Posted by: cris | October 13, 2009

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe Week XXVIII, Year B 11 October 2009

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe
Week XXVIII, Year B
11 October 2009
Wisdom 7:7-11 /// Hebrews 4:12-13 /// Mark 10:17-30
I was so bothered yesterday morning as I left our parish for a meeting in Quezon City.
It was supposed to be a happy weekend for me as I had finally slept solid eight hours, the sun was shining brightly with a warmth so delightful, and, the night before, I received  some “pasalubong” from a parishioner consisting of a big Nescafe Gold, Arnott’s assorted cookies, Ferrerro chocolates, and some magazines from Down Under.
I felt so good yesterday morning that after praying, I opened my Facebook to thank Edith and family for the pasalubong as well as to look for TrueFaith’s song “Sumasarap ang Gising” at YouTube imagining at how I would savor the aroma of that coffee.
Just before I turned off my computer, I checked on my FB again and saw my former GMA7 News editor’s blog, Ding Gagelonia’s “At Midfield”:  he had updated his article “Philippines’ Season of Grief” into “Grief-upon-Grief” about the very sad plight of our brothers and sisters in Northern Luzon where almost 200 people have been reported killed or missing due to landslides in Benguet, thousands of families displaced in Ilocos Region, and 60% of Pangasinan under floodwater.
What bothered me so much was not really the news but the sense of detachment from our suffering brothers and sisters up North.  Yes, I have seen the news Friday night and checked on some friends, even discussed with Fr. Pablo of how we could send some of our relief goods.  How could I had easily forgotten them as I almost worshipped the sun, feasting on the abundant food and comforts I have?  How easily have I lost the enthusiasm in learning more, doing more about the victims of Pepeng because life had slowly crept back into normal here after Ondoy?
That was the thing that bothered me yesterday morning:  my apparent detachment from the plight of the people battered by Pepeng.
Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing.  Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”  At that statement his face fell, and went away sad, for he had many possessions. (Mk.10:21-22)
Focus on how Jesus Christ made a lot of non-verbal communications using His face in today’s Gospel:  He looked at the young man, looked around the people, and looked again to His disciples.  And every time Jesus would look at everyone, He was expressing His deep love!
Jesus not only spoke about His love for us—He makes us feel it so intensely in the same manner that a human face would show it!  Experts say that 80% of our communications are non-verbal and most often, we would rely on them than on the verbal ones.  And we know it so well that the face could not hide our feelings; there’s no way of keeping what’s true inside with our facial expressions.
To look, especially with love like Jesus Christ did to the young man,  is to establish a union, an attachment or connection leading to a oneness.  That was what Jesus tried to express to the young man who had unfortunately failed to feel or grasp fully.  The young man did not get it at all because he was so concerned with his wealth, with his possessions!  Clearly, it is not a sin to be rich; no passage in the Bible declares it so.  In fact, Jesus, as well as St. Paul and other saints, had many rich friends who helped them in their missions.  What is sinful, of which rich and poor people are often guilty of, is when money becomes our god, when everything revolves around it instead of having Jesus Christ as the center of our lives.
The tragedy of today’s Gospel is not that the young man refused to give up his wealth and other possessions which is indeed very difficult; what he had missed was the opportunity of being one with Jesus Christ!  Of truly loving God than material wealth!  He had forgotten that with Jesus, one can never go hungry because there is always enough bread for everyone; that one would always be up and moving because every sickness can be healed; and, most of all, everyone is most welcomed to be with Jesus because He does not look at our sins but more on our being beloved children of His Father.
The Lord is inviting us today for a more intimate relationship with Him that is why He looks at us filled with love.  He is not asking us to become beggars, go hungry nor naked.  Yes, we can keep our cars, our houses, our computers, our cellphones, or whatever— for as long as we are not enslaved to these material things.  That is what St. Ignatius of Loyola calls as “creative indifference” :  I would rather be sick than well, poor than rich, etc. wherein we are willing to let go of everything for God because He is our only and truest love.  When we love somebody, we only do and give them what they love even if we love doing or giving them with something else we personally like or love?  Why can’t we do it with God?
Jesus is not insisting Himself on us but simply invites us to love Him more because only Him could give us fulfillment in this life and hereafter.  It is Him who is personalized by Wisdom in the first reading because when we have Jesus in our hearts, we practically have everything:  “Yet all good things together came to me in her company, and countless riches at her hands.” (Wis.7:11)  Remember how King Solomon had the chance to ask anything from God but instead asked for Wisdom, the ability to know what is right and wrong that made God so happy and made him the wisest person on earth?
When we were about to graduate from Theology and soon to be ordained, some younger seminarians asked me what I considered as the most important thing I have learned or valued in my six years of seminary formation?  I was surprised that since then and until now, I have only valued one thing in my life:  “for every here and now, I may say Yes to You my God.”
I must confess that a lot often, I fail but somehow, despite my weaknesses, sinfulness, difficulties and shortcomings, I strive so hard to do God’s will at all times.
When I had my vacation in the US (2004) and Canada (2005), I seriously considered staying there for good.  But as I prayed and discerned, I felt God asking me to serve His flock here in the Philippines.  Some people told me I was crazy , even foolish at how I had wasted those opportunities that thousands of Filipinos die to hope for; but, that’s how it really was because I love Jesus Christ more than anyone and anything else that I came home!
Some priests often ask me why have I not asked for a new assignment, or even have a parish of my own considering that I am already qualified; some would even argue that I should leave the shadows of my rector, Fr. Pablo, so that I would “bloom” as a person and as a priest, insisting that we were ordained to serve the Church and not anyone.  Fact is, since my third year of being assigned in our school with Fr. Pablo and even these last three years in our Parish, I have always prayed to God, asking Him if I could move out to have a parish of my own.  And every year, except only last May, I have stopped asking God that question lest I get hit with a bolt of lightning for being so stupid not to hear Him, and most of all, feel Him as He consistently asked me to stay, stay, stay.
When I tell my friends the things I go through in my ministry, in my relationships with brother priests and the lay people in our assignment, they all tell me to move out, be on my own…but when I pray over it, I feel God telling me something else.  I have stayed on in my assignment with the same brother priests not because I am afraid  to be on my own but precisely because I love God above all…because He wants me to stay here, serve my parish and our school, and help my Rector.
I have realized in the last 15 years of my life in my prayers that what matters most is not what we do or what we have achieved but what we have become— and that is, being one with, and being like Jesus Christ.
That I love whom He loves.
That I forgive whom He forgives.
That I do what He does.
That I live the way He had lived here on earth.
When we pray the Sacred Scriptures, we realize that indeed “the word of God is living and effective, sharper than a two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart” (Heb.4:12) because it strips us naked of every false projections and pretensions, convincing us deep down inside that nothing matters most in this life than our soul’s salvation.  Exactly like that  young man in the Gospel asking what good we must do to attain eternal life?  Like the Apostles, we are convinced too that it is impossible for us for to be saved but with Jesus Christ, it had become a reality already!
Today, Jesus Christ is not only speaking to us; He’s reaching out to us full of love.  See and feel His loving face in your hearts.  Be one with Him.  Remember the Gospel last week when He said “what God has joined together, no human being must separate”? (Mk.10:9)  It is not merely about divorcing a husband nor a wife but most of all, divorcing ourselves from God.  Anyone separated from God loses everything in this life and hereafter.
Today/tonight as we head home with a lot of smiles in our hearts and faces, let’s see the face of Christ among our suffering brothers and sisters up north.  If we are truly one with Jesus Christ, we would be willing to share and give unto others our time, talents, and treasures.
Prayer by St. Therese of the Child Jesus: “My life is but an instant, an hour that passes by, a single day that slips my grasp and quickly slides away.  O well you know, my dearest God, to love you, I only have today.”
God bless!
fr. nicanor f. lalog II
santissima trinidad parish
malolos city 3000
bulacan, philippines

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