Veritas PH

The WORD. The TRUTH.

LORD IS MY CHEF

Rest is to be close with Jesus, close with others

 154 total views

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B, 21 July 2024
Jeremiah 23:1-6 ><}}}}*> Ephesians 2:13-18 ><}}}}*> Mark 6:30-34
Photo by author, Katmon Nature Sanctuary &Beach Resort, Infanta, Quezon March 2023.

After being sent “two by two” last Sunday, the Apostles now return to Jesus, reporting “all they had done and taught.”  What a beautiful gospel scene this Sunday, supposed to be our day of rest that begins in God and must be rooted in God.

The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught.  He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”  People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat.  So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place (Mark 6:30-32).

Last Sunday we were reminded to rediscover the family and friends sent with us “two by two” in this life while today the Lord wants us to be aware of our need to rest in order to rediscover Him first of all, then one’s self and others.

Unfortunately, many people today have entirely forgotten the meaning and importance of rest that we succumb to all kinds of sickness related with stress and fatigue. In fact, Filipino workers were recently ranked as the second worst in terms of work-life balance in a worldwide survey. One factor it cited is the lesser paid vacation leaves our workers have compared with their counterparts in other countries.

Photo by author, Sonnenberg Resort, Davao City, 2017.

Rest is not only stopping from work to be recharged like cellphone batteries; we are not things like robots and drones sent out simply for a task that once achieved, no more.  We are inter-related persons meant to form bonds and unity, a family and a community. That is the result of our being sent on a mission to share God’s creative works leading to our union in Him with others.

God rested and made Sabbath holy after creation because He had completed all His works that were all good; we, on the other hand, merely participate in His creative works. That is why no matter how hard we push ourselves with our work, we can’t completely finish them as more things to do come along the way, making us bored or stressed out because we could no longer find life but simply routine. We have been so focused on accomplishing many things as if we are the savior of the world (messianic complex) that we feel so important, bloating our ego. That is when we start literally throwing our weight to those around us like in those reels of road rage. The sad part of this is how we eventually hurt the people we love and supposed to serve like the shepherds of the Old Testament that God through Jeremiah had accused to have “misled and scattered” the people of Israel (Jer.23:1).

Photo by author, border between Jordan and Israel, May 2019.

Today, Jesus is inviting us to “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while (Mk.6:31)” to remind us that in everything we do in this life, what matters most is not the task but us, the persons we love and care for, and Christ who is our only fulfillment in life.

Like the apostles, we have to return to Jesus precisely because our mission, our work is not ours but Christ’s. We need to return to Jesus every Sunday in the Eucharist when we are nourished by His words and strengthened by His Body and Blood to sustain us in our mission.

Rest is neither doing nothing like sleeping all day or doing anything we like that we forget God and in the process, our very self and others. Rest is a time of conversion when we lay aside our plans and agenda by returning to God so that we could have focus again in this life. Rest is actually to be filled with God, to be holy.

This we find expressed perfectly in our Filipino word for rest which is pahinga from the root hinga or breath that is spiritus in Latin. To rest in Filipino is mag-pa-hinga that literally means hingahanto be breathed on. Genesis tells us how God breathed on man to be alive after creating him while in John’s Gospel we find Jesus breathed on His apostles after greeting them with peace twice on the night of Easter when He appeared to them at the Upper Room. From here we get that beautiful imagery of rest as being breathed on by God – mag-pa-hinga sa Diyos – which is to be closer with God!

Here now is the challenge and best part of the good news this Sunday: the more closer we get to God in Jesus and through Jesus especially on Sunday our day of rest, the more we must get closer with others. The more we pray, the more we rest in the Lord, the more we serve, the more we love.

Mark told us how Jesus invited the Twelve to “come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while” but the people saw them and even got earlier to the other side of the lake!

When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd and he began to teach them many things (Mark 6:34).

Photo by author in the Holy Land, 2019.

Rest is more than the amount of time spent “resting” but the disposition to be with the Lord, to be one with Him that we become holy like Him. That moment when Jesus led the Twelve to rest was already a “rest” for Him that resulted in serving more the people who have followed them.

Jesus being moved with pity for the people indicated His rest and communion with the Father expressed in His oneness with the suffering people who were like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus has always been one with the Father right from the very start until His death on the Cross where He declared “It is finished” and commended His total self to the Father.

The truest sense of us having a real rest, of getting closer with God is when we get closer with others especially those entrusted to our love and care like our loved ones and those who are poor and sick.

Problem these days among us priests including laypeople is our wrong idea about rest; we do not really rest at all but simply indulge in pleasures that are many times scandalous for being godless and unmindful of other people. True rest makes our hearts natural to be aware of the sufferings of others, to be one with them or at least take their plight into consideration in our rest.

We can only say “mission accomplished” to rest when we are one with God through others that St. Paul explains in the second reading at how Jesus Christ reconciled us all through the Cross, “putting an enmity to death by it” (Eph. 2:16). Next Sunday, this we shall see when after teaching and healing the people in that deserted place, Jesus would feed the crowd of over 5000 people from just a few loaves of bread and pieces of fish.

Let us rest in the Lord to prepare our hearts and souls as well as our tired body to be filled with God so we can fill others too with Him. Let us pray:

Lord Jesus Christ,
we live in a highly competitive world
of 24/7 wherein everyone is so busy
that we forget You and the persons 
You have entrusted to us;
remind us we are not the Messiah
nor a superhero to save the world;
we can only do as much in this life
as God had accomplished all for us
 in You, the Christ;
let us take two or three 
even five steps backwards 
to let You, Jesus,
do your work in us.
Amen.

Put life in order

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The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Fifteenth Week of Ordinary Time, Year II, 19 July 2024
Isaiah 38:1-6, 21-22, 7-8     <*((((><  +  ><))))*>     Matthew 12:1-8
Photo by author, somewhere in Bgy. Kaysuyo, Alfonso, Cavite, 27 April 2024.

When Hezekiah was mortally ill, the prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz, came and said to him: “Thus says the Lord: Put your house in order, for you are about to die; you shall not recover. Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord… Then the word of the Lord came to Isaiah: “Go, tell Hezekiah: Thus says the Lord, the God of your father David: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears. I will heal you: in three days you shall go up to the Lord’s temple; I will add fifteen years to your life” (Isaiah 38:1-2, 4-5).

God our Father,
help us
 to put our house in order;
give us the courage and
strength to put our lives
in order
by sincerely admitting our sins
with a firm resolve to turn away
from them and live the gospel
of Jesus your Son.
Let me put order
to my spiritual life by cultivating
the discipline to pray daily
keeping that relationship with You;
let me put order in my life
by seeking ways to be more
loving with others than
finding their faults;
let me put order in my life
by being less judgmental of others
to be more charitable and understanding.
Like Hezekiah
let me accept my fate,
let me accept death:
"In the noontime of life I must depart!
To the gates of the nether world
I shall be consigned
for the rest of my years" (Isaiah 38:10);
how wonderful that without praying
for his healing but for the grace
to accept your will,
You healed Hezekiah
and prolonged his life
to serve You more than ever.
Amen.

God, our dew of light

 588 total views

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Fifteenth Week of Ordinary Time, Year II, 18 July 2024
Isaiah 26: 7-9, 12, 16-19     <'[[[[><  +  ><]]]]'>     Matthew 11:28-30
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Your words today,
O God, are so refreshing
that I wish to pray like your
Prophet Isaiah:
"The way of the just is smooth;
the path of the just you make level.
My soul yearns for you in the night,
yes, my spirit within me keeps vigil
for you; 
For your dew
is a dew of light,
and the land of shades
gives birth"
(Isaiah 26:7, 9, 19).
Freshen us, O Lord,
from our dirt and exhaustion
from sin! 

Refresh our thoughts
and our feelings, make them
crystal clear like the dew
in the morning to see your
kindness and mercy!

Gladden our hearts,
uplift our souls
with your presence in
Christ Jesus who calls us
daily to come to Him
and have rest,
because His yoke is easy,
His burden is light
(Matthew 11:28-30).
Let us surrender to You
in Jesus Christ 
for there is no salvation
outside from You except in Him;
so true are the words of Isaiah:
"As a woman about to give birth
writhes and cries out in pains, 
so were we in your presence, O Lord.
We conceived and writhed in pain,
giving birth to wind; salvation 
we have not achieved for the earth,
the inhabitants of the world
cannot bring it forth.
But your dead shall live,
their corpses shall rise;
awake and sing, 
you who lie in the dust"
(Isaiah 11: 17-19).
Teach us to appreciate
and value the little things in life
we take for granted 
like the droplets of dew in the morning
enough to set our face aglow again
of new beginnings; in coming to us,
Jesus taught us the value of being
small, being little,
being silent, being humble
when life begins
and regenerates always.
Let us arise anew in Jesus
from our deep sleep in sin
through His dew of light, 
a glimmer of better days ahead.
Amen.
Photo by Cosmin Petrisor on Pexels.com

God has the whole world in His hands

 1,161 total views

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Fifteenth Week of Ordinary Time, Year II, 17 July 2024
Isaiah 10:5-7, 13-16     ><))))*> + ><))))*> + ><))))*>     Matthew11:25-27
Photo by Dra. Mylene A. Santos, MD in Infanta, Quezon 2020.
Praise and glory to You,
God our loving Father
who has the whole world
in your hands;
nothing happens by chance,
all good things come from You
and if ever something bad happens,
You know it for sure;
You never punish us
for our sins and whatever bad
happens to us is a result of our
transgressions, of turning away
from You; therefore,
let us always hope and trust in You
for You never abandon us your children
especially in our times of trials
and tribulations;
in the same manner,
let us not be so proud when
we are in the height of our success
believing we are the best because
You have the final say in history;
let us not be proud like Assyria
of old:

“My hand has seized like a nest the riches of nations; as one takes eggs left alone, so I took in all the earth; no one fluttered a wing, or opened a mouth, or chirped!”

Will the axe boast against him who hews with it? Will the saw exalt itself above him who wields it? As if a rod could sway him who lifts it, or a staff him who is not wool! Therefore the Lord, the Lord of hosts, will send among his fat leanness, and instead of his glory there will be kindling like the kindling of fire (Isaiah 10:14-16).

Teach me, dear Jesus,
to be small like a child,
simple and trusting in You;
feeling more than thinking more,
kind and loving than
analyzing and sizing up others,
most of all,
lowly and humble because
You alone has the whole world
in your hands.
Amen.

Firm faith, firm self

 1,500 total views

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Memorial of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, 16 July 2024
Isaiah 7:1-9     <*((((><  M+  ><))))*>     Matthew 11:20-24
Photo by author, Holy Family Monastery of Our Lady of Carmel, Guiguinto, Bulacan 2019.
Thank You, dear God our Father
to your reminder today through
your prophet,
"Unless your faith is firm
you shall not be firm!"
(Isaiah 7:9).
So many times I forget this truth
 as I try to do everything
 to make myself strong physically,
 mentally and emotionally;
  so many times I forget
 that everything is fleeting in this world
 especially my body, including my enemies;
  many times I forget
 that the path to real strength
 of my person is in having
 a firm faith in You
 because only You remain.

Everything passes in this world;
 nations and peoples,
 cities and states rise
 and fall but, not You, O Lord!
  You never stop speaking
 your words of wisdom
 into the silence of my heart,
 calling me to trust in You,
 to have faith in You
 as You find ways in saving me
 from my many problems and miseries.
  Give me the grace to repent
 and to harden not my heart
 when I hear Your voice
 in Christ Jesus with Mary
our Lady of Carmel.
Amen.

“Bring me”…

 1,498 total views

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial of St. Bonaventure, Doctor of the Church, 15 July 2024
Isaiah 1:10-17     <*((((><  +  ><))))*>     Matthew 10:34-11:1
Photo from The Valenzuela Times, 02 July 2024.
On this blessed Monday,
your word "bring" invites me
to examine what I bring:

“Trample my courts no more! Bring no more worthless offerings; your incense is loathsome to me” (Isaiah 1:13).

Jesus said to his Apostles: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace upon the earth. I have come to bring not peace but the sword” (Matthew 10:34).

Teach me, O Lord,
to bring your peace and justice,
to bring your truth and light
so that I may bring that
much-needed balance
we are searching in life.
Like St. Bonaventure,
help me to bring myself before
You, dear God in prayers,
to immerse myself in your words
in the scriptures
so that I may bring together
the ideal and practical,
the spiritual and material.
Many times, O Lord,
we bring our very selves,
it is our ego and pride
we love to bring everywhere
for everyone to see,
forgetting that
we must first bring
You back into our hearts,
bring You back into our minds,
bring You back into our lives
so that we can finally
bring out the best
worship of You.
Amen.

Travelling in Christ, with Christ

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The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B, 14 July 2024
Amos 7:12-15 ><}}}*> Ephesians 1:3-24 ><}}}*> Mark 6:7-13
Photo by Jason Toevs on Pexels.com

It is always easy to spot any flight back to Manila if you happen to travel abroad by searching for for a long line of passengers with so much luggage, including giant boxes of pasalubong. No doubt about it, surely those are Filipinos going home.

We Filipinos are so notorious in having so many bibit whenever we travel here and abroad. Perhaps, it is an indication of our common affliction with excess emotional baggage which the 2014 movie That Thing Called Tadhana beautifully explored and now our gospel this Sunday also tells a lot about travelling in Christ, with Christ:

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits.  He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick – no food, no sack, no money in their belts.  They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic (Mark 6:7-9).

Photo by Mr. Vigie Ongleo, Sagada, Mountain Province, 2014.

We have been “travelling” with Jesus these past weeks with the Evangelist Mark as our guide. We have heard His teachings, been amazed at His powers that calmed the storm in the sea and healed the sick, and deeply touched by His perseverance amid the failure when rejected in His native Nazareth last Sunday.

Today and next Sunday, Mark would reveal to us more of the mystery of who Jesus Christ is as He sent forth His disciples to preach His Good News of salvation. We in the present time are all disciples of Jesus too who are sent to continue not only His work of salvation but also of revealing Himself, His love, mercy and compassion.

In giving the instruction “to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick- no food, no sack, no money in belts,” Jesus is not asking us to turn away from the material world but simply for us to examine the spirit and values that have imbued us as a person.

We are in the world but not of the world. We need money, cellphones, cars, and other things but we don’t need to be enslaved by these that they become our master or even gods!

Disciples need not be denied of the basic necessities of life symbolized by the “sandals, tunic, and a walking stick” but we must be aware always of “extra  baggage” lest we forget the essence of the mission – Jesus Himself and the people. St. Mother Teresa used to tell priests to “give us only Jesus, always Jesus” whom we must always have and share. Jesus comes to us daily in our prayers and the sacraments and most especially with the people we live and work with.

In sending the disciples “two by two”, Jesus gives us the gift of one another, of companions in the ministry, a co-journeyer and co-worker in Him because as He had said, “where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in their midst.” Therefore, in sending His disciples two by two, Jesus tells us that He is in fact the very gift we have to share in our mission. Every disciple is the sign Christ’s presence.

Likewise, every person who comes to our lives is always a gift from God; we just have to discover his or her giftedness in becoming a presence of Christ with us and in us so that with them and through them, we are able to reveal Him too.

We discover that giftedness through our daily breaking and giving of our selves with others. Actually, the literal meaning of the word “companion” is “someone you break bread” from the two Latin words cum panis. Next month, we shall hear Jesus revealing Himself as the bread from heaven, the living bread.

Photo by author, Baguio City, 11 July 2023.

Inasmuch as each of us is a presence of the Christ, then truly the Lord is the greatest gift, the most precious One we all have in this life. But, the question is, do we value Christ and the people He sends us more than our gadgets and things?

Can we not leave our phones in our bags or pockets during meals to enjoy the company of others? Can we spend a whole rainy afternoon with a loved one just smiling, holding hands or simply being together instead of tinkering or even cuddling that iPad or laptop?

This intimacy we have with our loved ones, with our companions in life and ministry is ultimately a reflection too of our communion with Jesus Christ.  As disciples of the Lord, we always act in the name of Jesus, in His authority only if we are truly one with Him, in Him and through Him.

Photo by author, Chapel of the Angel of Peace, Our Lady of Fatima University, Valenzuela City, 04 July 2024.

How sad many people these days complain of their priests not available when they need them. There are some priests who insist on just sticking to whatever time is most convenient with them regardless of the needs of the people like early morning funerals? Or, scheduled sick calls? What a shame when priests and bishops prioritize the rich and famous, rubbing elbows with them daily as seen on social media. The tragedy in the ministry these days is how we have veered so far from Christ our Eternal Priest found among the poor and marginalized as we have alibis and reasons as well as justifications for everything except loving service to all.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him.  In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ in accord with the favor of his will… In him we have redemption by his blood (Ephesians 1:3-5,7).

Photo by author, Chapel of St. Francis Xavier, Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, 20 March 2024.

How solid is the theology of St. Paul laced with his lovely poetry and prose, truly a fruit of his deep spirituality. Following the expressions of in Christ, in him, and through Jesus Christ, we find St. Paul presenting to us the intimacy we all have in Jesus patterned after His very communion with the Father.

Everything that Jesus said and performed are rooted in His intimate union with the Father which is the very authority He had given us that must be exercised in His name alone and never for our own advantage.  It is only from such intimacy with Christ can we have that thing called “spirituality”, the real mark of the work of God in our midst.  Being prayerful does not make a person spiritual though prayer is a prerequisite to spirituality.

Like St. Paul in the Old Testament, we find Amos in the first reading providing us with a glimpse of what is to be spiritual, of acting in the name of God as a prophet when he was told to leave Bethel to go back home in Judah “to earn his bread by prophesying” and Amos answered Amaziah, “I was no prophet… I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores. The Lord took me from following the flock, and said to me:  Go, prophecy to my people Israel (Amos 7:14,15).”

Amos was “taken” by God, plucked from a comfortable life to become the presence of God in Israel that had become so prosperous yet so evil.  This Sunday, Amos is telling us that as a prophet, he speaks more from the inside than from the outside, of his very union with God.  He had nothing except God who had taken him.

Photo by author, CAS Chapel, Our Lady of Fatima University, Valenzuela City, 2023.

This is perhaps the problem with us Catholics today, starting with us your priests and bishops: we speak more of the extrinsic than of what’s or who’s really inside our hearts that in the process, we have replaced our ministry with career, making programs and second collections and bloated egos superseding the persons we must serve.  Worst of all is when all we have and give are activities that we forget the fact that Jesus saved us by dying on the cross, of being one with the Father and with the people.

More than being His representatives, we are in Christ that whatever we do and say is always the fruit of our intimate union with Him through others.  We say and do nothing separately from Him, even in the midst of all these technologies and activities around us today.  Let us rediscover our companions in life, the ones given and sent with us by Jesus. Let us pray:

Dearest Lord Jesus Christ,
let me go of my baggage
and possessions that posses me;
let me go wherever You send me
and let me go with the people 
You send me with;
help me to empty my heart
of my self,
of my pride,
of other things
so that You may dwell inside me
and find You always
in the people You send me
to serve and to work with.
Amen.

Words, words, words…

 2,758 total views

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Fourteenth Week of Ordinary Time, Year II, 12 July 2024
Hosea 14:2-10     <*[[[[><<  +  >><]]]]*>     Matthew 10:16-23
Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

Thus says the Lord: Return, O Israel, to the Lord, your God; you have collapsed through your guilt. Take with you words, and return to then Lord; Say to him, “Forgive all iniquity, and receive what is good, that we may render as offerings the bullocks from our stalls” (Hosea 24:2-3).

Loving Father,
let us "take words" with us
this Friday,
words of contrition for our sins,
words of true repentance,
words begging your mercy,
words that are sincere
not empty words;
many times in this world
of social media,
we multiply words,
we shout words,
we alter words
to give new meanings
that suit us;
many times our words
are mere words,
never bearing fruit,
could not even stand
because they are not true;
like Jesus your Son,
teach us to "enflesh"
our words,
let our words to You be
translated into realities of
conversion and loving service 
for one another.

When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matthew 10:20).

Let us heed your words,
Lord Jesus Christ,
for us to be "shrewd as serpents
and simple as doves"
by learning to be silent
to let the Holy Spirit speak
through us;
in this noisy world
with so many competing 
words and sounds,
it has become indeed 
a persecution to be silent;
it is more difficult to be silent
to await your words, Lord;
it is always easier to speak
and add to the cacophony of
deafening and hurtful words
against each other
than to just listen to
our hearts,
to listen to your words
of love and mercy;
like the psalmist,
let my mouth
declare your praise
by awaiting your words
first, not mine.
Amen.
Photo by Jimmy Chan on Pexels.com

Our hands, a gospel in themselves

 4,546 total views

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of St. Benedict, Abbott, 11 July 2024
Hosea 11:1-4, 8-9     <*[[[[><  +  ><]]]]*>     Matthew 10:7-15

Jesus said to his Apostles: “As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons. Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give” (Matthew 10:7-8).

God our loving Father:
thank you for the gift of our hands
that are a gospel in themselves;
Your Son Jesus Christ said it again today
to each of us to make this proclamation
that "the kingdom of heaven is at hand";
hands are so essential for us 
to do so many things 
that they mean
so many things too - 
it is a microcosm of our very selves
that it is why we offer our hands 
to meet new friends,
to seal a deal,
to accept a peace offer;
we use our hands to touch
others literally and figuratively
speaking to ensure them of our
love; it is with our hands that 
we can hold and grasp other
hands for love and support,
help and assistance;
to proclaim your kingdom of heaven
is at hand is to make it present,
to make it nearer
like our hands
touching, 
caressing,
holding especially those
in need.

Thus says the Lord: When Israel was a child I loved him, out of Egypt I called my son. The more I called them, the farther they went from me… Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, who took them in my arms; I drew them with human cords, with bands of love; I fostered them like one who raises an infant to his cheeks; yet, though I stooped to feed my child, they did not know that I was their healer (Hosea 11:1-2, 4).

Forgive us, Father,
when we use our hands
to hurt others
the way we have turned away
from You,
when we have disregarded
the loving gestures of your hands
like teaching us to walk,
raising us to your cheeks,
and feeding us your children;
forgive us
when we refused to reach out
to your hands in Jesus Christ
offering His outstretched arms
 with hands wide open
with mercy and forgiveness.

On this Memorial
of your great Saint Benedict
whose rule was "Ora et Labora",
let us put our hands into
their most noble and divine
usage of praying and working.
Amen.
Photo from FB of Mr. Kel Yanga, 2019, narrating how a student shared her joy listening to his talk and wrote it on her palm.

First we learn, then we are sent

 3,466 total views

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Fourteenth Week of Ordinary Time, Year II, 10 July 2024
Hosea 10:1-3, 7-8, 12     <*((((><  +  ><))))*>     Matthew 10:1-7
Photo by shy sol on Pexels.com

Jesus summoned his Twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits to drive them out and to cure every disease and every illness. The names of the Twelve Apostles are these… (Matthew 10:1-2).

Latin "discipulus" from "discere" which is to learn,
is a follower, someone who learns from a teacher;

Greek "apostolos" from "apostello"
is someone sent ahead out on a mission,
deputed to disseminate the teaching of
the master to others.
Lord Jesus Christ,
teach us to patiently learn
your lessons,
following and obeying
your instructions always
as true disciples
so that eventually,
You could send us out
like the Twelve Apostles
to carry out your mission
in this highly complicated and
competitive world.
How sad the words
 of the Prophet Hosea
are still happening these days
among us:
"Israel is a luxuriant vine
whose fruit matches its growth.
The more abundant his fruit,
the more altars he set up"
(Hosea 10:1-2).
Sad to say, O Lord,
those You have sent
have refused to learn,
have ceased from being
disciples because they too
have been lured into the ways
of the world; like yesterday,
many disciples follow the calls
of the world instead of God;
that is why, we have no more
Apostles who could be sent ahead
of You, Jesus, to proclaim You;
many of us have never learned
truly from You,
lacking discipline
in prayer and discerning
your will and plans;
let us seek your face
always, Lord,
so we may do your will
not the ways of the world;
let us seek your face,
Lord, among your people
especially the weak and marginalized
so we may be able to proclaim
"the Kingdom of heaven
is at hand."
Amen.

Abundant harvest?

 2,547 total views

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the Fourteenth Week of Ordinary Time, Year II, 09 July 2024
Hose 8:4-7, 11-13     ><))))*>  +  <*((((><     Matthew 9:32-38
Photo by Onnye on Pexels.com

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to sent out more laborers for his harvest” (Matthew 9:38).

Lord Jesus,
teach us to examine
again the meaning of your words
"the harvest is abundant" -
how do we look at,
what do we see at
this abundant harvest
of your people,
"troubled and abandoned,
like sheep without a shepherd"?
What do we see at your flock,
at your people?
Forgive us, Lord Jesus,
when we are like the wayward
kings of Israel of Hosea's time
who misled the people away
from God; what an abundant harvest
laid to waste by corrupt
and sinful laborers some of whom
were never sent by God while
others turned away from God.
Forgive the laborers among us
who see the abundant harvest more
as a business venture,
a shameful tourist attraction
for the display of our delusions of grandeur;
forgive us, Lord when some of us
your laborers label others 
as troublemakers,
as oppositionists,
even daring to call declare 
others using the power of the devil
like You!
Nothing much had changed
since the time of Hosea and
your time, Lord Jesus:
your abundant harvest wasted
by selfish laborers who see only
themselves and their well-being
instead of seeing your people as a 
gift and a responsibility entrusted
to our care; help us, O Lord, to value
your abundant harvest meant for
your greater glory
not ours.
Amen.

Blessedness of desert

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The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the Fourteenth Week of Ordinary Time, Year II, 08 July 2024
Hosea 2:16,17-18, 21-22     <*((((><<  + >><))))*>     Matthew 9:18-26
Photo by Walid Ahmad on Pexels.com

Thus says the Lord: I will allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart… I will espouse you to me forever: I will espouse you in right and in justice, in love and in mercy; I will espouse you in fidelity, and you shall know the Lord (Hosea 2:16, 21-22).

Praise and glory to You,
God our loving Father!
Lead us back to You,
lead us back to the desert -
to that state of dryness,
of emptiness,
of nothingness
for us to find and 
experience You again;
lead us to the desert,
Father, for us to feel 
our heart again
that You are our first love
after all!
Forgive us, Father,
when life is in abundance
we are filled of our selves
we forget You and others;
when life is affluent,
we disregard what is right
and just, we become so greedy
with nothing enough;
when life is going on smoothly
without problems, we disregard
love and mercy as we see more
of things than persons as we veer
away from You,
sinking into infidelity,
not knowing You.
I do not ask for too much
pain and suffering;
just something enough to
knock our heads
like that father in the gospel
and woman suffering hemorrhages
for 12 years who both felt so 
isolated from the rest
like in a desert
to realize there is only You
in Jesus Christ to restore us
back to life,
back to community,
back to our real selves
and back to You.
Amen.

Our blessed failures

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The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B, 07 July 2024
Ezekiel 2:2-5 ><}}}}*> 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 ><}}}}*> Mark 6:1-6
Photo by Mr. Gelo Carpio, Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan, January 2020.

Last week’s readings clarified with us the disturbing mystery of death and sickness are not from God but from the evil enemy. Nothing bad could come from God who is love Himself that is why He sent us Jesus Christ to heal and save us. Should something bad happen to us, God works silently to ensure everything would turn out good for us. Hence, the need for faith.

Today our readings clarify another mystery in life that happens so often that we encounter daily despite our efforts and sacrifices, demanding us for more faith too.  It may be lighter than death or tragedies but still a kind of suffering that is most persistent, even troublesome we refer to as failures like rejections and other weakness we have as humans.

Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples.  When the Sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished… And they took offense at him (Mark 6:1-2,3c).

Photo by author, 2023.

Mark tells us today how our Lord Jesus Christ embraced failure and rejection. Though perfect and powerful, Jesus chose to be weak and powerless, experiencing rejections so that we may become like Him, holy and divine.

If we go by the world’s standard, Jesus and His mission were actually a “failure” after He was rejected by the crowds, shamed and crucified along with two other criminals. But, it was in that failure that Jesus rose again on Easter!

See that small detail Mark noted so well in his story this Sunday, “they took offense at him (Mk.6:3c).” It is that classic case among us humans we say so well in Filipino, “walang personalan, trabaho lang”. Everything is personal because we are all relating beings. Every rejection is personal. However, Jesus is teaching us too that rejection and failures become a problem when we are not able to accept them as a part of our weaknesses as humans.

Photo by author, 2019.

Of course, it is painful. And that’s the good news this Sunday – Jesus is with us in every failure and rejection we go through as He joins us in crossing this life right in our own home and among our own people with all the negative things they throw on us. Jesus must have felt sad too when His own folks “took offense at him.” Rejection is humiliating as we feel to have failed in life. Or worst, as if we are a failure. Even that simple act of being “unfriended” in Facebook is painful, is it not?

However, when we examine failures and rejections, these are not really about us but more on those around us, on those “who took offense at us” that like Jesus, we really can’t perform anything at all because those around us lack faith and not that we are powerless or could not do anything at all.

This Sunday, Jesus is telling us not to take every failure and rejection personally though it is really very personal. See the other sides of failures in life as these are not really that bad at all! Oftentimes, we are not the problem but those who reject us. Have a heart. Stop those self-pity. Next Sunday after this rejection in Nazareth seen by the Twelve, Jesus would even send them to preach and heal;surely, part of their mission was to face rejection first hand too.

Photo by author, 2023.

Once again, Mark is revealing to us who is Jesus Christ really – truly Divine, the Son of God who spoke with authority, who could heal the sick and raise the dead but at the same time, truly human who embraced rejections and failures, even becoming “powerless” that would reach its highest point on Good Friday.

And to know Jesus more is to have that deep faith in Him which is most essential like a hinge connecting us to Him and other virtues. Even God cannot do anything at all if we do not have faith in Him, if we do not believe Him.  Jesus had said this a few weeks ago when He mentioned the sin agains the Holy Spirit. We can’t even talk of any relationships unless we have faith from which springs love and understanding.

Most of our failures and pains in life came from this lack of faith in our family like mistrust among husband and wife or among children and parents.  Failures begin when we refuse to believe or have faith in our very selves, with others, and with God. When people lack faith, we have no relationships, no common ground to start anything like simple conversations and dialogue that is more of being with others than a way of thinking through issues and problems.

Photo by author, 2022.

Lately I have been going through some serious reflections in life as friends and colleagues in my former work and past ministries are retiring and getting sick with some of them dying. One thing I have realized is that no one is really so good, so brilliant because each one of us has imperfections and limitations.

The best managers and pastors I have met and known are those who knew so well how to gather and inspire the best people to work together.

Most of all, when I look back to these great men and women who have taught and formed me in school and work, their most outstanding trait is their courage to be imperfect.  They do not hide their fears and failures, insecurities and mistakes that they were able to see more of what is possible than impossible because they believed in God, in themselves and in others.

Faith is infectious like disbelief or unbelief. Better choose faith which leads us to life. See how the men and women in the Church who have become saints like St. Paul along with the many statesmen, thinkers, writers, and scientists who were able to shape and change the world by being courageous enough to be imperfect due to their faith.

Photo by author, Malagos Garden Resort, Davao City, 2018.

God knows our limitations and weaknesses; most of all, our sinfulness yet, He never loses hope in us that He continues to call us to be converted, even sending us prophets who at the start are already aware of the failures and rejections they would face in such difficult mission.

This is one important aspect we priests have forgotten or disregarded – the courage to be imperfect as we always play God. Nobody’s perfect except God; the challenge in this life is to overcome every failure and defeat we encounter for that is how we are perfected. Remember that term “blessings in disguise” that are our many imperfections in life.

When facing a failure in life, the best thing to do is to be silent and to pray, be the presence of God like the prophets,  “And whether they resist— for they are a rebellious house — they shall know that a prophet has been among them” (Ez.2:5). After all, God’s “grace is always sufficient” for us because “power is made perfect in our weaknesses so that when we are weak, then we are strong in Christ Jesus” (1Cor.12:9,10).

During His lifetime here on earth, Jesus was “amazed” only twice.  First was when a Roman centurion asked Him to cure his slave from afar, saying “I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the words and my servant will be healed.”  Jesus was “amazed” that He cured the servant from afar, declaring that He had not seen such great faith in Israel (Mt.8:5-13).  The other time Jesus was amazed was when He returned home narrated in our Gospel this Sunday when people “took offense at him” that “He was amazed at their lack of faith” (Mk.6:3,6).

When Jesus comes, would He be amazed with our great faith, or with our lack of faith?

Be amazed. Choose Jesus, choose faith in Him, the Christ! Let us pray:

Lord Jesus Christ,
thank You for always
believing in me despite
my sins and many flaws;
remind me always I am not You,
and therefore,
imperfect and weak;
keep me faithful and 
persevering in You,
crossing the turbulent sea of life,
helping others cross 
to make it through to the side of life;
let me your voice of hope
and your presence in this world
fascinated with anything 
that glitters and sparkles,
afraid of the dark,
of emptiness,
of failures,
of faith.
Amen.
Photo by author, 2022.

Praying to be prophetic

 3,485 total views

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
First Friday in the Thirteenth Week of Ordinary Time, Year II, 05 July 2024
Amos 8:4-6, 9-12     <*((((><<  +  >><))))*>     Matthew 9:9-13
Photo by Dra. Mylene A. Santos, MD in Infanta, Quezon 2020.
Help us,
loving Father 
to be prophetic
in our lives, to speak
and live according to your
words and precepts,
witnessing your truth
and justice, boldly speaking
against the evil pervading among us.

How easy,
O God, 
for almost everybody today
to speak strongly about truth
without being prophetic at all
like the Pharisees who saw Jesus
dining with sinners and asked his
disciples: "Why does your teacher
eat with tax collectors and sinners?"
(Matthew 9:11); many of them are
still among us these days
who avail of every modern
communication platform aided
by the age-old tradition of corruption,
championing the truth everywhere
when in fact are subverting
decency, honesty and sincerity
because they are actually
a manipulator or what a song
labeled as "smooth operator"
"whose eyes are like angels 
but his heart is cold."
Forgive us, Father,
for the many times we have
joined these smooth operators
among us because we have
benefitted from their excesses,
trampling further the dignity of many
especially the poor and voiceless;
forgive us, Father,
for those times we pretended
to be prophetic, 
acting and speaking 
to be the virtuous ones 
as we project others as sinners
especially those not on our side.
Teach us to be like Amos,
Father, a prophet who spoke
and lived out your words 
like Jesus who confronted the
powerful and abusive among us,
insisting that being prophetic
is not what humans want
but what God desires always
which is mercy.
Amen.
*Can't resist sharing Sade's 1984 hit "Smooth Operator" that inspired us too in our prayer-reflection today.
From YouTube.com

That crossing again…

 7,917 total views

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Thirteenth Week of Ordinary Time, Year II, 04 July 2024
Amos 7:10-17     <*((((><<  +  >><))))*>     Matthew 9:1-8
Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima, GMA-7 News in Batanes, 2018.
Oh how I love the gospel
this week, Lord Jesus Christ,
showing how often 
You have crossed the vast lake
of Galilee to reach everyone;
You continue to do so these days,
helping us cross the turbulent seas
and chaotic streets of life that are
so stressful, 
so heavy with burdens,
always with various forms of sufferings;
without You, we could have not 
made it this far.
Thank You, Lord Jesus!
Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA-7 News in Batanes, 2018.
Help us, Jesus,
do the same as You send us daily
to help others cross this life to
safety and security in You,
to fullness and light in You;
like the Prophet Amos,
let us dare to cross and leave
our comfort zone to speak your words
across other territories,
especially those hostile to You
and your values of love and justice,
kindness and mercy;
give us the courage to speak up
for those silenced and weak due to
poverty and sickness;
let us be your mouthpiece
and presence especially when 
everyone feels contented with
mediocrity and sin.

Amos answered Amaziah, “I was no prophet, nor have I belonged to a company of prophets; I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores. The Lord took me from following the flock, and said to me, ‘Go prophecy to my people Israel’” (Amos 7:14-15).

Let your words, O Lord,
refresh my soul for they are perfect
while your decrees are trustworthy,
giving wisdom to those who simply
obey You; let me not be distracted
by what others say as I dare to cross
to your side of life and truth,
justice and mercy for others.
Amen.
Photo from The Valenzuela Times, 02 July 2024.567
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