Becoming a messenger of God

The Lord Is My Chef Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Feast of Archangels Michael, Gabriel, & Raphael, 29 September 2021
Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   John 1:47-51
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, 2020.
Praise and glory to you, O God
our loving Father!  Thank you for sending
us your Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and
Raphael for your special messages of
protection, love and healing for us all
though we are not always available.
But most of all, we praise and thank you
for sending us your Son Jesus Christ whom 
we may consider as the "Archangel"
of archangels - your ultimate Messenger
of your truth and love for us.
Through him, You O God had come to us;
through him, with him and in him, we are 
able to come to you, dear Lord. 

A surging stream of fire flowed out from where he sat; thousands upon thousands were ministering to him, and myriads upon myriads attended him. The court was convened, and the books were opened. As the visions during the night continued, I saw one like a son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven. When he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him, he received dominion, glory, and kingship; nations and people of every language serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed.

Daniel 7:10, 13-14
Help us in our unbelief,
in our little faith in you, dear God;
through Jesus, open your heaven
for us and let us be like your Archangels
in these troubled times of the pandemic:
amid the many occasions of sins
and the seeming reign of evil,
let us be like Archangel Michael
fighting satan in your name
 to ward off his devious attacks
that fragment our relationships;
let us be like Archangel Gabriel
delivering your messages of
faith, hope and love to so many
people awaiting salvation;
and last but not least, Father,
let us be like Archangel Raphael
bringing healing to the many ailments
and diseases that afflict not only our bodies
but most especially our hearts and souls
that prevent us from becoming truly free
and faithful to love and serve you.
Amen.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The way to God

The Lord Is My Chef Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Feast of St. Lorenzo Ruiz and Companion Martyrs, 28 September 2021
Zechariah 8:20-23   ><)))*><*(((><  +  ><)))*><*(((><   Luke 9:51-56
Photo by author, Jerusalem, May 2019.

Thus says the Lord of hosts: There shall yet come peoples, inhabitants of many cities; and the inhabitants of one city shall approach those of another, and say, “Come! Let us go to implore the favor of the Lord;” and, “I too will go to seek the Lord.”

Zechariah 8:20-21
Thank you, dear God our
loving Father for continuing to lead us
to your holy city, your holy presence:
more than the ancient Jerusalem,
all we want is to make to your presence
that we beg you to continue to guide
us in this journey.
We know it is dangerous,
filled with many obstacles and
difficulties like peoples and
situations that try to let us lose
focus on you our destination.

When the days for Jesus being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem.

Luke 9:51
Through your Son Jesus Christ
give us the courage and strength
to be "resolutely determined
to journey to Jerusalem" by defusing
hostilities among peoples, showing them
the path of peace that calls for witnessing
to your love and care for everyone.
May we never lose sight of the reality
that the path to you, God our Father
is Jesus Christ himself who said
 "I am the way and the truth and the life";
bless us in imitating St. Lorenzo Ruiz
and his companion martyrs in Japan
who followed Jesus to his martyrdom
on the cross, shedding their blood
to witness to your truth and glory.

In this modern age when such
cruelties are a thing of the past,
the challenge remains the same
for us to lead people to you, O God;
how sad that many people today
are "leaving" your city, 
never coming back
because they could no longer see you
in us, in our lives and examples;
open our minds and hearts
that like St. Lorenzo, may we
examine ourselves closely to see
what changes we need to live out
Christ's gospel so that even if we are
given with a thousand lives
we would still offer it all
to you.  Amen.
Photo from thecatholictalks.com, 2019.

Inclusive and jealous God, exclusive and selfish people

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, Priest, 27 September 2021
Zechariah 8:1-8   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Luke 9:46-50
Photo by Ms. Ria De Vera, July 2021.
It is so baffling, a great mystery
indeed dear God our Father that you
our source and direction in life is
inclusive and jealous while we your
children are exclusive and selfish.

The word of the Lord of hosts came: Thus says the Lord of hosts, I am intensely jealous for Zion, stirred to jealous wrath for her. Thus says the Lord: I will return to Zion, and I will dwell within Jerusalem; Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the Lord of hosts, the holy mountain.

Zechariah 8:1-3
When you brought back home
the exiles from Babylon,
you were so filled with joy
hoping they have learned 
their lessons very well:
that you are a jealous God who demands
total fidelity for there is no other God;
you bless everyone with good things
and yet they still look somewhere else
to worship and adore aside from you.
On this memorial of St. Vincent
de Paul your servant among the poor
and needy, teach us to rely on you
alone, God our Father; teach us to be 
humble and open before everyone, 
not selfish nor exclusive, sharing your
blessings to everyone, finding your Son
Jesus Christ among the least of the 
society.  Amen.

Without God, we are empty

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of St. Padre Pio, 23 September 2021
Haggai 1:1-8  ><]]]]*> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]*>   Luke 9:7-9
Photo by author, 22 September 2021.
O dear God our Father,
without you,
we shall never be complete, 
we shall always be empty.
How foolish that we keep on filling
ourselves with so many things
without realizing our fulfillment 
is in you alone.
Twice you ordered us today
through the Prophet Haggai to
"Consider your ways!" or look at ourselves
to see how we think so much of ourselves, 
when we think so much of our needs
without ever thinking of you from whom all
good gifts come from.

Now thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways! You have sown much, but have brought in little; you have eaten, but have not been satisfied; you have drunk, but have not been exhilarated; have clothed yourselves, but not been warmed; and he who earned wages earned them for a bag with holes in it. Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways!

Haggai 1:1-8
We know, O Lord God
that you have no need of anything
from us to be sufficient
for you are perfect;
if ever you "need" us,
it is for our own good and benefit!
Even the most powerful
know this like King Herod
in our gospel today who was
"greatly perplexed" at your Son Jesus Christ
that he "kept trying to see him"
because there must be a large
gaping hole in him without
Jesus.
Teach us to be like
Saint Padre Pio whose
memorial we celebrate today:
enlighten us to imbibe fully the meaning
of his expression that
"I only want to be a poor friar who prays."
How amazing and inspiring,
dear God are the many gifts you have
given St. Padre Pio who desired only
one thing in life, to be poor who prays.
Let us desire you alone
and that is more than enough.
Amen.

Praying our religions bring us together, not apart

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial of St. Andrew Kim Taegon and Companions, Martyrs, 20 September 2021
Ezra 1:1-6   ><]]]]*> + ><]]]]*> + ><]]]]*>   Luke 8:16-18
Photo from en.wikipedia.org.
On this blessed Monday
as we celebrate dear God our Father
the Memorial of the first Korean priest,
St. Andrew Kim Taegon and his companion
martyrs led by St. Paul Chong Hasang,
we pray you may bless like King Cyrus of 
ancient Persia more world leaders 
and most especially heads of many 
religions to be instruments of unity
instead of divisions.

In the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord inspired King Cyrus of Persia to issue this proclamation throughout his kingdom, both by word of mouth and in writing: “Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia: ‘All kingdoms of the earth the Lord, the God of heaven, has given to me, and he has also charged me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Therefore, whoever among you belongs to any part of his people, let him go up, and may his God be with him!'”

Ezra 1:1-3
How sad, O God
that throughout history
up to the present time,
men have ironically waged
wars on other peoples and nations
primarily in the name of their God,
instead of bringing love and understanding,
they have caused so much hatred
and sufferings; the only truth proven
that in war, nobody wins except
more coffins are nailed with
beloved children inside as victims
and casualties. 

Jesus said to the crowd, “No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light.”

Luke 8:16
Dear Jesus,
enlighten our minds
and our hearts with your light
in the Holy Spirit
to illumine the world with
more love and acceptance
of each other and their faith;
please, like King Cyrus of ancient Persia,
may we all realize that our religion
should bring us closer to each other
and not bring us apart.
Amen.

Why the cross of Jesus is a “must”

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 14 September 2021
Photo by author, St. Ildephonsus Parish, Tanay, Rizal (January 2021).
Must you, O Lord, 
come and suffer 
so I may see 
your great love
for me?
Must you, O Lord,
be betrayed and denied thrice
so I may see
your loyalty?
Must you, O Lord,
die and rise again
so I may see
your glory?

Jesus summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”

Mark 8:34
So many times
like the young man
who came to you
I find myself asking too
"Lord, what must I do
to gain eternal life?"
But always the same
scene you repeat
again and again:
that I must deny myself,
take up my cross,
and follow you
my Lord to realize
the gravity of my sins
and the immensity of your
love and mercy for me.
Let me turn to you
and remain with you, Lord
at your Triumphant Cross
that I must raise up
over the world
to illumine the paths
that lead to life and love
into the gates of heaven
found here on earth
and not above;
must I fall and stumble,
raise me up
along with others
who are also following you
with whom I must find you too
to truly exalt your Cross!
Photo by author, November 2019.

When negative is positive

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, 14 September 2021
Numbers 21:4-9 ><]]]]*> Philippians 2:6-11 ><]]]]*> John 3:13-17
Photo by author, statue of the bronze serpent mounted on a pole by Moses overlooking the Promised Land of Israel at the Franciscan Monastery on Mt. Nebo in Jordan (May 2019).
God our loving Father,
in this time of the COVID-19
pandemic when being "negative"
is actually "positive",
help us see the meaning
of celebrating your transformation
of repugnant symbols of suffering
and death into signs of glory
and majesty like the snake
and the cross.

Moses accordingly made a bronze serpent and mounted it on a pole, and whenever anyone who had been bitten by a serpent looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.

Numbers 21:9
How wonderful it is, Father
when you transformed a
dangerous snake into a
healing and saving symbol
at the desert,
prefiguring the crucifixion
of your Son Jesus Christ
who showed us personally
that the path to exaltation
 is through lowliness
or self-emptying.

Brothers and sisters: Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.

Philippians 2:6-9
Most amazing of all, dear Father
is how you have transformed in Jesus
the most cruel instrument of suffering
and death which is the cross
into a symbol of salvation.
What a beautiful transformation
you have brought in Christ's Passion,
Death, and Resurrection
when the most negative sign
has become the clearest positive sign of all!

Jesus told Nicodemus: “And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.

John 3:14-17
Help us find and celebrate, 
O God, in this Feast 
of the Exaltation of the Cross 
Christ's resurrection and glory
in heaven, instead of mourning
his death for he is Life himself; 
help us focus on healing and salvation
instead of dwelling on pain and
suffering especially in this time
of the pandemic; may his Cross
be our light in guiding us through
the darkness of COVID-19,
transforming us within to see
ourselves and one another clearly
as your beloved children, dear Father,
realizing the depths of your love 
and mercy while looking up to Jesus 
on the Cross.  Amen.
Photo by Marc Angelo Nicolas Carpio, January 2020, Bagbaguin, Santa Maria, Bulacan.

Our splinter and beam, Christ’s Cross

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Week XXIII, Year I in Ordinary Time, 10 September 2021
1 Timothy 1:1-2, 12-14   ><)))*>  +  <*(((><   Luke 6:39-42
Photo by author, April 2019.

Jesus told his disciples: “How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove that splinter in your eye,’ when you do not even notice the wooden beam in your own eye? You hypocrite! Remove the wooded beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.'”

Luke 6:42
O God our loving Father:
So many times we act so silly
as if we have never learned 
from your prophets and then your
Son Jesus Christ and down to 
his Apostles and saints, notably
Paul.
So true are the words of Jesus
your Son when he told us how 
we would always see the splinter
in our neighbor's eyes without 
ever seeing the wooden beam 
in our own eyes!
But you know, dear Father,
what makes me rejoice this Friday?
Indeed, splinter and wooden beam
we all have right in our eyes that
we cannot see or even refuse to see
and remove; yet, there you are
in your infinite mercy you sent us
Jesus Christ to remove these 
splinter and wooden beam in our eyes
through his wooden Cross!

I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man, but I have been mercifully treated because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief. Indeed, the grace of our Lard has been abundant, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

1 Timothy 1:13-14
Larger and heavier
was the wooden Cross
willingly carried by Jesus Christ
for our own sake so we may
be cleansed of our sins and
cleared of our blindness
to walk your path of holiness;
loving Father,
teach us to be like St. Paul
to admit our sinfulness,
to voluntarily remove both
the splinter and wooden beam
in our eyes so we may see you
more clearly,
love you more dearly,
and follow you more closely
in Christ Jesus.
Amen.

Love is “being” than “doing”

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Week XXIII, Year I in Ordinary Time, 09 September 2021
Colossians 3:12-17  ><]]]]*> + ><]]]]*> + ><]]]]*>   Luke 6:27-38
Photo by author, 07 September 2021.
Never has it been, merciful Father
have we realized in our lives except
lately that waking up every day,
that being alive is indeed a great gift
from you; with all the deaths now 
happening, with those closest to us
getting infected with COVID-19,
what an honor and joy to keep in
our minds and hearts that we are
your chosen ones (Col.3:12).
If we can appreciate this gift you
bestowed on us through Jesus Christ,
then we learn that your call for us
to lead moral lives is not just a list of
"do's" and "dont's" but an outflow
from inner motivation of our being
renewed in Christ.

Brothers and sisters: put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience… And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were called in one Body. And be thankful.

Colossians 3:12, 14-15
Let us praise you, O God, with our very lives
with our "being" and not with our "doing"
that is an outpouring,
a fruit of our status as your chosen ones.
It is always easier to just do things,
obey laws and precepts,
observe your teachings
for as long as they do not
affect our being;
we can just do what is good
even without any meaning at all
like towing the line.
Everything changes, dear God
when it is our person that is hurt,
that is violated and transgressed,
 when every good deed is reduced
to a mere act and social contract
because there is no love
that made peace elusive:
we have forgotten who we are,
that we are your children,
your chosen people in Christ won
over by his blood. 

Jesus said to his disciples, “To you who hear I say, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. But rather, love your enemies and do good to them… Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful.

Luke 6:27-28, 32, 35, 36
Remind us, dear Father
that we are brothers and sisters
in Jesus Christ who have all come
from you as your beloved children,
forgiven and blessed.
Amen.

Our rootedness in God

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Week XXIII, Year I in Ordinary Time, 07 September 2021
Colossians 2:6-15   <*(((>< + ><)))*>   Luke 6:12-19
Photo by author at Jaffa, Israel, May 2017.

Jesus departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God.

Luke 6:12
Dear God our Father,
what did you two talk about that night
when Jesus prayed to you?
I have always wondered why Jesus
your Son, the Second Person of the
Holy Trinity is portrayed so often 
by St. Luke at prayer.
For a long time,
I have always wondered at
what did Jesus pray to you,
what did he ask you, Father, 
while here on earth?
For one, it is so lovely to think
how the Son of God was also praying
like us to drive home the importance
of prayer.  But, last night, God our Father,
I realized it is not really a question of what 
Jesus prayed for but why did he pray at all.

Brothers and sisters: As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in him, rooted in him and built upon him and established in the faith as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one is captivate you with an empty, seductive philosophy according to the tradition of men, according to the elemental powers of the world and not according to Christ.

Colossians 2:6-8
So often, Father, we pray to you
like kids whenever we need something,
always asking for this and that,
begging for more,
pleading to have our ways
that are often whims and wishes.
Teach us to mature in our prayers,
teach us to pray like Jesus your Son
who prayed while here on earth
as an expression of his oneness
and communion in you;
teach us to pray that we may
be rooted in you,
firmly grounded in you
through Christ,
never to be swayed by
novel thoughts and ideas
or beliefs that make us leave
your side especially when crises come.
Amen.