The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe
Advent Week II, Year C
06 December 2009
Baruch 5:1-9 /// Philippians 1:4-6.8-11 /// Luke 3:1-6
The Chinese have an interesting way of cursing with the wish “may you live in interesting times.” According to a friend from Beijing whom I had consulted, “interesting times” among the Chinese mean facing a lot of lawsuits or falling into huge debts, getting sick or even death.
Are we not also living in “interesting times” as a nation?
Two weeks ago, more than 50 defenseless civilians, mostly women and journalists were brutally massacred in Maguindanao by suspects linked with local warlords, the Ampatuans; and, a week after that, our President “massacred” our sensibilities and values as a people when she shamelessly joined the race for congress in her hometown?!
My apologies for being political, but, I can’t help it as I prayed over today’s Gospel wherein St. Luke described the situation during the time of John the Baptizer’s preaching before the public ministry of Jesus Christ:
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert. (Lk.3:1-2)
More than the intention of convincing us about the historicity of Jesus Christ who had truly existed in a particular period in Israel over 2000 years ago, St. Luke is also telling us something deeper in this passage related with our Advent Season: the “interesting times” they were into similar with what we have now, of leaders in both politics and religion who are so blinded with power, fame, and wealth among other things!
Pontius Pilate, brothers Herod and Philip, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Ampatuans, trapos and their dynasties….
Then, Annas and Caiaphas, the 22 priests who celebrated Mass for GMA, especially the homilist who likened the President to Jesus Christ in serving the people, plus, the many bishops close to Malacanang and trapos who refuse to speak against political dynasties…
They all match!!!
I am not trying to be funny, relatives and friends; truth is, I am angry and very sad with these news recently.
However, I also feel some joy within, with sparks of hope that our time is just as “interesting” during the time of Jesus Christ and of John the Baptizer before Him because as the Lord had said last Sunday, it is during these moments of trials and tribulations when He truly comes to us! As I had told you last Sunday, hope is not about believing things could get better but a conviction deep inside that even if things get worst, there is always God faithfully by our side. And that is what I wish to dwell more today: as the election fever gets high, expect the worst among our candidates and among us too to come in the open; hence, the need for more prayers on our part.
…the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert.(Lk.1:2)
Advent as a season of “active waiting in hope” for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is also a time for us to receive, to welcome the word of God like John the Baptizer in our own wilderness. Inasmuch as every coming of Jesus Christ is preceded by trials and tribulations, it is also prepared by receiving the word of God in the wilderness. Each of us is called to become a John the Baptizer, the one who prepares the way of the Lord.
First is to always welcome and receive the word of God.
When I was still actively teaching in our schools, I used to require all my students to always have a personal copy of the bible as I drilled into them daily the importance of praying the day’s Holy Scriptures: first at night before retiring and immediately upon waking up the following morning. In that way, the word of God comes always as the first and the last things in one’s mind and heart day in, day out.
“All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2Tim.3:16-17)
Since last year during the Year of St. Paul and into this Year for Priests, Pope Benedict XVI and most Bishops have been reminding us priests to always be “a man of the word of God”, to immerse ourselves into the word of God. It is very tragic that quite often these days, most of us priests speak so much of so many other things and too little of the word of God, unlike our brother pastors in other denominations who are not only well-versed with the Scriptures but are actually winning new converts daily because of their proclamation of the word of God!
John the Baptizer spoke only the word of God that attracted so many people to listen to his preaching in the desert despite the difficulties of going there. Most of all, John never used the word of God to his own advantage that when the people mistook him as being the Christ, he immediately corrected them, a far cry from what some of us priests do with the word of God today, twist and turn it to suit our needs. Or pamper a patroness from Malacanang.
And that’s the second reason why during this season of Advent we must actively wait in hope for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ by listening to the word of God like John the Baptizer: it clarifies everything in us, removing all sorts of blindness that may be afflicting us so that we would be more truthful with our selves and with others.
“Indeed the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account.”(Heb.4:12-13)
When we welcome the word of God into our selves, it purifies us from all the impurities within us, removing our masks and insecurities, making us more sincere and humble which pave the way for us to truly experience God’s presence in us. Indeed, Jesus as the Word becomes flesh and dwells in us! He comes to us and most of all, we see Him!!!
Imagine how life could be more bearable for us, despite the many hardships we have to live with like sickness and old-age, disasters and calamities, and other problems if we are always guided by the word of God? There would be lesser hatred, lesser misunderstanding, lesser crimes, lesser quarrels, lesser sins, lesser of all the evils because we are set free to love more, to help more, to understand more, to do more good things in life!
Recent unfolding of events in our country may be very depressing, aggravated by the personal problems we each bear on our shoulders that push us to cry in desperation for Jesus Christ to come quickly and rescue us. But, the truth is, Jesus is already in our midst just like during the time of John the Baptizer while preaching in the wilderness. We need to sustain that presence of Christ in us by always welcoming the word of God, “the one who began a good work in us may continue to complete it until the Second Coming.” (cf.Phil.1:6)
Pope Benedict XVI explains in his second encyclical “Spe Salvi” (“in hope we were saved”) how this virtue of hope is linked with the word of God, specifically with the Gospel, which enables us to bridge and live out the tension we spoke of last week about the here and not yet of Christ’s Second Coming: “Only when the future is certain as a positive reality does it become possible to live the present as well. So now we can say: Christianity was not only “good news”—the communication of a hitherto unknown content. In our language we would say: the Christian message was not only “informative” but “performative”. That means: the Gospel is not merely a communication of things that can be known—it is one that makes things happen and is life-changing. (stress mine)The dark door of time, of the future, has been thrown open. The one who has hope lives differently; the one who hopes has been granted the gift of a new life.”
fr. nicanor f. lalog ll
santissima trinidad parish
malolos city 3000