God doing everything for us

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Week XIX, Year I in Ordinary Time, 12 August 2021
Joshua 3:7-10, 11, 13-17   ><]]]]'>   Matthew 18:21-19:1
Photo by author, sunrise at Lake of Tiberias (Galilee), the Holy Land, 2019.
Praise and glory to you,
O God our loving Father!
How great indeed are your
works that you do everything for 
our own good even long before 
we are born, preparing us
for every great moment of 
trials long before we have seen
them coming or even happening!
You are always there, Father
ahead of us in every step of 
the way in this life like in the 
entrance of your chosen people
to your promised land preceded
by the ark of the covenant,
parting the Jordan River so that
your people may cross on dry land
reminiscent of the Exodus at Red Sea.

No sooner had these priestly bearers of the ark waded into the waters at the edge of the Jordan, which overflows all its banks during the entire season of the harvest, than the waters flowing from upstream halted, backing up in a solid mass for a very great distance indeed… While all Israel crossed over on dry ground, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord remained motionless on dry ground in the bed of the Jordan until the whole nation had completed the passage.

Joshua 3:15-16, 17
Dear God, whenever I review my life
especially those low moments of
failures and disasters, sins and evil,
sickness or wrong decisions when I thought
everything had collapsed and totally gone,
you were always there, bringing me to safer
grounds; you were always there five steps
or more ahead of me, fixing all the problems
and troubles I have fallen into, even trapped inside.
Like in the history of Israel from Abraham to Joshua,
you never stopped surprising me
with your mighty presence and love.
 
But the greatest of all
marvelous things you have done
to me and us all, loving Father,
is sending us your Son Jesus Christ
to save us from all our sins with your mercy
 and forgiveness that is without end.
Like in today's parable, teach us to be
merciful and forgiving to those who have 
sinned against us for we are all 
forgiven sinners you love so much.
You have done so much for us, Father,
but we have done so little for you through others.
Amen.

Finding God and our mission

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Memorial of St. Camillus de Lellis, Priest, 14 July 2021
Exodus 3:1-6, 9-12   <*(((>< + ><)))*>   Matthew 11:25-27
Photo by author, site of burning bush inside St. Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt, 2019.
Your words today, Lord,
speak of being surprised,
of how wonder can lead us
to you, dear God, the biggest
and most beautiful surprise of all
in this life.
There an angel of the Lord appeared
to him in a fire flaming out of a bush.
As he looked on, he was surprised to see
that the bush, though on fire was not consumed.
So Moses decided, "I must go over 
to look at this remarkable sight, 
and see why the bush is not burned."
(Exodus 3:2-3)
At that time Jesus exclaimed:
"I give praise to you, Father,
Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden
these things from the wise and the learned,
you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been
your gracious will."
(Matthew 11:25-26)
Like Jacob at Bethel 
upon waking up from a dream,
Moses was surprised and wondered
what was with the burning bush
only to find out it was you, Lord,
calling him, sending him to a mission.
The same is true with Jesus our Lord
who exclaimed after being surprised
with the faith of the little ones in him;
what a beautiful flow of things in
every sense of wonder and surprise
when first we find and meet you, then you send us.
We pray, dear God,
you continue to surprise us
in this time of pandemic and trials;
may we take off our sandals like Moses
to realize the whole earth is sacred
because of your divine presence.
Like St. Camillus de Lellis,
open our eyes to find and see you
in various forms of the "burning bush"
like pains and suffering, failures and losses,
or victories and gains where you are always present
calling and sending us to our specific mission in life.
Amen.

Aral at turo ng bundok

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-09 ng Hunyo 2020
Ang banal na Bundok ng Sinai sa Ehipto kung saan nakipagtagpo at usap ang Diyos kay Moises. Larawan kuha ng may-akda, Mayo 2019.
Mula 
 kamusmusan 
hanggang kabataan 
maging sa katandaan, palagi 
kong pinag-iisipan ano kaya pakiramdam 
at karanasan maakyat ang kabundukan at mula
doon durungawin nasa ibabang mga lansangan at kapatagan o kaya naman
mula sa gayong kataasan kung mayroong kaibahan kung ako'y tumingala sa kalangitan.
Hindi 
nagtagal aking 
naranasang maakyat ilang 
kabundukan at doon ko natutunan 
pangunahing aral at katotohanan na ang bundok 
ay buhay, isang paglalakbay mga daana'y di tiyak, puno ng mga 
dawag at panganib, hindi lahat ay paahon minsa'y palusong kaya mahalaga 
sa bawat pagkakataon, tuon ay matunton nililingon na taluktok sa dako pa roon.
Iwaksi 
pagmamadali 
gaya ng ating buhay, damhin
paglalakbay sa bundok, tingnan kalikasan
pakinggan sari-saring tunog at huni sa kapaligiran
iyong mararanasan kaluguran at kabutihan, hindi kahirapan;
iwasan o lampasan at iwanan mga hindi kagandahan, panatilihan 
saan man ika'y puno ng kagalakan at kaganapan, sa buhay madalas nating malimutan.
Huwag
kalilimutan tanging
mahalaga lamang ang dalhin
ano mang hindi kailangan ay iwanan
upang huwag mabigatan, mapagaan at mapaluwag
di lamang katawan kungdi pati kalooban dahil ang malaking 
katotohanan, itong bundok ay larawan ng Diyos na sa ati'y umaakit 
sa kanya tayo ay lumapit upang kariktan niya at kabanalan atin ding makamit.
Ang
hiwaga ng
kabundukan katulad 
nitong atin buhay matatagpuan 
sa ating kakayanang iwanan ang lahat,
Diyos ay pagkatiwalaan na Siya ring nagbigay
sa atin ng bugtong Niyang Anak nag-alay ng buhay sa krus 
upang mabuksan pintuan ng kalangitan na ating tunay na tahanan 
madalas nating tinitingnan sa kaulapan halos kalapit ng mataas na kabundukan.

Ang mga bantog na Swiss Alps sa Switzerland. Kuha ni Rdo. P. Gerry Pascual, 2019.

Glorifying God in our love

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Memorial of St. Philip Neri, 26 May 2020

Acts of the Apostles 20:17-27 <*(((>< >+< ><)))*> John 17:1-11

Dome of the Malolos Cathedral. Photo by author, December 2019.

The beautiful readings of this week after the Ascension of the Lord complement the crucial week ahead for us all in this time of the corona virus.

Your words, O Lord, continue to amaze us with its many meanings to guide and soothe and assure us of your loving presence.

Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, just as you gave him authority over all people, so that your son may give eternal life to all you gave him.”

John 17:1-2

After praying for us your disciples, now you tell us of your “hour” when you shall fulfill your mission which is to suffer and die on the Cross for our salvation. It is your hour of glory, Lord Jesus, because it is the outpouring of your and the Father’s immeasurable love for us all.

Yesterday you have taught us that before everything else in our lives, there has always been your love.

Today, you assure us especially in this time of the corona virus that before all these sufferings and pains we endure, you were there first to suffer and die for us still because of your love for us.

Teach us to be like St. Paul to be firm and persevering in our mission to love against all odds, to never “shrink” in our love and patience to our detractors and those who mean to discredit us.

Like St. Paul, may we never “shrink before all those who malign your holy name, those who find material things more essential than you our Lord and our God.

Let us never shrink in our love and understanding, patience and wisdom.

Likewise, fill our hearts with your joy and humor like St. Philip Neri who attracted many followers and believers to you with his infectious cheerfulness.

Despite our many limitations and sinfulness, may your Holy Spirit, dear Lord Jesus Christ help us to continue loving you among one another especially to those with special needs in this time of crisis.

And Lord, despite the continued abuse of those in power and authority in pushing and shoving us, shouting and cursing us for everyone to hear and see on national TV, let us never shrink in choosing to be peaceful and understanding. Amen.

St. Philip Neri, pray for us.

Bakas ng habag at awa ni Jesus

Lawiswis Ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-20 ng Abril 2020

Nakita lamang kita
kamakalawa sa balita
ng social media
karga-karga isang matanda
habang lumilikas mga nasunugan
sa gitna nitong lockdown
doon sa inyong tirahan
kung tawagi'y "Happyland"
sa Tondo na napakaraming tao.
Hindi ko sukat akalain
sa sumunod na pagtingin
naiba at nabago ang lahat sa akin
sa larawan ng naturang balita pa rin
matapos ito ay guhitan at kulayan
dahil kinabukasan ay kapistahan
ng Divine Mercy
at ikaw pala iyan, Jesus
aming Panginoon at Diyos.
Sa gitna ng naglalagablab na apoy
nag-aalab mong pag-ibig Panginoon
ang umantig sa pananalig
ng Iyong dibuhista at pari
Marc Ocariza kaagad nagpinta
gamit bagong teknolohiya
upang ipakita kakaiba niyang nadama
na sadyang tamang tama naman pala 
upang itanghal iyong Mabathalang Awa talaga.
"Panginoon ko at Diyos ko!"
ang panalanging akin ding nasambit
katulad ni Tomas na apostol mo
nang muli Kang magpakita sa kanila;
tunay nga pala
mapapalad ang mga nananalig
kahit hindi ka nakikita
dahil hindi itong aming mga mata
ang ginagamit kungdi aming pagsampalataya.
Nawa ikaw ang aming makita
mahabaging Jesus
sa gitna ng dilim nitong COVID-19
Iyong Dakilang Awa aming maipadama
sa pamamagitan ng paglimot sa aming sarili
 at pagpapasan ng krus upang Ikaw ay masundan
tangi Mong kalooban ang bigyang katuparan
upang Ikaw ay maranasan at masaksihan
ng kapwa naming nahihirapan.
Turuan mo kami, maawaing Jesus
na muling magtiwala sa iyo
kumapit ng mahigpit
hindi lamang kapag nagigipit
at huwag nang ipinipilit
aming mga naiisip at mga panaginip
na kailanma'y hindi nakahagip
sa ginawa Mong pagsagip at malasakit
upang kami ngayo'y mapuno ng Iyong kariktan at kabutihan! *

*Maraming salamat kay Marivic Tribiana (hindi ko kakilala) na nagpost sa kanyang Facebook ng unang larawan ni kuya pasan-pasan lolo niya sa kainitan ng sunog sa Happyland noong Abril 18, 2020.

At higit ding pasasalamat ko kay P. Marc Ocariza sa pagmumulat sa aking mga mata ng kanyang pagninilay at obra gamit ang Digital Art Timelapse na kanyang tinaguriang “Nag-aalab na Pag-ibig”.

Ang lahat ng ito ay para sa higit na ikadadakila ng Diyos na nagbigay sa atin ng Kanyang Anak “hindi upang tayo ay mapahamak kungdi maligtas” lalo ngayong panahon ng pandemiya ng COVDI-19.

At sa inyo, maraming salamat po sa pagsubaybay sa Lawiswis ng Salita.

Unbelievable

40 Shades of Lent, Friday, Week III, 20 March 2020

Hosea 14:2-10 ><)))*> +++ <*(((>< Mark 12:28-34

Photo by author, Mt. St. Paul, Trinidad, Benguet, 04 February 2020.

Unbelievable.

That’s the only word you spoke to me Lord in my prayers last night and this morning.

Unbelievable.

As the days move on, God our Father, the more I could not believe all these things going on. What have happened with us, Lord?

Bakit kami nagkaganito at paano kami humantong dito, Panginoon?

Your words today, O Lord, are so true. It is you indeed who speaks to us especially in the first reading through the Prophet Hosea. You have spoken so well — we have all sinned.

We have disregarded you and others. We have relied so much in our own powers and abilities. We have insisted on doing things our own ways totally discarding your teachings.

But more unbelievable in this unbelievable situation is your immense love and mercy for us, O God our Father.

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 the Lord… I will heal their defection, says the Lord, I will love them freely; for my wrath is turned away from them. I will be like the dew for Israel: he shall blossom like the lily.

Hosea 14:2-3, 5-6
Lent Week-III 2020 in our Parish.

Help us, Father through your Son Jesus Christ that we may look more inside ourselves these trying times, that we may see you more and as we see you as the most essential, the most important of all, we also see our value as persons.

Let us experience that love you have for us that we ought to share with one another, beginning in our family, in our neighborhood.

How unbelievable that some of us, like that scribe who asked Jesus “which is the first of all commandments”, we keep on categorizing, ranking things and even persons to determine who or what is the most important — the first.

Unbelievable but true, this pandemic is happening because we have forgotten you and we have forgotten others too. We have forgotten YOU are always first, always great. Semper Primus, semper Major!

Teach us to see more of you so that we also see you among one another. Amen.

I believe!

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Tuesday, Week VI, Year II, 18 February 2020

James 1:12-18 <*(((>< 0 ><)))*> Mark 8:14-21

Photo by author, Mt. St. Paul, La Trinidad, Benguet, 03 February 2020.

“I believe, Lord!”

I believe, Lord, that is why I understand.

So many times I cannot understand you, Lord, especially your words and your ways because my mind and my heart are always filled with so many other things and even persons that I cannot find a space for you.

Believing in you, O Lord, is the starting point of everything that enables us to understand things and persons. Belief in you, O God who is all-powerful and all-knowing, is on whom everything begins, the starting point of everything. It is when I believe that I understand, Lord.

Like the apostles traveling with you on the boat, I always “presume” what you mean when you talk to me, especially that “leaven of the Pharisees and of Herod”. You are our leaven, our faith.

I am sorry, Lord, when my heart is so hardened that I cannot understand or comprehend your teachings that invite me first to believe so I can understand.

Let me always have that firm faith in you, Lord, to always believe in you so that I may not be deceived that even temptations come from you.

“Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers and sisters: all good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change.

James 1:16-17

Give me the grace to always look deep inside my heart, to look around and be surprised by nature proclaiming your loving presence among us.

To wonder and to believe always lead us to you, to believing in you even in the midst of trials and sufferings that never come from you. Amen.

Divine sighs, human signs

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Monday, Week VI, Year II, 17 February 2020

James 1:1-11 ><)))*> 0 <*(((>< Mark 8:11-13

Photo by author, Laguna Lake, Los BaƱos, Laguna, 13 February 2020.

How often does it still happen today, Lord Jesus Christ, that like in our gospel today you would “sigh from the depth of your heart” after we, your people, would ask you for more signs from heaven?

Have mercy on us, Lord, for our lack of faith in you after all these years.

Forgive us for being “unstable in all our ways” with you, always “a man of two minds” as St. James would describe us (James 1:8) in seeking wisdom and things from you.

Forgive us for those moments we doubt your presence and power especially when we fail to win your favor, to get your blessings for our particular prayers and supplications.

The fault is really on us, Lord.

If sighing is your way of keeping your patience with our being so stubborn, teach us to reach out to you in the depths of our hearts, to remember those countless occasions you have saved us.

That instead of asking for signs from you, we may just sigh deep inside us to experience you again. Amen.

With God at every step of our way

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Tuesday, Memorial of St. Agnes, Virgin and Martyr, 21 January 2020

1 Samuel 16:1-13 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Mark 2:23-28

Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2019.

The Lord said to Samuel: “How long will you grieve for Saul, whom I have rejected as king of Israel? Fill yor horn with oil, and be on your way. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem, for I have chosen my king from among is sons.” But Sameul replied: “How can I go? Saul will hear of it and kill me.” To this the Lord answered: “Take a heifer along and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I myself will tell you what to do; you are to anoint for me the one I point out to you.” Samuel did as the Lord had commanded him.

1 Samuel 16:1-4

How many times have I found myself, O God, in the same situation as Samuel? You know very well how I felt so afraid to do your work, so fearful for my reputation and most especially of other people who might harm me in doing your work.

But what really makes it so difficult in obeying you, O God, is when I doubt if you are the one truly speaking to me, when I doubt myself if I get it right from you to do something opposite the way and thoughts of most people.

Oh… how sweet it is to remember those days when I just threw myself to your will, when I just did and say whatever you willed!

It was very scary, Lord, but we did it!

You did it very well, every step of our way!

Thank you, so much, O God! Thank you!

Send us your Holy Spirit to center our lives in your Son Jesus Christ like the disciples “who began to make a path picking heads of grain one Sabbath day” (Mk.2:23) and the Pharisees lambasted them.

Surely, the disciples would have not done that without seeking permission from Jesus. And even if Jesus had allowed them to go and pick heads of grain, I am sure there were some who still doubted him giving the permission to do it!

So nice that they trusted Jesus, like the young and lovely St. Agnes who remained adamantly faithful to him in the face of death. May I be given that same faith and courage today, Lord, to find you in every step I take. Amen.

What is in a name?

The Lord Is My Chef Simbang Gabi Recipe, 17 December 2019

Genesis 49:2.8-10 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Matthew 1:1-17

Parokya ng Banal na Mag-Anak, Violeta Village, Guiguinto, Bulacan. Photo by Arch. Philip Santiago.

Today we shift our focus in our Advent preparations to the first coming of Jesus Christ when he was born in Bethlehem more than 2000 years ago. Strictly speaking, the Christmas countdown officially starts only today especially with our very long but beautiful gospel from Matthew.

Maybe you are wondering what’s good with our gospel today when it is all about names that mostly sound very funny.

Importance of names: origin and mission

In ancient time, giving name to children was a very serious matter among peoples, especially the Jews.

For them, a name indicates two very important things about a person: one’s origin and mission in life, something parents of today have entirely forgotten, even ignorant because they are more concerned with fad and being unique in naming their children that always end up as a joke as it is always bizarre and weird.

And their poor kid suffers for the rest of his/her life like that man named “Fantastic”. All his life he felt so sad being called Fantastic that he told his wife when he dies, never put his name on his tombstone.

Eventually Mr. Fantastic died and the wife kept her promise not to put his name on his marker. But she felt the need to honor her beloved husband who was so good and honest that in lieu of his name, she asked a tribute written to honor him.

It said, “Here lies a very gentle and loving husband and father who never looked at other women except his wife.”

Every time passersby see and read that tribute, they would always exclaim “Fantastic!”

From Google.

Going back to the importance of giving names….

Corporations are more serious than parents in choosing names and trademarks to their products and services. Every trademark and brand always evokes deeper meanings than just being a product or entity that some of them have entered the vocabulary of many languages like Google, Xerox, and Frigidaire.

And the sad thing about this is how many babies are now being named to follow things and products than the other way around, giving more value to things than human beings!

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham became the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.

Matthew 1:1-2
Detail of the ceiling of Parokya ng Banal na Mag-anak after the front or main door: the genealogy of Jesus Christ that starts with Abraham. Great concept by the Parish Priest, Fr. Ed Rodriguez. Photo by Arch. Philip Santiago.

Genealogy of Jesus as direction of Matthew’s Gospel

St. Matthew opens his gospel account with the genealogy of Jesus to settle right at the very start the question about the origin and mission of Jesus Christ.

Here we find the artistry and genius of St. Matthew, some 2000 years ahead of the late Stephen Covey’s third habit of highly effective people: “begin with an end in mind.”

By starting his genealogy with Abraham and David, St. Matthew gives us the whole gospel message in a glance because they are the two key figures in the beginning and realization of God’s promise to send Jesus Christ who would save us all.

Let us just focus on Abraham which means “he who is the father of many.”

It was to him that the story of God’s promise began after the dispersal of mankind following the collapse of the Tower of Babel.

From then on, Abraham points to what is ahead in God’s divine plan, not only for himself but also for the whole mankind for it is through him that blessings come to all. His journey from his birthplace of Ur into Canaan is symbolic of his journey from the present into the future, walking in faith following the Lord’s path and divine plan.

In Abraham we find God starting anew the history of mankind after the Fall that leads up to Jesus Christ who came to lead us all back into the Father.

With Abraham as the main header of Christ’s genealogy, we find not only the beginning but also the end of St. Matthew’s gospel which is the universality of God’s plan of salvation with Jesus telling his disciples to make disciples of all nations (Mt.28:19).

Detail of the ceiling near the sanctuary of Parokya ng Banal na Mag-Anak, the culmination of the genealogy of Jesus. Photo by Arch. Philip Santiago.

Imitating Abraham into our time

Last December 10 was a very important date for me and my parish: it was the ordination date of our first priest.

While waiting for the start of the Mass at the front door (which is actually the back of the Cathedral or any church), I just prayed in silence thinking about my role in the ordination of Fr. RA Valmadrid.

While I marveled at the beautiful renovations of our Cathedral, my sight was slowly moved towards the altar.

It was like an “Abraham experience” in Matthew’s genealogy for me: a wayfarer on a journey into the future, towards God, walking in faith.

In a quick glance, I kind of saw the future glory of every faithful coming to the altar to receive Jesus Christ in the sacraments especially the Holy Eucharist.

I just felt the beauty of entering the Cathedral, or any church which is more than stepping into a building but more of entering God himself, our point of origin and final destination.

Do we realize this tremendous blessing and grace of being baptized, of being a child of God, not only given with a name but most of all, of being counted into the family of God our Father?

In the first reading we have heard Jacob calling his 12 sons. What is so striking here is the blessing Jacob had bestowed upon Judah, instead of Joseph who was the best of all his sons, the holiest and most intelligent.

Like Abraham and Judah, or anyone in the genealogy of Jesus Christ, we can find our own selves too not as the vida or contravida but simply being called to be God’s instrument in fulfilling his plan in sending his Son Jesus Christ.

Truth is, God always comes in the most unexpected situations and peoples most of the time.

In Christ Jesus through our Baptism and faith, we find our genealogy – our origin and mission – as children of God.

If you want to get a feel of this reality, try reading aloud, very slowly, the genealogy of Jesus Christ. At the end, include your self, mention your name, your mother and father. Then close your eyes and let your life flash back in silence.

In the silence of your heart, do you find God coming more to you than you to God?

So amazing, is it not? We are all part of Christ’s genealogy. Let’s bring him forth into the world in our life of faithful witnessing like Abraham. Amen.

Malolos Cathedral. Photo by author.