The things we wish vs. things we pray to Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Sunday XXIX-B in Ordinary Time, 17 October 2021
Isaiah 53:10-11 ><}}}*> Hebrews 4:14-16 ><}}}*> Mark 10:35-45
Photo by author, 10 October 2021, Paco, Obando, Bulacan.

Five minutes before our Mass last Sunday afternoon at the Holy Cross Parish in Paco, Obando, two rainbows appeared in the sky, freezing me for a while to cherish the moment as I felt God smiling at me, promising me a better week ahead.

It was only after a brief pause savoring the moment when I had the chance to take a shot of the lovely sight before getting inside the church at exactly 530 PM for the Mass. The following Monday, I had the photo posted on “my day” with everybody asking what was my wish upon seeing the double rainbows

When I told them I did not make any wish at all, they said it was “sayang” (what a waste!), that if I had made a wish, it could have been granted or fulfilled.

But, looking back, I did not make any wish at all because at that very moment I felt I had Jesus in my heart, that God had me on his palms, assuring me of his loving presence.

Why make any wish at all when you already have God? Besides, I felt too old for those wishing upon a rainbow or a falling star thing!


My dear friends and relatives, this Sunday, Jesus asks his disciples, brothers James and John “What do you wish me to do for you?” (Mk.10:36); next Sunday, the Lord will ask a blind man “What do you want me to do for you?” (Mk.10:51).

It is very interesting to note that Jesus outrightly explained to James and John he could not fulfill their wishes while next Sunday, he would restore the sight of the blind man named Bartimaeus who pleaded to him as he passed Jericho. It seems that there is more than meets the eye between a wish and a prayer!

James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” He replied, “What do you wish me to do for you?” They answered him, “Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left.” Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking.”

Mark 10:35-38
Photo by Ms. Anne Ramos when a rainbow appeared as we went around around my former parish assignment bringing the Blessed Sacrament to bless then people on the first Sunday of our quarantine lockdown, 22 March 2020.

Wishes are only granted in fairy tales…

Jesus is now nearing Jerusalem where he would suffer and die but on the third day rise again. He had just repeated for the third and last time to his disciples of his coming pasch but, sadly, they still could not comprehend it fully.

The other Sunday, they could not answer Jesus when he asked them what were they arguing about while along the way to Capernaum because they were discussing among themselves who among them was the greatest.

They could not understand how their Lord and Master, the Messiah of Israel will have to suffer and die; it was beyond their grasp. Nonetheless, amid their lack of understanding and fears of its true meaning, they still followed Jesus, believing he would eventually triumph as a King.

And that is what the brothers James and John were thinking, the two closest to the Lord along with Peter who was earlier rebuked by Jesus at Caesarea Philippi for going against his pasch: they thought of Jesus as a “political leader”, a “game changer” who could surely change their lot for the best, assuring them and their future generations with the good life.

When Jesus asked the brothers James and John, he knew the two were just “fancying” on something not so true. That is what a “wish” is all about: something so fancy, almost untrue like coming from fairy tales that could come true with so slim a probability like hitting a jackpot in lottery or meeting a superstar. We make wishes to fairies often represented by celebrities who try to bring some joy to children suffering from cancer. Or, politicians who for a day would give some voters with huge amounts of money without any conviction at all to fulfill their promises.

As we say in Filipino, “suntok sa buwan” that literally means “punching the moon”.

But again like last Sunday when Jesus looked with love to the man asking him how to gain eternal life, Jesus respected the brothers James and John by entertaining their “wish”, asking them questions until he flatly told them “to sit at my right or at my left is not mine to give but is for those for whom it has been prepared” (Mk.10:40).

When the ten heard this, they became indignant at James and John. Jesus summoned them and said to them, “You know that those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall hot be so among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant: whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Mark 10:41-45
Photo by author, Chapel of the Holy Family, Sacred Heart Spirituality Center, Novaliches, 2016.

Prayer changes the person, not the situation.

Recall how Jesus assured his disciples and us last Sunday of great rewards awaiting those who have left everything to follow him; but, along these come persecutions because following Jesus means standing for what is true and good that invite enemies and detractors.

There will always be persecutions coming in our life – even if we do not follow Jesus along the way because that is a fact of life. Jesus came not to remove but join us, accompany us, be one with us in our sufferings and trials.

Today, Jesus opens our eyes to the realities, beauty and nobility of discipleship that is unfortunately becoming rare even among us in the clergy. True discipleship in Christ is first of all sharing in his passion and death in order to have a part in his glorious resurrection.

Once again, we feel the Lord’s recurring teaching these past weeks of us entrusting everything to the Father’s hands like children filled with confidence on God’s promises. This is the meaning of Isaiah’s prophecy in the first reading that spoke of the “Suffering Servant of God” who “through his suffering shall justify (save) many” (Is.53:11).

See the gentle humility of Jesus in explaining things to his disciples. There was no hint at all of anger nor exasperation but pure love and understanding, patience and perseverance hoping someday the Twelve would realize in the most personal manner his kind of kingship, the true meaning of being the Messiah.

Photo by author, Garden of Gethsemane, the Holy Land, 2017.

Here Jesus exemplifies so well in his very self the kind of relationships his followers must have based on love and respect, serving the weakest and lowliest, so unlike the way of the world that is based on relations of power and dominance. This we continue to experience when we pray fervently especially before the Blessed Sacrament and most of all when we celebrate the Sunday Eucharist which is the summit of our Christian life.

In the Holy Mass, Jesus the Son of God leads us to the Father in signs perceptible to human senses, exactly what the author of the Letter to the Hebrews speaks of in the second reading, “So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help” (Heb.4:16).

So, instead of wishing upon rainbows or shooting stars, better pray!

Lord Jesus Christ,
thank you for understanding 
our lack of understanding 
and appreciation to your coming
to us daily in the many sufferings and 
pains we go through in life;  help us
to be more realistic, to stop all 
wishful thinking of living happily
ever after and instead become
more loving and kind, finding you 
with everyone we meet.  
Amen.

Have a blessed week ahead, everyone!

The complicity of hypocrisy

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Memorial of St. Teresa of Avila, Virgin & Doctor of the Church, 15 October 2021
Romans 4:1-8   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Luke 12:1-7
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

At that time, so many people were crowding together that they were trampling one another underfoot. Jesus began to speak, first to his disciples, “Beware of the leaven – that is, the hypocrisy – of the Pharisees. There is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known.

Luke 12:1-2
Dear God our Father,
as we remember St. Teresa of Avila
who bravely fought for what is true
and sublime, help us also to fight
hypocrisy that is so rampant
these days of mediated communications.
From the Greek word hypokritein
for "masks", we keep on putting 
fake fronts on ourselves thinking
we would look better to others and
the world when in fact we end up 
like actors and actresses,
or worst, as clowns making fun 
of our very selves.
Help us realize the evil that is
hypocrisy as your Son Jesus Christ
reminds us today in the gospel
of how it acts as an accomplice 
to every sin that leads us to the 
eternal fires of hell or Gehenna.
St. Paul explained it so well in 
continuing his exposition about your 
righteousness, O God, how you have
justified Abraham not with his works
but with his deep faith in you; that,
the more we believe, the more we 
obey you and your laws that Jesus
had summarized in the law of love.

Whenever we think of Christ we should recall the love that led him to bestow on us so many graces and favors, and also the great love God showed in giving us in Christ a pledge of his love; for love calls for love in return. Let us strive to keep this always before our eyes and to rouse ourselves to love him. For if at some time the Lord should grant us the grace of impressing his love on our hearts, all will become easy for us and we shall accomplish great things quickly and without effort.

St. Teresa of Avila, Office of Readings, 15 October
O most blessed
St. Teresa of Avila
who sought the truth of Jesus
Christ in deep prayers and works
of sacrifices, help us to be true;
teach us to take off our masks,
especially our religious hypocrisies
for nothing is concealed with God;
most of all, let us have a taste
of that sweet union in God
found in our being honest and true
to him always.
Amen.

Sharing the “vision of God”

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Week XXVIII, Year I in Ordinary Time, 14 October 2021
Romans 3:21-30   ><)))*> + ><)))*> + ><)))*>   Luke 11:47-54
Just a few minutes before the start of our Mass at a remote parish I helped last Sunday, these double rainbows greeted me as if God were smiling at me.
Your words today, O Lord
are difficult to comprehend;
words like "righteousness" and 
"justification" are words we rarely use,
terms our generation have forgotten;
but, we are still deeply grateful
to you in sending us these gems
through the insightful writings 
of your great apostle Paul.

Brothers and sisters: Now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, though testified to by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faih in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction; all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God. They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus.

Romans 3:21-24
Though the language may be strange,
its underlying realities of your grace
which is your righteousness and 
love for us, O God our Father,
remain so true as expressed by your
Son Jesus Christ's self-sacrifice
on the Cross for our salvation (justification).
Let the teachings of St. Paul sink into
our hearts and minds that we are
utterly dependent on you, O God, 
for our salvation; that nothing can we
accomplish apart from your grace.
In a society where the self-made
person is so idolized and economic
status is the benchmark for success, 
help us to echo anew the teachings
of St. Paul on grace and salvation
in Jesus Christ; do not let us become
like the Pharisees and scribes and scholars
of the law who kept people away
from your "vision" of grace and salvation 
for everyone.

“Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter.”

Luke 11:52
Lord Jesus, bless us your
priests and ministers to truly
serve the people in leading them
closer to you in our celebrations
and prayers and most especially
in our witnessing to your Gospel;
may we cast away mediocrity and
sloth, always seeking ways like St. Paul
in making known your wonderful plans
and vision for everyone, especially the
weak and the poor among us.
Amen.

1917 Fatima Apparition: When “last” is not “the end”

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Last Apparition of Our Lady of Fatima in 1917, 13 October 2021
Romans 2:1-11   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Luke 11:42-46
From Pinterest.com.

Today we remember the “Miracle of the Sun” when the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared for the last time to Lucia Santos and her two younger cousins canonized as Saints recently, Francisco and his sister Jacinta Marto, 104 years ago at Fatima, Portugal.

An estimated crowd of 70,000 made up of believers and unbelievers alike as well as skeptics and hecklers have witnessed the phenomenon, verifying its veracity with sworn accounts at how the Sun “danced” or zigzagged in the sky and then careened to the Earth while emitting radiant colors that lasted for about ten minutes.

It was the sixth and last apparition of the Blessed Mother to the three children that began on May 13, 1917.

Page from Ilustração Portuguesa, 29 October 1917, showing the people looking at the Sun during the Fátima apparitions attributed to the Virgin Mary. From en.wikipedia.org.

And even though the Fatima feast is officially celebrated every May 13, many churches and devotees around the world have continued to celebrate the October 13 apparition not only due to the dancing Sun miracle but most of all because it was on this date when the Blessed Mother introduced herself as the Lady of the Rosary, telling the children how World War I would soon end, and that was when the Virgin Mother said “People must amend their lives and ask pardon for their sins. They must not offend our Lord any more, for He is already too much offended!”

In 1957 during her last interview while already a cloistered Carmelite nun, Sr. Lucia revealed how during that last apparition to them (her two cousins have died in 1919 and 1920 during the flu pandemic), the Blessed Virgin Mary looked very sad and never smiled to indicate the gravity and seriousness of her messages to them.

Amid the many interpretations of the events of October 13, 1917, Fatima has remained so popular and very significant to this day because of its truth and relevance to our own situation and experiences from the not-so-distant-past.

In the light of our readings today in relation with our being under the patronage Our Lady of Fatima as a University and a Medical Center, let me share with you two things for reflections.


First is to see the last apparition of October 13, 1917 not as the final one but the beginning of the unfolding of more revelations and realizations for us. In fact, Sr. Lucia continued to received private visions while in the convent as a nun in 1925 through the 1930’s.

One problem with the common perception of many people even up to now with the last apparition of Fatima is to equate it with the end of the world, of worldwide catastrophe that have instilled more of fear and even controversies that included doubts of the Vatican allegedly not fully revealing the Third Secret despite assurances from the visionary herself, Sr. Lucia who said before her death in 2005 that all Fatima Secrets have been fully revealed.

From the Parish of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, 2020.

  
The Blessed Mother appeared in Fatima not to scare us 
but to inspire us to turn away from sins, 
to be converted and be holy 
so that the world may truly find peace in Jesus her Son.

If we take the Fatima apparitions as a whole, we find in it more of messages of hope and joy for us in the world. The Blessed Mother appeared in Fatima not to scare us but to inspire us to turn away from sins, to be converted and be holy so that the world may truly find peace in Jesus her Son.

The last things do not necessarily mean destruction but also signal new beginnings, new undertakings, new opportunities for us even in the midst of trials and difficulties like this pandemic. There is nothing we should be afraid of or worried with except that we be converted to lead holy lives.

The last apparition at Fatima in 1917 was meant to usher in new hopes for us to become better persons who build stronger families and more vibrant church communities.

Unfortunately, it is still far from being realized even 104 years ago have passed as we have not yet learned or have refused to heed its lessons. In that case, we and not God nor Jesus nor the Blessed Mother are to be blamed at why we are going through all these difficulties and miseries we are into in this modern age.


Let us make today the beginning of our conversion and transformation in Christ Jesus with the help of the Blessed Mother. It is in this aspect where we wish to propose our second reflection for 104th anniversary of the last apparition at Fatima by confronting our true selves amid the many criticisms hurled against us by believers and unbelievers alike.

In our first reading today, we find St. Paul criticizing his fellow Jews who felt so entitled with God as his “chosen people”, reminding them that “there is no partiality with God” (v.11) in terms with his judgments that are based on the truth and on our deeds, not on our affiliations nor practices.

By your stubbornness and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself for the day of wrath and revelation of the just judgment of God, who will repay everyone according to his works, eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works, but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness.

Romans 2:5-8

How unfortunate that such feeling of entitlement continues to our own time among us in the Church, especially with those in the clergy and those who feel holier than others, giving more emphasis on things of the world that feed on the ego to gain some sense of importance or dignity, and relevance.

If Jesus were with us today, he would have surely addressed today’s woes in the gospel (Lk.11:42-46) to us for we have forgotten the more weightier things like proclaiming the gospel than politicking, being poor and simple than being rich and powerful so preoccupied with the ways of the world on the pretext of being modern or adapting to the present situation when in fact are seeking comfort and fame, of being served than serving others.

Photo from vaticannews.va, 13 May 2017.

At Fatima, the Blessed Mother had revealed to the three children at her last apparition how the devil has been working, infiltrating the church to mislead her priests and bishops into sins.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI admitted to reporters in May 2010 at Fatima, Portugal that the Third Secret “has permanent and ongoing significance… that could be extended to include the suffering the Church is going through today as a result of the recent reports of sexual abuse involving the clergy.”

Like St. Paul in our first reading today, we are invited to examine our very selves – especially us priests and bishops – to face squarely the criticisms of many against us after years of hiding in authority and influence.

At Fatima 104 years ago today, we are invited by the Blessed Mother to be focused more in revealing God’s will as experienced and prayed in the the Sacred Scriptures than taking sides in politics and going down to the worldly debates of issues.

At Fatima 104 years ago today, we are invited to stop acting like judges who know all as if we are the favorites of God.

At the last apparition in Fatima 104 years ago, it is very interesting how two elements prevailed on that day: rains and the Sun.

The rains have soaked wet the people and the whole area for two days, October 12-13, signifying the call for inner cleansing and purification of our hearts and person.

And when the Sun “danced”, the people were astonished how their clothes where dried along with the whole surroundings as if it had not rained the previous day after witnessing the spectacular display of colors and light.

May we see more of the light of Jesus Christ in our lives so we may be cleansed and ready to work for another day of conversion and holiness. Amen.

Our Lady of Fatima, Pray for us.

Photo by Ms. Mira Mandal Sibal, August 2021.

Being present with God, in God

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Week XXVIII, Year I in Ordinary Time, 12 October 2021
Romans 1:16-25   ><)))*> = ><)))*> = ><)))*>   Luke 11:37-41
Photo by Dr. Mai B. Dela Peña, MD, 2017, Japan.
Open our eyes 
and our hearts today
to your loving presence, 
God our loving Father!
Make us stop for a while
to feel your presence in us
and among us to experience
true wealth and real wisdom
so unlike with what the world
offers that is always misleading.
Like St. Pau, may we feel that 
deep pride in you who loves us, 
accompanying us in this life,
leading us to fulfillment and joy.

Brothers and sisters: I am not ashamed of the Gospel. It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes… For what can be known about God is evident to them, because God made it evident to them.

Romans 1:16, 19
So many times,
we have chosen to follow
 the flow of this world,
"claiming to be wise" when in fact,
we have become fools in our own making;
like that Pharisee who had invited
Jesus to dine at his home,
we have become so unaware
of the presence of Christ and have 
become more amazed at finding
faults and criticisms at what is outside
of us, not realizing the need
to look more inside to cleanse our
hearts and souls where you dwell
and see you present in every moment
 especially among others we least expected.
Amen.

Remembering our call

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Week XXVIII, Year I in Ordinary Time, 11 October 2021
Romans 1:1-7   ><]]]]*> + ><]]]]*> + ><]]]]*>   Luke 11:29-32
Photo by author, 2019.
Praise and glory to you,
O God our loving Father
who has called us through
Jesus Christ your Son 
to be your servants.
As we begin this brand new
week of work and school, 
let us be reminded
of this great honor from you
that we have taken for granted,
even forgotten and disregarded.
May we learn from St. Paul
to take pride in this calling
to be your servant.

Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an Apostle and set apart for the Gospel of God… among whom are you also, who are called to belong to Jesus Christ; to all the beloved of God in Rome, called to be holy. Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 1:1, 6-7
In Baptism, we have been called
to be your servant and apostle,
most of all called to be holy
like you, God our Father;
help us recapture the beauty
and honor of this call from you;
enable us to activate this call in us
set apart as a people for a very special
mission especially in this time of the
pandemic.
Most of all, let us remember today
your call for us to witness to Jesus Christ
and his Gospel of salvation through the
particular circumstances of our lives
lest that day of judgment catch us by
surprise immersed in sin and evil,
forgetting the sign of Jonah 
and Nineveh (Lk.11:29-32).
Amen.

“Question Me An Answer” by Burt Bacharach/Bobby Van (1973)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 10 October 2021
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, 2020.

I used to tell my students before that a person is known more with the questions he/she asks than with the answers he/she gives. Too often, our answers are wrong or not certain but if we ask the right questions, even if we do not have the answers immediately, we shall get the right answer at the right time as we mature in life.

What matters most is we ask the right question always.

And that is why we have chosen “Question Me An Answer” from the 1973 movie of the 1933 novel The Lost Lost Horizon for our Sunday music this week. Written by Burt Bacharach and sang by the late Bobby Van in the movie, Question Me An Answer may sound very American and colonial but still, the message is never lost, especially if you listen well to Van’s introduction to his students at Shangri-La.

In this Sunday’s gospel, we find Jesus being asked by a man and then by Peter with questions we ourselves also ask sometimes because deep inside us, we are worried that no one can seem to provide us with the right answer.

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 

Mark 10:17

According to Mark, the man’s “face fell and went away for he had many possessions” after Jesus had answered fully his question which in turn bothered Peter who began to express to Jesus his worry over his answer to the man who had left.

Peter began to say to him, “We have given up everything and followed you.”

Mark 10:28

One of the beauties of seeking and following Jesus are the endless questions that come along our journey with him. That is why we need to pray always and ask for the gift of wisdom so we may be guided in this life that becomes more wonderful with the questions we ask, not with the answers we give, or even get (https://lordmychef.com/2021/10/09/our-secret-worries-in-life/).

And the good news is, next to Jesus to accompany us in this journey in life is we also have great music keeping us company.

*We have no intentions of infringing into the copyrights of this music and its uploader except to share its beauty and listening pleasure.

From YouTube.com

Our secret worries in life

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Sunday XXVIII-B in Ordinary Time, 10 October 2021
Wisdom 7:7-11 ><]]]]*> Hebrews 4:12-13 ><]]]]*> Mark 10:17-30
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, 2020.

Recently we have seen Jesus answered very well the questions thrown to him by his enemies with evil intentions of entrapping him. But, in his answers we find Jesus so focused to his mission of revealing the will of God our Father which sin had destroyed.

Last Sunday Jesus showed us that more than the unity of husband and wife, God had always willed our entering into communion in our human relationships after a Pharisee asked him about the issue of divorce. Today, two men with good intentions and disposition came forward to ask Jesus important questions we also ask, something we may consider as “secret worries” that disturb us while following him.

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up, knelt down before him, and asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments…” He replied and said to him, “Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, “You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”

Mark 10:17-19, 20-21

Our first secret worry: entering heaven.

How many times have we asked the same question, “what must I do to inherit eternal life”? It is in fact one of the most FAQ’s to us priests, always begging for so many clarifications from every inquirer because it is indeed so important especially during this time of the pandemic.

Photo by author, 2020.

To inquire about eternal life means we are not that far from heaven because to think about it reveals our inner desires to be one with God our Father who is both our origin and destination.

The question in itself is a sign of grace, something we must always ask with the proper disposition coming from deep inside us who know very well that it is not enough to merely follow the commandments, to do what we were taught by our parents and teachers, catechists and religious instructors, and priests.

As we mature in faith or simply go on with life, we realize something is still lacking in all these religious practices we have like prayers and being good with others. There seems to be a “Someone” pulling us closer to do more to gain eternal life.

To be at this stage like that man in the gospel means we are a fertile soil where the word of God has taken root and starting to grow, but surrounded by brambles and other shrubs that need to be cleared with some weeds too that must be removed.

And there lies the painful truth: we have to let go of things like possessions and inclinations that give us false securities and thus prevent us from growing deeper in faith, in being more faithful to God and being more like Jesus Christ in forgetting one’s self.

See how Mark described Jesus looking with love on the man in elaborating the path to heaven, contrasting it with how “his face fell” upon hearing the Lord’s statement.

Today, Jesus reminds us that eternal life is a gift from God, freely given to everyone but we have to make a clear stand and decision to have it. We have to do something and cannot be like Juan Tamad by simply waiting for the fruit to fall from the tree.

While it is very clear in the Lord’s explanation that on our own we cannot do anything about it because “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God” (Mk.10:27); however, after Jesus had accomplished our salvation by dying on the cross when he declared “It is finished” (Jn.19:30), he also signaled the start of doing our part in his saving mission.

How?

By going back to his central teaching he had reiterated twice these two Sundays – be like a child to welcome God’s gift and grace of entering into the kingdom of heaven!

We cannot let go of our possessions to join Jesus on his way of the cross to enter heaven unless we become like children welcoming and trusting God. But, this is something we cannot do on our own; we need the grace of wisdom which we have heard at the first reading.

As the author of the Book of Wisdom tells us, nothing is comparable to wisdom which we must all prefer above all in this world, enabling us to discern and judge things wisely. In his reflection, wisdom is beyond human grasp, a grace from God we must pray for like King Solomon who asked a heart that can distinguish what is good and what is bad.

When we have wisdom, that is when we are able to “sell everything” and empty ourselves of our pride and other impurities to welcome the Holy Spirit to guide and enlighten us in our lives. That is when we begin to allow God to work in us to gain our salvation, our eternal life.

Hence, the need for us to pray daily for wisdom, most especially when Jesus tells us of the many persecutions that come in following him!

Photo by author, 2019.

Our second secret worry: what about us following Jesus?

Let’s admit it: of the Twelve Apostles, we can easily identify with Peter the most often because of his big mouth, of his “damned honesty” in blurting out what is inside us especially when these pertain to things about our faith and relationship with Jesus.

Like Peter, there is always that “secret worry” if what we have done is good enough to be rewarded by God like entry into heaven. We do it so often in prayers and in those unguarded moments when we complain to Jesus about difficulties and trials we encounter that we worry about all our efforts going nowhere.

There is that “secret worry” within some of us who strive to become good persons, feeling “entitled” to something better considering we are less sinful and evil than others.

Peter began to say to him, “We have given up everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands for my sake and for the sake of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times more now in the present age; houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come.”

Mark 10:28-30

Here we find the goodness of Jesus who looked with love on the disciples and people without putting Peter to shame with his daring question.

What I like most here is the sense of humor of Jesus after he had assured Peter with all the rewards including eternal life for those who have left everything behind to follow him by adding “persecutions” as perks!

So funny but true! Like with the Pharisee last Sunday, Jesus must have read the mind of Peter in asking that question, assuring him it will not be as easy as a walk in the park to heaven.

There will always be persecutions. There will be a lot of difficulties and trials, pains and sufferings. And it begins when we truly give up our possessions, our false securities in life, our very selves.

When we reflect deeply into our lives and examine everything we have done and given for God, we realize that we have not really given up that much or anything at all. Whatever we give up and share with others, both material and spiritual, are all from God. We do not really give up anything at all because there is nothing here in this life that is purely ours! If we give love and mercy, if we share knowledge and wisdom, time or treasure or talent – they are all from God given to us meant to be shared with others!

Photo by author, 2019.

It is difficult to follow Jesus. The only thing very clear and definitive with us at the moment is the word of God that the Letter to the Hebrews described as “living and effective, sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart” (Heb.4:12).

The more we immerse ourselves in the word of God, the more we gain wisdom and learn to discern his Divine Will so that in turn we are able to follow Jesus on the Cross that leads to eternal life.

In these two Sundays while Jesus journeyed with his disciples towards Jerusalem for his pasch, Jesus had tried to reorient ourselves into the true demands of following him that is so radical in bringing us back to God himself.

Yes, it is not easy but we are in good company with Jesus our Brother, our Lord and Savior.

Are we ready to leave everything to follow him?

Have a blessed week ahead!

Miserere Friday

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Week XXVII, Year I in Ordinary Time, 08 October 2021
Joel 1:13-15, 2:1-2   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Luke 11:15-26
Photo by author, Franciscan Monastery on Mt. Nebo, Jordan, 2019.
God our merciful Father,
thank you very much for this
wonderful and blessed Friday!
Everybody loves Friday
primarily because it is the weekend
to work and school leading to
Saturday and Sunday rest.
But for me and my brothers, 
we love this because it is 
"Miserere nobis" Friday
when we pray Psalm 51:
"Have mercy on me, God,
in your kindness.  In your compassion
blot out my offense.  O wash me
more and more from my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin."
Help us to cleanse our selves
most especially today in 
memory of your Son's
Good Friday; may we heed
the call of your prophet on a
daily basis to keep ourselves 
clean.

Gird yourselves and weep, O priests! Wail, O ministers of the altar! Come spend the night in sackcloth, O ministers of my God! The house of your God is deprived of offering and libation. Proclaim a fast, call an assembly; gather the elders, all who dwell in the land, into the house of the Lord, your God, and cry to the Lord!

Joel 1:13-14
So many are our sins against you,
O God, that people have not only turned
against us priests but most of all, they have
turned away from you largely because
we have misled and abused them.
Cleanse us with your mercy and
forgiveness in Jesus Christ your Son; 
exorcise us of our many demons
possessing us, allowing ourselves
to be overrun by evil and sin.

“When an unclean spirit goes out of someone, it roams through arid regions searching for rest but, finding none, it says, ‘I shall return to my home from which I came.’ But upon returning, it finds it swept clean and put in order. Then it goes and brings back seven other spirits more wicked than itself who move in and dwell there, and the last condition of that man is worse than the first.”

Luke 11:24-26
Let Jesus your Son
reign in our hearts and soul,
let him be the sole power within us
for he is the most powerful of all,
the only power there is;
let us welcome him inside us
to keep us clean
lest we sin more
and become worst
than before.
Amen.

Losing to win, lesson of Our Lady of the Rosary

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary, 07 October 2021
Acts 1:12-14   ><}}}*> + ><}}}*> + ><}}}*>   Luke 1:26-28
Photo from canningliturgicalarts.com.

This feast of the Holy Rosary has its origin in the victory of Christian forces against the Ottoman Turks in the Battle of Lepanto Bay in 1571 that decisively stopped the Moslems from occupying Europe.  The first Dominican Pope, St. Pius V attributed that victory to the recitation of the Holy Rosary.  Popularity and devotion to the Rosary eventually grew and spread when subsequent other victories in various parts of the world, including the Philippines’ La Naval were attributed to our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary. 

In our gospel today, we find the key behind every victory attributed to the praying of the Holy Rosary:  it is when we “lose” that we actually “win”!  After explaining to her the plan of God, Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word.”  Then the angel departed her (Lk.1:38).  In a sense, Mary was a loser— she “lost” herself to God and eventually became an instrument for our victory in the salvation through her Son Jesus Christ.  The Lord Himself was crucified, another “loser” in a sense but truly a victor because in dying on the cross, Jesus Christ resurrected on the third day and won over death and sin.

Sometimes it can happen we feel at a loss, when we have lost in some battles in life when later on, we find out we have actually won

Some may have been bullied while in school. Or, sometimes we fail an exam or flunk a semester but eventually we graduated, now have a career, a wonderful family.

In business, sometimes investors and entrepreneurs may go bankrupt before hitting gold.

That’s how it is with life. Win or lose, in the end, it is always a win. Especially when we in God.

When we choose to be like Mary, to submit ourselves to the will and plans of God, we must be ready to endure so many sufferings and hardships in life that sometimes we feel like we are at the losing end.  When we try to be patient, when we try to understand, when we forgive, when we bear all the pains because we love, that is when we win as we lose ourselves and begins to be filled with Christ Jesus like Mary in the gospel. 

True, a lot often we lose so many battles when we try to stand for what is true and good but in the end, we actually win the war against evil.  That is the greatest victory Christ had gifted us, first His Mother Mary:  salvation.  Hence, we find in Marian prayers and hymns the requests for the Blessed Mother’s prayer for us sinners to be saved from hell and be brought to her Son Jesus Christ in eternity.  That’s the final victory we all hope for in praying and living out the Holy Rosary with Mary. 

But first, lose yourself to Jesus.