Praying for humility and gratitude

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Week XXIX, Year II in Ordinary Time, 21 October 2020
Ephesians 3:2-12     >><)))*>  +  >><)))*>  +  >><)))*>     Luke 12:39-48     
Photo by author, Baguio City, 2018.

God our loving Father in heaven, teach us to accept that you love us, that you trust us, and that you believe in us so that we can finally be grateful and humble before you.

Yes, dear God – one reason we find it so hard to be grateful and humble before you is because we have hardly accepted nor appreciated your love and trust in us. Teach us to see ourselves as you see us, like St. Paul despite our sinfulness.

To me the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for all what is the plan of the mystery hidden from ages past in God who created all things.

Ephesians 3:8-9

What a wonderful attitude by St. Paul, expressing such gratitude to you God in calling him and entrusting him the “stewardship of your grace” (Eph.3:2) for others to experience you and your love!

Remind us, dear God, that everything we have is not simply a grace and blessing from you but a sign of your trust in us – whether as a husband or wife, mother or father, brother or sister, or, whatever profession and vocation we follow – they all mean you believe us, that we are responsible enough and most of all, we can all accomplish our mission in Jesus through the Holy Spirit.

May we heed your Son’s warning in today’s parable that

“Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

Luke 12:48

And to do so, let us humbly and gratefully accept your gifts always. Amen.

Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, Quezon, 2020.

Faithful and consistent

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Week XXVII, Year II in Ordinary Time, 09 October 2020
Galatians 3:7-14     <*(((><<   +   >><)))*>     Luke 11:15-26
Photo by author, 2019.

Glory and praise to you, O God our Father through your Son Jesus Christ! Today we are celebrating the Memorial of some great men who faithfully and consistently served you and your people with their lives of witnessing to your gospel as members of the clergy: St. John Leonardi who founded in 1570’s the forerunner of Propaganda Fide now headed by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle; St. Denis, first bishop of Paris who suffered martyrdom with his priest and deacon in 258; St. Louis Bertrand who came to be known as the “Apostle to the Americas” during the 16th century; and beatified recently by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman considered as one of the great Christian intellectuals of the 19th century.

They were all great men of deep faith. And most of all, consistent in heeding your call, doing your work.

And that is why, today O Lord I pray for the gift of being consistent in my faith.

A believer without consistency in his faith and actions is not faithful at all. A truly faithful servant is always consistent especially when the chips are down, we are confronted of either for you, Lord, or against you.

Sometimes we try “moving the lines”, convincing ourselves that we are not crossing the line of morals and morality like when we are bent on accommodating others and ourselves in some occasions to justify personal preferences like tinkering with the formula of the Sacraments as well as those pertaining to intrinsically sinful and immoral.

Like St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians today, clear our minds and our hearts of all kinds of inconsistencies in our faith, set us straight onto your paths, Lord and let us see your own consistency, your works in the past that are fulfilled in the present.

Unlike those people accusing you of driving evil spirits in the name of Beelzebul, may we be consistent in relying only in you and your powers despite our many setbacks and failures in life when you never failed to bless us and work things out for our own good. Amen.

Photo by author, August 2020.

Loving and knowing

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Week XXIII, Year II in Ordinary Time, 10 September 2020
1 Corinthians 8:1-7, 11-13  >><)))*>  >><)))*>  >><)))*>   Luke 6:27-38
Photo by author, dusk at my parish, July 2020.

Thank you, dear Jesus, for the grace of being together again with our family and relatives at this time of the pandemic. Your words from St. Paul today are so timely as we now spend more time together at home due to shortened work periods while kids have online classes.

But, despite these grace-filled moments in the pandemic while being together again with our family, frictions happen because we have never been truly at home with each other. We always forget the fact that love of one another is more important than being right.

Brothers and sisters: Knowledge inflates with pride, but love builds up. If anyone supposes he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if one loves God, one is known by him.

1 Corinthians 8:1-3

Oh yes, Lord! We are sometimes surprised at how fast we have grown in age with our parents and siblings. And yes, how we have grown apart too from each other, still carrying those sentiments and memories we have had when younger.

Purify us, Jesus. Heal our memories. Enable us to let our love flow to others specially those dearest and closest to us. Remove all emotional blockages in our hearts and mental blocks in our minds that prevent us from being kind and understanding, and be more spontaneous and more sincere with everyone.

Make us realize that the more we know, the more we must be loving and understanding.

Photo by author, Malagos Garden Resort, Davao City, 2018.

Let our knowledge make us “holier” because to know what is right always leads us to being more loving as we heed your words in the gospel today, “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Lk.6:31).

Inspire us to reflect further on these words by St. Bernard about spiritual life so that it may soothe our souls and calm our minds:

The whole of the spiritual life consists of these two elements. When we think of ourselves, we are perturbed and filled with salutary sadness. And when we think of the Lord, we are revived to find consolation in the joy of the Holy Spirit. From the first we derive fear and humility, from the second hope and love.

Office of Readings, Wednesday of 23rd Week, The stages of contemplation by St. Bernard

We pray in a very special way today, Lord, for our family and relatives, for those we live together at home. Amen.

Love without borders

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Week XX, Cycle A in Ordinary Time, 16 August 2020
Isaiah 56:1, 6-7 >><}}}*> Romans 11:13-15, 29-32 >><}}}*> Matthew 15:21-28
Twilight at our parish by Ms. Ria De Vera, 12 August 2020.

For the third Sunday in a row, Jesus reveals a very wonderful side of him who goes out of his way to meet us and comfort us in the most difficult situations and places we are into. It is something we need so much in these days of Moderate Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) seen right away in the opening of today’s gospel.

At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her.

Matthew 15:21-23

Jesus goes out of his way to meet everyone

Israel is a very small country but always leaves a big impact on everyone who goes on a pilgrimage there. There is that sense of awe in every sacred site that until now continues to “speak” and evoke among pilgrims the presence and holiness of God and his saints.

Like what we have mentioned last Sunday, the proxemics or the non verbal communication of the places Jesus have visited convey to us deeper meanings than just mere sites. And that is more true during the time of Christ like the setting of this Sunday’s gospel, the region of Tyre and Sidon.

Now part of Lebanon found south of its capital city Beirut that was devastated by powerful explosions two weeks ago, Tyre and Sidon were gentile or pagan cities during the time of Jesus with a considerable Jewish population.

His going there shows us his fidelity to his mission of “searching for the lost sheep of the house of Israel” that partly explains to us why he never bothered to give the slightest hint of recognition to the Canaanite woman who had sought his help for her daughter “tormented by a demon”.

Photo by author, the Holy Land, May 2019.

And despite the lack of any explanation again by St. Matthew on the attitude by Jesus “snubbing” the pagan woman, we can safely assume that Christ surely knew that by going to Tyre and Sidon, gentiles would seek his healing as news of his fame had spread beyond Galilee at that time.

Here we find the great love and concern of Jesus for everyone, specially the rejected and marginalized in the society.

His “withdrawing to the region of Tyre and Sidon” was in itself a revelation of his universal love, a love without borders reaching out to those lost and feeling alone in life, those rejected, those discriminated for their color and beliefs, status and gender, sickness and diseases like AIDS and lately, COVID-19!

Inclusive Jesus, exclusive human

At the beginning of chapter 11 of St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans from which our second reading is taken today, the great Apostle starts by asking “has God rejected his people?” St. Paul emphatically said “no”, explaining at length the plan of God in Jesus Christ to save all peoples not just the Jews, beautifully telling us,

For the gifts and the call of God are (permanent and) irrevocable.

Romans 11:29

St. Paul’s reflections on God being “inclusive” as against our being so “exclusive” in sending us Jesus Christ to bring us all together as one sheds us some light on that extraordinary incident in the region of Tyre and Sidon involving the Canaanite woman.

Again, I invite you my dear reader to reflect on the many layers of meaning found in this episode so special like the feeding of more than five thousand people the other Sunday and Jesus walking on water last week.

First, notice the silence of Jesus. Keep in mind when the Lord is silent, it does not mean he is out or does not care at all to our needs and pleas. When there is silence – specially a deafening one – the problem is never with God but with us people.

And, true enough! See how the disciples asked Jesus to “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us” (Mt.15:23) — exactly the way we deal sometimes with those begging our help and attention, seeing them as a nuisance to be sent away? What a shame!

From Google.

Now, we go to the climax of this episode with the woman coming to Jesus, “paying him homage” for the healing of her daughter tormented by a demon. It was a scene similar with St. John’s wedding at Cana where the Blessed Mother also approached Jesus with a request when wine ran out during the feast.

In both episodes we find Jesus being a snub – suplado, as we say.

Most of all, in both scenes we find the remarkable faith in Jesus by his Mother at Cana believing he can do something to spare the newly wed couple of embarrassment from running out of wine while this Canaanite woman felt so sure only Jesus can cure her daughter.

See how she addressed Jesus like his disciples with not just “Lord” but also with the title “Son of David” to indicate her faith in him as the Messiah.

And it did not stop there as she engaged Jesus into a dialogue — indicating intimacy and trust, depth and communion that we refer in Filipino as “matalik na ugnayan” or “matalik na usapan”.

Sometimes in life, Jesus seems to have that longing for some “lambing” from us that he tries to be “pakipot” or hard to get in order to be intimate with us. Please take these Filipino traits positively to get what I mean from this unique scene of Jesus and the Canaanite woman in Tyre and Sidon.

Jesus said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.

Matthew 15:26-28
Photo by author, Church of All Nations beside the Garden of Gethsemane in the Holy Land, May 2019.

Brothers and sisters all in one God as Father

St. Matthew recorded this episode not to scandalize and shock us with those words coming from the Lord, referring to the Canaanite woman as one of the “dogs” that was the term used to designate pagans at that time.

For St. Matthew who was writing for Christians of Jewish origins, the episode was a reminder that the people of Israel were indeed the “children” of God to whom the coming Messiah and salvation – like bread or food – were first promised. St. Paul spent a great deal of explaining of this in his letter specially to the Romans .

Rigthly then, theirs was the “food” not right to be thrown to the “dogs” but, that fact does not exclude the “dogs” from partaking later from the leftover food of the children, as if telling Jesus, today we satisfy ourselves with crumbs, tomorrow we shall have bread!

The Canaanite woman clearly knew where to place herself before the Lord, proving to him her deep faith and amazing knowledge of God’s goodness and plans for everyone. For that, she was highly praised by Jesus for her faith. The only other person also praised by Jesus in having a tremendous faith in him was the centurion – another pagan – who begged the Lord for the remote healing of his servant.

Last Sunday afternoon I read the story of how a nurse was driven out of her boarding house after she tested positive for COVID-19 virus. The poor lady had nowhere to go to spend the night after being denied of any assistance by barangay officials, even by her own family in Batangas! Good enough, somebody reported her to the Philippine National Red Cross that sent an ambulance to take care of the nurse who was found crying by herself at the gutter of a street in Pasay City.

What a very sad and tragic reality happening among us these days of the pandemic.

Where is our love and concern for everyone, especially the weak and the sick, those in our own versions of Tyre and Sidon where no one would dare to go except Jesus, perhaps like the dorms and residences of our medical frontliners who are so tired and sick physically, emotionally, and spiritually during this pandemic?

In these past three weeks we have reflected how Jesus lovingly joined us, staying with us in the wilderness, in the storms of the dark sea, even at the pagan territories where nobody would ever want to go.

This Sunday, Jesus is inviting us to break all barriers and borders between us that separate us from each other. Let us animate our community with Christ’s love and mercy for us all amid our many differences so that slowly we fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy in the first reading that someday the house of the Lord shall be called “a house of prayer for all peoples” (Is.56:7). Amen.

A blessed and safe new week to you! And please do not forget to pray ten Hail Mary’s every 12-noon for national healing and end of the pandemic until September 15, 2020.

A clay- and fish – worthy in the Lord

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, 30 July 2020
Jeremiah 18:1-6 ><)))*> >><)))*> >>><)))*> Matthew 13:47-53
Photo by author, Third Sunday of Lent, 15 March 2020.

How amazing O God on this day as we celebrate the Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus who spoke eloquently of the Incarnation of your Son in one of his homilies, your Prophet Jeremiah today also spoke something of our being clay in the potter’s hand.

He who made man without generation from pure clay made man again and was born from a pure body. The hand that assumed clay to make our flesh deigned to assume a body for our salvation. That the Creator is in his creature and God is in the flesh brings dignity to man without dishonor to him who made him.

Why then, man, are you so worthless in your own eyes and yet so precious to God? Why render yourself such dishonor when you are honored by him? Why do you ask how you were created and do not seek to know why you were made?

St. Peter Chrysologus in his sermon on the sacrament of Christ’s incarnation, Office of Readings

Thank you, dear God, for this enlightenment from St. Peter Chrysologus also known as the “man of golden speech” for reminding us the great honor of being created by you… from worthless clay!

Help us to reflect more on why you have created us than ask how we were created, and transformed like in the potter’s hand.

Then the word of the Lord came to me: Can I not do to you, house of Israel, as this potter has done? says the Lord. Indeed, like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, house of Israel.

Jeremiah 18:5-6

Teach us, sweet Jesus, to be pliant and docile to the Father who continues to form us like clay in the potter’s hand — that no matter how painful life can sometimes be, even difficult, may we also see and appreciate the Father’s wonderful plans for our transformation in the future.

Help us to go through the pains of growing up and maturity so that when judgment day comes, may we all turn out to be good fish to be collected than bad ones that are thrown according to your parable of the net. Amen.

Photo by author, 2018.

Jesus is both the Sower and the seed – and so must we!


The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Week XV, Cycle A in Ordinary Time, 12 July 2020
Isaiah 55:10-11 >><}}}*> Romans 8:18-23 >><}}}*> Matthew 13:1-23
“The Sower” painting by Van Gogh, photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Parables constitute the heart of Jesus Christ’s preaching. From the French para bolein which means “along the path”, parables are simple stories with deep realities that must be cracked open through prayers and reflections to uncover its meaning.

In fact, every parable by Jesus is a word of God that is like a seed that must be received, planted, and nurtured so we may eventually see and experience what is within it who is God himself!

On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore. And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. As he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

Matthew 13:1-9
Photo by Onnye on Pexels.com

Jesus, the mysterious seed

Beginning today until the last Sunday of this month of July we shall hear different parables by Jesus taken from this 13th chapter of the gospel according to St. Matthew.

It is very interesting that as Jesus now begins to preach in parables, we also notice his usual usage of this image of the seed, especially of the mustard seed to stress to us what we have mentioned earlier about the significance of parables as simple things with deeper realities. Every seed is so small, easy to overlook and taken for granted. Yet, we all know how every seed is also the presence of what is to come in the future, of something so big and huge that we can never imagine.

That is how Jesus would always portray the Kingdom of God, which is himself, his very person who is always taken for granted but full of mysteries that later in the fourth gospel he would reveal a deeper reality of this seed akin his Cross:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

John 12:24

That is the mystery of the seed, the mystery of Christ: something so ordinary we take for granted with immense possibilities when given up, when it dies. In this parable of the sower, Jesus shows us a hint of this profound truth about himself as a mysterious seed, someone who must be broken to die in order to grow and bear fruit.

If we read the full text of today’s gospel, we find Jesus explaining the meaning of this parable and we discover that he himself is both the sower and the seed: he goes out everyday to bring us the good news of salvation, providing us with seeds we must plant so we can have food in the future.

Every seed Jesus sows in us is always good as the first reading assures us.

Thus says the Lord: Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful… so shall my word; my word shall not return to me void.”

Isaiah 55:10-11

Most of the time, we reflect on this parable on the importance of the soil on which the seed is sown.

This Sunday, let us reflect on what kind of a seed are we, of how we waste or put into good the enormous potentials packed in each of us by God.

Photo by Dids on Pexels.com

“A sower went out to sow. As he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up.

Jesus the sower does not make distinctions on different kinds of soil; he just scatters the seeds freely. His words concern everyone.

Unfortunately, there are some of us who do not care at all, as hardened as the path or pavement.

These are the people who has no plans in life, no directions, spending their lives watching days pass without knowing that they are really the ones passing by.

Sometimes, they just go wherever the winds would lead them while once in a while, they step out of themselves a little to join friends or peers wherever they may be going. Eventually they leave when the journey gets farther.

They are literally wasting their lives.

Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots.

They are the “spur of the moment” type who eventually end up as what we call ningas-cogon (a kind of local grass when dried is highly combustible; quick to start fire but quick to extinguish too).

Beware of them who are at the beginning very enthusiastic in every project and endeavor but when the goings get tough and difficult, they are the first to leave.

No roots, no foundations in life. Easy to give up. Just as hard as those seeds on the pavement.

Photo by author at Petra, Jordan, May 2019.

“Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.”

These are the people who thrived a little but eventually the “thorns of the world” choked them that they eventually dried and died.

They are the kind of people we lament and sometimes grieve, wondering what have happened within them that their hearts have suddenly turned away from God and others with their noble causes we used to share with them at the beginning.

Oh, they are well represented in Congress, especially the party-list representatives of various advocacies for the marginalized and less privileged who eventually come out with their true colors and ugly features. Some of them simply stopped thinking and feeling the other persons, blinded with power and wealth selling off their souls completely to any golden calf willing to pay them.

The modern Judas Iscariots.

But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.

Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte, flower farm at Atok, Benguet, 2019.

We now come to the better seeds (because all are good seeds, remember?).

They are the ones who fell on rich soil and produced fruit because they were the ones who willingly gave themselves up to the Sower. They are the ones who let go and let God, those who let themselves “die” and fell on the ground to give way to new life.

They are fruitful, not successful; the former relied on the powers of God, patiently bearing all pains and sufferings while the latter relied on their own powers, own intelligence and even connections that on the surface may seem to have the upper hand but totally empty inside.

The fruitful seeds are those willing to fall and be broken by God according to his divine plan. Many times, what is fruitful to God may be failures to us humans. Being fruitful is not about results and accumulations we have made but what have we become.

Fruitful people are focused on with the future glory to revealed by God through our pains and sufferings as St. Paul reminds us in the second reading today.

Let us not put into waste this good seed sown in us by Jesus Christ, allow it to be cracked open and broken to let the new life within us spring forth and lead us to becoming fruitful. Amen.

A blessed week ahead to everyone!

When people reject us…

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Thursday, Easter Week VI, 21 May 2020

Acts of the Apostles 18:1-8 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> John 16:16-20

Photo from yourteenmag.com.

Thank you dear Jesus in speaking to us today in our readings about rejection we all detest due to its deep and painful hurts that affect us even for a lifetime.

In the first reading, St. Paul was successively rejected in his preaching about your Good News of salvation while in the gospel, you remind us of our coming rejection by the world that had first rejected you.

Indeed, you were the first to be rejected and that is why you can speak so well of its nature; but, at the same time, you encourage us to be strong because when we are rejected, that is when we are led into joy.

You know how sad and even tragic is the feeling of being rejected by others, of being turned down, of being driven out, and worst, of being crucified simply because others refuse to accept us for so many reasons, from our skin color to our hairstyle to our religious beliefs and everything.

That is the saddest part of rejection: when we are rejected for reasons we have no control of, for being who we are.

But, you also teach us today, Jesus, that the worst part of rejection is “self-rejection” — when we ourselves affirm our rejection by others!

That happens when we stop pursuing our dreams and fulfilling our mission, when we stop living and give in to the rejection of others, when we go into self-pity that we are worthless, that we are nothing, that we are useless.

Like yesterday when the Athenians scoffed and rejected St. Paul’s teachings of your resurrection, they could not accept that there is always a chance in life in you, that we are all your beloved, forgiven and saved.

Give us the drive and determination of St. Paul to never lose sight of our mission in life despite many rejections by others. Keep us strong and persevering despite the many rejections we go through in life.

“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 16:20

Most of all, let us always be filled with the grace and power of the Holy Spirit to keep in mind we are your Father’s beloved children, saved and forgiven in you Jesus Christ from our many sins and shameful past, ensured of a better tomorrow because you always believe in us, you always trust us, and you always give us each morning as a new chance to make up for our losses and mistakes yesterday. Amen.

Photo by Jens Johnsson on Pexels.com

Lent is believing in one’s self

40 Shades of Lent, Wednesday, Week I, 04 March 2020

Jonas 3:1-10 +++ 0 +++ Luke 11:29-32

Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA-7 News, Batanes, 2018.

Our dearest Father in heaven:

On this first week of Lent, we pray for the grace that we become more trusting of ourselves, of our worth, of our identity as your beloved children.

Until now, we can hear your Son Jesus our Lord lamenting that “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah (Lk.11:29)”  because we keep on looking for signs from you and from others before we can believe in ourselves.

Remind us, O God, that we are already a sign of your presence in Christ Jesus, our Emmanuel or “God-is-with-us”.

Like Jonah in the first reading, we keep on running away from you, from disobeying your will.

Worst of all, like Jonah, we cannot trust you and others because we always doubt and mistrust the people around us of something good they could do. 

From Google.

And sad to say, the very people we doubt much about their own abilities and goodness are the ones closest to us like husband or wife, children, brother or sister, and friends! 

What a tragedy indeed that we always refuse to appreciate our worth as your beloved children that lead us to see also the value of others around us, especially those who truly care and love us like our family and friends.

May we have the grace and courage to finally be reconciled with you in the Sacrament of Confession in one of these 40 days of Lent, that we may return to you in Jesus Christ with our “whole hearts, for you are gracious and merciful.”

Most of all, may we believe more in you, O God, so we also begin to believe in our selves, in our goodness and ability to change for the best. Amen.

Prayer to subdue one’s self

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Friday, Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, Doctor of the Church, 24 January 2020

1 Samuel 24:3-21 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Mark 3:13-19

Photo by author, Malolos Cathedral, December 2019.

Blessed are you, O God our loving Father! Thank you for the gift of self, the gift of everything especially our temperament.

Many times it is our temperament that lead us to a lot of troubles as well as to holiness like in the story of David today, the appointment of 12 Apostles by Jesus in the gospel, and the life of St. Francis de Sales whose memorial we celebrate today.

Thank you, Lord, for making us all too complex that despite the four types of temperament – sanguine, phlegmatic, melancholy, and choleric – there is really no clear cut category for each one of us.

Thank you for making us that way to have enough room for you to work on us, to help us subdue ourselves to your will and be holy.

How wonderful was the attitude of David not to harm Saul while they were hiding inside the cave: he chose to be kind and even magnanimous by “cutting off an end of Saul’s mantle” to show his goodwill (1 Sm.24:5).

In doing so, he earned the respect of his enemy, Saul who declared, “And now, I know that you shall surely be king and that sovereignty over Israel shall come into your possession” (1Sm.24:21).

Our newly ordained priest kneeling at prayer on his first Mass, 11 December 2019.

In the gospel, your Son’s choice of the 12 Apostles are very revealing of your love and mercy to us: a mix of different people of different even extreme backgrounds and temperament but all given with the chance to be a part of Jesus Christ’s mission.

Last but not least, O God, the choleric and fiery temperament of St. Francis de Sales was a lifelong struggle for himself even in is old age but he never stopped subduing himself to serve you best by effecting the return of about 70,000 Protestants into Catholicism in Switzerland, not to mention the millions of souls touched until today by his 21,000 letters and writings as well as the 4,000 sermons he had left that still inspire people today.

Indeed, he who conquers and masters himself for you, O God, is the victorious of all! Amen.

St. Francis de Sales, pray for us!

“Man in the Mirror” by Michael Jackson (1987)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music, 19 January 2019

Photo by Jenna Hamra on Pexels.com

Today we are celebrating an extension of Christmas Season with the Feast of the Sto. Niño that falls every third Sunday of January.

It is a special indult granted by Rome to the Philippines in recognition of the crucial role of the image of the Child Jesus we fondly call Sto. Niño given by Magellan to Queen Juana of Cebu almost 500 years ago when the Spaniards came to our shores to colonize and Christianize us as well.

The Sto. Niño is the second most popular Catholic devotion in our predominantly Christian nation, next to the Black Nazarene of Quiapo which we celebrated two weeks ago.

“Sleeping Sto. Niño” at our altar, 19 January 2020 photo by Jasper Dacutanan.

But a lot often, people forget the deeper meaning within the Sto. Niño that the path leading to becoming true disciples of Jesus, of following him to the Cross starts in becoming like a child, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt.18:3).

We will never be able to carry our cross and follow Jesus in selfless service and love to others unless we set aside our attitudes of being adults who know everything, insist on everything.

And that is why for this Sunday we have chosen the late Michael Jackson hit from his 1987 “Bad” album, Man in the Mirror.

It is one of the two songs in the album Michael Jackson did not write. It was written by Siedah Garrett and Glen Ballard who eventually both carved names for themselves in the music scene composing for other artists later.

According to stories, Michael and his producer Quincy Jones have asked their pool of composers to come up with a song that would serve as “an anthem” for the Bad album that would “spread some sunshine on the world”.

Michael liked the song right away and even after he had died, the song has become a classic with its timeless message that if you want to change the world, change yourself first.

And we say that looking on the man or woman on the mirror is the first step in becoming like a child as Jesus would want us all to do to enter the kingdom of heaven.

A blessed Sunday to you, dear reader and follower!