Practical blessedness

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Sunday in the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time, Cycle A, 05 February 2023
Isaiah 58:7-10 ><}}}}*> 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 ><}}}}*> Matthew 5:13-16
Photo by author, Bolinao, Pangasinan, 2022.

We are still at the sermon on the mount by Jesus Christ that opened last Sunday with his teachings on the beatitudes. We have reflected that the beatitudes are actually Jesus Christ himself that are supposed to be the very disposition of his disciples by being like him who is “poor in spirit”, “meek”, “afflicted”, “hungry and thirsty for righteousness”, “merciful”, “clean of heart”, “peacemaker”, and “persecuted”.

Every disciple is already blessed in Christ because blessedness is primarily a being like status in Facebook, not a mere doing. What a dignity we all have in Jesus in being called blessed! That is why this Sunday Jesus is teaching us the practical side of our blessedness, of being “the salt of the earth” and “light of the world” that call on the characteristics and demands of being like Christ, of conforming to his gospel of salvation.

See that being a salt and a light perfectly match the beatitudes when we say, “Blessed are you who are the salt of the earth and the light of the world”! For this Sunday, let us focus on the call of being the light of the world.


After praying over today’s gospel, I saw on a friend’s FB this post from Meralco inviting anyone interested in becoming a lineman. The tag-line was very catchy, “Handa na ba kayo maghatid ng liwanag?” (Are you ready to bring light?) with a hashtag, #BuildingABrilliantFuture.

From Meralco/fb

I felt the Meralco advertisement so brilliant, extolling the great honor of being a lineman who brings light to homes and schools, offices and factories, and everywhere. Requirements are actually minimal except for that most important thing of not having fear of heights. Of course!

But, Jesus Christ’s call to us all is more pressing, more important. More than the linemen building the facilities that will bring light to towns and cities, Jesus invites us to be the light ourselves.

Jesus alone is the light of the world. The light we carry is his. We are all Christ-light who reflect the very light of Jesus Christ in our good works and loving service to others, in our witnessing to our faith.

Words are not enough to bring his light to the world. The light of Christ shines brightly in us when we are witnessing truth and justice, kindness and mercy among our brothers and sisters, when we bear all pains and sufferings in continually working for peace and uplifting of the lowly despite so many accusations by those in power. Here we find that being the light of the world is to put into practice the beatitudes of having a clean heart, of being peacemakers, and being persecuted. It is when we work on them that our light shine before others that upon seeing our good deeds, it is God whom they glorify and not us:

Jesus said to his disciples: “Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

Matthew 5;16

See the following verses when Jesus described in details his teachings of being good, of witnessing his gospel values, he also warned us his disciples to never do good deeds for the sake of being known and popular. It is very clear that in being the light of the world, it is God who must be seen in us not our selves. Living the beatitudes is not having the most “likes” and “reactions” in Facebook nor of being viral nor trending. Moreover, it is definitely not being an “influencer” whatever that word means.

At the same time, Jesus Christ’s call for us to be his light ourselves is also a call for us to work as a community, not just as individuals. It is perfectly good if every disciple will shine brightly as a light of Christ but it is better when all disciples as a community of believers shine in gospel values!

You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.

Matthew 5:14-15
Photo by author, La Mesa Dam Eco Park seen from OLFU-Quezon City, 01 February 2023.

How sad that lately, the world has grown darker not only because of fewer men and women sharing the light of Christ with their witnessing of the gospel but because nations and regions have abandoned the faith. Many are getting de-Christianized on a wholesale basis these days.

Nobody seems to care at all anymore of not going to Mass face-to-face while everyone is so glued on their cellphone and computer screens without a whimper of opposition or rejection even disdain with all the trash coming out in social media like TikTok so saturated with sexual content ranging from same sex relationships to display of too much skin and use of indecent language.

Making matters worst are the many priests and religious lacking understanding in communication who do all the stupid things on camera that instead of evangelizing are demoralizing the faithful. And the tragedy is how most of these media practitioners in the Church are simply playing on novelties than creating innovations in employing the modern means of communications that result in just creating cults around themselves and miserably fail in evangelizing the people. This is the message of St. Paul in the second reading, reminding us that faith rests on the power of God than in the personality and eloquence of the priests and bishops.

Christ’s call for us to be the light of the world is a resounding call we must all respond to in this present age through deep prayer to be immersed in the person of Christ, the light of the world. It is only Jesus and always Jesus whom we must share and give to the people by realizing and affirming our prophetic functions in denouncing the ways of the world of injustice against the poor and the hungry like what Isaiah described in the first reading.

The world badly needs prophets these days, men and women like Christ who are “light rising in the darkness who would turn gloom into midday” (Is.58:10) for indeed as the psalmist declares, “The just man is a light in darkness to the upright.” Amen.

Have a blessed and illuminating week ahead in Jesus Christ!

Photo by author, 01 February 2023.

Finding Jesus, showing Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Second Sunday in Advent, Cycle A, 04 December 2022
Isaiah 11:1-10 ><}}}*> Romans 15:4-9 ><}}}*> Matthew 3:1-12
Photo by Ezra Acayan/Getty Images, 09 February 2020, Baclaran Church.

Many years from now, future generations will surely discuss these years of our COVID-19 pandemic, with everyone talking about the face masks we wore. Imagine your great grandchildren repeatedly asking their parents why we were covering our faces during this time.

But, these face masks were also the signs of blessing during this pandemic, teaching us to look onto the face of one another, to recognize each one as brother and sister in Christ. I believe these face masks are reminders from God of how we have forgotten to look and value each one as persons to be loved and cared for, respected and protected.

What a beautiful sight when people meet, exchanging glances, adjusting their glasses and face masks to recognize each one again!

In the Book of Genesis, we are told how God created us in his image and likeness that remind us of his “face” even if we know God is spirit. Face means more than the physical face of the person. It reveals in the most undeniable manner one’s state or condition, of what is in him/her. When a person is filled with goodness and love, joy and contentment or, bitterness and hate, evil and sin, we say it is “written all over his/her face”.

Remember Mang Dodong of Caloocan City who was detained for almost a month in Navotas for not having proper ID’s during the lockdown of March 2020 after he tried to buy fish in order to sell in their neighborhood? At the same time when it happened, there was the shameless news of police throwing a birthday bash to their chief in total disregard of the protocols? The injustice against the poor prevailing then and now was all written in Mang Dodong’s face in the news.

Mang Dodong of Caloocan City, photo by Mr. Vincent Go, May 2020.

Here lies the challenge of Advent 2022, the first face-to-face Christmas we shall have in two years since the pandemic when we have to cover our faces with face masks: have I shown God with others on my face? Or maybe, the better question should be, do I see the face of God in the people I meet?

This Second Sunday of Advent, the gospel invites us if like John the Baptist, do we see Jesus Christ coming among us? Do we see him in ourselves and in others?

John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea and saying, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said: A voice of one crying out in the desert, Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.

Matthew 3:1-3
“St. John the Baptist Preaching in the Wilderness” by German painter Anton Raphael Mengs (1728-1779) from commons.wikimedia.org.

John is our second guide during Advent next to the Prophet Isaiah. John did not only see the coming of Christ but he also showed the Christ had come.

Why did people come to listen to him and be baptized from all over Israel at that time?

His preaching must be so powerful and convincing because people must have also seen in him Christ’s coming. In fact, people of his time thought he was already the Messiah everyone was awaiting. But John was very clear in his preaching that he was not the One.

Such was the power of John’s preaching. Everyone believed him because he did not merely point to the coming of Christ but showed them too Christ already present in him. No wonder, he would be the first to die for Jesus and like Jesus by standing for what is true and good.

How was John able to do this?

Aside from the power of the Holy Spirit that came upon him while still in his mother’s womb during Mary’s visitation, John went to a sort of quarantine too – an Advent – when he left the comforts of his affluent family to live a simple life in the desert.

John wore clothing made of camel’s hair and had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.

Matthew 3:4

Last Sunday, we have reflected that Advent is a Sabbath when we rest to be breathed on by God, to be filled with God and his Spirit by first emptying ourselves of our sins and pride. Most of all, in coming to the wilderness empty and simple, John showed the importance of prayer, of relying solely to God. It was prayer that sustained John in the desert and it is prayer that would sustain us during this Advent. In fact, we need to handle life with prayer in order to see Christ coming and most of all, to show Christ to others.

In calling for conversion, John challenged the people of his time too to bear fruits in their efforts of seeing the coming Messiah. All these emptying and sacrifices and being breathed on by God must always be evident not only for everyone to see but for each one to truly experience Christ’s coming.

A painting based on Is.11:1-10 called “Peaceable Kingdom” by American Edward Hicks, a Quaker pastor (1780-1849).

In the first reading, Isaiah reminds us that Advent is a time also of healing when we learn to be small again, even to die in our selves to give way for the coming of the Lord.

On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him… Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide, but he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted… Justice shall be the band around his waist, and faithfulness a belt upon his hips. Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and 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; the lion shall eat hay like ox. The baby shall play by the cobra’s den, and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair. There shall be no harm or ruin on my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord, as water covers the sea.

Isaiah 11:1-2, 3, 4, 5-9

This for me is one of the loveliest scenes in the Old Testament: aside from the poetry of Isaiah, imagine how God envisions for us a “peaceable kingdom” where humans and animals live together in harmony, when there would be no more harm or ruin on everyone!

So beautiful!

And so possible if we can be like John the Baptist with our eyes seeing more beyond the physical realities of this world by being small again like the shoot, even of dying to one’s self like a stump.

It is only in our littleness, in our barrenness and death can we truly see and find Jesus. But, the moment we see Christ in us, it is no longer difficult to recognize him on others as well as find him in all creation. If we could fine tune our eyes to Jesus and live in one accord with God and everyone as St. Paul calls us in the second reading, then Christ becomes present among us in the world with his peace.

Let us pray on this Second Sunday of Advent that we not only see Jesus coming but also show him present in us and among us so that when we go to our places of work, we do not just “earn a living” but also work on building the kingdom of God here on earth.

Let us pray that beginning this second Sunday of Advent that we not only see Jesus but also show him present in us and among us so that whenever we post on social media, we also build relationships in Christ.

Have a blessed week everyone!

Let us pray on this Second Sunday of Advent that the next time we give donations and help to people in need, it is Jesus whom we find in them so that we go the extra mile in our efforts to uplift them and truly make a “shoot sprout forth from the stump” of this dying earth so that the bud of God’s kingdom may finally blossom in us. Amen.

Walking in love, walking in truth

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop, 11 November 2022
2 John 4-9   ><000'> + <'000>< --- ><000'> + <'000><   Luke 17:26-37
St. Martin of Tours, Patron of our hometown Bocaue in Bulacan.
Lord Jesus Christ,
today you confront us with
the two contrasting attitudes
we disciples should have,
walking in love and 
walking in truth.

To walk in love is to live in love
which is to love one another
as you have loved us, Lord Jesus,
even to the point of giving our very selves
in love for another just like you.
Of course, we know it so well
and we have said so much about it
but have miserably failed in truly loving
like you because, O Lord, we have failed
to walk in truth; love and truth
always go together!
We cannot truly love when 
we live in lies and falsehoods,
when we are not sincere and faithful;
most of all, when we choose to be
blind and deaf 
to what is true and good.

For this is love that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, as you heard from the beginning, in which you should walk. Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh; such is the deceitful one and the antichrist. Anyone who is “progressive” as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God; whoever remains in the teaching has the Father and the Son.

2 John6-7, 9
Grant us, Jesus, the grace of walking in love
and walking in truth like St. Martin of Tours,
a great Saint who taught us in his life
how these two contrasting attitudes
perfectly go together in witnessing your gospel.

Upon seeing a beggar on a cold winter night,
he cut his cape into two without hesitation
to share it with the beggar freezing in cold;
he was not yet baptized at that time that
you appreciated it Lord by appearing to him
in a dream with the other half of his cape.

After he was baptized, as a soldier of
the Roman army, he realized that war
and the gospel are incompatible that he
refused to fight in a battle by declaring
"I am a soldier of Christ; I cannot fight."
Threatened to be jailed for cowardice,
St. Martin volunteered to be sent unarmed
to the frontline when just before his
commanders challenged his offer,
their opponents sued for peace,
preventing any battle.
After his discharge from the Roman army,
St. Martin founded monasteries
and soon his holiness became known that
he was elected Bishop of Tours in France,
faithfully serving you Jesus by
walking in love,
walking in truth.
After his death,
 his cult spread and was so popular
in Europe, proof that indeed,
"whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it,
but whoever loses it will save it"
(Luke 17:33).
St. Martin of Tours,
Pray for us!
Amen.
An icon of St. Martin giving the other half of his cape to a beggar; photo from blog.obitel-minsk.com.

The Good Nurse: every one must be good

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 08 November 2022

Still streaming in Netflix is The Good Nurse that will surely make you feel good that despite all the evil going on in this world, there are still good people who make our planet a safer place to live. Truly, St. Paul’s words ring so true in this Netflix movie, “where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more” (Rom. 5:20).

Based on the 2013 true-crime book of the same title by investigative journalist Charles Graeber, The Good Nurse is about how a good nurse named Amy Loughren stood her ground to cooperate with two hardworking detectives in New Jersey to arrest and eventually put into jail her fellow nurse Charles Cullen who is considered as one of America’s most prolific serial killers. According to the movie, Cullen admitted to have killed 29 patients by administering harmful drugs in nine different hospitals he had worked as nurse in a span of 16 years although authorities believe he may have killed up to 400 patients!

The only reason I watched The Good Nurse – in three installments while watching Black Butterflies two weeks ago – is because I am assigned as a chaplain in a University offering BS Nursing with a Medical Center. I was hoping to learn some “talking points” for my Masses and spiritual conferences with them from the movie; however, what actually happened was they prepared me to appreciate deeply this kind of movie with my many interactions with them both in school and the hospital.

I just have to warn you that the movie is too long, more than two hours. And very slow. But, it is well worth it especially in the last 50 minutes when tempo changes and shifts to high gear of action and suspense that you get so involved with the movie even if you are watching it alone on a laptop like me. There is that urge you actually talk to Amy not to fall in love with Charlie, especially in that part he was fired from their hospital and he suddenly spent the afternoon with her kids, sending their babysitter home as he prepared even their meal!

Yay…naku!!! I was really telling Amy to spit out that piece of meat Charlie had cooked as it may be laden with poison or insulin and digoxin!!! Hahaha!!!

Dramatic and suspenseful, most of all, feel good is what The Good Nurse is all about.

What I like most in the movie is the courage of Amy to secretly meet with the two detectives after realizing herself Charlie was not exactly true as himself – kind and diligent, silent and reserved. She eventually researched and discovered the many evidences that established Charlie’s culpability that finally put him behind bars serving 18 consecutive life sentences.

Most touching part was when Amy visited Charlie in the police headquarters after his arrest where the detectives have failed to extract any confession from him for the mysterious deaths of patients in their hospital. In one part of the interrogation it was revealed that Charlie had a deeply disturbed and dangerous personality similar with that kid in an old movie also streaming in Netflix, Primal Fear. He just kept shouting and shouting the answer “no” to every question given him, sounding like a deranged man with his face contorting and eyes so menacing.

Everything changed when Amy came inside the interrogation room. The detective warned her not to get near Charlie who was extremely dangerous. Despite that warning, Amy requested Charlie’s cuffs be removed as she sat near him at his side. When she noticed Charlie freezing inside the room, she took off her sweater and put it on him while the detective stood on guard, worried for any untoward incident to happen.

Charlie was at first cold toward Amy, refusing to look at her directly.

When Amy began speaking by apologizing to Charlie, telling him how she felt sorry that despite his being kind to her, despite their being friends, she had to tell everything to the cops. Actress Jessica Chastain who played the role of Amy was able to perfectly exude that kind of warmth and caring self despite the fears in being with a mysterious suspect that slowly, Charlie softened and confessed his crimes.

And that is where the high point of the movie is when Amy asked him to tell her the truth why he did it, Charlie simply said because “nobody stopped me”. He sobbed, covering his face.

Then, Amy asked him for names of his victims and Charlie readily identified them one by one with the next scene showing him being led down the hallway of the prison. The final scene showed Amy in bed with her two daughters, being awakened by the eldest daughter telling her it is a school day.

Amy told her, “today we stay in bed”, finally giving her daughters with the much needed quality time they sorely missed from her who had to work so hard for their needs. According to the notes after the movie, Amy now lives in Florida with her daughters and grandchildren. She eventually had her heart surgery.

The movie is very timely. In fact, I have been using it in my homilies. It is very Christian and Catholic as it presents our so-called universal call for holiness, of how each one of us must strive to be good or perfect and holy like our Father in heaven (Matt. 5:48), echoed by Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium over 50 years ago calling us all to strive in creating a more just and humane society in this imperfect world.

There was no mention of religion nor any scene from the church or of anyone praying but it is very clear in the movie about the need for us all to be good like the good nurse, Amy.

According to the movie based on Graeber’s book, Cullen went on a killing spree as a nurse for 16 years because none of the hospital where he used to work at acted decisively on his case despite their suspicions over the mysterious deaths of some patients. Ironically, according to the movie, those hospitals never bothered to take drastic steps and measures in solving the mysterious deaths of their patients amid the suspicions on Cullen because they were afraid of the legal cases that might be filed against them by the families of his victims that is now exactly happening as per the movie.

There is that quotation attributed routinely to Edmund Burke that says “the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing”.

The Good Nurse Amy Loughren did not let the evil of Charlie Cullen to triumph. Against all odds of losing her job as a nurse, of losing herself as she was afflicted with a heart ailment, Amy proved to be so good indeed that she did everything to stop Charlie who said it so well that he did all those killings “because nobody stopped me.”

Here comes the true relevance of this good movie that challenges us all in this time to be good as always, fighting and standing up against every form of evil, regardless of who is committing them. Of course, it is not enough to just speak and fight without any evidences and most especially efforts to personally confront the evil-doers like the good nurse.

Jesus himself reminded us that “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Lk.14:26).

This is most challenging for us in the Church, most especially among bishops and priests who chose to be silent, to let evil triumph right inside our hallowed houses of worship and apostolate when all these sex scandals occurred even a long time ago and still continues these days. We in the clergy must be above all most good than others in stopping evil from happening among our ranks. It is so sad and deplorable, even shameful when we priests and bishops are so vocal in denouncing injustices in the society perpetrated by civil authorities and politicians when we would not even raise our voices against the evil happening in our own turfs, of clergy and religious breaking all vows of chastity and poverty completely selling their souls to the devil for sex, money, power and fame.

The Good Nurse is a call for us all to return to being good, of saying no to sin and evil, of being truly human who respects and cares for life always which is at the core of our Lord’s teachings and of our humanity too. Happy viewing everyone!

Prayer to be good

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the Thirty-Second Week in Ordinary Time, Year II, 07 November 2022
Titus 1:1-9   ><000'> + ><000'> + ><000'>   Luke 17:1-6

Jesus said to his disciples, “Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, but woe to the one through whom they occur. Be on your guard!

Luke 17:1, 3
Praise and glory to you,
Lord Jesus Christ for this great Monday!
Thank you for reminding us how sin
will inevitably occur in this life,
in this imperfect world.
Bless us, dear Jesus,
to be always on guard;
guide us and keep us strong
with clear mind and conscience
to never allow ourselves to 
cause others to sin;
Like St. Paul reminding Titus today,
help us to be blameless before you
and others, "not arrogant, 
not irritable, not a drunkard, 
not aggressive, not greedy for sordid gain"
(Titus 1:7).
Help us, dear Jesus,
to be on guard by being good always
like being "hospitable, a lover of goodness,
temperate, just, holy, and self-controlled,
holding fast" (Titus 1:8) 
to your Gospel message of
love and mercy, 
kindness and justice.
Amen.

Remaining in Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Feast of St. Luke, Evangelist, 18 October 2022
2 Timothy 4:10-17   ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*>   Luke 10:1-9 
Photo by author, 2018.
Dearest Jesus:
as we celebrate today
the feast of your Evangelist
St. Luke, I pray for the grace
to be like him - prayerful
and faithful to you,
especially when 
things become so tough
and difficult.
Of the four Evangelists,
St. Luke emphasized most
your praying so often
to show your oneness
in the Father, of your
going to deserted places
to pray especially before
major events like the choice
of the Twelve Apostles
and the Transfiguration,
clearly showing that prayer
is the very center of the life 
of every disciple to be able 
to follow Jesus closely by
carrying the cross "daily" (Lk.9:23).

Like St. Luke,
may my life be a prayer,
a gospel in writing.
Photo by author, 2018.

Beloved: Demas, enamored of the present world, deserted me and went to Thessalonica, Crescens to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. Luke is the only one with me.

2 Timothy 4:10-11
Let my prayers,
O dear Jesus, 
lead me to deeper
faith in you especially
when in severe tests
like St. Luke who remained
faithful to you by standing
by his mentor St. Paul 
even in prison.

Like St. Luke, keep me faithful
to you, Jesus, by always remembering 
the poor and marginalized in the
society especially the women
and the sinners this Evangelist
had put on the limelight
like Elizabeth, Anna the Prophetess 
and the widow of Nain 
as well Zacchaeus and Dimas.

Like St. Luke, keep me faithful
to you Jesus by being faithful too 
to your Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary: 
St. Luke was the only one who sought her
in Ephesus to give us the lovely story
of Christmas from the Annunciation 
to the Visitation, the Nativity and 
the Presentation up to her presence
at the Pentecost found in his
second book called the Acts,
the gospel of the Church
which is the other side of 
every fidelity to you and Mary
is fidelity to your Church!
Dearest Jesus,
in writing the Gospel 
and the Acts of the Apostles, 
you have touched St. Luke so deeply 
that he narrated your story in great details
as if he was touching you 
that in the process,
he has touched us too,
enabling us to experience 
as well as paint and picture 
your Divine Mercy for everyone
Amen.
Painting of “Saint Luke Drawing the Virgin” by Flemish painter Roger van der Weyden (1400-1464); photo from en.wikipedia.org.  

Getting up to follow Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle, 21 September 2022
Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13     <*{{{{><  +  ><}}}}*>     Matthew 9:9-13
Photo by author, Lake Tiberias from the side of Capernaum where Jesus called Matthew to follow him.
You never fail to amaze me,
Lord Jesus Christ with your
unique manner and ways
of finding us, calling us, 
and loving us.
Of your Twelve Apostles, 
only five were called while
working:  the brothers Simon
and Andrew, James and John
who were fishermen and 
Matthew, a tax collector;
the first four belonged 
to the most ordinary 
and lowliest job of the time, 
fishing, while Matthew did
the most despicable job of
collecting taxes unjustly for
Roman colonizers making him
both a sinner and a traitor.
But, you have your plans
that are so different from our
ways when you told the Pharisees
and scribes that "Those who are well
do not need a physician, 
but the sick do... I did not come
to call the righteous
but sinners" (Mt.9:12, 13).
Thank you, Lord Jesus
for still calling me when
I was at my lowest point in life,
when I was most sinful,
when everyone was rejecting me;
thank you, Jesus,
for believing in me,
in calling me to come,
follow you; help me to rise
from my pit of anger and
bitterness, hopelessness 
and desolation like Matthew,
leaving all evil and sins
to follow you
and share you with 
everyone.
Help me, Jesus,
to write the fifth gospel
according to my life
like Matthew
by "living in a manner
worthy of the call I have
received" (Eph. 4:1).
Amen.

St. Matthew,
pray for us!
Caravaggio’s painting, “Calling of St. Matthew” from en.wikipedia.org.

*You may also want to check our reflection on Caravaggio’s painting “Calling of St. Matthew” by clicking this link:

Following Jesus in lights and darkness by Caravaggio

Praying for kindness

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the Twenty-Fifth Week of Ordinary Time, 19 September 2022
Proverbs 3:27-34     ><]]]'> + <'[[[>< ~ ><]]]'> + <'[[[><     Luke 8:16-18
Photo from Facebook, April 2020.
God our loving Father, 
let me be kind today,
not just be good but be kind
by regarding everyone as my "kin",
someone not different from me, 
someone a family.
Refuse no one the good on which he has a claim when it is in you power to do it for him.  Say no to your neighbor, "Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give," when you can give at once.  Plot no evil against your neighbor... Quarrel not with a man without a cause... Envy not the lawless man and choose not his ways.
Proverbs 3:27-29, 30
Bless me 
and let the light of Jesus
shine in me to guide others;
let me not be contented 
with whatever good I have done
nor with who I have become;
grant me the grace to grow
and mature in Christ, 
moving forward,
not backwards,
never stagnate.
Amen.

God never sleeps nor forgets us

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
First Friday, Dedication of St. Mary Major in Rome, 05 August 2022
Nahum 2:1, 3; 3:1-3, 6-7   ><]]]'> + ><]]]'> + ><]]]'>   Matthew 16:24-28
Photo by author, September 2021.
Dearest God our loving Father:
You surely know how often we
wonder why you allow bad things 
to continue to happen in our lives,
in our community, even in our country;
so many times we feel you seem to
have forgotten us, of must have fallen
asleep unaware of the sufferings we are
going through.
You know these thoughts and feelings
we often have but today, you assure us
you are always with us, that you never
forget us nor abandon us; sometimes, you
allow our sufferings to happen longer 
because you believe in us, and most of all,
you want us to become stronger and better.

See, upon the mountains there advances the bearer of good news, announcing peace! Celebrate your feasts, O Judah; fulfill your vows! For nevermore shall you be invaded by the scoundrel; he is completely destroyed. The Lord will restore the vine of Jacob, the pride of Israel, though ravagers have ravaged them and ruined the tendrils.

Nahum 2:1, 3
Finally, you  have liberated Israel
from the clutches of the "scoundrel", Assyria;
perhaps like us today, the Israelites at that
time of the Assyrian conquest wondered
if it ever would end with all the evils
perpetrated by men and women alike;
but it did!  History teems with many
episodes of great countries and empires
falling, collapsing from their towers of
success and dominance, reduced to
nothingness because evil never lasts,
it is so bad that it has all the factors
contributing to its destruction and end.
Good always triumphs, always prevails.
Storms and dark nights end,
the sun always rises,
shining brightly to gladded our hearts,
drying our tears and giving us
all the chances in life.
Like the good news brought by Nahum,
may we be your messengers of good news,
of peace to those suffering for a long time
from illness and other problems in life,
including the many evils that seem to have
become so endemic in our country;
give us the grace to persevere
in following Jesus Christ your Son,
forgetting our very selves
for what profit would there really be
for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit one's life (Mt.16:25)?
As we celebrate the dedication of 
St. Mary Major in Rome today,
may we imitate the Blessed Virgin Mary
who not only bore your Son Jesus Christ
but continues to lead others to him
by being the messenger of your 
love and salvation. 
Amen.

Good news is when truth hurts

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial of St. Alphonsus Ligouri, Bishop & Doctor of the Church, 01 August 2022
Jeremiah 28:1-17   ><))))*> + ><))))*> + ><))))*>   Matthew 14:13-21
Photo by Mr. Jay Javier, Acacias in UP-Diliman, QC, April 2022.
Praise and glory to you,
O God our loving Father 
for this gift of the month of
August, of another 31 days
for us to be better and stronger,
firmer in faith, vibrant in hope
and unceasing in charity and love.
On this first day of August when
we celebrate the memorial of 
St. Alphonsus Ligouri, patron
of moral theologians, we pray 
for the grace of accepting and 
embracing, owning the truth,
avoiding lies and falsehoods always.
I have heard and experienced the
veracity of the expression "truth hurts" -
so true and so painful indeed!
Let me not be like Hananiah who
prophesied in the name of the Lord
falsely in today's first reading,
sugarcoating the true situation of
the Israelites held bondage in Babylonia
for its wickedness; instead of telling them
the painful truth of their exile, Hananiah
lied and spoke of "good news", of deliverance
from Nebuchadnezzar and a return of 
the stolen vessels of the Lord's temple.
Give me the courage to tell the painful
truth, to stand by it always even if it is
unpopular like your prophet Jeremiah 
who spoke of your truth during the
Babylonian Captivity: of the need to
reform their lives and ways, to atone for
their sins and go back to you, O God;
let me keep in mind, dear Jesus, that
a good news is only good when it is 
difficult, uncomfortable, and disturbing
like the feeding of the vast crowd in the 
wilderness; a good news is not good at all
when there is no Cross.
Remove me, O Lord, 
from the way of falsehood
and favor me with your law;
take not the word of truth
from my mouth, for in your
ordinances is my hope (Ps.119:
29, 43).  Amen.