The authority of Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul
Fourth Week in Ordinary Time, Cycle B, 31 January 2021
Deuteronomy 18:15-20  +  1 Corinthians 7:32-35  +  Mark 1:21-28
Photo by author, ruins of the old Capernaum where Jesus lived, May 2017.

As Jesus began his public ministry last week by the shores of the Lake of Galilee calling his first disciples, Mark presents us beginning today some glimpses into the life and person of the Lord in Capernaum where he grew up and would temporarily base himself.

Then they came to Capernaum, and on the sabbath Jesus entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit… All were amazed and asked one another, “What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him.” His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.

Mark 1:21-23, 27-28

First thing we notice with Jesus is his devotion to Judaism, his going to the synagogue at sabbath to worship God his Father; later we find how during major feasts he would also come to the temple at Jerusalem. What a beautiful reminder that personal faith and relationship with God has to be expressed and lived in a community like in our parishes.

In this glimpse into a typical sabbath day in the life of Jesus, we also find the reason why he launched his ministry from the province of Galilee and not at the center of Israel which is Jerusalem: and that is to serve the poor and marginalized, those neglected with nothing in life who always felt left out and forgotten by everyone.

That is no longer true as we heard him declared last Sunday, “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk.1:15).

The author with friends and former colleagues at the ruins of the synagogue at Capernaum where Jesus preached on sabbath (May 2017).

A new teaching, proclaimed with authority

Mark tells us twice in our short gospel this Sunday how the people experienced Christ’s having authority in the way he spoke that was so unlike their scribes. Most of all, the people were amazed at his authority and power of words that expelled an “unclean spirit” from a man at their synagogue.

It was definitely something totally new and different that they wondered if it were a new kind of teaching, not knowing it was already God right in their midst in Jesus Christ, the Word who became flesh!

Today Jesus is teaching us the real meaning of power, his power of authority that actualizes persons and communities. Like the first disciples he had called last week, the people at the synagogue felt his words affecting them within. Their hearts must have been stirred and moved that they felt so good, moving them to share it with everyone that they all shared in the joy of hearing something new, something fresh and uplifting.

And it did not stop there.

The people then witnessed Jesus how drove away with his words an unclean spirit from a possessed man. They were amazed more upon seeing the possessed man freed from unclean spirit that “His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.”

Such was the impact Jesus made on that day of sabbath at Capernaum that continues to our day especially when we gather for the Sunday Eucharist if we can only share in his authority.

Authority as power is always a service that sets people free.

Photo by author, a column among the ruins of the Capernaum synagogue in Galilee, May 2017.

The word authority came from the Latin verb augere, augeribus meaning “to make something increase” or become better. Akin to the word authority is also the word “author” as in the writer of a book or of a document whose words are regarded as true and correct, worth listening and following.

Therefore, real authority is not just having the power over the people to rule and subjugate them as most of us would always think.

Authority in the real sense is service, the power to enable and empower people so that they may become better persons, that they may mature and transcend themselves to grow as persons with so much potentials for change and development.

True authority always leads people to freedom from darkness and sins, sickness and evil that brings out their giftedness as beloved children of God.

That is the authority of Jesus who declared that he had come to serve and not to be served by giving his life as a ransom for many (Mt.20:28) so that we may all have life in him as our good shepherd, a life in abundance (Jn.10:10).

Jesus is the prophet promised by God to Moses in the first reading who shall come to his people to speak to them his very words of life. And by tracing our being prophets with authority to Moses, the first reading gives us too the only criterion for recognizing the true spokesperson of God: he must always speak the word of God that is always actualizing when spoken with humility and sincerity.

Notice how in our language and culture the close linkages of words and authority are so clearly pronounced and recognized: we call people with authority as “mga taong may sinasabi” because people who wield power always have a say in everything.

But what are they saying? What words would always come out of their mouths? Are they life-giving or inducing death, glorifying evil?

So many times, people say so many things that are nothing and senseless. Ang dami-daming sinasabi wala namang sinabi! That is how we call people without impact and true authority: walang sinabi.

Photo by author before celebrating a Mass at the back of Capernaum near the shore of the Lake of Galilee, May 2017.

How sad these recent years, we priests and bishops complain so often how people would no longer listen to us in the Church.

Could it be that this is due to the fact we have stopped speaking the words of God, when all we care to speak of is what we know, what we think of so we would be powerful and famous specially in the various social media platforms? (See https://lordmychef.com/2021/01/27/from-the-ear-to-the-heart/)

We say so many things but fall on deaf ears, no impact, no life at all because they are not the words of Christ whom we have long forgotten.

Worst, how tragic when we impose our own words, insisting our authority on the people that most often is self-serving, far from true and loving service of Jesus Christ.

Whatever happened to that ideal of lay-empowerment when we would not let people speak or at least listen to their voices and thoughts in running their parish?

Before we can make people listen to the words of God, we in the Church must be the first to listen to his words that come to us in a life of prayer and devotion to the Eucharist. What a hypocrisy on our part when we who are supposed to be unmarried and celibate who are “anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord” (1Cor.7:32) would not even spend time to pray and listen to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament daily.

Every day especially in every celebration of the Mass, Jesus comes to us in his authority to set us free from our fears and anxieties, sickness and sins, anger and resentments, compulsions and addictions among other things that hinder us from truly experiencing the beauty of this life.

Let us all pray today for us to have a share in the authority of Jesus Christ to set us free from our being deaf and dumb, blind and lame in the Church that is also his Body. Amen.

The old and charming Church at Baras, Rizal.

Mary is Queen because Jesus is the King

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Saturday, Queenship of Mary, 22 August 2020
Isaiah 9:1-6 >><)))*> >><)))*> | + | <*(((><< <*(((><< Luke 1:39-47
Photo from Google.

Almighty God and Father, on this Memorial of the Queenship of Mary our Blessed Mother, we join her in that most beautiful song of praise to you, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior” (Lk.1:47).

Remind us always, O Lord, specially in this time when we exaggerate everything that unlike the royalties of the world, Mary is our Queen not because of power and wealth nor of fame and popularity but precisely due to her humility and weakness before you.

In this time when we are so fond of “triumphalism”, when we overdo even our devotions and prayers to praise and glorify you, remind us O Lord it is not your way as shown to us by the Blessed Mother Mary.

Let us keep in our minds and hearts that Mary, along with all the saints, are venerated because of their obedience to you, fulfilling your will at all times, making you present among us in our weaknesses and helplessness.

We pray for more simplicity and humility, above all, sincerity in our devotions to Mary and the saints that lead to more authentic faith in you alone who is our God Most Holy.

Like Mary our Queen, may we always say “yes” to you O God our “King of kings”. Amen.

Timely reminders from St. Paul in this time of pandemic

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Memorial of St. Charles Lwanga and Companion Martyrs, 03 June 2020
2 Timothy 1:1-3, 6-12 ><)))*> + <*(((>< Mark 12:18-27
Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA-7 News, April 2020.

We thank you, most loving God our Father, for the grace of perseverance and patience in this time of the pandemic. We thank you for the gift of trusting in your love and mercy despite all the sufferings and hardships our people have been going through amid the callousness and insensitivity of our leaders in government who have allowed to open offices, factories, and malls without providing adequate transportation while keeping all houses of worship closed.

May they heed, O Lord, the reminders of St. Paul to Timothy:

“I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.”

2 Timothy 1:6-7

We pray for more courage for our leaders in government so they may not cower in fear to the threats of COVID-19 when there are so many measures to control its spread which they should have taken long time ago but have failed to do so for reasons only they know.

Give them courage to stand up to their superiors, to admit their faults and failures instead of being so concerned in building their image as strong and capable that deceive no one.

Remind us all, O Lord, that we own nothing in this life. Everything is yours even the power and authority we have that must be tempered with genuine love and concern for the people and most especially with self-control.

How sad, O Lord, that until now, there are people who insist on possessing persons like the Sadducees who cannot accept resurrection of the dead because they are stuck into the belief couples “own” each other:

“At the resurrection when they arise whose wife will she be? For all seven had been married to her.”

Matthew 12:23
From ShareCatholic.com

One of those who thought of owning people was the pedophile King Mwanga of Uganda who persecuted the Christians in 1885-1887.

Inspire us, Lord, with the examples of St. Charles Lwanga and companion martyrs who remained pure and chaste, choosing tortures and death than to give in to the sexual perversions and immoralities of King Mwanga.

Their martyrdom became the seeds for the growth of Christianity in Uganda.

Help us to lead holy lives, Lord, amid the many sufferings we have to endure especially at this time of pandemic worsened by those who do not seem to care at all about you and spirituality, of the elderly and the sick, of the poor and needy among us.

Keep us all strong and let us not be perverted by the corrupt among us, always bearing our share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from you, O God. Amen.

The power of God

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Monday, Week 3, Year 2, 27 January 2020

2 Samuel 5:1-7, 10 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Mark 3:22-30

Photo by author, sunrise at Camp John Hay, Baguio City, November 2018.

Praise and thanksgiving to you, O God our loving Father in heaven! How amazing we are now at the final stretch of the month of January 2020, passing through many darkness that have cast over us spells of gloom and sadness, disappointments and fears, even hopelessness.

Yet, you never failed to shine upon us the bright lights of love and mercy, power and grace in Jesus Christ our Lord that we are still awake and so alive this Monday morning, ready to face another week of work and school, challenges and trials.

In our readings today, O God, you remind us of the need to be filled with your power and grace to accomplish your will despite many obstacles.

David in the first reading was able to unite all the tribes of Israel and drove away other peoples to make Jerusalem their capital city and your dwelling place. Indeed, in whomever your power rests, nothing is impossible to achieve.

But how unfortunate and tragic when people refuse to recognize your power, O God, resting on your Christ – your Anointed One – Jesus of Nazareth!

Like the scribes of his time, there are still some of us who believe in the power of other men and women than of your power in Jesus we often doubt and refuse to believe in.

The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said Jesus, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons.” Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables, “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand.”

Mark 3:22-24

Bless us, O God, with the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to recognize your power in Jesus Christ by first claiming it in your most holy name. To claim your power, O God, is to submit ourselves to your power to forgive our sins, to cleanse us of all evil, and most of all, to do everything in your glory.

Fill us with your power and grace, O Lord, so we may accomplish your work this week. Amen.

Photo from Google.

Forgetting God

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Wednesday, Week XXXII, Year I, 13 November 2019

Wisdom 6:1-11 ><)))*> <*(((>< Luke 17:11-19

Altar of the Carmelite Monastery, Guiguinto, Bulacan, 12 November 2019.

Lord Jesus Christ, forgive us when most of the time we are more like the nine other lepers you have healed than the lone Samaritan who returned to thank you.

How easily we could forget your goodness and kindness to us!

Worst, when we are strong and powerful, in total control of almost everything in life, we deliberately forget that we share only in your authority.

Let us heed your reminder today:

Hear, O kings, and understand; learn, you magistrates of the earth’s expanse! Hearken, you who are in power over the multitude and lord it over throngs of peoples! Because authority was given you by the Lord and sovereignty by the Most High, who shall probe and scrutinize your counsels!

Wisdom 6:1-3

May we come out clean and pure before you in our exercise of your power and authority. Amen.

The power and grace from stretched hands

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Tuesday, Wk. XVI, Yr. I, 23 July 2019
Exodus 14:21-15:1 >< }}}*> >< }}}*> Matthew 12:46-50
Holy Family Chapel, Sacred Heart Retreat and Spirituality Center, Novaliches, July 2017.

Thrice in our readings today, O loving Father, we heard “stretching of hands” to impart your power and grace. What a beautiful gesture so that today, we also stretch our hands in praising and thanking you God for all your love and kindness.

Stretching of hands is a gesture we usually do to you and others when we are pleading for something or when we express surrender or submission. We also stretch our hands over people and things to show our power or your power passing through us.

Moses stretched out his hand over the sea ,and the Lord swept the sea with a strong east wind throughout the night and so turned it into dry land…

Then the Lord told Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may flow back to the Egyptians, upon their chariots and their charioteers.”

Exodus 14:21, 26

In our gospel, when your Son our Lord Jesus Christ identified his family, he used the same gesture to show his grace and blessing of making us his family, making us one in him and with him.

And stretching his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, my sister, my mother.”

Matthew 12:49-50

Keep us always in the protection and care of your powerful and loving hands, Lord, that are always stretched upon the sick especially the bed-ridden and seriously ill, to those who have to work far from their loved ones, those who have to deal and handle with delicate matters and situations.

Continue also to stretch your hands upon us, Lord, to shower us with your blessings especially the fresh graduates, for the newly weds, for those working hard for their families, for those pursuing their stars and dreams with passion and determination, and for those getting tired and weak with their many burdens and load on their shoulders.

Help us also, Lord, to be like you on the Cross when you stretched your hands to express your deep love and mercy for each one of us. Give us that power and grace to stretch our hands in your name to be your instruments of change, healing and joy to everyone especially those in pain and sufferings. Amen.

Holy Family Chapel, Sacred Heart Retreat and Spirituality Center, Novaliches, July 2017.

Power of Greatness Is In Being Small

RaffyIceland8
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe-Prayer
Tuesday, 30 October 2018, Week XXX, Year II
Ephesians 5:21-33///Luke 13:18-21

            O loving Father, you are such a joy to be with, filled with life and humor!

            Yesterday through St. Paul you asked us to “live as children of light” and today through him again you are asking us to “be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Eph.5:21) 

            Being children, being subordinate are both calls to become small, to be little.  In a world where size always matters, when we talk more about being bigger and biggest, we have always taken for granted being little, being small.  For some, life is measured in terms of power and reach, influence and domination while respect equated by with strength and humility with weakness.

            How ironic that the most powerful weapons in the world are called “atomic” that harness the power of the smallest particle of everything, the atom.  Moreover, some scientists have recently borrowed your name to designate the minutest particle that makes up an atom as “god particle” only to show that to be atomic, to be powerful is to very, very small.

            How could we forget, even disregard, this basic lesson of the universe, still unaware and unconvinced with your example of sending us your Son Jesus Christ who was conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb, born as an infant like everyone, grew and matured like any child in Nazareth except in sin?  Eventually, in conquering death, He fully emptied Himself by dying on the Cross in total weakness and surrender, so small in the eyes of the world when in fact He got the whole world in His hands?

            Help us, O God, to keep in our hearts Christ’s teaching that your kingdom is like the small mustard seed that becomes a large bush or the little yeast that leavens the dough.  Help us realize, O God, that for us to be truly great, we have to be small before you our Creator, to always subordinate ourselves with one another in Christ like husband and wife deeply in love.  AMEN. Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan 3022. 

*Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA-7 News, Iceland, October 2018.  Used with permission.