“Someday We’ll Know” by the New Radicals (1999)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music, 06 October 2019

Photo by Essow Kedelina on Pexels.com

I was a newly ordained priest assigned to an all-boys’ high school in 1998.

People were looking up to me as a priest or a “man of the cloth” but my students and the younger generation counted me in as “one of them” when they learned my favorite bands at that time were the Eraserheads, Sugar Ray, and New Radicals. And like this blog, I would spice up my homilies in the Mass and reflections in class and recollections with modern music so our students could make “sakay” (ride) with God’s words and lessons from the Bible.

Just like our featured song on this lovely Sunday by the New Radicals released in 1999 from the only album they have released a year earlier called “Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too”, “Someday We’ll Know” is a song about love at the beginning was thought to be so perfect that later ended up in separation.

Two years after their split, the man was still wondering what happened to their seemingly perfect love, at why he was dumped for another guy by his beloved.

And the bittersweet part is the that the man in the song is wondering not out of desperation but because he still loved the woman, believing and hoping that…

Someday we’ll know
Why Sampson loved Delilah
One day I’ll go
Dancing on the moon
Someday you’ll know
That I was the one for you
I bought a ticket to the end of the rainbow
I watched the stars crash into the sea
If I could ask God just one question
Why aren’t you here with me

Faith and love always go together. People who truly love are the most faithful!

In the gospel today, the Apostles asked Jesus Chris to increase their faith upon learning from him the many trials they have to go through in fulfilling their mission from him.

Sometimes in life when things do not go according to our plans, when bad things happen to us despite our efforts to become better persons, we cry out to God in pain, even complain at all the destruction and disorder we go through in life.

And every time we pray to cry out to God in pain or complain, it is a sign of grace that he is within us. Prayer is an ability we can only do with grace from God; that is why, when we pray, our prayers are already half answered because prayer is definite sign of God being with us.

When things are not going well with you now, have faith in God.

Keep praying, keep believing, keep trusting God because someday we’ll know….

When God writes straight with crooked lines

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Thursday, Wk. XIV, Yr. I, 11 July 2019, Feast of St. Benedict
Genesis 44:18-21, 23-29; 45:1-5 >< )))*> Matthew 10:7-15
CICM Retreat House in Taytay, Rizal. Photo by author September 2009.

Praise and glory to you, O God, our kind and merciful Father! You never fail to amaze us with your immense love and goodness to us, most especially whenever you write in straight crooked lines in our lives.

Nothing bad ever comes from you. But, if ever something that is not good happens to us, you always ensure it could lead to something beautiful and wonderful. Like with what happened to Joseph, the son of Jacob, who was sold by his brothers but later became an Egyptian official of the Pharaoh.

Our first reading today when Joseph revealed himself to his brothers in Egypt is one of the most moving drama scenes in the whole bible for me. It shows also the tremendous faith and love Joseph has for you and his brothers.

“Come closer to me,” he told his brothers. When they had done so, he said: “I am your brother Joseph, whom you once sold into Egypt. But now do not be distressed, and do not reproach yourselves for having sold me here. It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you.”

Genesis 45:4-5

Increase our faith in you, God, especially when things do not turn out according to our plans and wishes. Let us trust in you that despite our many failures and sins, you will never abandon us to be devoured by the beasts of the forests.

On this feast of St. Benedict, we borrow his prayer for seekers of faith that we may be worthy of our call as Apostles of Jesus sent to “proclaim the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt.10:7).

Gracious and Holy Father,

give us the wisdom to discover You,

the intelligence to understand You,

the diligence to seek after You,

the patience to wait for You,

eyes to behold You,

a heart to meditate upon You,

and a life to proclaim You,

through the power of the Spirit of Jesus, our Lord. Amen.

From Google.

No going back

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Friday, Week XIII, Year I, 05 July 2019
Genesis 23:1-4, 19; 24:1-8, 62-67 >< )))*> Matthew 9:9-13
From Google.

O Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, thank you for this first Friday of the month of July. Like yesterday, it is another “picturesque speechless” in our readings today.

From the first reading, twice did Abraham told his senior servant never to take back his son Isaac to his land of origin in Ur no matter what happens.

“Never take my son back there for any reason,” Abraham told him. The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and the land of my kin, and who confirmed by oath the promise he then made to me, ‘I will give this land to your descendants’ — he will send his messenger before you, and you will obtain a wife for my son there. If the woman is unwilling to follow you, you will be released from this oath. But never take my son back there!”

Genesis 24:6-8

Help us, O Lord, to never return to our old ways of sins and vices, of broken promises and emptiness in the world. Give us the strength to persevere to bloom where you have planted us. Let us trust in your wisdom. Like Matthew in your gospel today. Let us rise, leave everything behind to follow you.

As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.

Matthew 9:9

It is now the seventh month of 2019, Lord Jesus Christ. Time really flies so fast.

Help us in our struggles, in our efforts to follow you, to never go back to our old ways of sinful life.

Help us regain our moral compass in you. Help us stop our backslides. Most of all, help us in keeping our promises and commitments especially those made to you. Amen.

Going back in time to 300 BC to the ancient city of Petra in Jordan, 30 April 2019.

Do you love me?

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 07 June 2019
Statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus at the Jesuits’ Sacred Heart Retreat House and Seminar Center, Novaliches, Quezon City. Photo by author, July 2018.

It is perhaps the most disarming question of all.

And too often, before answering the question, we try to brush it aside or even belittle it because we always feel the answer is very obvious and yet, it hits us so hard deep within that we could not answer it right away because it demands honesty and sincerity.

Do you love me?

Whether you are a priest or a religious or a layperson, much of the difficulty in answering this question lies on the fact that too often, it comes to us in those moments we have sinned to a loved one. When we were unfaithful and have not loved much as expected.

It was the context when Jesus asked Simon Peter three times “Do you love me?” after their breakfast at the shore of Lake Tiberias three weeks after Easter. Simon knew it so well that he felt sad after the third question of the Lord because it referred to his three denials of Jesus on Holy Thursday evening outside the residence of the chief priest. He must have heard the cock crowing again at that instance.

Church of Gallicantu (Rooster), the site where St. Peter denied the Lord thrice. Photo by author, April 2017.

I realized only last year as a guest spiritual director to our seminarians at the Theologate that our main problem as priests is when we get so focused with our vocation which is the priesthood, forgetting its very essence, Jesus Christ.

It is the Caller, not the call!

When we priests forget Jesus, even if we are so centered even obsessed with priesthood, problems arise. It is a misplaced priority. The call gets into our bloated egos that eventually deteriorate into careerism among us priests that we compete and complain a lot in our assignments. No more ministry because everything comes with a fee. Pains and sufferings have become costs of discipleship and not life.

Eventually, we end up being gods and kings, even larger than the Lord himself in our parishes or particular assignment. We become the standard of everything because we are all-knowing, so great at building churches and other structures, establishing every organization while consciously or unconsciously building cults around our very selves that in the process, we have evicted Jesus Christ completely from our hearts and the parish itself!

The same is true with couples. The husband and wife forget each other, getting focused more with married life and children until eventually, they just drifted apart, becoming strangers to each other and lose all love. This is most evident when couples enter into a sort of spiritual divorce, when they are “so far away” from each other though they still live together “for the sake of the children” or, as we always hear, “alang-alang sa mga bata.”

Love makes us see Jesus in himself and in others too.

In St. John’s account of the third appearance of the risen Lord to the seven apostles who have gone fishing at Lake Tiberias that Sunday morning, no one among them recognized him except the beloved disciple because he was the only one who remained loving Jesus.

When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus… who said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.”

John 21:4,6-7
Appearance of the Risen Lord at Lake Tiberias. From Google.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI recently answered some questions given to him for an interview before the Holy Week. When asked about the festering problem of sex scandal in the Church, he said that is a sign of how we priests have entirely forgotten Jesus Christ, especially to pray to him at the Blessed Sacrament.

That is very true. Jesus could no longer be seen among us, in our person, in our actions, in our way of living, and most especially in our churches that have become so empty of God and so filled of our selves.

We have forgotten the fact that before we were ordained priests, there was Jesus Christ first. We converse with him less in prayer because priesthood demands so much of our time and energy like a profession or a job. Slowly, Jesus is nowhere to be found in us and in our parishes. And that is when we also start to get lost as priests, eaten up by materialism and fame.

The same is true with couples who forget after several years of living together that before they were married, there was also Jesus Christ first in each other. When children start coming, more concerns are shifted on the couple’s career in order to earn more and live comfortably. Couples then forget each other, even their very selves who end up married with their jobs or profession. Eventually, they part ways because they could no longer see each other.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Do your work with more love.

The difficulty in answering the question “do you love me?” is found in the way we do our work, when we just see tasks. No love, no person.

Whatever we do in life, we have to do it with more love because when we love, we remain attached with persons not with things. When we do thing with more love, we have direction because we think of persons, not just goals. When we do things with more love, we see persons because only another person can love, not things. See how Jesus told the crowd who have come with him to the wilderness to pray to the Master to send more laborers to work on the great harvest (Mt.9:38). He did not instruct them and us to pray for more money, more food and clothing because what we really need is love. Only people can love.

Jesus Christ did everything in love, filled with love. That is why he is so gentle and merciful with us sinners. In his love, he sees more the person being defaced by sins and evil, pains and sufferings. And that is why he died on the Cross, the ultimate expression of doing everything in love.

The next time you want to prove your love to anyone, do your work with love, no matter how imperfect your love is. Jesus will fill in the rest because you are so loved.

Live in the love of Christ.

If you have love in your heart, you have been blessed by God;

if you have been loved, you have been touched by God.

Author unknown

	

Meeting Jesus (in a little while)

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Thursday, Easter VI, 30 May 2019
Acts 18:1-8 >< }}}*> <*{{{ >< John 16:16-20
From Google.

My dearest Jesus Christ, I am tired. There are times I just force myself to do your work, fighting off temptations of disappointments and disillusions. Like your apostles, I am baffled with your words:

“A little while and you will no longer see me, and again a little while later and you will see me… Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.”

John 16:16, 20

A little while… you were with us, Lord. Not only during those 33 years you spent on earth more than 2000 years ago. A little while in times of joy and success, we feel you so close, Jesus.

But then, a little while, we no longer see you. Not only during those three days of your pasch from Holy Thursday evening to Holy Saturday but especially when we go through our own passion and little deaths.

And a little while later, we see you again in our little resurrections in life, every time we hurdle some obstacles here and there.

Give us the grace always, Lord Jesus, to persevere in our many hardships and trials in life to find you and meet you in between those “little whiles”.

Like St. Paul in the first reading, help us to move on, to accept this is your work and not ours, that our standards are different from yours when defeat for us is victory for you, or when loss for us is a gain for you.

Strengthen us inside, Jesus, so we may be focused on you alone, waiting to encounter you, to meet you in the Church, in your many Sacraments and signs. In these tensions of your being here and not yet, of your sure coming, may we be always on guard and present to meet you. Amen.

Stations of the Cross on the wall of the Catholic Church inside the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Photo by the author, 03 May 2019.
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Losing our head in prayer

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Wednesday, Easter Wk. VI, 29 May 2019
Acts 17:15,22-18:1 >< }}}*> John 16:12-15 >< }}}*>

My dearest Lord Jesus: As I prayed last night, I cannot remove from my mind that beautiful sight of a man in a chapel, so absorbed in conversing with you, that he seemed to have lost his head in prayer.

Photo by JJ Jimeno of GMA News, UP Chapel, 27 May 2019.

Today our readings speak of the need to lose our selves in you.

St. Paul tried to win over the people of Athens at the Areopagus, proclaiming your Gospel without condemning or attacking their religion. He even cited their shrine “To An Unknown God” (Acts 17:23) as a step closer to discovering you and following you as the true God.

He never lost his cool even when people did not believe his teachings of your resurrection from the dead. He simply had himself lost to your will and left Athens to proceed to Corinth where you have prepared great things for his ministry.

Lord, so many times, we cannot let go of our heads, of our know-it-all-attitude in life that we cannot let go and let God.

Let us always remember your words during the Last Supper, “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now” (Jn.16:12).

Let us be patient, waiting for your Holy Spirit to come to us, to fill us with your wisdom, to remind us of your teachings and to guide us in doing your work.

Let us lose not only our heads but our very selves to you so we may do your work in the way you would want it be done. Amen.

Photo by the author, parish sacristy, 10 March 2019.
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Where is God?

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 23 May 2019
Our fellow pilgrims to the Holy Land who made it to the top of Mt. Sinai in Egypt, 06 May 2019. Photo by Atty. Grace Polaris Rivas-Beron.

A catechist asked her class, “where is God?”

A small boy right away raised his hand and boldly answered “God is in our toilet!”

The catechist was shocked with the boy’s answer but did not want to put him on the spot so she asked, “how did you know God is in your toilet?”

And he said, “every morning I see my dad knocking at our toilet door, asking, ‘my God, are you still there?'”

The shore of Lake of Galilee in Capernaum where Jesus used to visit the synagogue nearby. Photo by author, 02 May 2019.

Main reason I always encourage people to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land is to experience God.

The Franciscans who safeguard the holy sites in Jordan, Israel, and Egypt teach that the Holy Land is the “fifth gospel” after Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John found in our bible. In the Holy Land, one can surely experience God speaking and conversing with you in the very places where he had appeared to the great prophets or had come in Christ Jesus and did wondrous deeds to his people. There is a different level of understanding and appreciation of the many stories found in our bible when you go to the Holy Land that can really be life-changing depending on your personal disposition.

There are two instances where we experience God in the Holy Land: first in the country of Israel and second in the churches at the holy sites.

Israel, the Promised Land.

How could God call this country “the Promised Land” when it is so small and sits on a vast tract of limestone and desert? Technically speaking, a desert is an area that receives an average rainfall of 25 centimeters or ten inches annually. That is why it is barren and desolate.

But not Israel.

Once you see the greenery abounding at Israel’s desert, you immediately feel God’s presence there, fulfilling his promise of blessing the land “flowing with milk and honey” as the bible says. Aside from their local date and fig trees with so many other varieties that are the best in the world, plants and trees imported from abroad like bougainvillea and acacia thrive so well in the Israeli desert. From the Philippines, they have imported and improved our mango trees that bear more fruits, yielding higher income to their farmers. Interspersing the greenery on their desert are the colonies of greenhouses that shine in their silvery color during the day while producing many varieties of fruits and vegetables inside. Likewise, exports of Israeli wines and dairy products are steadily growing due to increasing demand from abroad.

All these produced at the desert!

Resort at the Dead Sea area, April 2017.

Like any Filipino pilgrim to the Holy Land, one then remembers what foreigners say that our country is literally a paradise with the right amount of rain and sunshine throughout the year with very fertile soil when we cannot even have enough rice to feed our people? How tragic that we have to import rice from Vietnam and Thailand, our two neighbors in Asia that sent their farmers to Los Banos 40 years ago to learn growing rice scientifically! And it is not only rice that we import but even other basic food stuffs like onions, garlic, and fruits that include cut flowers lately. Drive for two hours outside Manila and you find vast tracts of land with so much grass but we have to import beef, chicken and pork to satisfy our local cravings even for the simple chicharon (pork cracklings) because our local farmers cannot meet the demands.

Where is God?

God has blessed our country with wide arrays of flora and fauna, more amazing beaches and mountains, and friendlier climate and weather. But, God is nowhere to be found because we have lost him in ourselves. We have lost him in our hearts that we took our country for granted, molesting and abusing her like Boracay or the Manila Bay. God dwells among the people, not on the land. Pope Francis reminds us in his encyclical about the care for the environment “Laudato Si” that “we have only one heart and every act of cruelty against nature is contrary to human dignity.”

If we wish to find and experience God blessing our own land, we have to be like the people in Israel who kept him alive in their hearts by thinking bigger than themselves.

Our group posing with two 19-year old Israeli female soldiers at the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized. It used to be a part of Jordan that Israel had occupied after the 1967 Six-Day War.

God in the noble simplicity of a church.

For us Catholics, God is truly experienced present in the Holy Land through the many churches – all beautiful – spread out throughout Israel. But, what really makes the churches and chapels or oratories in the Holy Land so special and unique is not only the fact they are on the very sites or near the areas where Jesus had stood to preach or performed a miracle. Aside from the aesthetic factors that make these churches so beautiful and moving that you experience God inside is because of their “noble simplicity”.

The inside of the modern main chapel of Our Lady of the Milk Grotto in Bethlehem, 05 May 2019.

Unlike the churches here in our country that have become so kitschy that look like cheap cakes with too much decorations and scandalous colors, those in the Holy Land are definitely clean cut, no clutter whatsoever. There is always the sense of the holy right upon entering every church and chapel despite the great crowd present. Most of all, with the church’s noble simplicity, there is always that sacred space for God to be encountered.

When the church is so cluttered and so mixed up, signs that should point to God fail miserably, leaving the church banal and empty of any transcendence or sense of the holy. And I must confess we priests are so guilty of this liturgical abuses when we have made our churches the extensions of our very selves and eccentricities, totally disregarding Jesus Christ. We have evicted God from our church as we priests lorded it over among people with us becoming more known and popular than Jesus Christ.

Can you really feel God present in your parish with all the tarpaulins and giant flat screens around with matching giant fans above? What would Jesus do if he comes today in our churches and finds all kinds of stores, not only those selling religious articles that are sanctioned and even maintained by priests right inside our church premises?

Inside the beautiful Church of the Beatitudes, April 2017.

What a church looks like indicates the kind of pastor and parishioners it has. No matter how big or small a church is, its true beauty lies on the sense and feeling of sanctity or sacredness it creates, not popularity or mass appeal. And as always, like anywhere else, holiness comes only from God who dwells on his people who pray together, moving as one body in the Holy Spirit.

Recently I guested in a radio talk show hosted by some former colleagues in the news who lamented at how our churches have become very “showbiz” with all the pomp and pageantry of telenovelas. So true! It is a reality that unconsciously shows how we in the Church are slowly losing that touch with the holy when everything has gone down to human level despite our pretentious claims of artistic expressions.

When God appeared in a burning bush at the Sinai desert, he asked Moses to take off his sandals for he was standing on sacred ground.

The whole Earth is a sacred ground, a holy land created by God. The challenge is for us to let go of ourselves and let God. And that is when we discover where God is.

A blessed day to you!

Facade of the St. Katherine Monastery of the Greek Orthodox at the foot of Mt. Sinai, Egypt. Inside is a chapel built on the site of the burning bush of Moses. At the back is the staging point of pilgrims’ ascent to Mt. Sinai where God gave Moses the Ten Commandments.

The small door of the “little town of Bethlehem”

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Tuesday, Easter Week V, 21 May 2019
Acts 14:19-28 ><“)))*> <*(((“>< John 14:27-31
Pilgrims entering through the small door of the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, 02 May 2019.

Lately, Lord Jesus Christ, doors have been fascinating me: more than passages where we come and go, or enter and leave, doors are indeed like you! Last week you claimed yourself to be the gate of the sheep with you, Lord as our door, we never leave but, simply, come and come.

When you told your disciples at your Last Supper in today’s gospel that you were going away and will come back to them (Jn.14:28), you were very much like a door, Lord: for how can our hearts be not troubled or afraid when you are going away only to come to another level of relationship and existence with us?

That is the beauty of the door in you, Lord: your going away in your Ascension is your coming to us in new form of closeness, of continuing presence that leads to peace within each one of us.

How wonderful to remember Lord Jesus why the door to your birthplace in Bethlehem is so small: we have to go down, we have to bow and be humble in order to enter you:

They (Paul and Barnabas) strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.”

Acts 14:22

Give us the courage and strength, patience and perseverance, Lord, along with faith, hope and love to enter through you our door so that we may always come out as better persons than yesterday. Amen.

View from the inside of the Nativity Church in Bethlehem of its small doors. Photos by author, 02 May 2019.
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Things we quarrel

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Friday of Easter Wk. III, 10 May 2019

Our loving Father:

The city of Cairo reminds me of your story of creation – of how order comes out of chaos!

One of the things I have learned here in Cairo is to be more patient with our traffic situation in the Philippines.

Cairo is a bedlam where pedestrians and drivers alike seem to be blind, guided only with their horns. Yet nobody seems to quarrel because of the traffic.

Our readings today Lord teem with instances of quarreling. Saul in the first reading is on his way to Damascus to arrest Christ’s followers. It was a big quarrel! More so when you called Saul to spread the Way?! I could imagine the big quarrel with that but, nothing much as told by Luke except the issue of circumcision.

In the gospel, John tells us “The Jews quarreled among themselves” after Jesus declared his Flesh is true food and his Blood is true drink.

So often we quarrel among ourselves, but never with you.

We quarrel with others – not with you – because we can always insist with others what we want. The more others do not give in to our desires, the more we quarrel, the more we insist.

We do not quarrel with you because you do not “insist” on us. You always invite. And wait.

No insistence, no quarrel. Like here in Cairo. They just blow their horns but never their tops.

Teach us Lord to always give in to your will, to always step back and let you lead the way like Ananias who welcomed Saul. Most of all, Lord, let us not quarrel with anyone by learning to give way to others, even by deferring to them if what they insist are nothing at all but simply a power trip of our ego. Amen.

Traffic at Cairo; the peaceful Nile River. Photos by the author.

Jesus lord of the sea and darkness

Happy birthday, Lord Jesus!

Happy birthday to us all too!

Every year we await our birthdate to celebrate life. But more than that we await most Christmas without really realizing why.

Yesterday afternoon at five we entered your Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. After more than three hours waiting in line, we reached your birthplace.

Thank so much for the grace to touch your birth site. We were so touched because we touched base with our very selves too. We felt your love for us, the joy of being alive,

Most of all, like the joy of being born, of being brought forth into the world that is dark and very cold – hostile like the apostles crossing Tiberias in today’s gospel without you in sight – your still come.

You actually stay in us, among us, and with us.

Teach us like the Eleven apostles to concentrate praying your word as we serve the needy. Let us stay in you, stay with you. Amen.