Advent takes our shame away

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
First Friday in the First Week of Advent, 02 December 2022
Isaiah 29:17-24     ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>     Matthew 9:27-31
Your words today,
O God our Father,
are so comforting,
so delightful!

Thus says the Lord God: but a very little while, and Lebanon shall be changed into an orchard, and the orchard be regarded as forest! On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book; and out of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see. The lowly will ever find joy in the Lord, and the poor rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.

Isaiah 29:17-19
In your Son's coming,
Jesus Christ,
all our shame were wiped away
including our sins;
this Advent, help us to rise
again from our falls
and failures, Lord Jesus;
remember us as we 
remember our sinfulness,
as we acknowledge our
blindness.
We want to see again,
Lord Jesus, with heads
up high,
no longer ashamed of
our sins and infidelities
to you; wash and cleanse
us, Jesus this Advent season
as we reform our lives
and our ways
to reflect your coming,
your presence,
your love and 
your dignity in us.
Amen.

Advent is for building up

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the First Week of Advent, 01 December 2022
Isaiah 26:1-6   ><))))*> + ><))))*> + ><))))*>   Matthew 7:21, 24-27
Thank you, dear God,
our loving Father,
for this month of December,
for the year about to end,
most especially for this new
beginning of Advent!
Make us strong
like your new city of Jerusalem:
"A strong city have we;
he sets up walls and ramparts
to protect us" (Is.26:1) - Jesus Christ
who had come, will come again 
and comes!
Many times your strength
in us, O God, could not be felt
nor experienced because we have
been weak in doing what is good;
many times with closed minds and
hearts believing only in ourselves
than being open to welcome Jesus 
your Son into our lives;
many times, we profess our faith
in you only in words and mouth,
calling out "Lord, Lord"
without conviction
and concrete action
as a disciple;
make us wise, Lord, and return
to you to build up our faith,
to build up our lives,
to build up our ties and
relationships in you through 
others. 
Amen.

Advent is also the coming of the Cross

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the First Week of Advent, Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, 30 November 2022
Romans 10:9-18   ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*>   Matthew 4:18-22

Brothers and sisters: If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Romans 10:9
If Advent is the preparation 
for your coming, Lord Jesus Christ,
then Advent is also the preparation
for the coming of your Cross!
As St. Paul had taught us in all his
writings, there can be no proclamation of
of your salvation for us without preaching
your Cross, O Lord Jesus Christ!
Without your Cross, O Lord,
all your words and deeds
would be empty;
that is why, there is no saint
without a love for your Cross!
Teach us to love the cross 
you have assigned each of us
because it is on the Cross 
where you are found, Lord Jesus;
like St. Andrew, make us realize
that our own crosses can only have value
if we consider and accept them
as part of your own Cross;
though our crosses may be
of different shapes or colors,
each one is always a reflection of 
your eternal light, dear Jesus,
that ennobles our sufferings and pains.
Amen.

Advent is being small again

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the First Week of Advent, 29 November 2022
Isaiah 11:1-10   ><))))*> + ><))))*> + ><))))*>   Luke 10:21-24
God our loving Father:

Thank you for this gift of Advent,
especially for the gift of our guide,
your prophet Isaiah who was the first 
to announce from afar 
the coming of the Christ,
your Son Jesus.
And today he speaks your words
that are so beautiful and lovely
but, so radical and contrary 
to what we believe,
to what we always hold on to.

On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.

Isaiah 11:1
How wonderful, 
that when Jesus finally came, 
he called us to be small again,
to be weak and insignificant
like children even to the point
of being nothing, of losing and 
dying in one's self.
A day
a shoot sprouting
and a stump.
Then, a bud
shall blossom.
Empty me, O God,
of myself and everything
that fills me so that you
may fill me with your spirit
and form me into your
desired being;
keep me rooted in you
through Christ who had come,
would come again and
comes always.
If I have to be reduced
even to a mere stump,
let it be, Lord;
grant me patience to await
the sprouting of a shoot
until the bud comes
forth to bloom
and make us experience
Isaiah's prophecy:
"Then the wolf shall be a guest
of the lamb, the leopard shall
lie down with the kid;
the calf and young lion shall
browse together with a little child
to guide them. 
The cow and the bear shall be
neighbors, together their young
shall rest while the lion eat hay
like the ox.
The baby shall play by the cobra's den,
and the child lay his hand on the
adder's lair" (cf. Is. 11:6-9).
Keep us awake, Jesus
as we await and work
for your peaceful presence
here and now.  Amen.

Natatangi ang Pasko 2022

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-28 ng Nobyembre 2022
Larawan kuha ng may akda, Nobyembre 2022.
Sa lahat ng Pasko 
nating naipagdiwang
itong darating ay makahulugan:
 pagkaraan ng dalawang taon
ng lockdown at social distancing
dahil sa COVID-19,
sama-sama tayo muli magdiriwang 
ng harap-harapan o "face-to-face"
sa tahanan at simbahan,
lansangan at mga pasyalan. 
Kung tutuusin,
face-to-face ang diwa ng Pasko
kaya nagkatawang-tao ang Diyos-Anak
at sumilang katulad natin upang 
Diyos-Ama na maibigin ay personal 
na makilala at maranasan 
katulad ng isang kapwa
mayroong katawan at kamalayan,
buhay at kaugnayan na tuwina ay
masasandigan at maaasahan.
Gayon din ay pagmasdan,
Disyembre beinte-singko ngayong taon
papatak sa araw ng Linggo:
ito ba ay nagkataon o niloob ng Panginoon
na matapos ang dalawang taon
sa Kanyang kaarawan tayo ay magdiwang
puno ng kahulugan, 
namnamin Kanyang kabutihan
sapagkat hindi tayo kinalimutan
o pinabayaan sa pandemyang nagdaan?
Larawan kuha ng may akda, Adbiyento 2021.
Ngayong Kapaskuhan
huwag pabayaang maging ganun lang
ating paghahanda sa pagdiriwang:
abangan si Hesus araw-araw
dumarating, sumisilang sa ating katauhan
kaya mga face masks ng pagkukunwari 
ay hubarin at alisin, magpakatotoo
nang si Kristo makitang totoo;
hugasan at linisin mga kamay
maging bibig upang talikuran 
mga kasinungalingan at karuwagang 
maninindigan sa katotohanan at kabutihan;
mga palad, puso at kalooban
ay buksan upang abutin at tanggapin
bawat kapwa bilang kapatid
kay Kristong Panginoon natin!
Kailanma'y hindi napigilan
pagdiriwang ng Pasko
kahit ng mga digmaan at kalamidad
bagkus mga ito pa nagpatingkad
sa liwanag at kahulugan nito;
hindi pa tapos ang pandemya
kaya ngayong Pasko ng 2022,
huwag kabahan
pawiin agam-agam
lapitan at samahan bawat isa
upang magkahawahan
hindi ng corona virus kungdi
ng tuwa at kagalakan
ng pagsilang at pagliligtas 
ni Jesu-Kristo sa ating
puso at katauhan palagian.
Larawan kuha ng may akda, Pasko 2021.

Coming to Jesus who comes

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the First Week of Advent, 28 November 2022
Isaiah 4:2-6   ><000'> + ><000'> + ><000'>   Matthew 8:5-11
Photo by author, 27 November 2022.
Thank you very much,
dear Jesus for the gift of Advent,
for your promise to come again
after you have come
and still come;
let me come rejoicing
to your house, O Lord!

I rejoiced because they said to me, “We will go up to the house of the Lord.” And now have set foot within your gates, O Jerusalem. Because of my relatives and friends I will say, “Peace be within you!” Because of the house of the Lord, our God, I will pray for your good.

Psalm 122: 1-2, 8-9
As I look back to 2022 about to end,
the more I believe in your Second Coming,
Lord Jesus; with grateful heart,
I praise and thank you, Lord,
in letting us survive this year,
in letting us survive this pandemic
as you washed us all clean from our sins
that was long seen by Isaiah
and fulfilled in your coming.
Let me come to you, Lord,
like that centurion,
filled with faith and trust
in his belief in you,
in your powerful coming
even in words.
Amen.

When Advent is also a Sabbath

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
First Sunday of Advent-A, 27 November 2022
Isaiah 2:1-5  ><}}}}*>  Romans 13:11-14  ><}}}}*>  Matthew 24:37-44
Photo by author, November 2022.

A blessed happy new year to everyone!

Yes, our new year in the Church begins this Saturday evening as we usher Advent Season, the four Sundays before Christmas which also falls on a Sunday this year. What a truly blessed Christmas we are having this year since COVID-19 came in 2020. For the first time in two years, we are celebrating Christmas face-to-face which is the essence of the event when the Son of God became human like us in everything except sin so we may experience God in person!

Like a light piercing through the darkness of the night – here and today – we experience Jesus Christ’s coming to us this Christmas 2022 most true that his call in the gospel is so appropriate especially at this time.

Jesus said to his disciples: “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your day will come.

Matthew 24:37, 39-42
Photo by author, November 2022.

“Therefore, stay awake!”

Staying awake does not mean not going to sleep. In fact, for us to be awake, we have to sleep and be fully rested always to be awake and alert whether at night or at day.

That is why Advent is a sabbath, a day of the Lord when we pause to rest and allow God to fill us with his breath and spirit so we may be more attuned with Christ’s coming.

To rest in Filipino is “magpahinga” that literally means to be breathed on. Sabbath as a day of rest is to be breathed on by God, “magpahinga sa Diyos, mahingahan ng Diyos”. Unless we are filled with the breath of God, with his spirit, we will never experience Christ’s coming to us this Advent nor this Christmas nor at any time.

This is the whole point of Christ’s teaching today. Advent is an invitation for us to examine and review our attitudes to life, to God, and to others. Like in the gospel, Jesus reminds us how we conduct ourselves in this life, of being attuned to the Holy Spirit, lest “one is taken and the other one will be left”.

Life has been so difficult for everyone these past two years. Some of us have lost a loved one or relatives and friends to COVID. Many have lost their businesses or career and many other opportunities in life. And sadly, there are others who have lost or wounded and bruised relationships too.

But, have we also lost ourselves that in the process lost God too that we have lost all sense of decency and kindness with one another?

Photo by author, November 2022.

The other day, a former classmate suddenly texted me, saying hi and asking when she and her husband may visit me. Such messages coming out of the blue from anyone – especially her – make me wonder what’s wrong? What’s her problem this time?

She said she just wanted to keep in touch, reminding me how she has always been grateful for my help and prayers. However, she insisted that if we can’t meet, can I send her a prayer via text message because according to her, my prayers and blessings have “magic” as they always come true considering her prospering business and finally, her youngest child about to finish medicine.

I did not answer her until afternoon by sending her a prayer she had requested. And a reminder to her that my prayers have no magic powers nor lucky charms. I told her, “you are blessed abundantly by God because he loves you very much. Because he knows how well you pray hard and strive to be good and fair in your dealings with others. Most of all, because you are grateful. Keep serving the Lord.”

Many times even in our faith and spiritual life, we believe more in luck or swerte than in God as a person loving us, blessing us. That is why our faith has no communal dimension at all because we remain self-centered even in our worship and faith without even finding and experiencing God himself in Jesus Christ who had come to us more than 2000 years ago in Bethlehem.

On this first Sunday of Advent, we are reminded to rekindle in our hearts that ardent desire for God and his kingdom, for the return or Second Coming of Jesus Christ who had come and remains with us, and for the guidance of the Holy Spirit to keep us awake in finding God always in us and in others.

This first Sunday of Advent is calling us to fine tune our attitudes to God anew, to recall the beautiful lessons of this COVID-19 pandemic we now seem to have forgotten totally like importance of God and prayers, of one another, and value of life.

Like the prophecy of Isaiah in the first reading, we find ourselves today in the same situation of many wars going on not only in Ukraine or Mindanao but also in our families and communities yet, we continue to march forward to God’s final fulfillment of his promises. Imagine and feel the prophecy of Isaiah:

“Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways, and we may in his paths. He shall judge between the nations, and impose terms on many peoples. They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again. O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!

Isaiah 2:3, 4-5
Photo by author, November 2022.

What a lovely imagery of beating swords into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks as we walk in the light of the Lord that is happening NOW!

That is one of the challenges of our Advent preparation which is to open our eyes, our minds and our hearts (and arms too!) to find and welcome Jesus Christ already present with us, right here and right now!

That can only happen if we can rest this Advent in the Lord through prayers and meditations of his words that are so rich these days; of having silent moments to find ourselves anew instead of going back to our old ways of crazy Christmas rush shopping and the many external preparations that have become more of a show or a palabas.

Advent is a sabbath calling us to come home to God, to find him in Jesus Christ who had come and comes daily inside us, in our family and friends, in everyone and in various occasions and event in our lives. When we find God, that is also when we find our true selves. And that is Christmas – the coming together of man and God.

Advent is a sabbath when we go back to paradise which last Sunday we find also on the Cross with Jesus Christ as he promised Dimas with “today you shall be with me in Paradise” when God takes charge of everything and we just follow him.

Advent is a sabbath when we recover that original attitudes of man and woman to obey God always, to find more of our goodness and of others and nature, and to live in God’s presence.

Let us heed the call of St. Paul to struggle not only to be morally upright in life but most of all to share the light of Christ when he asked us “to put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh” (Rom.13;14) so that we become his very presence in this world.

Let us rest in Jesus so we may be awake in his coming in every here and now. Amen. Have a blessed and restful week, everyone!

Photo by author, Advent 1, 2021.

God living among us

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time, 25 November 2022
Revelation 20:1-4, 11-22:2   ><]]]'> + ><]]]'> + ><]]]'>   Luke 21:29-33 
God our loving Father,
your words today spoken both by
John and your Son Jesus Christ
are frightening at first hearing;
but, as we dwell more on your words,
we are comforted because your promised
end of the world is the beginning
of "new heaven and new earth"
(Revelation 21:1-2);
it has started coming already
in the birth of Jesus Christ 
as we join the psalmist
in proclaiming this wonderful truth,
"Here God lives among his people"
(responsorial psalm).
"My soul yearns and pines for 
the courts of the Lord.
My heart and my flesh 
cry out for the living God.
Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest in which
she puts her young ---
your altars, O Lord of hosts,
my king and my God!
Blessed they who dwell in your house!
Blessed the men whose strength
you are!"
(Psalm 84:3, 4, 5, 6)
Despite the many trials
and sufferings we have been going 
through, you never ceased to
guide us to life and fulfillment
in you through Jesus Christ.
Make us aware and conscious
of your presence among our brothers
and sisters especially those in pain
and in the margins;
may our eyes,
our minds,
and our hearts
be open to your presence
in everyone we meet inasmuch
as we can read the signs of 
the fig tree and other trees
(Luke 21:29-30);
may we stop for a while
in our tasks and duties
to feel each one's humanity
and personhood to find you
and experience you.
Amen.

Hold on to God

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac & Companion Martyrs, 24 November 2022
Revelation 18:1-2, 21-23; 19:1-3, 9   ><}}}*> + ><}}}*> + ><}}}*>   Luke 21:20-28
As we get closer to the end
of this liturgical year,
we get more excited with 
Advent and Christmas;
please help us, Lord Jesus,
to see more at the moment 
the meaning of the end of this
calendar, the end of time,
the end of everything that would
be renewed in you.
Many of us are so blessed
with family and friends,
jobs and education
that after two years.
we are looking forward
to a face-to-face
Christmas;
but, keep us aware
and conscious of the many others,
definitely more than most of us
who have lost so much these
past years of the pandemic;
many have lost loved ones,
until now have not moved on yet
with their lives, grieving in pain
made worst with other losses like
jobs, careers, business and livelihood;
many are still facing so many forms
of sufferings and trials in life
as individuals and communities;
we pray for them, Lord Jesus.

But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.

Luke 21:28
Help us, Lord, 
in our lives to witness 
the strength and courage
in you to forge on in life's many trials
and difficulties so that those deep 
in trouble may be encouraged to believe
and trust more in you;
more than our words of encouragement,
help us to show in our actions
and commitment to others
that always in this life,
God and good have the final say.
Amen.

Praying for those persecuted

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Thirty-Fourth Week of Ordinary Time, Red Wednesday, 23 November 2022
Revelation 15:1-4    ><000'> + ><000'> + ><000'>  Luke 21:12-19
Today, O Lord Jesus Christ,
we join your whole Church in 
observing "Red Wednesday"
to voice our concern
and make our stand against
the persecution of Christians
and all faiths globally that sadly
remain unnoticed.
According to the 
Pew Research Centre,
"Christians suffer persecution -
from harassment to murder -
in more countries than any other
faith group.  What a disturbing fact
that too often we thought have ended
many centuries ago!
You have warned us about this persecution
a long time ago while still here on earth;
it had never stopped but simply persisted
maybe partly because many of us have chosen
to be silent and deaf to its realities especially
where Christians are a minority.

Jesus said to the crowd: “They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”

Luke 21:12-13, 19
No action,
no contribution,
no prayer
is too small for each of us
to make a difference this year
in supporting our persecuted 
brothers and sisters
and most of all, 
in putting an end to this kind of hatred
and violence simply because
of faith and belief in you our God!
We pray that one day.
we will finally sing face to face
with you Lord Jesus Christ in heaven
the hymn of praise and adoration
John saw in his vision those
"who had won the victory over the beast";
enable us to make the right choices 
like them on this Red Wednesday to
both pray and act 
for the suffering members of
your Body, the Church.
Amen.