Tender Moments With God Our Father

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The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe, Week 8-A, 26 February 2017
Isaiah 49:14-15//1Corinthians 4:1-5//Matthew 5:24-34

While driving home from the seminary last Wednesday afternoon, two “bote-bakal” boys caught my attention.
There they were barely old enough to pedal their huge trike, about 12 years old the most, looking for scrap metals at the roadside. At their very young age, both looked so hardened by the harsh realities of life with their deep-set eyes, brown hair and dark skin due to long exposure to sun. I was moved with pity while seeing them trying so hard to pedal and push their trike when they should be in school learning how to read and write. It was similar to one of that scenes in the classic documentary “Minsan Lang Silang Mga Bata.” A few minutes later, a delivery van of live chicken merged in the traffic when suddenly I saw the eyes of the two scrap boys suddenly lighted up! They alighted from their trike and touched the protruding heads of the live chickens destined for the market. Finally, their faces sparkled with joy as I could hear them bursting in laughter looking at the caged chickens that they would carefully touch intermittently. At the moment, I prayed hard for the delivery personnel of the van to just allow those two boys enjoy a brief moment of simply being children. While looking at the scene, deep in my heart I praised and thanked God in allowing those children to feel His loving presence amid their very difficult life situation. That is how God must truly be, always making us feel His loving presence, His tender moments in the simplest things and moments especially when we are so down and hard-pressed in life. We just have to keep our eyes and hearts wide open to Him and to others around us.

Jesus said to his disciples: “No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and mammon. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow;tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.” (Mt.6:24-25,33-34)

Before emphasizing thrice in 11 verses to “do not worry” in His sermon on the mount today, Jesus laid first the very fundamental law governing our relationship with God: “You cannot serve both God and mammon.” This is based on His call last week for us not to be just good persons but most of all “to be holy and perfect” like our heavenly Father who personally relates with each one of us. It is Him alone who is our “Master”, a very exclusive term for St. Matthew that also means “Lord.” Problem with us humans, we always relate with God and others objectively, always insisting to subjectify the objects like money and material goods. Mammon refers to pagan god Moloch who also devours his worshippers. And that always happen when we worship money and material goods, when we subjectify these objects that in the process destroy us. On the other hand, the ones we must treat as subjects to be loved and cherished like God and persons, we regard as objects, taking them for granted and worst of all, discarding them like trash not realizing how much they truly love us and care for us. Notice how later in the gospel when Jesus would see the vast crowd following Him like a “sheep without shepherd” that He would say “the harvest is great but the laborers are few; pray that the Master would send more laborers to the field.” (cf. Mt.9:35ff) The Lord did not ask us to pray for more food or clothes or money or cellphones; He instructed us to pray for more laborers, more people, more persons who would care and love us!

This is very clear with Jesus: we are always number one to God who considers as His beloved children.
The call of Jesus for us to “do not worry” is neither a call to irresponsibility nor carelessness in life.
The worry Christ is asking us to guard against is that of always, even exclusively seeking material things like food and clothing as if we “live to eat” instead of “eat to live.” The Lord is stressing to us this Sunday that when we worry so much on material things, that is when we upset the scale of values in life emphasizing more on the objects than subjects like persons. When we worry more on material things, then our vision of the other person is obscured or even blinded and that is when we also begin to lose our faith in God. Hence, the parting words of Jesus today to
“seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.”

I know, this is easier said than done. There are times like you that I also reach that point of thinking that in spite of my faith and belief in God’s promises of salvation and protection, He sometimes seems to forget me in times of trials and difficulties. But as I vividly remember those twobote-bakal boys last Wednesday basking in the scorching heat of the sun with joy and laughter amidst their miseries in life, that is when I felt God tenderly caressing my head and my shoulders like my mother used to do when I had high fevers, rubbing me with Vick’s vaporub until I fell asleep, waking up the following morning so well and so alive. It is always very comforting and reassuring to hear God’s words to Isaiah in the first reading, “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.” (Is.49:14-15) It needs no elaboration because we all know what is to be addressed as “anak” or “child of my womb”. For anyone to forget one’s child is also to negate one’s self; hence, we feel mad when we hear parents forgetting their own children!

It is in the same manner of wholehearted love of God for us that we are called to respond to His love with our complete trust in Him like St. Paul in the second reading. Despite our sinfulness and weaknesses, God dwells in us, making us whole or “holy” that no matter what others may say about us like in St. Paul’s experience, we need not worry about our detractors because it is our loving and merciful God who would judge us in the end.
A blessed and worry-free week ahead to everyone!

Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista
Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan

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