, O God, by reaching out in love to those in the margins like the poor and suffering, the sick and the dying, and those we see as different from us in so many other things whom we take for granted.
Let me bring joy to even just one of them, to let them feel we are one, hoping they can have a brighter Monday today. If I can brighten just one person today, then both of us would be completely joyful! The more joys are completed among persons, the world becomes brighter. And that is when our joy, your joy become truly complete for that is when we live as one in Jesus Christ. AMEN. Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan 3022.
*Photo by Dra. Mai B. Dela Pena, Tokyo, Japan 2018. Used with permission.