Posted by: cris | March 24, 2009

My favorite Recipe – Sunday Gospel Reflections 22 March 2009

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe
Lent Week IV, Year B
22 March 2009
2Chronicles 36:14-16,19- 23 /// Ephesians 2:4-10 /// John 3:14-21
My dearly beloved  “diners” of “The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipes”:
Join me in rejoicing God’s infinite love and mercy as I celebrate my 44th birthday today, the Fourth Sunday of Lent known as “Laetare Sunday” or “Rejoice Sunday” from the opening Mass antiphon “Laetare Jerusalem” (Rejoice Jerusalem).
These past three years, I have been drawn towards Nicodemus, a Pharisee, and Joseph of Arimathea who was a member of the Sanhedrin (Jewish senate) and donor of the tomb used for the Lord’s burial.. Both secretly followed Jesus in the beginning but later came out to the open as faithful disciples throughout the early years of the Church.
It was only last week when my fascination with these two “secret followers” of the Lord became clearer for me.  In our Gospel today, Nicodemus went to see Jesus at night to hide from his fellow Pharisees and people for fears of being laughed at or even scorned for believing in the Lord.  He strongly felt deep inside the truth in what Jesus was preaching and doing but was so afraid to come out in the open, into the light, for fears of losing his friends and very self.
As I looked back in my life while my birthday approached, I realized I am just like Nicodemus.  Despite my almost 11 years of priesthood strongly believing in Jesus Christ, I must confess that I still feel so afraid of showing it in words and deeds like Nicodemus, afraid of what others would say about me!
In the beginning, I felt that the only thing I share with Nicodemus was the common Greek origin of our names which is “Nikos” meaning “victor”; unlike him, I do not hide my beliefs and convictions about people and issues.  As I prayed over this Sunday’s Gospel, the more I saw my real self as not really bold enough to walk in the light of Jesus Christ because if ever I would be so “true” to speak my mind and heart out, what I truly showed others was more about me—my personal convictions and perceptions- — but not really the Lord nor what He teaches or wills!
Like Nicodemus, I try hard to play it safe in this world, more mindful of pleasing others, of being accepted and popular!  There were times when I could not sincerely reveal that in my heart, I believe in Jesus and I love Him so much but could not totally follow Him because I might lose my relatives and friends, even stature and positions, and become unpopular.
Or worst, when what I feel as comfortable, enjoyable and pleasurable are contrary to the calling of Jesus Christ, I give in half blindly with ready excuses and alibis always at hand.
Every Tuesday and Saturday when I go to my MA Theology class at the Graduate School of the University of Sto. Tomas, I always feel Christ challenging me, like Nicodemus, to come out into the light to be like my classmates from China, Vietnam and Burma who chose to serve as priests in their persecuted Church.  Sometimes, I really wonder how my brother priests are living and doing their ministry in the far-flung areas of our own country that are very poor and so deprived of even the most basic needs of water, electricity or roads?
St. Paul was absolutely right in his Letter to the Ephesians proclaimed today that “God is so rich in mercy” for us; that despite our being like Nicodemus, He continues to call us to serve Him and be signs of His loving presence in this world.  In His great love and mercy, God used the pagan Persian King Cyrus in the first reading as His instrument in liberating the Israelites held captives in the Babylonian exile, instructing them even to rebuild their Temple in Jerusalem.
This is what we are rejoicing this Sunday:  that God can use our weaknesses, shortcomings and even sinful past for the fulfillment of His plans.  As the saying goes, “God does not call the qualified but qualifies the called”.  Just like Nicodemus and the saints, including you and me.
Equally worth rejoicing for this Sunday is the fact that even if the darkness is not found in us like Nicodemus, Jesus Christ welcomes us even in the many darkness that surround us in this life like financial difficulties, sickness, misunderstandings among family and friends, failures and disappointments.  Notice how Jesus willingly met and discussed with Nicodemus in the darkness of nighttime?  That’s how much He loves us!
Let us rejoice always that even if there are darkness in us or around us, Jesus Christ lovingly waits for us in those moments to bring light into our lives, giving us hope to continue on with our mission for Easter is just around the corner.  Indeed, “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (Jn.3:17)
A blessed week ahead of us all!
fr. nicanor f. lalog II
santissima trinidad parish
malolos city 3000
bulacan, philippines

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