True greatness

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Memorial of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Virgin & Martyr, 09 August 2022
Ezekiel 2:8-3:4   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14
Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2019.
I just find it so amusing,
dear God our loving Father,
how we have always been
fascinated since the earliest
times in knowing who is the
greatest?

The disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 18:1-3
How sad, O God,
that in our constant search
for who is the greatest, it had
led us to more animosities,
more destruction, and worst,
more deaths like when Hitler caused
the death of millions of people during
the Second World War following his 
obsession in being the greatest.
But, in a kind of poetic justice, 
it was during those dark years of
Hitler's Holocaust when we had 
our great modern saints, St. Teresa 
Benedicta dela Cruz whose 
memorial we celebrate today and 
later next week St. Maximilian
Kolbe who both died in the gas
chambers of Auschwitz.
True greatness is in being like
a little child who is open to listening
and learning new things in you, O God;
very malleable and teachable
ready to become like what you would 
want us to become;
like St. Benedicta who was born and raised 
as a Jew who later became an atheist
in the process of her intellectual pursuits while
a young woman but eventually converted as a
Catholic by saying that
"Those who seek truth seek God,
whether they realize it or not."
True greatness is in being like
a child who is docile and trusting in you,
O God, very open and willing to "eat"
your words that are "sweet like honey"
as the Prophet Ezekiel tasted in the first reading.
Let me proclaim your Word, O Lord, 
even if it hurts those closest to me like 
St. Benedicta:  her mother was deeply saddened
with her conversion to Catholicism while she also
wrote a strongly worded letter to Pope Pius XI
asking him to denounce Hitler's Nazi regime.
True greatness, O God,
is to be small and weak,
powerless like Jesus Christ on the Cross,
suffering and dying with your people
like St. Benedicta who chose to join her
people at the gas chambers lovingly described
later by a survivor who said, "Every time
I think of her sitting in the barracks,
the same picture comes to mind:
a Pieta without the Christ."
Loving Father,
there is no need for us ask who is
the greatest among us 
because that is YOU alone; 
yet, in your majesty and power,
you have chosen us to be
the greatest in your eyes,
in your heart that you sent Jesus
to die for us on the Cross.
May we always keep that in mind
so we may be like him and your
saints.

We pray also, God our Father, 
for the victims of violence and 
exploitation these days especially in 
war-torn countries and impoverished
sectors of our society that their plight 
be finally stopped, never to happen again 
in whatever form in the future.  
Amen.
St. Teresa Beneidcta dela Cruz
(née Edith Stein),
Pray for us!

Believing is living

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C, 07 August 2022
Wisdom 18:6-9 ><}}}*> Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19 ><}}}*> Luke 12:35-40
Photo by author, Liputan Island, Meycauyan, Bulacan, 31 December 2021.

Everybody believes in something, even if they believe in the emptiness and nothingness of life. But, what or who we believe in makes the difference because that determines how we live.

Those who believe in financial security live in amassing and building their wealth while those who believe in something that transcends what they see and understand live pursuing lofty ideals not necessarily in religious terms like the saints but also in civic and social concerns like national heroes and reformers. There are also extremists in various forms found in different countries and organizations who believe that any lasting change in life can only be achieved by armed struggles and use of violence, destroying everything even human lives they profess to be they are building or protecting.

This Sunday we find in our readings the importance of believing in God, of having faith in him because faith is not just a belief or knowledge as an interior conviction of the intellect but a union, that is, a “communion” in God we believe in.

Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. Because of it the ancients were well attested.

Hebrews 11:1-2

It is faith that brings us into our final End in God by enabling us to “possess” already what is not yet fulfilled – eternal life! Little by little, as we live out our faith faithfully like the saints and most notably of all, Abraham as mentioned in our second reading from the Letter to the Hebrews. See how the author of Hebrews reminded us of the three events in Abraham’s life when he exemplified to us his firm faith in God.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was to go. By faith he received power to generate, even though he was past the normal age – and Sarah herself was sterile – for he thought that the one who made the promise was trustworthy. By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promise was ready to offer his only son…He reasoned that God was able to raise even from the dead, and he received Isaac back as a symbol.

Hebrews 11:8, 11, 17, 19

Here we find Abraham as the kind of dreamer with eyes wide opened who not only believed in God but cooperated completely to realize all his promises. He dared to journey to an unknown foreign land that he was thrice blessed by God with wealth and land his heirs would inherit. Despite his old age, he held on faith in God that his son Isaac was born who became the father of Jacob also known as Israel from whom came the twelve tribes of Israel. And when Isaac was an early adult, Abraham remained faithful to God, completely surrendering Isaac to him as a sacrifice that turned out be a test that God was so delighted with faith and declared him as the father of faith.

Everyday we hear of many stories not only of highly successful people but even of simple folks we personally know who have moved heaven and earth so to speak to achieve their dreams in life.

Photo by olia danilevich on Pexels.com

Yesterday after our Baccalaureate Mass at the Our Lady of Fatima University, one of the graduates texted me, accepting my invitation as their chaplain to see me at my office in the hospital for some conversations and counseling or even confession. I was so surprised when she came at exactly 2PM and turned out to be one of my former directees in Malolos City more than ten years ago.

She first came to me after delivering her baby on her third year in college in 2006 after shifting from two other courses; as a result, she never finished college and had to work when the father of her child abandoned them. Last time we met was in 2013 when she came to visit me at Radio Veritas after my program for another series of consultations when she met another man who eventually married her and five years ago, allowed her the chance to pursue a college degree in Physical Therapy. She told me how difficult it had been for her especially with the COVID-19 pandemic that she almost gave up all hopes of earning a college degree. What kept her through these years amid having two other children with her husband who joyfully accepted her and her son from her previous relationship is her deep faith in God. And that is why she was doubly happy last Friday during our Mass when she finally found me again, telling me how our spiritual direction during her dark days have made a great impact in her spiritual journey. On Monday, she graduates with her classmates at the PICC, finally earning a college degree after graduating from high school in 2003.

Photo by author, 2017

Many times in life, not all our days are bright and shiny. So often there are thunderstorms and dark clouds and worst, dark nights that are always the longest nights too. This is the meaning of our first reading from the Book of Wisdom that recalled the first passover and exodus from Egypt of God’s chosen people.

Faith is often asserted and tested in the dark, at nighttime when all the uncertainties and dangers are most pronounced when unknown to us, God is also most present in us. And this we shall find also as the setting of the Lord’s two parables for this Sunday.

Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA7-News, January 2022.

Jesus continues his journey to Jerusalem and along the way since last week, he has been teaching us the need to place our trust and security in God than in material possessions, in the importance of having faith more in God than in things.

From Qoheleth we have learned last Sunday that life is vanity if not rooted in God who is our ultimate origin and end in life so that today Jesus tells us in no uncertain terms of the need to keep that in mind through two similar parables.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them… Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

Luke 12:35-37, 39-40

It is important for us to note that before this teaching, Jesus addressed the many fears of insecurity and insufficiency of his disciples, telling them to never worry of what to eat or wear, reminding them of how animals and birds as well nature are well taken cared of by God in all its splendor and glory (Lk.12:22-34).

Our main concern is to be faithful servants of God, seeing to it that we become his hands that care for others especially the sick and the needy, striving to be fair and just in our dealings with everyone, remaining focused with the kingdom of God.

That is the meaning of the vigilant servants in the first parable whom the master finds awake and alert upon returning from a wedding feast. It is Jesus Christ himself coming again in an unexpected time and date nobody knows at the end of time; those he shall find like the vigilant servants are assured of heaven where Jesus will be the one serving them!

Photo by Fr. Pop Dela Cruz, June 2022.

Many times in our lives, we feel that God seems to have forgotten us, falling asleep and unaware of the sufferings we are going through. It is okay to feel that way sometimes but never let your guards down: be like the vigilant servants, faithful to God in prayers and in serving others, in trying to be kind and forgiving because Jesus is surely coming again to bring us with him in paradise and end all our pains and sufferings. Do not let your fears of losing, of not having enough paralyze you to make you selfish and conceited. How often Jesus had come to you through friends and strangers or situations offering you exactly what you needed most at the perfect time? That is like the master coming from a wedding who serves his servants who faithfully waited for his return. God can never be outdone in generosity.

On the other hand, the second parable has an interesting detail from the first one: the master of the house guarding his house against the thief of the night. Actually, the thief here is the master of the house, the one who acted as if he owned everything that he is always on guard against the real master who might come to take back everything.

That is sure to happen! We are just mere stewards of God. We own nothing in this world, even our very life. When the Lord comes at the end of time, or when our time comes to die, which attitude would we have, that of the vigilant servants excited for their master returning from a wedding or that master of the house afraid of the thief to take back what he had stolen?

The grace of this Sunday as we focus about the End we shall all face, it likewise reminds us of the end with a small “e” of our little sufferings here on earth, the setbacks and failures, mistakes and sins we have committed. They will all end; what is important is we live our faith faithfully in God through prayers and good deeds. And some dashes of perseverance, patience, courage and a lot of faith in God. Amen.

A blessed week to everyone!

Photo by Ms. Danna Hazel de Castro, Kiltepan Peak, Sagada, Mountain Province, 2017.

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.

The difficulty and beauty of intimacy

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Eighteenth Week of Ordinary Time, 03 August 2022
Jeremiah 31:1-7   ><)))*> + + + <*(((><   Matthew 15:21-28
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, 2021.
Many times I have felt you,
dear Jesus coming to me in unfamiliar
grounds and situations
like when you came to the pagan
district of Tyre and Sidon;
for what, Jesus?
To test us?
Why do you come to me
when I am weakest,
when I am sinful,
when I am in doubt,
when I am unfaithful?
Why did you go to a pagan region but
would not even pay attention to the
Canaanite woman begging for your help
to free her daughter from evil possession?

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.

Matthew 15:21-23
O dear Jesus!
Teach me to be more engaging with you,
arguing, debating, "fighting" like
in close contact karate in order to be intimate;
intimacy is more than being close with you
but also involves personal contact and
engagement with you that best happens
in unfamiliar territories
like Tyre and Sidon where we have
no one else to turn to except you,
when we have to bare to you our vulnerabilities
and weaknesses, our skin until we are stripped
naked before you like that Canaanite woman
admitting her being referred to as "dogs"
and be clothed only with your very self,
with your love and company.
That is INTIMACY,
dear Jesus!  A most beautiful status
and gift but most difficult because it is
a journey into foreign territories
requiring our complete trust and
faith in God who loves us so much.

Thus says the Lord: The people that escaped the sword have found favor in the desert. As Israel comes forward to be given his rest, the Lord appears to him from afar: with age-old love I have loved you; so I have kept my mercy toward you.

Jeremiah 31:2-3
O God, loving Father,
keep me faithful,
keep me close to you,
especially when the path
is difficult,
when the journey is
exhausting.
Amen.

God is the reason

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C, 31 July 2022
Ecclesiastes 1:2, 2:21-23 ><}}}*> Colossians 3:1-5, 9-11 ><}}}*> Luke 12:13-21
My former parish, photo by Mr. Gelo Nicolas Carpio, January 2020.

Last Friday I officiated at the funeral Mass of a younger first cousin; a week earlier, I had anointed him with Oil for the Sick with general absolution of his sins, commending him to God as he was afflicted with a rare disease that attacks the autoimmune system.

It is one of the difficult part in our lives as priests, when sickness and death come closest at home considering that fact that I officiated his wedding about 20 years ago and baptized his eldest son now grown up. That is why our readings today are so timely for me because my cousin Gilbert was only 49 when he died, being the most silent and “goodest” of my cousins who never got into any trouble nor any sickness while we were growing up together in Bocaue, Bulacan. How I felt like Qoheleth, saying….

Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity. Here is one who has labored with wisdom and knowledge and skill and yet another, who has not labored over it, must leave the property. This is also vanity and a great misfortune.

Ecclesiastes 1:2, 2:21
Photo by author, Pangasinan, April 2022.

Qoheleth is what the author calls himself which is not a proper name but a function of a speaker or a preacher to an assembly which is in Latin ecclesia; hence, it is called the Book of Ecclesiastes.

Despite the tone of his message of “vanity of vanities”, the author is not a “kill joy” or KJ who is provoking a culture of pessimism; in fact, he is trying to search for what truly lasts, for the Absolute good who is God. We have seen how in literature and music that poems and songs of despair are often the most beautiful because the anguish we feel can paradoxically be expressions of our burning desire for something, someone more permanent, more lasting and unchanging – who else and nothing else but God who is not vanity!

If we try to own every line of Qoheleth and reflect deeply on it, we somehow feel a strong similarity with our own cries of despair in life when nothing matters anymore especially with the lost of a loved one, or something so precious that deep inside us we felt with certitude that only God could fill that void.

Yes, all is vanity if we are cut off from God, when all our efforts and our very lives are separated from him because he alone is the Reason. Everything, everyone is meaningful because of God. That is why in the second reading, St. Paul is asking us to “seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God” (Col.3:1).

In this world where everything is measured in popularity, in being viral or trending that are all vanities because of their temporariness, so many have fallen into the trap of empty promises of modern lifestyles. See how despite the affluence we now enjoy, we have become more empty in life, more alienated from each other even from one’s self, lacking in meaning and depth in life and existence. Sometimes, results can be fatal when people realize what they have been seeing and hearing in media are not at all true and so far from reality that death becomes an escape than a direction that leads us to the Absolutely Perfect, God and eternal life.

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, tell. my brother to share the inheritance with me.” He replied to him, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?” Then he said to the crowd, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” Then he told them a parable.

Luke 12:13-16
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, 2020.

Like Qoheleth, here we find Jesus acting like a “kill-joy” to the man requesting his help to have his share of the inheritance. His responses seems so abrupt and worst of all, very cold! But, it was not really addressed to the man asking the Lord’s intervention. Notice how Luke tells us Jesus addressing the man as “friend” before turning to the “crowd”.

Jesus is still on his way to Jerusalem and saw another opportunity today to teach the people – the crowd – not just the man asking his help of something of high importance in this life which is of being “rich in what matters to God” (Lk.12:21).

Jesus is just and fair, so loving and merciful, very mindful of our needs; however, in the light of the previous gospel scenes we have reflected, we find that Jesus concerns himself only in what matters to God. He does care about our bodily and material needs that he assures us to not worry so much about these because God will never forsake us.

Jesus had come not to be our judge and arbiter on matters about our material and worldly concerns like getting rich and famous and other vanities in life; Jesus came to teach us about what matters to God like love and mercy, kindness and care, justice and freedom. Jesus came to teach us ways of how we may inherit eternal life!

We do not have to spell out and enumerate one by one these things that matters to God of which Jesus is most concerned with; eventually, as we journey with him in life, as we carry our cross, we realize slowly in life these things that matter to God are for sure not material possessions, most often things that matter after death.

That is the grace we find ironically in every death – when somebody dies, we realize deep inside what truly matters to God. As they say, death is the best equalizer in life. And best teacher.


Last week we have the beautiful series of readings from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, teeming with life and assurances of love and protection from God. We see how the loving hands of God are like of the potter who molds us into fine earthen vessels of his majesty and glory.

Photo by author, March 2019.

Sometimes we sink into so much self-pity when things are not turning out according to our plans in life, forgetting how God loves us so much, of how he uses even the most tragic and painful events in our lives for our own good because he believes in us.

Yes. God believes in you! Everything is vanity without him, without you!

Would you rather spend everything just for a piece of land or some money or level of fame than living in peace, the greatest gift we can all have in life? That is the whole point of God in telling Jeremiah about being a clay in the potter’s hand – many times in our lives we have to be crushed and mashed, even reduced to being grounded for us to emerge finer and refined, better and more beautiful than before.

Recall those trying days of the past when you chose to bear it all, to be silent and patient. Maybe for a while or a few moments our opponents seemed to have won, or have the upper hand but in the long run, we find we are more fruitful, we are more peaceful because everything and everyone has become meaningful in God. That is because we love.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Of all that things that matter with God that we should be rich is love. Love, love, love. As the Beatles said, all you need is love! True. Sometimes it could be foolish to love, to let go of things and insults and pains and hurts.

But, God is greater than our hearts (1 Jn.3:20) and can never be outdone in generosity.

The more we love, the more we are given with more love. That is when we become truly rich in what matters to God. Amen.

Have a blessed week ahead, everyone!

The good hands of God, our gift of sight: a prayer for ophthalmologists and their patients

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 28 July 2022
Photo by author, 2018.

Dear friends: Since Monday I have felt in my prayers God leading me to reflect on his “gracious hands” taking care of us, handling us with care like St. James the Greater in Monday and the prophet Jeremiah beautifully expressing today God with a potter’s hand molding us into great “earthen vessels” of his majesty and mystery according to St. Paul (https://lordmychef.com/2022/07/28/we-are-in-gods-good-hands-always/).

Early today I went to visit a patient with “high myopia” who underwent a surgery for a “clear lens extraction” of her right eye. From what I have gathered, she never finished school and could not find a job because she could not read nor even walk straight as she would hit objects and people despite her glasses of 1000 grade!

After celebrating Mass this morning, I rushed to the Fatima University Medical Center in Valenzuela to visit her after her operation. Though I totally do not know her as she was only referred to me, I immediately felt her deep joy within as she told her doctor how she could see everything so clearly right after surgery! You could sense her ecstasy within as she described the immense light she could finally see with her right eye. She was with her younger sister and I felt both young ladies controlling their joys from bursting to avoid making a scene outside the OR.

And so, to complete their joys, I led a simple prayer session right there outside the OR and this is what the Lord put on my lips:

Praise and glory to you,
God our loving Father for the
gift of life, for the gift of sight!

Lord Jesus Christ, you have 
healed so many blind people
recorded in the gospels like
Bartimaeus; we pray for Eden 
and others with eye problems;
restore their sight not only to see 
the beauty of the world but most
especially to see your kindness and
majesty among people!

Thank you, Lord Jesus Christ
for the gift of doctors,
of ophthalmologists whose 
hands you use to touch and 
heal the blind and those 
with ailments in their eyes;
bless them always,
keep them safe and their
loved ones as you
fulfill their dreams.
Amen.
Healing of Batimaeus, from Pinterest.com.

I have said in my previous blogs these past three weeks how I have noticed many among us going through a lot of storms in life these days, of getting sick and diagnosed especially with the big “C” with some in advanced stages; others having family problems; and most especially, coping with death in the family.

Amid all their cries of pains and hurts, feelings of rejection and being left out, even forgotten by God, I remember the French poet Charles Peguy who said that hope is God’s most favorite virtue because it “surprises him.”

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

Hope indeed is very surprising not only to God but even to us.

To hope is like remaining seated at the movies after the show, still waiting for a loud roar or a teaser for the sequel. Even if you know it is the end of the show, the end of the line, you still believe and hope something beautiful would come because you are so sure that the one we hope in – God – is Life itself. Life just goes on and eventually, if not here, in the afterlife, there we shall have the fullness of life.

For the moment, let us be still and be calm, remaining in God, like a clay in the potter’s hand as he molds us into someone better.

It is said that sometimes, the hands of God would pat us on our shoulders or caress our backs but, sometimes would “beat” us too that cause many pains.

Just remember, whether we are caressed or beaten in life, these are all from the gracious hands of God that make us see later the beauty of all those darkness and sufferings we go through. Amen.

Have a blessed day filled with hopes in God!

We are in God’s good hands always

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Seventeenth Week of Ordinary Time, 28 July 2022
Jeremiah 18:1-6   ><))))*> + ><))))*> + ><))))*>   Matthew 13:47-53
Photo by author, St. Anne Church, Jerusalem, May 2017.
Bless me today,
loving God our Father;
help me to be still,
to be silent, and be like
a clay in your hands.
Do whatever you want 
with me for I have offered you
myself long ago though like
your prophet Jeremiah, there
were times I have whined and
complained, or worst even indulged
in self-pity when I felt you 
have left me or forgotten me
when things get rough and tough
with me.
Thank you, loving Father
for what and who I am today -
these are all because you have
molded me like a clay in the potter's
hand:  so many times I have to be 
mashed over and over again,
remodeled, redesigned, reconstructed
until your desired image appears;
truly, all we can do is to propose but
ultimately, it is you, O God, who disposes.

Then the word of the Lord came to me: “Can I not do to you, house of Israel, as this potter has done?” says the Lord. “Indeed, like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, house of Israel.”

Jeremiah 18:5-6
When I look back to those difficult
and even painful days of molding,
everything was pure grace from you
and your loving hands:  nothing was 
wasted because I have become a better
person, I have learned to blend what is
new and what is old.

And he replied, “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the Kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.”

Matthew 13:52
In the name of Jesus
your Son, keep me strong,
fill me with courage to forge on
with life's many trials as you
mold me into your beautiful
masterpiece, an "earthen vessel"
of your glory and mystery.
Amen.

Light amid darkness: the grace of grieving in Mary Magdalene

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Feast of St. Mary Magdalene, 22 July 2022
Song of Songs 3:1-4   ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*>   John 20:1-2. 11-18
Photo from GettyImages/iStockphoto.com
Praise and glory to you,
O Lord Jesus Christ in giving
us today this Feast of St. Mary
Magdalene, the "apostle of the
apostles" who proclaimed to Peter
and company that you have risen
on that Easter morning!
Thank you most especially in 
showing us through St. Mary Magdalene
the grace in that state many of us find
ourselves so often especially these days
of the pandemic - that of grieving.

On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdalene came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping. And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the Body of Jesus had been. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken by Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.” When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus.

John 20:1, 11-14
Dearest Lord Jesus,
I pray for those weeping, 
for those grieving for the lost
of a beloved wife or husband,
a son or a daughter, a brother or
a sister, a friend or a colleague;
I also pray, Jesus, for those 
who are weeping in silence,
fighting their tears, hiding when
they cry as they attend and care 
for a dying loved one at home or
in the hospital.
Like St. Mary Magdalene, death
from its approach and coming
always has that dark presence in
us; mourning and weeping become
more difficult when nights become
longer we could hardly know morning
is coming or has broken.
And many times in those dark moments
we do not recognize you, Jesus, 
present among us in our weeping,
right in our grieving for our loved ones.
Open our eyes, open our hearts,
enkindle our faith and hopes in you, Lord
in these long, dark hours of our grieving.
You know very well how difficult it is
to let go of a loved one like St. Mary Magdalene
when you have died; like her, we continue
to "cling" and "hold" to our beloved 
in our old ways of relating with them 
in the hope of again hugging them,
touching them, and perhaps telling them 
how we love them and if given a chance,
to say sorry too for our sins and lapses.
“Noli me tangere” (touch me not) fresco in the Lower Basilica of St. Francis Assisi Church in Italy painted by Giotto de Bondone in the 13th century from commons.wikimedia.org.

Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni,” which means Teacher. Jesus said to her, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” Mary of Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,” and then reported what he told her.

John 20:16-18
Call us with our name again,
dear Jesus; call us anew with your
reassuring voice of love and kindness,
of mercy and forgiveness no matter
who we really are 
for you are the only one sent by the Father 
to assure us we are accepted despite and
in spite of our sins and weaknesses.
Let us exclaim again "Rabbouni" like
St. Mary Magdalene, filled with joy in
finding you amidst the darkness 
in our lives as we learn to stop "holding"
on to our departed and dying loved ones
as we recall and realize your teaching 
that every death is a sharing in your pasch,
a passing over into eternal life,
of leveling up our ties with them 
in you, Christ Jesus
to the Father and the Holy Spirit.
Amen.
Photo by author, sunrise at Camp John Hay, Baguio City, November 2018.

Please bother us, Lord

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Sixteenth Week of Ordinary Time, 21 July 2022
Jeremiah 2:1-3, 7-8, 12-13   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Matthew 13:10-17
Photo by author, Garden of Gethsemane, Israel, 2019.

This word of the Lord came to me: Go cry out this message for Jerusalem to hear! I remember the devotion of your youth, how you loved me as a bride, following me in the desert, in a land unsown. the priests asked not “Where is the Lord?” Those who dealt with the law knew me not: the shepherds rebelled against me. The prophets prophesied by Baal, and went after useless idols.

Jeremiah 2:1-2, 8
Forgive us, O God our Father
for being so complacent,
for not being bothered at all
with how things are now going
on with our lives in relation with
you.
We have lost any sense at all
of you, Father that we do not seem
to care at all!
We have presumed you will 
understand us.
Worst of all, we are not bothered at
all that you know the sins we have been
committing, the evils we have been
harboring within.
Please disturb us, Lord,
when we play gods,
when we insult you of not
knowing what we have been
doing and thinking;
Please disturb us, Lord,
to wonder where are you,
to always seek you
most especially in the most
ordinary things in life like
the parables of Jesus;
Please disturb us, Lord,
when we feel self-sufficient,
when we feel secured,
when we feel we know everything;
Please disturb us, Lord,
because when we are no longer
disturbed on you and your
whereabouts, that is when we 
have gone far astray from you,
when we "indeed hear but not understand,
and look but never see" (Mt.13:14).
Amen.

God sends us on a mission

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Sixteenth Week of Ordinary Time, 20 July 2022
Jeremiah 1:1, 4-10   ><}}}*> + ><}}}*> + ><}}}*>   Matthew 13:1-9
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, 2021.
"Talaga?
Is it really true, O God?"
These are the words that
came from my heart as I prayed
over your words today through
the prophet Jeremiah:

The word of the Lord came to me thus: “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you… See, I place my words in your mouth! This day I set you over nations and over kingdoms, to root up and to tear down, to destroy and to demolish, to build and to plant.”

Jeremiah 1:4-5, 9-10
It is not that I do not believe you,
dear Father, but your words are so
comforting, so encouraging;
how wonderful indeed that I am no
accident, that I have a reason being here
because you have always have a plan
for me, for each one of us.
Thank you for believing in me, Lord;
thank you for sending me to a mission;
make me like a fertile ground, a rich soil
so that your seeds sown in me may grow
and mature and produce fruit;
in the name of Jesus your Son, 
open my ears and my heart to always
listen to your instructions, give me
the courage most especially to be your
prophet like Jeremiah, "comforting the
afflicted and afflicting the comfortable"
by giving witness to your truth and 
justice, mercy and charity at all times.
Amen.