The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe
Week XXV, Year B
20 September 2009
Wisdom 2:12.17-20 /// James 3:13-4:3 /// Mark 9:30-37
As I prepared to write this “recipe for the soul,” I got another email commending my sharing last week. It was so uplifting at this time for me, especially the quotation at the end: “Always be yourself because the people who matter don’t mind. And the ones that mind don’t matter.”
Though it gave me a hearty laugh, I must admit the quotation was not totally true because in my 11 years of priesthood, I have come to value every person even those who cause me with pains and most especially, those whom I have hurt too. I have experienced in my many anointing of the sick how God values each soul even the most sinful. Most often, people think we priests are insensitive that we don’t care at all with the people around us. That is not true. You just don’t know how hard it is also for us when we know we have said or done something painful or not good with others. You double that feeling when we know there are people harboring ill-feelings against us or even dislike us.
Going back to the quotation I received, it strikes a similar chord with the Gospel of Jesus Christ because we have all felt how difficult it is to be “authentic Christians” or being true. Without any claims to being a saint or filled with holiness, maybe you have also felt how difficult and even disheartening those times when we tried to become “authentic Christians”, saying and doing what is true, good and just because we suddenly become the persons “under attack” or “on trial”?!
The wicked say: Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training. Let us see whether his words be true; let us find out what will happen to him. (Wis.2:12.17)
That is what evildoers do to people trying to do what is right: they do everything and tell all lies to discredit the just, labelling them as impostors while they claim to be “prophets” even if what they say are far from being true. And when men and women dare to be just and moral, bearing all the tortures and persecutions, even death, the more these evildoers become insidious which is exactly what they had done to Jesus Christ 2000 years ago!
When we go through such experiences wherein the tables are being turned against us for doing what is good, that is when we truly follow Jesus Christ because that is what to “deny one’s self, carry one’s cross and follow Him.” (Mk.8:34) That is part of thinking according to God’s ways and not according to man’s ways as we reflected last week.
This Sunday, Jesus predicted for the second time His coming Passion, Death, and Resurrection to teach us anew another dimension on how to think in God’s ways on who is the Christ really is so that we would realize too what is true greatness and wisdom.
They (the Apostles) had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest. Then He (Jesus) sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.” Taking a child He placed it in their midst, and putting His arms around it He said to them, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the one who sent me.” (Mk.9:34-37)
Like the Apostles, we also continue to fail in understanding or even grasping the reality of the Christ dying on the Cross; how could the Son of the Most High, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity be a failure? Now, that reality is compounded with the Lord using a child as His sign of true greatness and wisdom because like Him, every child embodies “sincerity”.
The word “sincerity” is from two Latin terms, “sin” or “without” and “cerus” or “plaster”. In ancient time, as in today, there were fake sculptures used with plaster; genuine sculptures as works of art have “no plaster” or “sin cero”. Hence, the term “sincere” or “sincerity” meaning “pure”, “purity”, and “wholeness”.
A child’s sincerity could be easily seen in his complete reliance on what he sees or hears; a child does not embellish things and facts because he takes everything as it is. Unlike us adults who always have to add or subtract something from whatever we see or have to make more appealing, always afraid of being rejected with the bare truths. Perhaps this is the reason why parents get stressed with their children: they find it difficult saying something and doing another thing! Robert Fulghum wrote in one of his books the ten commandments of parenting and one of them is, “Don’t worry with what you say to your children; worry with what you do.”
Sincerity is a word on the brink of extinction in our society these days. No wonder, we sometimes call or describe people as “plastic”, a material almost similar with “plaster”. The recent news from the Senate clearly shows us that those supposed to look after our well being by enacting laws so that we would develop and prosper have nothing in their minds but their own interests. Always addressing each other as “your honor,” they believe greatness is measured in power and wealth; most of all, in being served and feared.
According to St. James in today’s second reading, being wise according to man is often characterized with “jealousy and selfish ambition, disorder and every foul practice” while being wise according to God is always “pure, then peacable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconstancy or insincerity. “ (Jms.3:16-17)
Last Wednesday as I knelt praying before going to bed, I asked God with sadness why He had called me to the priesthood with all my shortcomings and being too far from being like Jesus full of love and sincerity, gentleness and kindness to the people? Why can’t people see you in the programs and rules we try to follow in our Parish and ministry?
There was no answer and I went to sleep with a heavy heart.
When I woke up, as I knelt again praying the “Morning Offering”, I felt God’s consolation as I saw the rising sun through my window as well as the flickering candle of my altar. Like the Apostles, we need to be silent especially after misunderstanding who Jesus Christ really is. Like the Apostles who could not heal the boy possessed by a demon in the preceding verses of today’s Gospel periciope, we need to pray more, and even fast so as to deny ourselves to follow Jesus closely.
And that was when I felt God telling me to just continue on with my life and ministry, no matter what others would say for as long as I see Jesus Christ in me and in our programs. When we enter into silence and prayer, that is when we become like a child wrapped around by the loving embrace of Jesus Christ, like what St.Mark tells us today, and begin to feel that He alone is our peace, our joy, and our life amidst the pains inflicted on us by those trying to be “great people of wisdom” yet far from truth and reality.
Lord, keep us strong in swimming against the tide of this world; be our guide always even if at times life becomes grindingly too slow for us. Amen.
A blessed week ahead to everyone and your loved ones!
fr. nicanor f. lalog II
santissima trinidad parish
malolos city 3000