Talk 4


I invite you to lift up your hands and say our favorite prayer here in The Feast:

We’re still in our series, CLOSER. And in this series, we’re talking about the book of Leviticus.

Just a quick review: Leviticus is one of the important books because it’s at the center of the Torah. Torah was

the Bible of the Israelites back then. It had only five books. Those five books were

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

The core message of the series is God wants us to be closer to Him.

Don’t you feel happy when your loved one is close to you?

What I love about this is that what we’re doing here at The Feast is that we’re really breaking down this book of the Bible. Aren’t you happy that we’re having a deeper understanding of the Old Testament? Even I, I admit I could not really understand the Old Testament. I could relate better with the New Testament. But now that we’re doing this, I’m slowly realizing and seeing that the God that Jesus was talking about is actually the God that is there in this earlier book.

The big message of the talk today is this: God is our oxygen.

Oxygen is so abundant that most of us neglect its importance. Some of us don’t even worry about it anymore because it’s already there. I know some of you worry more about mobile data – “Why is it so slow?” “Why can’t I connect?”

But oxygen—hardly. Many of you won’t worry about it. But I want to proclaim this truth today: God is our oxygen.

And if God is like oxygen, without oxygen, without God, we die. Do you feel alive being here at The Feast? Yes. It’s because God is here.

In today’s talk, we are going to explore that idea. Because it’s a reality for some people and I know some of you will relate to this.

Isn’t it that sometimes, you’ re like, “Lord, I know Your love is always here.

But why is there some moments I don’t feel Your love?”

We will address that in the talk today. Because here is what we also believe in: There is no lack in the supply of oxygen.

You can have all you want. It’s like Eat-All-You-Can—like buffet.

But sometimes, there is a lack in your capacity to absorb the oxygen.

How do I know that?

Rituals to ‘Absorb’ God

Several years back, I had a really bad cough—I was coughing for two weeks, and every time I coughed, I felt pain in my side, I could not sleep, until I had fever.

My wife brought me to the hospital. I was diagnosed with pneumonia and I was confined for five days.

On the very first day– I would not forget– the doctor, aside from giving me antibiotics, scheduled nebulization every six hours.

After the first nebulization, I could already breathe normally.

When I was a kid, I had asthma, so I knew about nebulization. But I never really understood how it worked.

So, I asked my doctor, “Doc, what’s inside the nebulizer? Why is it effective?”

The doctor said, “Ah, that’s a broncho dilator. What it does is it opens up your bronchial tubes, so that when you inhale, you get to absorb more oxygen. That’s the reason you’re breathing well.”

Why am I sharing this? Because it’s like that – you need dilators so that you can absorb more the Presence and the Love of God. Do you want that?

Then we’ll do that today. And the surprising lesson that we can learn from Leviticus is this: That one dilator or one way for you to absorb God more is through rituals.

Husbands, or boyfriends, can you look at your partner? Do you know why she is beautiful? It’s because of rituals. She has a nighttime skin care ritual. She has morning time SPF (Sun Protection Factor) skin care ritual. She has night cream, day cream.

As for me, I’m okay with ice cream only.:)

Rituals Are Important

Even in The Feast, we have elaborate rituals.

Do you know that even before you took a seat there this morning, Prayer Ministry servants had already been praying over every seat: “Lord take away the bad spirit, the spirit of distraction.”

So, notice, you’re not sleepy here. You’re always listening to the preacher. Because these rituals have been used for you to even further experience the Presence of God. And today we will talk about that in Leviticus – the ritual of the ordination of their priests. Let’s read Leviticus 8: 1-6:

What happened here?

During their time, their Levitical priests were very similar with our priests today.

The ordination of our priests is a beautiful ceremony. It lasted for hours.

The Levitical priests would take seven days to be ordained.

Before we continue reading, I want you to put this in this context: Are you familiar with wedding day video SDE—Same Day Edit? There’s scene where the camera pans on the outfit of the groom, the wedding ring.… Then the next scene:

His parents help him dress up for the ceremony.

The ritual of the ordination of the Levitical priest was a bit like that.

Let’s continue reading Leviticus 8:7-9:

Outfit of the Ancient Priest

Imagine how elaborate the priest’s garment. Here’s a picture illustrating how intricate the high priest’s garment was.

Urim and Thummim were like two stones that were symbolic—put on Aaron’s chestpiece.

We all like to dress up. We missed dressing up during the Coronavirus Decease Pandemic because we just worked from home and attended Zoom meetings with our co-employees. You put on office attire only as your top and just your house wear at the bottom.

When you attend a wedding, you dress up. It was like that during that time. Here’s what happened next—in Leviticus 8:23:

To them, blood is a symbol of anointing.

It was an elaborate ritual. What happened next was nothing compared to the ordination ritual that happened.

But the ritual was important.

Rituals Are Powerful

So, I invite you to stand up and lift up your hands as we honor the Word of God– because we will read what happened next.

Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. 

Here’s what happened next:

After the elaborate ritual of anointing the new priests of Israel, when they ministered to the people, the Lord came down.

To them, the symbol of the Lord’s Presence was the Offering being consumed.

Sometimes, we have a bad connotation about rituals. We know some people who do empty rituals. But today, I want us to go back to the true origin of rituals. They exemplify our faith. They exemplify our capability to be God’s channel.

May I share a story—very quickly.

One ritual I learned to do – when I started to know God—was to pray before meals. Would you believe, I did not grow up praying before meals. So, I began the ritual when I met God in college. When I started working, I continued praying before meals.

But there was one time when this one colleague confronted me about it. He told me, “What are you doing?”

I said, “I’m praying. For the food. I am happy having a meal.” He asked, “Who bought the food?”

I said, “Me.”

He retorts, “So, the food came from you—not from the Lord.”

I felt embarrassed. I was still new in the faith and I didn’t know how to defend what I was doing. So, I was like, I will no longer do it.

“Sorry, Lord!”

A Simple Rite

So, what I did instead was this: When we bought food at the cafeteria, before I sat with my colleague, I already prayed as I walked toward our table…

Until God convicted me: “Why are you forsaking that beautiful ritual?

It’s blessing your life.”

So, I continued praying—even as I worried he would taunt me and I’d feel embarrassed.

You know what, six months after, I just noticed, one time, when I prayed before having my meal, my colleague was also praying.

So, I was like, “Hala, ano ang nakain nito?—What had he eaten? What got into him?”

And fast forward… You know, he’s older than me. Time came when he was getting married. But before the wedding, he had not yet received the Sacrament of Confirmation—required before you go through the Sacrament of Marriage.

He needed a ninong, godparent, for his Confirmation– and he got me.

So, there we were, during the Confirmation rites—standing among seven- or eight- year-old boys, also going through the rites: my friend, 25 years old, a big guy, with me as his ninong.

I asked him, “Why did you get me as your ninong?”

He just told me, “Because in the simple way that you did, you showed Jesus to me.”

And that’s why we’re talking today about rituals. Rituals are powerful— if done according to God’s will. Amen.

Put your hands on your heart, and let’s pray:

Almighty Father, we thank You. Because our Catholic faith is blessed with beautiful rituals. Our prayer is that we will be able to live out the essence of those rituals. May they be not empty rituals, Lord, but rituals that will change our life and bless the people around us. This we ask in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Let’s lift our hands to the Word of God and sing:

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.

Give the Lord a big and praise Him.

And to continue what will happen next in the story—there are more events—please welcome, Bro. Lep Sumera!

God Is Our Author

LEP SUMERA: Praise God!

I love the story shared by Bro. John Ben.

Really blessed us. But like the K-Drama –Korean telemovie series—you thought it’s already okay, happy ending, but not yet…

Let’s continue reading Leviticus.

10 Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu put coals of fire in their incense burners and sprinkled incense over them. In this way, they disobeyed the LORD by burning before him the wrong kind of fire, different than he had commanded. 2 So fire blazed forth from the LORD’s presence and burned them up, and they died there before the LORD.3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD meant when he said,‘I will display my holiness through those who come near me. I will display my glory before all the people.’”And Aaron was silent.

What happened to the story? At the outset, it was already okay– but there’s a plot twist.

I did not prepare this message– but maybe it’s the Holy Spirit. I want you to know, my friend, that whatever your story – maybe you don’t like it— but there’s also a plot twist.

God is still the One writing your story. He is not yet done.

Now, some of us might think, “I thought God is good. I thought God is love. I thought God is merciful. Why is He cruel in this story? For just a simple mistake of the two sons of Aaron, He punished these people.

My beloved friends, this is why here in The Feast, we exhort everybody not to read the Bible literally. We need to know the context. We need to borrow the eyeglasses of the authors so that we can understand the story.

You see, this story is an ancient story. And ancient stories are profoundly symbolic. The image of Nadab and Abihu in the

Tabernacle was actually a picture of Adam and Eve in the Garden. There’s a link—a hyperlink— connecting this story to the Genesis story.

Remember the story of Adam and Eve? They were the original priests. They were the first, the original representatives of God. But we know what happened. They played God, right? They took matters into their own hands. They did not obey God. They did not trust God.

And that was also what happened to Nadab and Abihu.

Why the Harsh Punishment

Some of us might think—with what we just read—what the brothers did was simple. Why the harsh punishment?

But the thing is, it’s a big deal.

It’s a big deal what they did. It was not just a small liturgical mistake. How do we know that?

Three reasons: They entered the veil (of the Tabernacle) ; they used a strange fire; and they ate the fruit.

Let’s look at these verses one by one.

Leviticus 10:1:

You see, friends, when we talk about incense burners, they were like sensors—they were like marks that showed that no human was allowed to enter this Tabernacle. Only the high priest could enter this place. And when? Only once a year. Because this place was the Holy of Holies.

Foul No. 1: They went in there, even though they were not allowed to be there.

Next, Verse 2:

Remember in our previous talks, we said that God was dwelling in the Mount Sinai and He invited the Israelites to go up the mountain.

But the Israelites did not obey. Why?

They were afraid. They were afraid because when they looked up the Mount Sinai, they saw a fiery mountain.

Because, you see, fire was a symbol of God’s Presence. And their action of using a different fire instead of what God was commanding them, it was like saying, “I don’t need that God.”

They were putting matters into their own hands. They were not obeying God. Foul No. 2: “I know a lot more, Lord. This is what I want, Lord.”

The Sin of Nadab and Abihu

Let’s move on…Verse 9:

Single people make some noise. You know what? When somebody would ask “Single people, raise your hands,” Shout out. For all you know, your OTL (One True Love) is here. ”

Question: Guys, do you know someone who, after drinking a lot, gets drunk, no longer knows what he’s doing?

Do you know people who don’t know what they said or what they did after they got drunk? Too much alcohol.

I have a friend who drinks a lot. And after drinking, she becomes an expert in English speaking. “Yyya know whaat? I therefore coonclude…” And sometimes, she also gets emotional and expert in speaking in English: “Hu-hu-hu, I thought hhee lovesssh me…Why?…Why?… Why?” She’s drunk.

Take note: Nadab and Abihu were drunk during their sacred work. It makes all sense, right?—Why they went over the Holy of Holies. This is why they used a strange fire. Because they were drunk. They drunk wine. And we all know that wine is made from grapes.

The thing is, in the same way that Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, Nadab and Abihu also ate fruit (grapes in the form of wine).

So, at this point, I want to defend God—that God is not cruel.

Question: How many of you would agree with me that oxygen is good and dangerous?

Let’s have an activity: Everybody, breathe in, breathe out. One more time: breathe in, hold, breathe out. Last time: breathe in, hold, breathe out.

Oxygen is good, right? Because if you have it, you live. You are alive. And it’s dangerous when you say No to oxygen. You die.

You can’t say, “Oxygen killed me.” No way. You can’t say that. It’s your choice to refuse oxygen.

And here, our message is God is our oxygen.

Now, you’re wondering why there are certain moments in your life when you feel that you’re dead. Maybe because you refuse to be with God, to be closer to Him.

So, when you think about it, it’s not God who killed Nadab and Abihu.

No. They brought death upon themselves.

Often, we blame the Devil – that the Devil causes us to sin. But the thing is, sometimes, it’s not the Devil. It’s another D—letter D: and that’s your Decision. It’s your wrong Decision that causes you to sin.

I have made a lot of wrong decisions– that have caused me to sin, that have caused me to fall, that have caused me to run away from God.

Let’s pray:

Lord, Guide me in all my decisions. Help me to make decisions that will not detach me from Your Presence and from Your Love. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Two Important Questions

Sometimes, we think God is a stuffed toy: “Lord, I need you to comfort me. Lord, I’m afraid, I need You be with me. Lord, embrace me because I need You!”

Whenever we need Him, we run to Him, we even embrace Him like we embrace a stuffed toy.

But Question: When you’re happy, do you remember God? When you’re happy, you just leave Him: “Lord, You’re not my option today. Stay where You are. Lord, I’m happy with what I have right now. Stay there.”

Friends, God is not a stuffed toy. God is an oxygen.

You can’t live without God.

At this point, let us answer two important questions.

Actually, Bro. John Ben already said something beautiful about this. You see,

Leviticus says God ordained the priests to do the rituals. So, the priest and the rituals—they go together. When you look at it, our beloved Catholic priests—they continue to do that. They lead us to Mass, to Confirmation, to Rosary, to Weddings… That is why we get criticized.

Others are saying, “You have too many rituals.”

But the thing is, they can’t save you. Because only Jesus can do that. And that is true. I believe in that. Although we have many rituals, only Jesus can save us.

But for me, it depends on your definition of rituals. Because here in The Feast, our definition of rituals is they are simply a language. And this is important to us – most especially in relationships. For February 14, Valentine’s Day, we are preparing something for our One True Love, for our family, for our beloved.

And that is a part of our rituals.

One more specific example. My wife Sally and I, we have a ritual that before I leave for work, I kiss her, and I say, “Bye, Mommy. I’m leaving. I love you.”

Whether she’s sleeping or not, I do that. One day, we had an argument. I was irritated. I didn’t want to give in. So, that day, when I had to leave for work,

I chose not to say bye to her. I chose not to kiss her, not to say, “Bye, Mommy. I’m leaving. I love you.”

On my way to work, I received a message from my wife: “Okay lang ba tayo?— Are we okay?”

I got scared. You know, from that day on, even if we’re having an argument,

I make it a point that even if I’m angry, I say bye to her. Because that’s our ritual.

Yes, we can do empty rituals but the problem isn’t the ritual—but the person doing the ritual.


In our previous talks, we said for us to be holy, we need to hang out, we need to be with Jesus. And the thing is, rituals don’t have to be walls. Rituals are designed to be doors. They are designed to be doors—doors that would led us to Jesus, doors that would lead us to be closer to Jesus. They are not walls.

At the same time, priests don’t have to be barriers. They are designed to be bridges. And as we talk about priests, here’s Question No. 2:

A special message of Leviticus is about priesthood.

God had a plan—right at the beginning, in Genesis:

But we all know what happened. Man failed God. So, God had a Plan B:

That’s why we had Abraham, Noah,

Moses, and we have priests. But God has not given up on Plan A. As we read in 1 Peter 2:9:

Here, God is reminding you and me that He is calling us to be His priests.

No, I am not talking about you wearing a stola, a sutana. No. But I mean, you and me to be His

representatives in this broken world. I encourage you, as we worship today, say Yes to His call. Say Yes to Jesus.

Under the Water…

As we respond to this call, we need a role model. We need an example. If we are to become priests, we need a High Priest. We need a High Priest who will not fail us. And He is none other than Jesus.

So, we follow Jesus. We follow the heart of Jesus. We pursue being closer to our High Priest.

Are you familiar with this? It’s a snorkel:

There was a time we went to Siquijor. I was so happy to see the corals, the fishes underwater because I was wearing a snorkel. Because underwater, I could breathe. This is the purpose of the snorkel. Underwater you can breathe. You can explore, you can do a lot. But question: Are you going to last underwater with just this snorkel? No. Now, I want to ask you this personal question: How many of you right now, you feel that you’re under the water of problems, under that ocean of sufferings that seem like with no end? You’re under that water that seems so difficult to get out of. Can you relate?

And yes, you have your spiritual snorkel. And you’ve been trying and trying to breathe, to breathe. And you notice that the spiritual snorkel is not enough.

Because it’s only temporary. That’s why you can’t bear your trials—because you’re settling for a snorkel.

Take Off the Snorkel

This is the message of God today: Don’t settle for the snorkel. Because there’s a true Life Source whose name is Jesus. He is your Life Support. He is our oxygen.

Take it off. Take off your spiritual snorkel.

You don’t need it

God is telling us today: I am here. You don’t need that because I am here.

Everybody breathe in. Breathe in God’s Love. Breathe out. One more time: Breathe in. Breathe in God’s Mercy. Breathe out.

God is our oxygen. And we can’t live without God.

Let’s worship our King.

Published by THE FEAST (February 19, 2023)


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