“Out of Touch” by Hall & Oates (1984)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 05 September 2021
Photo by author, 2020.

The “ber” months are finally with us and despite the daily five-digit number of COVID-19 infections, so many of us seem to be so “out-of-touch” with so many who do not seem to care at all for their loved ones nor for the country like our corrupt officials. Or to God at all.

That is why we have picked Daryl Hall and John Oates’ 1984 hit Out of Touch from their album Big Bam Boom. It was the heydays of Hall and Oates who were then called the “dynamic duo” of the music world with so many hits before and after this song.

We were in college when Out of Touch came with a lot of extended and remixed versions due to its great sound that everybody loved this song.

But, behind that danceable groove and beat, Out of Touch lyrics are so in-touch with realities in life that unlike their other compositions, Hall and Oates sounded a bit philosophical here that we find it perfectly attuned with our Sunday gospel where Jesus touched the ears and tongue of a deaf to heal him of his sickness (https://lordmychef.com/2021/09/04/opening-our-ears-and-heart/).

Shake it up is all that we know
Using the bodies up as we go
I’m waking up to fantasy
The shades all around aren’t the colors we used to see
Broken ice still melts in the sun
And times that are broken can often be one again
We’re soul alone
And soul really matters to me
Take a look around

You’re out of touch
I’m out of time
But I’m out of my head when you’re not around

You’re out of touch
I’m out of time (time)
But I’m out of my head when you’re not around

Oh oh oh oh oh oh

Reaching out for something to hold
Looking for a love where the climate is cold
Manic moves and drowsy dreams
Or living in the middle between the two extremes
Smoking guns hot to the touch
Would cool down if we didn’t use them so much, yeah
We’re soul alone
And soul really matters to me
Too much

Aside from their usual poetry, Hall and Oates say something so deep using many metaphors in narrating how a wonderful romantic relationship had suddenly turned bad because the lovers had been out of touch with each other like with these lines:

I’m waking up to fantasy
The shades all around aren’t the colors we used to see
Broken ice still melts in the sun
And times that are broken can often be one again
We’re soul alone

Notice how in both stanzas they both mentioned the importance of the soul, of the heart and inner self. Or of spirituality, if you may:

Manic moves and drowsy dreams
Or living in the middle between the two extremes
Smoking guns hot to the touch
Would cool down if we didn’t use them so much, yeah
We’re soul alone

We said in our homily today that opening to God involves our whole person, our whole being. Not just our eyes and ears, but most of all our heart. And the first step for us is to take a break from our ordinary life, from our daily routines that have numbed us that we have lost our consciousness of the present moment, even of our very selves. To a certain sense, this is the grace of the pandemic – an opportunity for us all to spend more time with Jesus in prayers at home or in the church and to bond and fix those broken ties in our family. Before the pandemic, couples and children rarely have the chance to be together even at meals due to each one’s busy schedule; but, with COVID-19’s new mode of work and learning “from home”, many were thrown off balance because some have long lost their sense of being with family members.

Beginning this Sunday, let us get in touch with our true selves, with others and with God to pull through this pandemic before it gets us and tell us how out of touch we have been.

*We have no intentions of infringing on the copyrights of this music except to share its beauty and listening pleasure.

From YouTube.

To be loved is to be touched by God

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul
Sixth Week in Ordinary Time, Year B, 14 February 2021
Leviticus 13:1-2, 44-46  >><)))*>  1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1  >><)))*>  Mark 1:40-45

The word “touch” is a very touchy one…

It can either be literal or figurative but can mean both at the same time like when we experience that proverbial “pat on the shoulder” – we feel it literally speaking but deeply within we feel so touched that we feel so good, we feel affirmed.

We say “we are touched” by words, by gestures and sights, by acts of kindness and love, by persons, by music, by poems, by so many things that touch both our senses and innermost being.

Touch can be fleeting, sometimes so brief but its impact can last a lifetime. Experts say that 30 seconds of touch is equivalent to more than 300 words of encouragement. That is why in our liturgy and sacraments, we employ the sense of touch extensively in imitation of Jesus in his many healings and interactions with everyone during his time.

And even up to our time, Jesus continues to touch us with his words, with his Body and Blood in the Holy Mass and through our family and friends, even strangers he sends us so we may experience his love through his healing touch, his merciful touch, his tender, loving touch.

Today we hear a very touching story on this Valentine’s day of how Jesus touched a leper and touched his life forever!

A leper came to Jesus and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.

Mark 1:40-42
Photo by author, Lake of Galilee, May 2019.

Leprosy: a terrible disease, an image of sin

After healing Simon’s mother-in-law and those who were sick last Sunday, Mark told us how before dawn the following day Jesus went to a deserted place to pray then left Capernaum with his four disciples to preach and heal throughout the whole of Galilee.

As they were walking, a leper came to meet Jesus and begged him to be healed. This scene is very unusual for lepers were not supposed to get near anybody during that time. They have to warn people of their presence so they can be avoided lest others get infected.

But more than the fear of contagion, the first reading tells us why people were not supposed to interact with lepers because leprosy was seen so terrible as an image of sin that anyone afflicted must see the priest first, short of saying a leper was also a sinner. See how Moses described the wounds that evoked memories of those festering boils and lesions that afflicted the Egyptians and their cattle before the Exodus. Such was the gravity and seriousness of this sickness that those afflicted were totally separated from the rest of the populace, literally and figuratively speaking.

In this scene, we find not only a glimpse of another typical day in the life of Jesus but most of all, we see his very person filled with love and compassion for the least in the society like the leper. Here again is the Lord going to unknown territories to find and heal – to touch – the poorest of the poor.

And that is precisely the good news Mark is telling us this Sunday: Jesus wills our well-being, wants to touch us to be cleansed and healed from all our infirmities whether physical or spiritual or emotional.

Like the crowds following Jesus at that time, we also have to follow the Lord in his preaching to be healed from our sickness and be cleansed from sins. Anyone who believes in his power to heal like that leper must rely in his kindness and mercy because Jesus had removed all barriers that prevent us from meeting him, touching him.

See how Mark described Jesus being “moved with pity” which is more than an emotion or feeling but a stirring within called “miserecordia” in Latin and Spanish that means to move (miseor) the heart (cor) or do something with what he had seen and felt.

Do not be afraid or shy to come to Jesus; he is very approachable, no need for appointments like us humans as he welcomes us all, very open to us all, so willing to meet and be with us in our joys and sorrows, victories and defeats, triumphs and miseries.

Then, warning him sternly, he dismissed him at once. He said to him, “See that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer for your cleansing what Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.”

Mark 1:43-44
Photo by Jenna Hamra on Pexels.com

Jesus is our Savior.

More than a healer, an exorcist, and a doer of miracles, Mark presents to us for the third consecutive Sunday the very person of Jesus Christ as our Savior. One thing we shall notice in Mark’s gospel is his extensive use of the so-called “Messianic secret” wherein he reports Jesus warning those he had healed and exorcised not to tell it to anyone, to keep it a secret lest people regard him as a miracle worker or provider of every human needs.

And that is because who Jesus Christ is really is — our Savior who gave himself up for us all to be healed by sin symbolized by leprosy. His touching and healing of that leper vividly shows us that this Jesus is the Christ who came to renew and bring us back to God as his beloved children. It is the most touching image of God becoming human like us, getting so close to us to touch us and be one with us so we can be cleansed from all dirt of sin and evil because that is how much he loves us.

To be touched by Jesus is to be loved by God. And anyone touched and loved by God becomes a brand new person who finds himself whole and one anew with others around him, sharing with them his newfound love and joy and meaning in life. That is the surest sign of being touched and being loved; hence, the command by Jesus to the leper to present himself to the priests to be reintegrated to the community and eventually commune again with others.

But the leper could not contain his joy that according to Mark, “The man went away and began to publicize the whole matter, spread the report abroad so that it was impossible for Jesus to enter a town openly, remaining outside in deserted places as people kept coming to him from everywhere” (Mk.1:45).

By his very life, the healed leper gave glory to God as admonished by Paul in our second reading today. For Paul, to glorify God in whatever we do is to imitate Jesus Christ (1Cor. 10:31) by dealing with or resolving conflicts and issues among us in the most personal manner instead of theoretical principles.

During that time, the early Christians in Corinth and elsewhere for that matter were confused if the consumption of animals offered by pagans to their idols and later sold in the market constituted their participation to idolatry.

Paul explained that idols are nothing and therefore, the sacrifice of animals in the sanctuaries does not give the meat sold in the markets any particular qualification. Those who can understand this can it eat without scruple but— if it can cause scandal among those weak in faith and understanding, they must renounce this freedom.

For Paul, morality and propriety must have their origin and motivation in God, not just any precepts or standards that sometimes difficult to accept. Again, here we have to consider sensitivity – the touchiness of certain acts and things so that when we give glory to God, even the weakest among us may be encouraged to do the same.

There is no “middle ground” as the wokes are implying these days in the US especially in that recent Super Bowl Jeep commercial with Bruce Springsteen, implying America can only be a ReUnited States through “compromises”.

Love is not like politics or diplomacy that seek detente among different parties of people as Jesus warned us to “Let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no’. Anything apart from this is from the evil one” (Mt.5:37).

To love is to be touched by someone, especially by God. When we love, when we touch, there are no ifs nor buts, no middle grounds nor compromises because it is either you love or do not love. That is what Jesus showed us when he touched and healed the leper who came to him along the road.

That is also what Jesus showed us later by dying on the Cross for us so we may be cleansed from our sins and be new again so we can reach out to touch others with his immense love that is full of joy.

On this most joyous day of hearts we call Valentine’s, get real with our love by touching someone with the love of Jesus in the most concrete way of kindness and care, mercy and forgiveness. Not with flowers and chocolates that are very temporary. A blessed week to you!

Photo by author, 07 February 2021.

In touch Vs. Out of touch

40 Shades of Lent, Sunday Week II-A, 08 March 2020

Genesis 12:1-4 +++ 2 Timothy 1:8-10 +++ Matthew 17:1-9

“Creation of Adam” by Michaelangelo at Sistine Chapel, the Vatican. From Wikipedia.

Touch is a very powerful word – literally and figuratively speaking. We say “we are touched” when we are deeply moved by words or music, gestures, acts, and scenes that need not be so spectacular because to touch is about making a connection, a communion of persons.

A touch can be so powerful that when filled with love and sincerity, it can transform the person being touched. Experts say that a touch of about five seconds is worth more than 300 words of encouragement and praise!

And that is why our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God is a certified “touch person” who always reached out to people by physically touching them, embracing them to make them feel his loving presence, his mercy, and most of all, his healing.

Almost all his healings were done by touching the sick when he would lay his hands on them like with the blind Bartimaeus on the street of Jericho.

There were times Jesus held up the hand of the sick to raise them up from their bed like Peter’s mother-in-law and the daughter of Jairus. Sometimes in rare occasions, Jesus healed in the most bizarre ways with his sense of touch like with that deaf in Decapolis.

He (Jesus) put his finger into the man’s ears and, spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”).

Mark 7:33-34

In Nain, Jesus raised to life the son of a widow by touching the coffin – not the dead – by saying, “Young man, I tell you, arise!” that everyone was amazed, saying “the Lord has visited his people”.

Jesus never missed an occasion without personally touching another person, especially the children like when he caught his disciples driving them away.

“Jesus blessing Little Children”, painting by British North American Benjamin West PRA (1781). Photo from wikipedia.

It is perhaps one of the most touching story of Jesus touching others when he told his disciples to “let the children come to me for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”, after which he embraced them, laid his hands on them and blessed them.

How blessed were those children must be to be embraced and laid with hands on by Jesus! According to tradition, one of those kids embraced and blessed by Jesus was St. Ignatius of Antioch who became a bishop and martyr in the early Church.

That is the transforming power of the touch by Jesus that children are blessed, the sick are healed by restoring their sight or cleansing their skin of leprosy, forgiving the sinners, giving hope to the poor. His touch is always a part of his proclamation of the good news to the people.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Jesus continues to touch us today in every Mass we celebrate when he first speaks to us in the scriptures, trying to make us feel our “hearts burn inside” like the disciples going home to Emmaus on Easter Sunday; and secondly, when he gives us his Body and Blood to partake in the Holy Eucharist.

Most of all, Jesus continues to literally touch us today through one another in our loving service to one another as a community of his disciples.

But, in this age of social media when every communication is mediated by gadgets and other instruments, this kind of personal communication is something we have all been missing because we have stopped touching Jesus, touching others too.

And this is what the second Sunday of Lent is trying to remind us today in the Transfiguration of Jesus.

Transfiguration of Jesus, communion of God with us

Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them… a bright cloud cast a shadow over them, then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell prostrate and were very much afraid. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone.

Matthew 17:1-2, 5-7
“Transfiguration of Jesus” by Raphael from wikipedia.

We hear this story of the Transfiguration of Jesus twice every year: the Second Sunday of Lent and the sixth of August for the Feast of the Transfiguration. At this time of the year, the Transfiguration story is heard in relation with the Lord’s coming Passion, Death, and Resurrection.

At his Transfiguration, Jesus made it very clear that his glory and divinity must always be seen in the light of his Cross for it is only with his Cross that he can be correctly recognized as the Christ. It is on the Cross where Jesus truly touches us too in our personhood, in our humanity.

See how the three disciples were seized with fear upon hearing the voice of the Father while a bright cloud cast a vast shadow over them; but, it was right in that “tremendum fascinans” that we also find the intimacy, the closeness of God to us through Jesus Christ when he touched the three disciples.

Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” And when the disciples raised their eyes, they saw no one else but Jesus alone.

Matthew 17:7

And that is the good news for us all!

God had chosen to be so close to us in his Son Jesus Christ who touches us most not only in glory but most especially in moments of trials and tribulations! It is on the Cross where humanity and the divine truly become one in Jesus, when that personal and loving touch of Jesus becomes transformative and even performative.

This is the reason St. Paul exhorted Timothy to “bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God” (2Tim.1:8) because oneness with Jesus always starts at the cross!

This is very true with us too when we only come to realize who are our true friends, our BFF’s when they are personally one with us in our trials and tribulations, not only in times we are well and good.

True transformation in Jesus can only happen when we are willing to be one with him, to be in touch with him in his passion and death for it is the only path to his Easter glory of transfiguration.

Touch communication vs. mediated communication

From Forbes.com

How sad that in this age of modern communications that have shrunk the world into a “global village” with instant communications that instead of growing together we have grown more apart than ever from each other.

We have lost real communications that lead to communion of persons or unity of people because we have become more concerned with the techniques of communication, more of skills and gadgets than of persons.

That is the meaning of media or “mediated communication” where there is always a medium between or among persons like cellphones and gadgets.

No more interpersonal relationships, making us more isolated and alienated, leading to growing problems of loneliness, depression, and suicides.

How frustrating sometimes to attend social functions like dinners and weddings where everyone is more busy and interested with their cellphones than with persons beside them!

Aside from isolation from persons, we have also grown “out of touch” with reality itself when more and more people are retreating into their own small worlds like cocoons with wires attached into their ears while their eyes fixated on screens oblivious to the world around them.

We have become so out of touch with ourselves and with others that more and more we are becoming like porcupines – we have not only stopped getting in touch with others but even hurt others if ever we touch them!

From Google.

Parents, lovers, couples, even people we trust like priests and religious sometimes hurt us with their touch instead of healing us, comforting us. Nobody would want to go through the Passion of the Cross anymore that we would rather stay on top of the mountain, of everything to be delighted with our perceived power and glory.

So unlike in our first reading where we get the feel and touch of real encounter in persons between God and Abraham. Note how in just four verses the word “bless” used five times by God to Abraham, promising to bless him more if he leaves his kin to follow him to the land he would give him.

In their conversation, we find a very personal and engaging communication, as if God and Abraham were literally in touch with each other, where there is personal contact and communication.

We know this for a fact at how effective and more reliable are personal interactions in communication than mediated ones through phones and email – personal communications always have that feel and touch that enable us to negotiate further and be more fruitful.

This Season of Lent, the Father is asking us to be in touch with him again by listening to the words of his Son Jesus who asks us only one thing: deny yourself, take up your cross and follow him. Let us heed him, touch him, and allow him to touch us again to be healed and transformed.

May you be touched as you touch also others in the most loving way this Sunday throughout the whole week! Amen.

“He Touches Me” by Lisa Stansfield (2004)

Photo from Google.
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music
Week XIII-B, 01 July 2018

            When I was still teaching at our diocesan school for girls in Malolos City (ICSM-Metropolis), one of the things I used to tell my students was to never be fooled by a man’s looks and “porma”.  Always look for a man who would truly love you, respect you, care and protect you.  Find a man who really touches you as a person, as a woman.          

He don’t bring me anything but love
He don’t bring me anything but love
If you offered me the stars I would decline
I don’t need ’em I got mine
I don’t know where to start
But I know what’s in my heart
So keep your silver and your gold 
’cause I got my man to have and hold

            For this Sunday Music by Lisa Stansfield, imagine that man is Jesus touching you, touching each one of us.  Touching Jesus and being touched by Jesus is always a step into an intimate relationship with Him that calls for faith in us.  But we should not stop at simply touching Jesus – let us be touched by Jesus too!  When we allow Jesus to touch us, then we get in touch also with our true selves.  And when we are in touch with God and with our self, we get in touch with life’s realities and most especially in touch with others.  That is when we are transformed because Jesus had touched us.

No poetry, no diamond ring
No song to sing
He don’t bring me flowers, oh no
But he touches me, he touches me
No crazy dreams, no limousines
He makes me feel I can do anything
And that’s power, oh yeah
When he touches me, he touches me

             In this age when our communications and interactions are always mediated by gadgets and things, we have forgotten the power and impact of personal touch.  What really matters in this life are not only what we can touch like things but those who touch us like family and friends, persons who love and care for us, persons who make us whole. Enjoy Sunday!
I know they’ll say I’m crazy letting you go
Of a man like you
Who seems to have it all
But they don’t see what I see
No, they don’t feel like me
And even
Attachments area

Touching Jesus, Being Touched by Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe, Week XIII-B, 01 July 2018
Wisdom 1:13-15;2:23-24///2Corinthians 8:7,9,13-15///Mark 5:21-43

            Experts claim that touching another person for at least five seconds is worth more than 300 words of encouragement.  At the same time, they say that the sense of touch can hasten the healing process among people recuperating from illnesses and surgery.  That is the power of touch that even the word “touch” itself is so powerful that it may be used in literal and figurative sense.  We tell others to “keep in touch” to mean to stay connected, to make our relationships and bonds grow stronger.  The same thing is true when we say we are “touched” by words or gestures of kindness as they strike deeper realities that connect us within.  This explains why we always try to touch things literally because figuratively, every touch leads to bigger, inner realities that link us with persons and whatever they represent.  That woman in today’s gospel suffering in hemorrhages believed that by touching even the clothes of Jesus could heal her.  In fact, it was more than enough for her as it was the closest thing she could do to relate with Jesus who was always being followed by a vast crowd.

            There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years.  She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak.  She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.”  Immediately her flow of blood dried up.  She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction (Mk.5:25,27-29)

            What is so beautiful with this story that St. Mark had sandwiched with the healing of the daughter of Jairus is the sensitivity of Jesus with our touch:  He felt power had left Him that He stopped to ask among the crowd “Who touched me?”  Jesus is not contented with just being touched as He wants a more intimate relationship with us.  Jesus wants more than touching us but even hugging us, embracing us to feel the warmth of His love and mercy for us.  More than a touch, Jesus wants a personal connection – a relationship – with everyone.  That is why when He went into the room of the dying daughter of Jairus, He tenderly addressed her with the words “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”  It is a connection of far more significance as it leads to more fulfillment and freedom, a relationship filled with life.

            Touching Jesus and being touched by Jesus is always a step into an intimate relationship with the Lord calling for faith in us.  How sad that most often we stop at touching Him, like with what we always see inside churches where people touch all statues and images of Jesus, His Mother Mary and the saints.  Yes it is an expression of faith but that faith needs to grow more into a relationship.  How many would really stop to stay for an hour or half an hour or mere 15 minutes to be in touch with the Lord and be touched by the Lord?  Can we lay bare ourselves openly to Jesus, allowing Him to touch those sensitive nerves inside us that make us seethe with anger or jealousy?  Can we allow Jesus to touch our closely guarded secrets and hurts so we could finally confront the ghosts within us and remove blocks in our relationships with God and with others?

            The author of the Book Wisdom had reflected how God had wanted since the beginning to keep in touch with us that He made us in His likeness, “the image of his own nature to be imperishable.  But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, and they who are in his possession experience it.”(Wis.2:23-24)  Recently the whole nation was disturbed and rose in indignation when the man in Malacanang called “God stupid” after he had wrongly interpreted the story of the Fall in the Book of Genesis.  There is no doubt his words were blasphemous but after all the noise, we must also start reflecting about our own faith and personal relationship with God whom we also blame for all the sufferings and miseries in the world.  There are times during funeral Masses I felt tearing apart my clothes when I hear priests claiming the death of a beloved as “God’s will.”  Three years ago, I wished having a laser sword so I could chop off the brainless head of a priest declaring it was “kalooban ng Diyos, tanggapin natin” the deaths of the two brothers of a priest who were peppered with Armalite bullets by a neighbor.  Both their bodies were mangled by the Armalite bullets, the other cut into half and then the priest saying the crime was the will of God?  My God…  And that is how stupid some of us Christians are including some priests who believe that sufferings like cancer and dying in a freak accident are willed by God.  Our first reading is very clear today, “God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.” (Wis.1:13)

            Let us be like St. Paul in the second reading who was definitely in touch with God and reality when he tried addressing the question of suffering with the Corinthians by encouraging them to share their wealth with those in need.  St. Paul did not glorify suffering for its own sake nor did he encourage the Corinthians to seek suffering in this part of his second letter to the Corinthians.  Instead, he tried explaining to them that suffering is part of the process of our inner transformation that leads to glory:  “Not that others should have relief while you were burdened, but that as a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their needs so that their abundance may also supply your needs, that there may be equality.” (2Cor.8:13-14)  If we truly touch God, He would touch us too, experiencing His love and mercy that in turn becomes natural for us to personally touch others with the loving service of Christ. In this age when our communications and interactions are mediated by gadgets and other things, may we bring back that personal touch of love and kindness with others.  May God bless and touch you today and the whole week through! Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan 3022

Photo from Google.