Poon, kami’y palayain…

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, ika-18 ng Marso 2019

Panginoong aming mahal
Sa panahong itong banal
Aming dalangin kami'y palayain
Sa mga sala na umaalipin sa amin.
Ito ang iyong misyon at hangarin
Nang iyong sabihin at ganapin yaring propesiya: 
"Sumasaakin ang Espiritu ng Panginoon; 
Sinugo niya ako upang ipahayag sa mga bihag na sila'y lalaya."
Kami Panginoon ang mga bihag na iyon
Alipin ng mga kasalanan at kasamaan
Madalas hindi namim nalalaman
Kaya kami'y tulungan manhid na budhi ay mabuksan.
Kadalasan ika'y aming nalilimutan
Sa aming pagkagahaman sa atensiyon at kayamanan
At kung minsan nama'y tinatalikuran
Sa aming kapalaluan na huwag kaming mapapangunahan.
Marami pang ibang pagkakataon
Hindi ka namin nililingon Panginoon
Dahil lagi kaming nakatuon
Sa mga sariling pagkagumon.
Tulungan po ninyo kami, O Panginoon
Na aming matunton iyong mga panuntunan;
Huwag nawa kaming pakatiwala sa aming mga tuntungan
Dahil ang totoo'y munti lamang ito'ng mundo na aming alam.
Isang katatawanan, laging huli na kung aming malaman
Sa aming mga kasalanan wala pala kaming tunay na kalayaan  
Bagkus pawang mga nalinlang ng sandaling kaligayahan
Kaya't kami'y mga bihag at alipin lamang.
Mga larawan mula sa Google.

Lent is Radical

40 Shades of Lent, Monday, Week II, 18 March 2019
Daniel 9:4-10///Luke 6:36-38

Praise and glory to you, O God our Father that despite our sinfulness you continue to bless us! Teach us the true meaning of penance especially in this season of Lent by getting into the root of our sinfulness, that is, by being radical which is from the Latin word radix or root.

Give us the courage and humility of your prophet Daniel to admit wholeheartedly how wicked we have been, rebelling and departing from your commandments.

We feel shamefaced like Daniel before you, loving Father, for our many sins like when we neglected you among our brothers and sisters in need, unmindful of their great sufferings, be it physical, emotional or spiritual.

We are shamefaced, loving Father, in thinking the good times would never end, when we lived in excesses, bloating our egos as if we were gods.

Help us to return to you, our Root and Being, to turn our hearts back to you so that like you we may become merciful too.  Amen.

Images from Google.

“Good Times” by Bobbi Humphrey (1978)

LordMyChef Sunday Music, 17 March 2019

Image from Google.

For our hot and humid second Sunday of Lent, here is Bobbi Humphrey’s “Good Times” from her 1978 album Freestyle to cool you off and remind you of the many storms you have weathered in life.

Bobbi’s soothing voice, lovely lyrics and jazzy beat match so well with the gospel message this Sunday of the Transfiguration of Jesus that at the very core of His glorious Easter is always the Cross of Good Friday. There can never be a complete and correct picture of Jesus Christ without the Cross. In the same manner, there can be no real change in us, transformation into better persons and “good times” without pain and sufferings with Christ leading the way.

You and I have traveled life’s uncharted courses
We’ve been tossed around at many times on dark and stormy seas
But now the clouds are parting and the sun is shining through
It feels so good to know… you’re here with me,

To share the Good Times, that we waited for so long
I know the Good Times, will prove we weren’t wrong
To hold on to the dreams of how we knew it could be
We worked so hard at easin’ all the pain and misery
Until the Good Times had come ‘round for you and me
And now they’re here, now they’re here

Things may even get worst than better in the world, in our country and in our personal lives marked by sickness and deaths, problems and other woes but the story of the Transfiguration this Sunday assures us of our future glory in Jesus. Let us “stand firm in the Lord” as Paul tells us in his letter to the Philippians by reviewing the many decisions and choices we have made in the past to go back to Christ’s direction to His Cross with more love and faith with one another.

I remember all the hard times when there wasn’t much to eat
And the longest coldest winter, when we didn’t have much heat
But we had all we needed with love enough to spare
Cause more than money we had what I knew would get us here

We fought and won each battle that we had to fight
Made it through the darkness when we couldn’t see the light
And deep inside I guess we always knew that we were right
To try and catch that star….’cause baby here we are.
(Let’s share Good Times…. )

Enjoy your Sunday with good food and drinks, great company of family and friends with some music and a lot of prayers. A blessed week ahead with you!

Seeing and Hearing Jesus

40 Shades of Lent, Sunday Week-2, Year C, 17 March 2019
Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18//Philippians 3:17-4:1//Luke 9:28-36

From the mountain of temptation, we now join Jesus in His mountain of Transfiguration this Second Sunday of Lent. It does not matter on which mountain Jesus transfigured because Lent as a journey is not about destination but direction that begins right in our hearts when we examine and purify, renew and vivify our faith in the resurrection of Christ. At the very core of this Lenten journey is the glory of Jesus seen in the light of His Cross.

Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem… Then from the cloud came a voice that said, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. They fell silent and did not at that time tell anyone what they had seen.

Luke 9:28-31,35-36

Of the three evangelists who reported the Transfiguration, only Luke tells us its context, prayer: “Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray” (Lk. 9:28). It is very clear with Luke that the Transfiguration is a “prayer event” to show us what happens when Jesus talks with His Father. It is reminiscent of the experience of Moses when his face became radiant after talking with God at Sinai but far more deeper in meaning and reality. According to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, the Transfiguration is the “interpenetration” of Christ with His Father, becoming “light from light” for He Himself is the light. The face of Moses shone by receiving light from God after meeting Him on Mt. Sinai while the Transfiguration affirmed the divinity of Jesus as the Son of God whose light came from within Him.

What a wondrous sight to behold seeing Jesus in all His glory that prompted Peter to ask Jesus that they remain there as he offered to build them with a tent each! Luke tells us a similar story on the evening of Easter when two disciples going home to Emmaus met Jesus along the way, asking Him to stay with them for the night. In both stories, the sight of Jesus in His glory vanished immediately after He was recognized by the disciples. The same thing happens with us when we go through the same experiences of seeing the glory of Jesus in our lives, of how we wanted to preserve it, wishing Christ would remain to stay with us so we can keep those feelings of joy and peace within. Like Peter, the experience is too deep for words that we find ourselves not knowing what to say; and, like the two disciples at Emmaus we feel our hearts burning within because we have seen and heard the Lord!

Seeing and hearing are God’s greatest gifts. We find in the gospels how people were amazed whenever Jesus would restore sight of the blind and enable the mute to speak by opening their ears. Jesus Himself tells the disciples that include us today of how “Blessed are your eyes because they see, your ears because they hear! Amen, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it”(Mt. 13:16-17).

Seeing and hearing Jesus happen whenever we pray, the starting point of every Transfiguration. This is the reason why we have to pray always, not only during Lent. Prayer is communion with God, being one with God. The beloved disciple tells us that “No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us” (1Jn.4:12). God’s love is perfected in us whenever we join Jesus in His exodus or pasch, His passing over Passion, Death, and Resurrection. This is why the voice heard during His Transfiguration said “This is my chosen Son; listen to him.” After His Transfiguration, Jesus would always speak about His coming Passion, Death and Resurrection, calling us all to follow Him always.

And that is Transfiguration: the light of Christ’s Passion and Death burn us within to be transformed into His glorious Resurrection.  Any experience of God is always a transfiguration and transformation into His image and likeness which sin had destroyed and disfigured in us. The surest sign that we have seen and heard God is when we die in our sins, being transformed into new persons in Christ when we forget one’s self, carry our cross daily and follow Jesus. See again the centrality of the Cross in the Lord’s teachings and events. We can never have a complete and correct picture of Jesus Christ without the Cross. And there can be no real change in us without sufferings and pains with Christ leading the way.

In the first reading, Abraham saw and heard God at night in the desert like in the Transfiguration. God sealed His promise to him to be the father of all nations by taking the initiative to burn by “passing over” the animals he had sacrificed. Abraham held on to that promise through many tests and trials from God, thus becoming the father of all nations recognized by Jews, Christians and Moslems alike.

Yes, our life and times could even get worse with all the killings and problems going on in many parts of the world, even in our own lives, family and friends. Things may even get worst than better but the story of the Transfiguration this Sunday assures us of our future glory in Christ amidst all the crosses in our lives. Let us “stand firm in the Lord” as Paul tells us in the second reading by reviewing the many decisions and choices we have made in the past to go back to Christ’s direction to His Cross. Like Abraham and the apostles, let us be faithful to Jesus our Savior “who will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body by the power that enables him also to bring all things into subjection to himself” (Phil. 3:21-4:1). A blessed week to you in Christ Jesus!

Painting of the glorious crucified Christ called “Luwalhati” by Bulakenyo artist Aris Bagtas, acrylic on old wood 18×24, 2019. Used with permission.

The Ides of March

40 Shades of Lent, Friday, Week-1, 15 March 2019
Ezekiel 18:21-28///Matthew 5:20-26

Lord Jesus Christ, it is “the Ides of March” and like “Friday the 13th” some of us are thinking of so many misfortunes and bad things that could befall us on this date made notorious by the assassination of the Roman emperor Julius Ceasar. Forgive us in professing our faith in you yet continue to subscribe to so many superstitious beliefs.

Remind us O Lord of the ironic twist that the Ides of March is not gone if we continue to live in sin, or, if after leading a virtuous life we turn into evil deeds because in both instances we shall die. It is true that you “never derive joy in the death of the wicked” (Ez. 18:23) because you have come to forgive us from our sins so we can lead holy lives as children of the Father.

Indeed, Shakespeare was absolutely right when Cassius voiced out in his play Julius Caesar that “the fault my dear Brutus is not in the stars but in ourselves.”

Give us the courage to look into our hearts to examine our lives and see if our worship of You and our dealing with others are in congruent with each other. Let us stop our attitudes of blaming and complaining to start changing our ways according to your will O Lord. Amen.

Images from Google.

Objective of Prayer

40 Shades of Lent, Thursday in Week-1, 14 March 2019
Esther C:12, 14-16, 23-25///Matthew 7:7-12

God our loving Father, if there is one thing we wish to tell you today, it is the Psalmist’s song for today, “Lord, on the day I called for help, you answered me.”

So many times, we felt like “Queen Esther, seized with mortal anguish” with no other recourse but to you O God. We know our limits and our weaknesses as well as sinfulness, yet, you keep on trusting us, giving us so many responsibilities and missions in life. Not because we are great or so good but simply because we trust in you.

Teach us to discover anew that in prayer, our lone objective is You alone, O God: not things like money and wealth, power and honor. It is you alone whom we seek, whom we ask for, whom we knock doors for.

Give us the grace to strive to for your Person for you are more than a concept.

Give us the grace to experience your Person as you are not according to our belief or imaginations.

Just to feel your presence O God is more than enough for especially when we are in great need. Stay with us, remain in us always. Amen.

Images from Google.

God’s Word, God’s Sign

40 Shades of Lent, Wednesday of Week 1, 13 March 2019
Jonah 3:1-10///Luke 11:29-32

Open “the ears of our hearts”, O Lord, to always heed your words especially in this holy season of Lent when your readings are so rich and meaningful. So many times we are like your contemporaries, “an evil generation always seeking signs.” (Lk. 11:29)

Or, like your reluctant prophet Jonah: we cannot believe your words, always trying to escape responsibilities and mission from you to proclaim your word.

The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: “Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and announce to it the message that I will tell you.” So Jonah made ready and went to Nineveh, according to the Lord’s bidding.

Jonah 3:1-3

How funny and even insane, Lord, for us to run away from you, hide from you like Jonah because we find your words so simple, doubting its powers to move and change people.

But when like Jonah we proclaim your words, we are amazed and surprised at its efficacy not only with the people they are directed to but most of all with us. Your words indeed are alive and so powerful especially if our whole heart is humbled and contrite from our sins.

Help us to always recognize your presence in your words for you are the Word who became flesh. Take away our stony hearts and give us a natural heart that beats with firm faith, fervent hope and unceasing charity and love. Amen.

Images from Google.