Pray to not delay

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle, 25 January 2023
Acts 22:3-16     ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*>     Mark 16:15-18
Praise and glory
to you, O God our Father
for this glorious day of
celebration of the Feast of
Conversion of St. Paul, 
the 13th Apostle of Jesus Christ!
He is the perfect example of
your boundless mercy in Christ,
that every sinner can always be
a saint, that every sin can be
forgiven for your love is more
immense and vast than all the evils
that men do!
While St. Luke tells us of the vision
that led St. Paul to conversion,
the great Apostle himself tells us
it was more of an illumination
when God's light "has shone in our
hearts to bring to light the knowledge
of the glory of God on the face of 
Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:6); moreover, 
St. Paul claimed conversion 
was a revelation and a vocation 
in the encounter with Jesus Christ 
that began "from my mother's womb" 
when God "had set me apart and 
called me through his grace, 
was pleased to reveal his Son to me, 
so that I may proclaim him
to the gentiles" (Gal. 1:15-16).

If we could just realize this most
wonderful truth like St. Paul 
that you have called us too 
while we were in our mother's womb
because you have a beautiful plan for us
in this world, in this life;
that we all have a special mission,
an important role,
and noble purpose in being 
alive, 
in being here
in this world! 
Therefore, Lord Jesus,
let us not delay our own 
conversion in the same manner
that Ananias told St. Paul after
regaining his sight in Damascus
that "The God of our ancestors 
designated you to know his will,
to see the Righteous One,
and to hear the sound of his voice;
for you will be his witness before
all to what you have seen and heard.
Now, why delay?  Get up and have
yourself baptized and your sins
washed away, calling upon his name"
(Acts 22:14-16).
Most of all, dear Jesus,
like St. Paul, may we put you
at the center of our lives so that
our identity is marked by our
encounter with you,
by communion in your Person
and with your Word; help us reach
that wonderful stage of conversion
when like St. Paul we begin to see everything
considered as value is just a loss and refuse
(Phil. 3:7-10) because you, O Lord,
is the only essential, the most precious
one we can ever have in this life; hence,
place all our energy and being 
at your service, dear Jesus and your Gospel 
so that eventually, we may truly be
your Apostle, becoming 
"all things to all men" or 
"omnia omnibus"
(1 Cor. 9:19-23).
Amen.

The gift of “rest”

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the First Week of Ordinary Time, Year I, 13 January 2023
Hebrews 4:1-5, 11     ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>     Mark 2:1-12
Photo by author, Bolinao, Pangasinan, April 2022.
O God our loving Father!
You are so wonderful and amazing,
so marvelous that you lavish us
daily with love and mercy.
What else can I ask you except 
that I "enter your rest" which 
the author of the Letter to the
Hebrews had enunciated so well
in the first reading today.
In fact, I have counted six times 
he had used in six verses that 
little yet powerful word "rest"  we 
often take for granted especially in
this restless world.

Let us be on our guard while the promise of entering into his rest remains, that none of you seem to have failed… Therefore, let us strive to enter into that rest, so that no one may fall after the same example of disobedience.

Hebrews 4:1, 11
How ironic, O God
that while we all desire 
to enter your eternal rest
in heaven, no one really cares
to value your day of rest
in this life as we busy ourselves
with everything except you
and our loved ones;
make us realize that rest is
primarily about you, 
being with you,
returning to you
just like when you
rested after creating everything.
Make us realize that to rest 
is to be one in you and with you
in Christ Jesus; to rest is to let
your will be done again like in
paradise before the fall;
to rest is enter you in Jesus.
That is why 
I love our Filipino word
for rest which is "pahinga" -
to be breathed on.  
By whom?
By you, O God!
Let us rest 
and be breathed on 
through your words
and sacraments,
through our private 
and communal prayers,
through our personal experiences
and through one another.
Dear Jesus,
help us imitate 
those courageous men who
opened up the roof above you
to lower their paralytic friend
because to rest is of God,
from above; enable us, Jesus,
to rest in you always
in every here and now
so we may finally rest 
in eternity.  Amen.

Grateful for the gift of Church

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome, 09 November 2022
Ezekiel 47:1-2, 8-9, 12 ><}}}*> 1 Corinthians 3:9-11, 16-17 ><}}}*> John 2:13-22
Photo of the Lateran Basilica by Fr. Gerry Pascual.
On this feast of the Dedication 
of the Lateran Basilica in Rome
which is "the mother and mistress
of all churches in Rome and the world"
being the Pope's church as Bishop of Rome,
we praise and thank you O God
for the gift of the Church. 
So often, we rarely think of the
Church as your gift, dear God;
sadly, many times we hurt the Church
not only with our attacks that defame
the Body of Christ here on earth
but most especially when we your
priests cause it to bleed with so many
wounds following our sins of
infidelities.
Help us realize this holy giftedness
of the Church as a means for us
to be closer to you, O God,
for us to be saved in Christ,
for us to be blessed and made holy
as your people finally gathered
as one in your Most Holy Name; 
most of all, in giving life
and sustaining life abundantly in Christ.

The angel brought me back to the entrance of the temple, and I saw water flowing out from beneath the threshold of the temple toward the east, for the facade of the temple was toward the east; the water flowed down from the southern side of the temple, south of the altar. He said to me, “Wherever the river flows, every sort of living creature that can multiply shall live, and there shall be abundant fish, for wherever this water comes the sea shall be made fresh. Along both baqnk of the river, fruit trees of every kind shall grow; their leaves shall ot fade, nor their fruit fail. Every month they shall bear fresh fruit, for they shall be watered by the flow from the sanctuary. Their fruit shall serve for food, and their leaves for medicine.”

Ezekiel 47:1, 9, 12
Since Jesus had ascended into heaven,
his Church has always been his sign of unity,
of communion that has continued to exist to this day
despite so many efforts by many men and women
to destroy it both from within and from outside;
all these years, the Church has remained like that
beautiful vision by Prophet Ezekiel from
which all life springs forth.
Cleanse us, dear Jesus,
whip us with your cords,
overturn our various tables of
comforts and new thoughts
especially our attachment with 
the ways of the world
so that we may truly be called
"the Father's house" (Jn.2:15-16).
Most dear Jesus,
let us stop hurting your Church,
let us stop lording over your Church,
let us stop desecrating your Church
as we keep in mind and heart
that it is you, O Lord,
who is the true foundation
of this Church
that begins right in our hearts.
Amen.
Photo of the Cathedra of the Lateran Basilica by Fr. Gerry Pascual.

Losing one’s self in Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Twenty-Ninth Week of Ordinary Time, Year II, 20 November 2022
Ephesians 3:14-21   ><000'> + <'000>< = ><000'> + <'000><   Luke 12:49-53
Photo by author, 2018.
Dearest Jesus,
Help me imitate St. Paul's
beautiful prayer for the Ephesians:
may the Holy Spirit strengthen my 
"inner self" so that you may dwell
in my heart that is "rooted in faith"
and "grounded in love";
grant me the "strength to comprehend" -
not just understand but embrace totally
"the breadth and length and height and depth"
of your love that "surpasses knowledge"
by entering into a communion in you,
an intimacy "with all the fullness of God"
(Ephesians 3:16-19).
This can only happen to me,
Lord Jesus Christ,
if I allow myself to lose my soul to you
in order to gain it by allowing
your fire to purify me of my sins
and self-centeredness
(Luke 12:49-51).
Set me on fire, Jesus,
as you have declared in the gospel:
lit me with courage and joy in witnessing
your Cross in this time of darkness
when everybody follows the artificial lights
of the world that lead to emptiness;
let me be immersed into your paschal mystery
of Passion, Death and Resurrection,
of bearing all the pains that lead to conversion
and to true peace as you have promised
at the Last Supper that is the fruit of
love and sacrifices, not of compromises
as the peace of the world offers.
Dearest Lord,
let me see everything in your love
even if it seems so impossible
like your victory over death;
seduce me, O Lord,
dupe me like Jeremiah
to join you in your adventure,
to go beyond my limits
even if it may be fatal
for that is the only way 
to lose myself
in order to gain you,
Jesus Christ our Lord!
"Now to him 
who is able to accomplish
far more than all we ask or imagine,
by the power at work within us,
to him be glory in the Church
and in Christ Jesus to all generations,
forever and ever.  Amen."
(Ephesians 3:20-21)
Photo by author, 2018.

Praying to remember, to never forget

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Nineteenth Week of Ordinary Time, Year II, 12 August 2022
Ezekiel 16:1-15, 60, 63   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Matthew 19:3-12
Forget-me-nots photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Now, more than ever, 
I am convinced dear God
that we are indeed "beings of forgetfulness";
we easily forget, and sadly, we enjoy,
we choose and we "love" so much 
forgetting the past, 
forgetting people,
forgetting our roots, 
and worst, forgetting you
our loving Father.
How striking are your words
to the Prophet Ezekiel today,
"making known to Jerusalem
her abominations", of how as a 
nation like a newborn child left 
in the dirt with her umbilical cord
still uncut, wrapped in her blood
and all until you O God took her, 
bathed and dressed her with
finest clothes, fed with good food,
bestowed with your dignity 
that nations loved her (Ezekiel 16:3-14) 
only to forget you, O God... 
just like us today.

But you were captivated by your own beauty; you used your renown to make yourself a harlot, and you lavished your harlotry on every passer-by, whose own you became. Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you when you were a girl, and I will set up an everlasting covenant with you, that you may remember and be covered with confusion, and that you may be utterly silenced for shame when I pardon you for all you have done, says the Lord God.

Ezekiel 16:15, 60, 63
Let us remember you
Lord always;
teach us to make you a 
"member", a "part"
 of each present moment,
thus, "re" + "member"!
Let us enter into communion
in you, with you in Christ Jesus,
remembering, honoring
your divine plans since
the beginning like marriage;
forgive us for the "hardness
of our hearts" that we have relished
in forgetting and disregarding you
 and your plans in the past,
your blessings and plans for the future.
Let us stop "separating"
not only husbands and wives
but most especially our lives,
our selves from you, dear God,
 for you are our life, our being,
our origin and end.
Amen.

“Maintain safe braking distance”

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C, 03 July 2022
Isaiah 66:10-14 ><}}}*> Galatians 6:14-18 ><}}}*> Luke 10:1-12, 17-20
Photo by d0n mil0 on Pexels.com

One of the most repeated messages you see upon entering North Luzon Expressway in its electronic billboards is the call to “maintain safe braking distance” that, unfortunately, many do not observe, causing accidents daily that result into monstrous jams at the super highway.

That warning to “maintain safe braking distance” is what Jesus Christ is also telling us today in the gospel after the 72 disciples he had sent returned to him, rejoicing at their successes that even demons were subject to them because of the Lord’s name.

Jesus said, “I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky. Behold, I have given you the power to ‘tread upon serpents and scorpions and upon the full force of the nemey and nothing will harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”

Luke 10:18-20
From Facebook, April 2021: “There is an urgency to announce the Joy, the joy of the Risen Lord!”

Resolutely determined in the name of Jesus

We have seen last Sunday how Jesus was “resolutely determined” to go to Jerusalem, asking us with the same resolve in following him, imitating him, and doing his work for the people; but, being resolutely determined like him is not about powers but union with the Father.

The “harvest is always abundant” – there are so many things to be done but the most important thing of all is our oneness with God in Jesus Christ. What matters most in discipleship is not the accomplishments we have but relationships we keep with God and one another. St. Mother Teresa said it so well, “We are called to be faithful, not successful.”

That is why Jesus asked us to pray for more laborers, not budget nor gadgets nor things but persons to work in the abundant harvest that refers to the kingdom of God; hence, the Lord’s reminder to “do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” To have our names written in heaven is to be one with God because heaven is about relationship with God, an intimacy with God. Hell is separation from God.

Hence, a disciple can only share and give peace to others when the disciple himself/herself is in good relationships with one’s self, with others and with God.


Photo by Fr. Pop dela Cruz in San Miguel, Bulacan, 15 June 2022.

Peace happens when there is the gift of presence with self, others, and God, implying a loving relationship. This is the very essence of the second reading from Paul’s letter to the Galatians wherein the apostle explained the meaning of being justified in Christ through his Cross: we are saved, our names are written in heaven not by our own doing but by the Lord’s self-giving. Our task is to nurture and deepen these relationships effected by Jesus in his coming to us, in making us one again in the Father. It is very interesting how Paul ended his letter to the Galatians by using his standard greeting in letters:

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your sprit, brothers and sisters. Amen.

Galatians 6:18

Experts say that Paul could have employed a secretary in writing this letter who altered his style by placing his usual salutations to the ending. On the other hand, other experts believe there is a hidden meaning in the construction of the conclusion, that if we let the grace of Jesus in our relationships, the more we regard each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.

When Jesus decided to resolutely determined to go to Jerusalem, his focus was not the place but the people, always stopping to interact with everyone by teaching them, healing the sick and blessing the children.

Photo by author, 19 April 2022, Pangasinan.

As we mature in life, we realize and imitate Jesus in this journey by seeing it more as a direction than a destination. We have experienced how our journey and trips have become more fulfilling and enriching from the more fun and adventure we discover in our many stops and detours than going straight to our destinations. Life is more of seeking directions than fixation on a destination to be reached that becomes very rigid and bereft of meaning and sense that can be found only among fellow human beings, not things.

In the first reading, we find a hint of this direction than destination with the prophecy by Isaiah of the coming home of the exiles to Jerusalem. There is always the joy of coming home but, we cannot all go at the same time, the tension of already here but not yet of heaven. There is always the need of keeping and nurturing our relationships and presence, peace and oneness with one another in Jesus Christ amid the abundant harvest of heaven for us all.


Going back to our analogy of the NLEX reminder of maintaining a safe braking distance, entering the super highway assures us of many directions to take in our journey to Jesus, journey with Jesus. But we have to be alert and careful in our driving, be mindful of others using the roads. We need to be alert and careful in driving to avoid causing accidents and mishaps that could misdirect us to the hospital or, worst, six feet below ground!

In the same manner, we are already in the harvest time, in this time of Christ’s presence and oneness with the Father and with everyone of us. This Sunday, Jesus reminds us to maintain safe braking distance in our many pursuits and attention in our abundant harvests that in the process we have forgotten those dearest to us, those we love and who love us truly. Amen.

Have a blessed week ahead!

Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte, Atok, Benguet, September 2019.