Meeting God

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Memorial of St. Irenaeus, Bishop & Martyr, 28 June 2022
Amos 3:1-8, 4:11-12   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Matthew 8:23-27
Photo by Ms. Danna Hazel de Castro, Kiltepan Peak, Sagada, Mountain Province, 2017.
Disturbing words by Amos in the
first reading and a violent storm in
the gospel while the apostles where
crossing the lake with Jesus asleep
remind us dear God our loving Father
of the inevitable "meeting with you".
Who would not be shaken with the 
words of Amos threatening:

Does a lion roar in the f0rest when it has no prey? Does a young lion cry out from its den unless it has seized something? Is a bird brought to earth by a snare when there is no lure for it? Does a snare spring up from the ground without catching anything? If the trumpet sounds in a city, will the people not be frightened ? If evil befalls a city, has not the Lord caused it? So now I will deal with you in my own way, O Israel! And since I will deal thus with you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel.

Amos 3;4-6, 4:12
Forgive us, Lord, for being complacent
in knowing you, feeling one with you
even if our lives are far from your
teachings that we neither see your
nor are you seen in us or in our live; 
help us realize that because 
you have given us so much, much are
expected from us.
At the other extreme, many times
we are like the apostles in the boat
caught in a violent storm while at the
middle of the sea and even if Jesus were
with us, we act as if he were away.
Many times we do not meet you
because we do not live our faith in you
faithfully, so afraid of what others would
say to us; but, there are also many times
we do not meet you when our fears overtake
us that we do not see you being with us.

The glory of God gives life; those who see God receive life… Life in man is the glory of God; the life of man is the vision of God.

St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies
Help us imitate St. Irenaeus who lived
his faith faithfully that he saw you daily
in his life.  Amen.

Meeting God

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Tenth Week of Ordinary Time, 10 June 2022
1 Kings 19:9, 11-16   ><))))*> + ><))))*> + ><))))*>   Matthew 5:27-32
Photo by author, Los Baños, Laguna, 14 May 2022.
I do not want to say
that we find you, God because
the truth is it is you who find us
always; that is why, I prefer saying
meeting you.

So often, you find us but we do 
not meet you at all because we
look for you, always expecting you
in great things and spectacular sights
and happenings, in shows where we are
the focus not you, where we are heard
and you are disregarded.

Teach us to be patient and silent
like Elijah, awaiting for your passing
in the most simple and ordinary things
like the tiny whispering sound.

O dearest Lord, forgive us in our
many inanities of trying to meet you in 
great things while we indulge in little
things we consider as harmless and 
nothing at all like a simple look at women
filled with lust that reveal great tendencies of 
corruption within us.

May we learn to take care of the little
things in our lives that truly matter most
when aggregated into a whole.  Amen.

Easter is “re + membering”

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday within the Octave of Easter, 21 April 2022
Acts 3:11-26   ><)))*> + <*(((><   Luke 24:35-48
Photo by author, Easter 2018.
Praise and glory to you,
Lord Jesus Christ, for the
most wonderful gift of memory:
more powerful than any memory
card or computer chip, you have
made our memories so powerful
not only in keeping the past alive
within us but most of all, enabling
us to make these memories present
again in every here and now - the gift
of "re + membering".
Thank you dear Jesus for this most
wonderful gift of all that even if 
our memories fail due to age and
sickness, we always re + member
those dearest people to us from
the past:  we make them a member
of today, that is, re-member!

The disciples of Jesus recounted what had taken place along the way, and how they had come to recognize him in the breaking of the bread. While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

Luke 24:35-36
Before Easter happened,
during supper on the night you
were betrayed, you commanded 
your disciples to always remember,
to "do this in memory of me":
at Emmaus, the two disciples did
remember and recognized you,
Lord Jesus and from then on, we have
always re-memebered your commandment
and you yourself who becomes present
most especially in the Holy Eucharist and
when we live its essence of love.
Refresh always our memories,
Jesus, so we may keep re-membering you,
making you a member anew in every
present moment in our witnessing to
your very person and your most loving act
of self-giving.  Amen.

The Cross, our door to heaven

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord, 10 April 2022
Isaiah 50:4-7  +++  Philippians 2:6-11  +++  Luke 23:1-49
Photo by Mr. Chester Ocampo, ICS Chapel, 2016; sculpture by National Artist Ed Castrillo.

Officially we begin today the Holy Week leading to the Triduum of the Lord with Easter, the Mother of all feasts in the Church. Today we enter the “innermost room” of the house of God our Father after our 40 day journey in Lent.

We are actually celebrating today two distinct rites merged into one, the procession and blessing of palms to commemorate Jesus Christ’s entry into Jerusalem that led to his arrest and crucifixion on Good Friday which we heard in the gospel proclaimed earlier. As early in the fourth century, Christians in Jerusalem have been commemorating the Lord’s entry to Jerusalem from the city gate while a hundred years later, the Pope ushered in the Holy Week in Rome by proclaiming the long gospel we have heard of the Lord’s crucifixion and death. With the reforms of the liturgy in 1963 at Vatican II, these two celebrations were merged as one with the designation as “Palm Sunday in the Passion of the Lord”.

More than a going back to the past, our celebration today reminds us of the ever-newness of Christ’s saving work and love for us while at the same time assuring us of the future that would bring us into the fullness of life in him with the Father in heaven. This we find in the last three words recorded to us by Luke while Jesus was on the Cross.

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

The mercy and forgiveness of God

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”

Luke 23:34

Very consistent with his theme of the mercy and forgiveness of God to us as shown the other Sunday in the parable of the merciful father, a.k.a. the parable of the prodigal son, Luke presents to us again this most wondrous and touching trait of God in Christ even while crucified.

Again, only Luke has this detail of Jesus praying forgiveness for his enemies while being reviled and mocked by them on the cross.

It is another example of Luke’s artistry in presenting to us God’s mercy and forgiveness in Christ in a sort of play of words, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” as we confront our selves with the question, “what do we really know?”

What do we really know at all that we continue to crucify Jesus today, nailing him on the cross with our many sins as we pretend and assume to know so many things in life?

Until now, we still have wars raging in various parts of the world, and more than half of these conflicts according to studies are ironically due to our different religious beliefs! Until now debates continue as everyone would want to have the power to decide for themselves who shall live and who shall die, from abortions to artificial contraceptives to capital punishment. Until now we pretend to know the truth and yet the more we have shown our ignorance as our problems become more complex than ever leading to more deaths, more disillusions, more anxieties and more emptiness in life.

And right there on the cross, Jesus continues to pray to the Father to forgive us for we do not know what we are doing to pave the way for the conversion of more others like Paul who realized he “acted out of ignorance in my unbelief” (1 Tim. 1:13). In his other book the Acts of the Apostles, Luke tells us how Peter said in a speech to the people how they “acted out of ignorance in putting Jesus to death” (3:17). Here we find Luke driving at the basic truth how so often it is in our sinfulness and “ignorance” that eventually we come to “know” and realize God who is always ready with his unfailing mercy and forgiveness. The key is to emulate Dimas, the good thief crucified at the other side of Jesus on that Good Friday.

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

The promise of Paradise

He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

Luke 23:43

Imagine the evil that men do portrayed by Luke in Christ’s crucifixion, of the relentless insults and mockery by the people on the ground and even up there on the cross when one of those hanging reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us”(Lk.23:39).

See how we are not contented and satisfied in putting others to shame but would even bury them deeply with insults as we say in Filipino, “baon na baon”. But, all is not lost as there is always a glimmer of hope. especially among the sinners and the ignorant who open themselves to god’s grace like Dimas who rebuked his fellow criminal, reminding him how they deserved the punishment but not Jesus “who has done nothing criminal” (Lk.23:41). It was at that instance when he snatched heaven by telling the Lord, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Lk.23:42).

And we all know the response of Jesus, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

What a great God do we really have in Jesus Christ! Despite the pains and sufferings of being nailed on the cross, he not only begged the Father for our forgiveness because we do not know what we are doing but most of all, readily handed our salvation, promising Paradise to anyone who would humbly surrender one’s self to him like Dimas.

See that Jesus was very precise in assuring Dimas and us with Paradise – right at the very moment we are in him, with him on the Cross of pain and suffering, of truth and righteousness – not later when they die nor on Sunday when he rises from the dead but TODAY, right now!

The very moment we open ourselves to accept Jesus Christ our Savior, that is also precisely the very moment he is very present in us and among us. The other moment Luke used the word TODAY to indicate the very moment of here and now was at the birth of Jesus when the angels told the shepherds “For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord” (Lk.2:11).

What a beautiful reminder to us all of God present among us in every here and now, not yesterday nor tomorrow, but today for indeed our God is “I AM WHO AM”!

Anyone who is always one in Jesus, one with Jesus is assured of Paradise, in fact already entering Paradise, our end and ultimate destination in life. This leads us to the third important words of Jesus on the Cross according to Luke…

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

Coming home to the Father

Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”; and when he had said this he breathed his last.

Luke 23:46

All four evangelists attest in their respective gospel account that Jesus died on the cross at the ninth hour or about 3:00 PM. Most of all, they tell us that Jesus died while praying.

In Luke’s account, Jesus’ final prayer was from Psalm 31:6, “Into your hands I commend my spirit.” As we have mentioned in our previous reflections, Luke presents Jesus always at prayer like during the second Sunday of Lent during his transfiguration; only Luke tells us why Jesus went up that high mountain with his three Apostles in order to pray. Inasmuch as the transfiguration was a prayer moment, the crucifixion is the Lord’s prayer moment par excellence. Recall how we truly learn to “pray” when in deep pain and trials like before a surgery, when we no longer know how to pray or even have forgotten what is prayer all about except that we give ourselves entirely to God and to our doctors.

There on the Cross at his final moments, Jesus never ceased from doing good, always praying, always united and one in his Father in heaven. In commending his spirit into the Father’s hands, Jesus shows us exactly what discipleship is all about: everything we have, all we are are God’s. We have nothing to lay claim as ours in this life and that is the challenge to us daily: to live for God in Jesus through our loving service to others.

In this long passion narrative we heard today is the gospel, the very good news of our salvation as proclaimed by Paul in the second reading of how Jesus gave his total self in love to the Father for us all.

May we keep our eyes and our hearts open to Jesus, relying only in him like the Suffering Servant for he shall never put us to shame. We cannot experience the joy of his Resurrection unless we imitate Simon Cyrene, Dimas, John and the Blessed Virgin Mary in welcoming and following him in our daily life whether in the comforts of Jerusalem or the sorrows of Calvary for that is where we truly enter Paradise with Jesus, in Jesus. On the Cross. Amen.

When God seems to be far and does not care at all

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Fourth Week of Lent, 30 March 2022
Isaiah 49:8-15   <*(((>< + ><)))*>   John 5:17-30
Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA-7 News, local residents stranded at the airport hoping to fly home to families during the 2020 lockdown.
There were so many times
in life especially during the
first year of the prolonged
COVID-19 lockdown that we
felt like your people thrown
into exile to Babylon, crying
out, "The Lord has forsaken me;
my Lord has forgotten me"
(Isaiah 49:14).
But looking back to those days of
the lockdown, of how we have 
survived COVID and so many other
problems, sickness and difficulties, 
the more we have realized your loving
presence and involvement in our
struggles and hardships; you have not
only healed and saved us but even
opened many opportunities in life
during those trying moments!

Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.

Isaiah 49:15
Deepen our faith in you, O God,
especially when we could not 
understand the things happening
in our lives and around us; many times, 
we could not also understand your
very words expressed to us by 
Jesus like in the gospel today.
In times like that, Lord, please
let us just feel you, love you,
and trust you for surely, nothing
ever happens without your knowing.
Amen.

Lent is being filled with God

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday after Ash Wednesday, 04 March 2022
Isaiah 58:1-9   ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[><   Matthew 9:14-15
Photo by author, Lent 2019.
Thank you for this gift of first Friday
in March, a Friday after Ash Wednesday
as we begin our 40 day journey of Lent;
forgive us, dear God our Father, that
gone are the days when we your children
religiously observed fasting and abstinence; 
we have ceased fasting not only on the 
prescribed days of Ash Wednesday 
and Good Friday but even before receiving 
the Holy Communion in the Sunday Mass, 
making all kinds of excuses with bold claims 
of having sacrificed so much in doing "good deeds" 
that we need not fast from food anymore. 
Make us realize these are the same mistakes 
of the people in the Old Testament 
of having themselves as the focus of fasting 
than you, O God, through others:  
“Why do we fast, and you do not see it?  
Afflict ourselves, and you take no note of it?”  
Lo, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits, 
and drive all your laborers.  
Yes, your fast ends in quarreling and fighting, 
striking with wicked claw.  
Would that today you might fast 
so as to make your voice heard on high!” 
(Isaiah 58:3-4)
In this age of affluence even in the midst
of a pandemic, make us realize, Lord Jesus
your mystery of Incarnation through "kenosis" -
of self-emptying which is what fasting is all about.
Teach us not to be always adequate, not to be
too self-sufficient that we forget the value of 
being empty and in need of others and most 
especially of you; let us rediscover this Lent 
the beauty of denying ourselves of things 
that give us pleasures and comfort 
that we forget you and others; may we realize
that it is only in emptiness through fasting
that you can fill us with yourself, almighty God;
it is only in emptiness through fasting 
we can learn to truly trust and believe
in you, dear Lord, as our only strength
and sustenance.
Surprise us, O Lord, of the many
benefits of self-denial, primary of
which is becoming better persons
without us really knowing it and most
of all, unconsciously becoming your 
very presence among other people:
“Then your light shall break forth 
like the dawn, and your wound 
shall quickly be healed; your vindication 
shall go before you, 
and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.  
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer, 
you shall cry for help, 
and he will say, Here I am!”
(Isaiah 58:9).
How wonderful it is 
when eventually we become 
your presence, O God, 
speaking through us, 
saying, “Here I am”! for it is
only then your Son Jesus
is indeed the groom celebrating
with us.  Amen.

Presence of God

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Memorial of St. Josephine Bakhita, Virgin, 08 February 2022
1 Kings 8:22-23, 27-30   ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[><   Mark 7:1-13
Photo by Ms. Mira Mandal Sibal, 2021.
God our loving Father,
I praise and glorify you for
your might and majesty!
Like your servant King Solomon,
I wonder in great awe at how
you choose to dwell in our hearts,
in our homes, in our churches
when you cannot be contained 
in your vast universe!
You are so kind and merciful
that when you sent us your Son,
our Lord Jesus Christ, he chose to
be even smaller just to be closest to
us as close as our breath; it is a marvel
of faith at how he can be truly present 
with us in the words proclaimed and 
prayed everywhere, most specially in
those tiny tabernacles and little hosts
we receive at Holy Communion.

Solomon said, “Can it indeed be that God dwells on earth? If the heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain you, how much less this temple which I have built! Listen to the petitions of your servant and of your people Israel that they offer in this place. Listen from your heavenly dwelling and grant pardon.”

1 Kings 8:27, 30
Like my prayer yesterday,
let me be intense in seeking you,
in finding you, and having you,
Lord; while at the same time, 
teach me to learn to limit my 
imaginations and thoughts that
eventually limit your presence 
like the Pharisees and some scribes
who have questioned you, Jesus,
"Why do your disciples not follow 
the tradition of the elders but instead
eat a meal with unclean hands?"
(Mk.7:5).
Gift us with the same grace of
courage and perseverance amid
severe hardships and sufferings in
life like St. Josephine Bakhita who 
still found you and experience your
loving mercy and justice in the terrible
ordeals she had gone through since
childhood after being sold as a slave
in Sudan.
St. Josephine Bakhita had shown us
in her life and example that you, O God,
cannot be limited to any particular
place nor time, nor people nor anything;
you are more than this world and our
experiences, more than our thoughts
and ideas for you are totally free 
to fulfill your grand designs for each one
of us to find joy and peace, fulfillment and 
meaning in this life despite and in spite
of whatever circumstances we are into.
Amen.

Praying for “divine intensity”

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Week V, Year II in Ordinary Time, 07 February 2022
1 Kings 8: 1-7, 9-13   ><}}}}*> + <*{{{{><   Mark 6:53-56
Photo by author, Garden of Gethsemane outside the Church of All Nations, the Holy Land, 2017.
God our loving Father,
give me the gift of having
an intense attitude and disposition
to experience you in prayer
and the celebration of the
Holy Eucharist.
Let me desire you always,
make me eager to meet you
like the people at Gennesaret
who "scurried about the surrounding
country and began to bring in 
the sick on mats to wherever 
they heard Jesus was" (Mk.6:55).
How I wish, dear Father, we could
have the joy and excitement of the 
people when King Solomon led 
the opening of your Temple in
Jerusalem with the ark of the
covenant being brought there as
your cloud filled the temple.
We do not have any ark of
your covenant, Lord, but we 
have you truly present, Body
and Blood in every Eucharistic
celebration in our churches
which we often take for granted;
most often, nobody cares to visit you, 
dear Jesus truly present at the 
Blessed Sacrament!
If I could just have even half
of the eagerness of the people
of Gennesaret in meeting Jesus
or the intensity of the joy and 
excitement of the people of 
Jerusalem in the opening of their
temple, maybe your divine presence
O God would be more realistic and
more effective among us in Christ.
Amen.

Listening leads to presence

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Sunday III-C in Ordinary Time, 23 January 2022
Nehemiah 8:2-4, 5-6, 8-10 ><}}}*> 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 27 ><}}}*> Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21
Photo by author, Baguio Cathedral, January 2019.

I am still in quarantine after testing positive for COVID last Monday. One good thing I have realized these past days is how precious every moment of life as I counted each day, checking on my vital signs three times daily until I will have completed soon the required seven days.

Sometimes, we only realize the existential meaning and gravity of every “today” when we go through a difficult phase in life like getting COVID or like the Israelites finally getting home from exile, suddenly hearing the word of God proclaimed after many years of silence:

Then Ezra the priest-scribe said to all the people “Today is holy to the Lord your God. Do not be sad, and do not weep,” for all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law. He said further, “Go, eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks, and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared; for today is holy to our Lord. Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength!”

Nehemiah 8:9-10

There are also times in our lives when suddenly we become so open to God’s words, so focused on Jesus to experience his presence like that sabbath day in a synagogue in Nazareth:

Photo by author, January 2019.

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the yes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Luke 4:20-21

Thanks to COVID that now I have felt how difficult it is to be separated from everyone, considering the mild symptoms I had as a fully vaxxed with booster too. It must have been so traumatizing for those who caught the virus during the early surges of 2020 and 2021 without the benefits of the vaccines and other modern medicines. Many of them who survived COVID or have lost loved ones until now feel the pains and hurts of those experiences. Indeed, it is after a difficult situation when we truly realize the value of every present moment we have with our loved ones, when everyone becomes so real and precious, when every present is truly a gift.

Today our readings invite us to slow down, to saunter – so to speak – as we journey in Jesus with Luke as our guide who at his prologue to his gospel tells us how he had “investigated everything accurately anew” regarding the “certainty of teachings of Jesus handed down” to us since the beginning (cf. Lk.1:3-4). Like with our loved ones we miss so much these days of quarantine and surge, Jesus reminds us to always listen to make everyone and him present in us.

Our conscious coming into the Father’s house

Last Sunday at the Feast of the Sto. Niño we reflected how we exercise our child-like traits before God whenever we go into “the Father’s house” like the 12-year old Jesus who was found at the Temple. Our going into the Father’s house to pray and receive the Sacraments expresses our rootedness and oneness with God through Jesus Christ.

This Sunday in our gospel, we find Jesus going again into his Father’s house to “proclaim and claim” the word of God as his very presence among us.

Imagine his movements in “slo-mo” when “He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…” (Lk.4:16-18).

It must have been a moving moment for everyone. So mesmerizing for here was a man so present, so strongly felt with something in him freely walking up to proclaim the word of God. And what an experience for everyone that after “Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk.4:21).

That “today” would be repeated by Jesus with the same intensity on Good Friday shortly before he died when he promised to Dimas “today you will be with me in Paradise” (Lk.23:43).

But, do we make that conscious approach in coming into the Father’s house to celebrate the Sacraments particularly the Sunday Eucharist where the first part itself is devoted to the liturgy of the Word?

Photo by author, April 2020.

In non-verbal communications, we have that communication of spaces called “proxemics”, of how places are designed and positioned to convey something special and profound. Houses of worship of every faith are built on this important aspect of proxemics as every space conveys something about God and his people.

One example of proxemics is the patio of the church with its tall cross at the middle to remind the faithful they are about to enter the Father’s house, of their need to dispose themselves both inside and outside by being silent and being dressed properly.

Sadly, many churches in the country has no patio at all or its patio had become a parking area and worst, a basketball court. What is most tragic is how all these dispositions of coming into the Sunday Mass are disregarded by many people, led by church volunteers who talk endlessly with one another while some priests dress and look sloppily. This is one of the positive aspects of the Tridentine or Latin Mass where the atmosphere of solemnity fills the church and the people as well – and that is why many of the faithful are asking for it! A good example of what St. Paul tells us about the unity in diversity within the Church in the Holy Spirit.

How can we experience the “today” of Jesus being present in us and among us when we do not have such kind of attitude and disposition to listen to him which begins outside the church? If we cannot do it in the proxemics or spatial level, how can we even do it right inside our hearts, whether we are laypeople or the clergy?

Listening to Christ today

One of my favorite writings by the great St. John Paul II is Ecclesia de Eucharistia published in 2003. He tells us something so beautiful about the “universal and cosmic character” of the Eucharist which for me captures the essence of the “today” mentioned by Jesus in the gospel:

Yes, cosmic! Because even when it is celebrated on the humble altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always in some way celebrated on the altar of the world. It unites heaven and earth. It embraces and permeates all creation” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #8).

Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #8

This is very true but we rarely experience it happening because we have refused to immerse ourselves in the very words of God. So few among our people read and pray the scriptures while many of us priests rarely speak the Lord’s words as we prefer to tell what we have seen or heard in media or from some famous theologians or thinkers.

Whatever our vocation and place in the Church and the assembly, each of us must immerse one’s self in the word of God first because it is his very presence too. In the story of creation, we learned how everything came into being simply with the words spoken by God.

Photo by author, ruins of the synagogue at Capernaum in Galilee frequented by Jesus, May 2017.

This Sunday we have heard how Jesus “read” on a sabbath at a synagogue in Nazareth, of how in his proclamation of that part of the Book of Isaiah the very words were fulfilled in their hearing.

It happens daily in the celebration of the Mass everywhere in the world whenever we – lay and clergy alike – imitate Jesus, asking us first of all to come with strong desire to be one with the Father, whether in his house of worship or in our room when we pray the scriptures.

Let us enter God with Jesus and in Jesus in the Sacred Books to find him there so we can listen to him how and what he reads, not what we want to hear and say.

We can only touch the hearts of the people and make them hear God speaking again in his words offered us daily in the Mass if we first learn and listen to what Jesus reads and tells us. It is only then when we hear the Word who became flesh that we are able to respond, “Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.” Amen.

Have a blessed week ahead.

Life directions and freedom

The Quiet Storm by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 10 January 2022
Photo by author, Ubihan Island, Meycauayan, 31 December 2021.

It is said that “life is a journey” but I have found through the years that as a journey, life is more of a direction than a destination. It is always easy to plot our life destination but upon reaching them, what do we do next?

If life is a journey that is more on destination, all we will be doing in life is keep on thinking of new places to visit and new goals to achieve until we ran out of destinations and we have nowhere else to go!

That is why life is more of a direction.

It does not mean we stop making plans or setting goals to reach; we just learn to be more open with the directions life is leading us into.

So often it can happen that while pursuing a goal or reaching a destination, we find many things and meet persons along the way who make us change directions in life for something better we never knew existed before.

Sometimes we discover while at the middle of a journey the many directions we have been seeing or noticing earlier that suddenly later make sense, opening new routes for us to take to something more fulfilling or clearer and better.

As we become open for directions in life, the more we become free to be our true selves, free to pursue what is best than be fixated and even held hostage by a previous goal or destination we have set before which we find no longer viable.

It is like using those travel apps Waze and Google Maps that give us the pertinent information like traffic conditions that help us choose the best routes to reach a specific destination.

However, as we travel, we find the apps taking us to longer routes or may even be misleading us because the data available are obsolete or the internet signal is unreliable. And so, we disregard the apps and try to find our way to our destination through directions provided by actual people and signages we check on the streets. Recall how the apps would continue to “speak” and even insist us to turn left or right as it is bent on reaching the destination. Travel apps are concerned merely with the place to reach, totally “unaware” of the person traveling.

That’s the problem with journeying more on destination when we forget persons that we miss the fun and adventures along the way.

When we journey more on directions, we are more concerned with persons and people that we experience fun and adventures, learning new things about peoples we meet or travel with as well as places we pass through on the way to our destination.

Sometimes, we have to scrap everything as the new directions lead us to more interesting places to visit.

In that way, we grow and mature as persons because we have become more free to be ourselves, more free to follow our inner voices within our hearts that lead us to far and exciting new places. In the process, we also discover our true friends and companions in life!

Ultimately, when we are free to follow directions than simply reach destinations, the more we also discover God – the most wonderful journey in life because ultimately he is our only destination and end.

God as a direction demands us a deepening of our faith, hope and love in him whose “invisible hands” guide us to persons and places and situations that seem to be unrelated at first but as we journey, we discover their many linkages, like tiny pieces of a mosaic creating a wonderful picture bigger than us.

God as a direction leads us to more freedom to discover life itself. That is the beauty of every new year: those twelve months of the calendar have no specific destinations but give us directions to follow by being sensitive to where God is leading us. It is totally senseless and useless to consult fortune-tellers for their fearless forecasts of what is going to happen for that will only make you “unfree” to seek and follow new directions in life. Besides, only God knows what will happen and that is why we follow his directions.

Above all, remember that the discovery of God is not the end of a journey but the beginning of a new one in him, with him, and through him. The journey never stops in Christ Jesus to God our Father in heaven. So, have life and be free to follow new directions from God this new year!

Keep traveling in Christ this 2022. Who knows, we might meet once or twice along the way. Amen.