The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Memorial of Sts. Cyril, Monk & Methodius, Bishop, 14 February 2023
Genesis 6:5-8; 7:1-5, 10 ><]]]'> + ><]]]'> + ><]]]'> Mark 8:14-21
On this most joyous day of hearts,
dear God our Father,
I pray for us all with a heart
to have a natural heart
not hardened by sin and bitterness,
not a heart lacking in understanding
nor a heart so caught up with selfish
and personal agenda.
When the Lord saw how great was man’s wickedness on earth, and how no desire that his heart conceived was ever anything but evil, he regretted that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was grieved.
Give us a heart
inclined to you, O Lord,
a heart that listens in silence,
a heart that rejoices in truth,
a heart that celebrates what is good,
a heart that sings amid the many scars
and pains of infidelity and betrayal,
unkindness and unfriendliness,
a heart that is whole and undivided
in courage and freedom to do what
is most loving, most self-sacrificing
and self-giving like that of Jesus Christ.
Let us not be carried away
and worst, give rise to the commercialization
of Valentine's Day that we forget the
true meaning of loving which is
forgetting one's self and thinking more of
the other person; how lovely it is to read how
you, O God, directed Noah to build an ark
to save his family from the great flood:
Everyone inside the ark was in pair -
Noah and his wife,
his three sons and each one's wife
as well as the animals with one male
and one female each to show us that
love is never alone,
always with another person
with a community of believers!
Many times, O Lord,
we miss your point because we are so
caught up with our own thoughts and ideas
that our eyes cannot see,
and ears cannot hear.
Teach like our brother saints today,
St. Cyril and St. Methodius
to seek your holy will
so we may love truly
like Jesus Christ who
died on the Cross
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Sunday in the Sixth Week of the Ordinary Time, Cycle A, 12 February 2023
Sirach 15:15-20 ><]]]]'> 1 Corinthians 2:6-10 ><]]]]'> Matthew 5:17-37
We are two days away from Valentine’s Day and a week from Ash Wednesday for the start of the Lenten Season. And our Gospel this Sunday speaks so much of how our hearts may be whole and pure like that of Jesus, filled with love for others as Christ’s disciples.
We are still with Jesus giving us his Sermon on the Mount. Last week we have heard him showing us the practical side of the beatitudes, of blessedness which is being the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Today, Jesus elaborates to us the meaning of putting into practice our blessedness, of being the salt of the earth and light of the world by going right into our hearts in fulfilling the Laws in him as he clarified, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill” (Mt. 5:17).
Living our lives as disciples of Jesus means that we follow a standard or norm totally different from the world’s standard that has become very personalistic and self-centered. The late Pope emeritus Benedict XVII called it as “dictatorship of relativism” – no more absolutes, no more God nor morality to follow because everything is relative that had given rise to everyone invoking each one’s rights totally disregarding the rights of others especially the weakest and most vulnerable. Worst, as most people insist on their individual rights these days, they also forget the other aspect of every right which is responsibility. What happens now is the covering up of temptations of lust so as not to deal with it like the promotion of abortion and artificial contraceptives or of divorce as a solution to marital infidelities.
The problem is not with the laws but with the heart of every person.
Jesus is challenging us today to look into our hearts, placing the responsibility on every individual and not on the object of temptations or anger or lust. He is inviting us to lead our lives with integrity where we follow not only the letter of the law but more important, its spirit. This integrity calls us to a whole-hearted living whereby more than the beautiful words we speak, our lives, our very actions reveal we are the children of the Father in Christ Jesus, animated by the Holy Spirit.
See how Matthew composed and arranged the Lord’s teachings today; there is always the reminder from the Laws of the Old Testament followed by the Lord’s clarification of its deeper meaning and application.
You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, “You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment. You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors, “Do not take a false oath, but make good to the Lord all that you vow.” But I say to you, do not swear at all. Let your “Yes” mean “Yes,” and your “No” mean “No.” anything more is from the evil one.
Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28, 33-34, 37
See how Jesus is directing us into his own heart, into the very heart of his Gospel found in the beatitudes we heard the other Sunday so that our hearts would also imitate. To be truly blessed, to be a salt of the earth and a light of the world is to have a clean, pure heart like Jesus, a heart filled with love and mercy. It is very difficult to do on our own but in the grace of Jesus Christ, it is doable.
At the very heart of Christ’s teachings today is the fact that not everything in life can be written and even fiscalized or enacted as a law. Human life is dynamic, always changing, supposedly for the best. Unfortunately, what we are seeing these days in history is decadence: when we are supposed to know more and know better, the more we are becoming less human, less personal because in our “reasoning”, what prevails upon us is our ego, our pride, our self-interests. These are what Jesus is attacking in his teachings today as he invites us to examine and cleanse our hearts, and to truly “feel” the depths and meaning of the Laws long given by God.
How sad that our usual argument against old laws is how they have become obsolete, not attuned with the times like the proponents of divorce. The problem is not with the natural order of things but us. And the tragedy is that we have not only polluted our hearts but also our minds, turning them away from God and from others.
Very often, especially these days, many people insist on their freedom, on their power to choose forgetting that freedom is never absolute, that freedom demands also responsibilities. Though we are free to express our thoughts and feelings, it is not allowed to use the same freedom in spreading lies or maligning others.
The key to such “whole-hearted” living is found in our first reading from the Book of Sirach which emphasizes the meeting of the heart and the mind in God to choose, to decide and to do what is right, what is good.
If you choose, you can keep the commandments, they will save you; if you trust in God, you too shall live; he has set before you fire and water; to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand. Before man are life and death, good and evil, whichever he chooses shall be given him. No one does he command to act unjustly, to none does he give license to sin.
Sirach 15:15-17, 20
We have the natural laws etched by God in our hearts to always do good, to do no harm on others. We also have his words and teachings finally revealed and fulfilled in Jesus Christ that must guide us in making the right exercise of freedom, of choosing life not death. Here we have true integrity, the meeting of the mind and the heart at what is true, what is good!
Freedom is the ability to choose what is good. Moreover, to be free is also to decide knowingly. Freedom is diminished and impaired when judgement is disturbed. As the Latin saying goes, Mens sana in corpore sano – a sound mind in a sound body. That is why our responsorial psalm says it so well that “Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord”.
One fine example of this blessed man who follows the Lord is our national athlete and the world’s number three pole vaulter, EJ Obiena.
A UST student who has represented us in various competitions including the 2020 Olympics in Japan, Obiena opened 2023 by winning two gold medals in four tournaments. Unfortunately due to usual red tapes and inefficiencies of those in government, Obiena had to skip the Asian Indoor Championship in Kazakhstan this weekend because of lack of logistical support and fundings. He never ran out of problems despite the many honors he had brought to our country in sports that in the process had shown us also his giftedness as an athlete and as a person with his good moral character.
What I like with him most is his passion for what is ethical, for what is right. He is very consistent with that. He is a man with an undivided heart, clearly inclined to what is true, good and just.
When people wrote and offered him help to join the competition in Kazakhstan, Obiena politely declined the offers because of ethical reasons, of “double-dipping” wherein he explained how the people have already given their share for him with their tax payments, that for them to give donations was too much already, even unjust.
Wow! Praise God for a man like Mr. Obiena! Truly a man with a heart full of passion in God, in what is right, what is true!
What EJ Obiena has consistently shown us – and taught us unconsciously – is the wisdom of God in Christ crucified, the favorite topic of St. Paul in his letters like the one we have heard earlier. See how Obiena was ready to suffer and sacrifice for what is true and good that so often, he is vindicated and has won our hearts and admiration.
This Sunday, let us listen more to God’s voice there in our heart, often the softest and most feeble covered by the more noisy sounds of the world. Let us look into our hearts and see if we have more of our selves, or of others? Of persons or things? Of laws or spirit of the laws? Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Memorial of St. Blaise, Bishop & Martyr, 03 February 2023
Hebrews 13:1-8 ><000'> + <'000>< = ><000'> + <'000>< Mark 6:14-29
Praise and glory to you,
O God our loving Father
in giving us your Son
Jesus Christ always with us
for indeed as the first reading
perfectly said it today, "Jesus
Christ is the same yesterday,
today, and forever" (Heb. 13:8).
Keep us aware with your
presence in our lives, Jesus,
whether we are in good times
or bad; "let our brotherly love
continue, without neglecting
hospitality, for through some
have unknowingly entertained
angels" (Heb. 13:1-2).
Set us free from the prisons
we ourselves have made and
locked us in - the prisons of
ego and pride when we delight
in the thought of holding others
imprisoned to insist on our own
thoughts and whims like Herod
in the gospel and the Romans in
the story of St. Blaise whose
memorial we celebrate today.
Many times, O Lord, what really
happens is that the more we
keep others in prison with our
pride and insistence of self,
dominations and manipulations,
of vengeance and revenge as we
believe we punish them with our
being unforgiving and unmerciful,
the more we imprison ourselves,
the more we are shutout from the
world, the more we are alone
in the darkness of evil.
You have come, Jesus,
to show us the beauty of life
by living in your light and truth,
love and mercy; set us free from
the sins and pride that obstruct us,
that hold us from being truly free
and faithful to you through others.
pray for us and heal us
of our ailments in the
throat so that our hearts
and minds may always be
bridged in Christ. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Memorial of St. John XXIII, Pope, 11 October 2022
Galatians 5:1-6 ><000'> + ><000'> + ><000'> Luke 11:37-41
Brothers and sisters: For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
Galatians 5:1, 6
O dearest Jesus,
thank you for coming
to save us,
in setting us free
and most especially,
from the yoke of slavery
to externalities of
Keep us faithful
to you, Jesus,
by being more loving
to one another;
set our sights on
you and people
not on rules and
rituals and traditions
as you have pointed out
in the gospel today.
Through the intercession
of your servant,
St. John XXIII who was
lovingly called as
"the good Pope"
and father of Vatican II,
give us the courage
to stand firm
and defend our faith in you
while being open to the winds
of change sweeping
the world today.
Make us free and faithful,
and loving too like him
who had said on the eve
of the conclave that would
elect him as Pope John XXIII,
"We are not here to guard a museum,
but to cultivate a flourishing garden
of life." Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Memorial of St. Cornelius, Pope, & St. Cyprian, Bishop, Martyrs, 16 September 2022
1 Corinthians 15:12-20 ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> Luke 8:1-3
Today I pray, dear Jesus,
for all the women of the world:
our mothers and sisters,
our nieces and aunties,
our grandmothers and girlfriends;
bless the wives and single-ladies,
the women working inside and outside
in all levels of the corporate world
and the various industries,
the women in the armed forces
and in the police;
bless and guide
the women who serve the poor
the women who serve in the church,
the women who serve in government,
the women who take care of their
families especially those sick,
the women who are sick;
gladden the hearts and comfort
the women never appreciated
by their own family and the society,
the women who cry in silence
for being taken for granted
the women who hurt inside,
the women imprisoned physically,
emotionally, and mentally;
bless the women in the frontline
of health care especially those in
far-flung areas; special blessings
also O Lord, on those women
reading and praying this now.
Jesus journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, Susanna, and many others who provided for them out of their resources.
Dearest Jesus Christ,
grant us the freedom like you
to freely go out with women
frowned upon by society;
most of all, teach us to always
respect women and everyone
for we are all equal in dignity
before God our Father and Maker;
help us find you among the
misunderstood, the judged,
the boxed and labelled simply
for voicing out their thoughts and
feelings as well as those victims of
social inequalities; free us from our many
biases and prejudices against others,
especially against women.
Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 18 August 2022
Intimacy with God and with others is a journey that is often long and difficult, painstaking but so wonderful. It is a process with highs and lows but something that could come out as a precious gift we must keep and nurture.
Mr. Webster defines intimacy as “close familiarity or friendship” or simply, “closeness”.
But being close does not necessarily mean intimacy. True closeness in intimacy means finding and sharing a “sacred space” with someone that is built on mutual trust and sincerity where we bare our true selves to offer it to the other person. It is in this sacred space where intimacy grows as we become “engaging” with the other person, even with God, like in bantering.
There is one beautiful incident in the gospel I always love relating with the topic of intimacy, the story of the Canaanite woman who begged Jesus to heal her daughter.
At that time Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not say a word in answer to her. His disciples came and asked him, “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us.”
Here we find the first difficulty with intimacy which happens often in the most unexpected situations like Jesus going to a foreign territory where we are not most comfortable or most at home, where we are so uncertain with everything and everyone.
Is it not that is when we grow intimate with others and with God, when we were in the most desolate situations, when we were weakest when suddenly somebody came to strengthen us in our journey?
It was not a simple walk in the park though because it was as if like adding salt to our injuries when at our lowest point in our lives we were asked to even go lower, bare our vulnerabilities further until we were stripped naked of our pretensions and defenses, standing naked and true.
"That is intimacy, of still believing, of being sincere, of still being beautiful and good in the worst situations with one's self with the other person. It is a sacred space where anyone can come and be welcomed, be affirmed, or simply be safe for a moment while the storm is passing through you."
Notice how Jesus tested the Canaanite woman to see how engaging she could be in their conversation, of how willing was she to get closer to him and be intimate to gain his healing.
But the woman came and did him homage, saying, “Lord, help me.” He said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed from that hour.
I like this part; it was more of the woman bantering with Jesus than bargaining. Try situating yourself there as if the woman was already feeling close with Jesus, engaging him in their conversation when he used the colloquial expression “dog” used by Jews at that time to refer to Gentiles or pagans. Of course, there was no any racial or malicious intent on the part of Jesus in using that common expression of his time; in some translations, he used the word “puppies”.
And that is where intimacy kicked in: when the Canaanite woman told him how dogs – or puppies – eat just the scraps from the master’s table. Here is a woman baring everything to Jesus, taking off all her defenses totally accepting the realities of life, of them outside the own circle of Jesus who was a Jew but still believing in him and in herself that she is worthy of attention, of healing for her daughter.
That is intimacy, of still believing, of being sincere, of still being beautiful and good in the worst situations with one’s self with the other person. It is a sacred space where anyone can come and be welcomed, be affirmed, or simply be safe for a moment while the storm is passing through you. This is very true for those who had undergone surgery when you were there on the narrow operating table, naked and everything, just praying and hoping everything would go well, without any complications later. That is why I admired doctors more than ever because after a surgery and you visit them for follow up consultations, it is as if he had not seen the worst in you, still friendly and casual. Most of all, trying so hard to keep you well and healthy!
"Intimacy is the reason why everyone says life is a journey."
To be intimate with Jesus is like continuing the journey with him in foreign territories like when a man and a woman get married not knowing what’s really in store for them or a young man getting ordained as priest or a lady taking religious vows without realizing the real weight of Christ’s cross to carry. Many times in life, we just forge on in life with our family and friends, and with God most especially, engaging him in conversations even debates to show him how convinced we are in ourselves, in our cause, in our prayers. We grow intimate only with someone who is willing to accept us.
Intimacy is the reason why everyone says life is a journey – you always have a companion, somebody you break bread with which is the literal meaning of “companion” from the Latin terms cum panis.
The most beautiful part of this journey in intimacy, whether with God or with another person is that as we become one in being intimate with the other, the more we become free, not constricted nor limited because the more we love, the more we trust each other that even when we are not together physically, we can still be intimate — because intimacy is actually a spiritual reality, a gift only God can give for those willing to take the difficult journey.
That is why, we priests remain celibate: our celibacy is the clearest sign of our intimacy not only with Jesus our Eternal Priest but also with you, our flock, the people of God which is the Church.
When parishioners give their pastors a good chance to pray and recreate to nurture their intimacy with Jesus, the more priests value their celibacy, the more they are true and faithful in serving the people, the Body of Christ, the Church.
Anyone who finds true intimacy finds true love who is God alone. That is the essence of our celibacy as priests. And that is why, priests and religious, as well as married couples and singles joyful in their state of life too who have found intimacy would never venture to look for other “loves” because they have already found God, our true intimacy. It would be madness to any priest to break his vow of celibacy or, even to married couples to go on extra-marital affairs when you already have God. Amen.
May you find and experience intimacy in your life journey.
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle-C, 26 June 2022
1 Kings 19:16, 19-21 ><]]]]'> Galatians 5:1, 13-18 ><]]]]'> Luke 9:51-54
“Free and Faithful in Christ” by the late Redemptorist Fr. Bernard Haring is one of my favorite textbooks in the seminary that I have kept all these years not because I love moral theology but due to its title I have found so true especially in life and ministry.
The more we love Jesus and others, the more we become free, the more we become faithful and committed to God and others, the more we become trusting too.
For many people, commitment and freedom do not seem to jibe well because they think freedom is being able to do whatever you want, that freedom is absolute. Of course not! St. John Paul II clarified in Veritatis Splendor that since the beginning, God had limited freedom to choosing only what is good when he told Adam and Eve they were free to eat all fruits in the garden except the fruit of the tree of knowledge.
True freedom is not defying our parents and authorities to insist on what we want, regardless of the well-being of others like driving recklessly that harm those on the streets or posting pictures and statements in social media without respecting other people’s beliefs and sensibilities.
We can only be truly free as a person if we care for other people by seeing them as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Brothers and sisters: For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love.
Galatians 5:1, 13
Jesus, the one truly free
After two Sundays of celebrating the Solemnities of the Trinity and of the Body and Blood of Jesus, we finally feel the Ordinary Time with our green motif this Sunday that shall continue until November before we end the liturgical calendar with Christ the King to usher in Advent Season and Christmas, which is just six months away from today.
But before thinking of the merry December, we are reminded this Sunday of our journey in life with Jesus guided by Luke who expertly expressed the tempo of Ordinary Time which implies the importance of being free and faithful in Christ:
When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, and he sent messengers ahead of him. On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.
Here we find the complete freedom of Jesus Christ, his fidelity and commitment to his mission from the Father to be fulfilled in Jerusalem where he would face death to rise again and usher in new life in him, new relationships with God and with others.
I love the way Luke wrote our opening lines of the gospel this Sunday which shows the total freedom of Jesus in fulfilling his mission, his fidelity and love to the Father, “When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem”. There was no turning back for Jesus, no second thoughts about going to Jerusalem where he knew so well he would be arrested and killed. Jesus was totally free and faithful in his love for us and to the Father.
It is the same route, the same journey we take daily with Jesus to Jerusalem where we suffer and die with him in our fidelity to our vows and promises, to our loved ones, to our Motherland, and to God our Father. Like Jesus Christ, we must be focused on the mission of love, finding ways to accomplish it instead of entertaining fancy thoughts of display of powers as proposed by the brothers James and John at a Samaritan village they were rejected. To think of getting even with a revenge against bad people is not only a waste of time and energy but most of all means we are not free at all, that we are enslaved by evil and sin, by our emotions. A true disciple of the Lord leaves everything to God, especially the punishment of those who harm and do us wrong. Being resolutely determined to go to Jerusalem like Jesus is having complete faith in him that he would take care of us, that we need not worry at all of petty things like power and wealth, fame and glory.
Being free and faithful, resolutely determined like Christ
Of course, there would always be occasional “stops” for rests in the Lord along the way with some “perks” of serving him though not always in the way the world offers it. Luke would always narrate in his gospel how Jesus would ask his disciples to have some time for themselves in deserted places to rest and pray.
Being free and faithful in Christ, resolutely determined to go to Jerusalem means to go opposite the way of the world which is a folly in the eyes of human wisdom characterized by those ads shouting out to everyone to “Just do it” or “Obey your thirst”, putting premiums on wealth and power, popularity and comfort.
To follow Jesus to Jerusalem is to die daily to our comforts for we are not tourists but pilgrims on earth without fixed or permanent dwelling because our true home is in heaven. This is the first thing Jesus clarifies with anyone wishing to join him in his journey, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head” (Lk.9:58).
That is the reason we priests do not get married, trying to lead simple lives without the trappings of the material world to show everyone what is life in heaven. But, how free and faithful are we in keeping our vows of the priesthood is another topic….
Being free and faithful in Christ is to “prefer nothing to the love of Christ” as St. Benedict would insist to his followers in Rules which is the gist of the shocking reply of Jesus to the second man who asked him permission to bury first his dead father so he could follow him.
When Jesus told the man “Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God” (Lk.19:60), he was speaking about the perennial sickness of many religious people who are tied up with their religious laws without realizing its intentions like justice and love. Many times, we practice our faith without really believing in God but believing more in our laws and rituals that we forget the persons we must love. Paul expressed it so well in his letter to the Romans when he wrote, “Owe nothing to anyone except love for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law” (13:8).
Being and free and faithful in Christ means having Jesus and only Jesus as our priority in life. Notice how the third man came to Jesus wising to follow him but “first let me say farewell to my family at home” (Lk.9:61). It is very clear that for him his priority was his family which is exactly the opposite of what Christ tells us that anyone who loves his father and mother, brother or sister more than him is not worthy to be his disciple.
Jesus is not telling us to disregard our family, especially the fourth Commandment of God; Jesus here is emphasizing the primacy of the gospel, of himself. It is not an issue about morality but keeping our eyes fixed on the Lord we must follow completely like Paul who declared how he had come to consider “everything as a loss” in knowing Christ (Phil.3:8).
It is totally different from the context of Elisha who asked Elijah’s permission to bid goodbye to his family before joining him; see how he slaughtered the oxen he used in farming with his implements as firewood in cooking a meal for Elijah. Elisha literally did what Jesus told the third man trying to join him by burning his plow, indicating his resolute determination to fulfill God’s mission as his prophet by not looking back to his past life.
When Ordinary Time started in January and was briefly paused until three weeks ago by Lent and Easter Seasons, we have already embarked in the journey of Jesus beginning around the shores of Galilee.
As we resume the Ordinary Time with Jerusalem as destination, Jesus continues to invite us to come and follow him. His call is very simple. Follow me. And, it is sometimes funny that the first time we accepted his invitation, we just followed him without even saying yes. Oh, how free and faithful we were!
But, after many detours and changes of directions along with the many trials and sufferings, we begin to ask questions, seeking clarifications, wondering if we should still continue or just leave and go back to our old ways.
What, who is holding us from being totally free and faithful to Christ?
May the love of Jesus guide us and increase our faith in him so we may also be resolutely determined, free and faithful to continue with him in this journey to fullness of life in him. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Memorial of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, Religious, 21 June 2022
2 Kings 19:9-11, 14-21, 31-35, 36 ><]]]'> + <'[[[>< Matthew 7:6, 12-14
God our loving Father,
thank you in giving us many
examples of people who have
chosen to take the narrow road
like our very young saint today,
Aloysius Gonzaga; despite his
being born into a wealthy family,
he insisted on becoming a Jesuit
to lead a simple life; most of all,
despite his youth and very poor
health, he chose to care for the
the sick during a plague in Rome
that led to his death in 1591 at a
young age of 23.
In this age of affluence when everything
is invented to make life so comfortable,
more and more are being lured to take
the wide road of greed and self-
centeredness, lies and deceits,
even violence that have destroyed
so many beautiful lives.
Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.”
Teach us to focus only on Christ,
to take his narrow and
difficult road of charity and love,
justice and mercy, truth and freedom,
sacrifice and self-giving; let us be
persevering in having discipline in
choosing the narrow road because
it is the only one that leads to life
and fulfillment, and redemption as
experienced by Hezekiah, the king
of Judah when you saved them from
the Assyrians. Amen.
40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Fifth Week of Lent, 06 April 2022
Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95 <'((((>< + ><))))'> John 8:31-42
Dear God our Father:
I have heard it so often
from your Son Jesus Christ
that "the truth will set you free"
but I must admit how I feel
too far from that reality of
being truly free.
So many times in my life, despite
my strong profession of being free
like the Pharisees asserting
to Jesus they have never been
"enslaved to anyone", that is really
when I am enslaved - to sin, to ego,
to the world, to my past especially
my hurts and pains, and to a lot of
other people expecting a lot from me,
demanding so much from me
that, ironically and funnily,
I work so hard to please and fulfill
without realizing how I am in fact
Jesus then said to those Jews who believed in him, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How can you say, ‘You will become free’?”
To be free, O God,
is to belong to you alone,
our loving and eternal Father;
from the very start, Jesus had
always professed his belonging to
you like when he was found by
his parents in the temple when he
told them "why are you looking for me,
don't you know I should be in my
Father's house?"; during his ministry,
he repeatedly declared his oneness with you;
to be free, therefore, is to owe nothing
to anyone at all but to you alone.
It is when I feel I owe others when I
begin to cheat and lie, when I sin
because I cannot express freely and
truly what is in me - YOU whom I
disown and betray always.
Give me, O Lord, the courage to be
my true self like Shadrach, Meshach,
and Abednego who boldly declared
to King Nebuchadnezzar they would
rather be thrown into the fiery furnace
than worship false gods; true freedom is
when we are able to accept death gladly
and wholeheartedly because that is when
nothing and no one holds us back;
we are truly free when we are able to
express our deepest longing and desires
in life which is to finally be one with our
source and end - YOU!
In these remaining days of Lent,
grant us dear Father through Jesus
the grace to shed off the many layers
of false freedom we convince ourselves
to have so that we may finally be free
to love you and follow you, free to be our
true selves as your beloved children.
The Quiet Storm by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 10 January 2022
It is said that “life is a journey” but I have found through the years that as a journey, life is more of a direction than a destination. It is always easy to plot our life destination but upon reaching them, what do we do next?
If life is a journey that is more on destination, all we will be doing in life is keep on thinking of new places to visit and new goals to achieve until we ran out of destinations and we have nowhere else to go!
That is why life is more of a direction.
It does not mean we stop making plans or setting goals to reach; we just learn to be more open with the directions life is leading us into.
So often it can happen that while pursuing a goal or reaching a destination, we find many things and meet persons along the way who make us change directions in life for something better we never knew existed before.
Sometimes we discover while at the middle of a journey the many directions we have been seeing or noticing earlier that suddenly later make sense, opening new routes for us to take to something more fulfilling or clearer and better.
As we become open for directions in life, the more we become free to be our true selves, free to pursue what is best than be fixated and even held hostage by a previous goal or destination we have set before which we find no longer viable.
It is like using those travel apps Waze and Google Maps that give us the pertinent information like traffic conditions that help us choose the best routes to reach a specific destination.
However, as we travel, we find the apps taking us to longer routes or may even be misleading us because the data available are obsolete or the internet signal is unreliable. And so, we disregard the apps and try to find our way to our destination through directions provided by actual people and signages we check on the streets. Recall how the apps would continue to “speak” and even insist us to turn left or right as it is bent on reaching the destination. Travel apps are concerned merely with the place to reach, totally “unaware” of the person traveling.
That’s the problem with journeying more on destination when we forget persons that we miss the fun and adventures along the way.
When we journey more on directions, we are more concerned with persons and people that we experience fun and adventures, learning new things about peoples we meet or travel with as well as places we pass through on the way to our destination.
Sometimes, we have to scrap everything as the new directions lead us to more interesting places to visit.
In that way, we grow and mature as persons because we have become more free to be ourselves, more free to follow our inner voices within our hearts that lead us to far and exciting new places. In the process, we also discover our true friends and companions in life!
Ultimately, when we are free to follow directions than simply reach destinations, the more we also discover God – the most wonderful journey in life because ultimately he is our only destination and end.
God as a direction demands us a deepening of our faith, hope and love in him whose “invisible hands” guide us to persons and places and situations that seem to be unrelated at first but as we journey, we discover their many linkages, like tiny pieces of a mosaic creating a wonderful picture bigger than us.
God as a direction leads us to more freedom to discover life itself. That is the beauty of every new year: those twelve months of the calendar have no specific destinations but give us directions to follow by being sensitive to where God is leading us. It is totally senseless and useless to consult fortune-tellers for their fearless forecasts of what is going to happen for that will only make you “unfree” to seek and follow new directions in life. Besides, only God knows what will happen and that is why we follow his directions.
Above all, remember that the discovery of God is not the end of a journey but the beginning of a new one in him, with him, and through him. The journey never stops in Christ Jesus to God our Father in heaven. So, have life and be free to follow new directions from God this new year!
Keep traveling in Christ this 2022. Who knows, we might meet once or twice along the way. Amen.