Finding God, following Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Feast of St. Lorenzo Ruiz & Companion Martyrs, 28 September 2022
Job 9:1-12, 14-16     ><000'> + ><000'> + ><000'>     Luke 9:57-62
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, of a Philippine Serpent Eagle at
the Sierra Madre, Quezon Province, July 2022.
Life is truly a mystery,
O God our loving Father!
Filled with so many twists
and turns, bends and
corners that lead 
and open us to 
new vistas, 
new situations,
new sceneries
that make us closer
to finding you and 
experiencing you.

Job answered his friend and said: God is wise in heart and mighty in strength; who has withstood him and remained unscathed? He made the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south; He does great things past finding out, marvelous things beyond reckoning. Should he come near me, I see him not; should he pass by, I am not aware of him.

Job 9:1, 4, 9-11
Like Job
and St. Lorenzo Ruiz,
many times our hearts cry
out to you unable to understand
at how and why so many bad things
are happening to us, sometimes we
feel overburdened almost giving up
but still in the end, we persevere 
because we believe in you,
we cannot go without you
for we would rather go in darkness
assured of your presence than in
light without you on our side.

As Jesus and his disciples were proceeding on their journey someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus answered him, “Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”

Luke 9:57-58
Grant us, dear Jesus,
the grace of true freedom to
choose you always freely,
to be free from any attachments
with the world and worldly
except you whom we follow
wholeheartedly like St. Lorenzo Ruiz
and companion martyrs..

And to another he said, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.”

Luke 9:59-60
Grant us too, dear Jesus,
the grace to live in the present,
to be always in every here and now,
learning from the past,
forging ahead onto the future
to preach the good news of
salvation urgently,
joyfully!

And another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home.” Jesus answered him, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the Kingdom of God.”

Luke 9:61-62
Lastly like St. Lorenzo,
teach us dear Jesus to be firm
in our decision in following you,
to stop entertaining thoughts
of turning back from your mission,
thoughts of seeking comforts
and other personal benefits
 except of doing and fulfilling
 your most Holy Will
unto death.
Amen.

Living in God

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Memorial of St. Andrew Kim Taegon & Korean Martyrs, 20 September 2022
Proverbs 21:1-6, 10-13     <*((((>< + ><))))*>     Luke 8:19-21
Photo by Dr. Mai B. Dela Peña, Santorini, Greece, 2014.
God our loving Father,
today I offer myself to you,
everything I have,
all my plans and undertakings
because everything is ultimately
in your hands!

Like a stream is the king’s heart in the hand of the Lord; wherever it pleases him, he directs it. All the ways of a man may be right in his own eyes, but it is the Lord who proves hearts. To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

Proverbs 21:1-3
Slow me down,
caution me,
and if necessary,
stop me to yield to
your Holy Will and
better plans especially
when I am overwhelmed
by my many preparations,
when I feel stressed and
compelled by people and
situations; remind me, Lord,
people and their welfare
are better than programs
and things; open my heart
and my ears to listen to your
words, to your voice always the
faintest one deep in my heart
covered by the noises of the world
and of my many confusions and 
selfish ambitions.
Like the first martyrs of Korea
whom we remember today,
grant me courage and perseverance
to hold on to what is true and good,
to remain steadfast in faith
in the face of persecutions
and trials,
ready to sacrifice and
let go of my pleasures and
comforts, so inspire others
to find and follow you, dear Jesus.

St. Andrew Kim Taegon and
companion Martyrs, 
Pray for Us!
Amen. 
St. Andrew Kim Taegon, first Korean priest with his lay associate St. Paul Chong Hasan with 113 other Koreans died as martyrs between 1839 and 1867. There are now about four million Korean Catholics, one of the most vibrant in the world, ranking fourth with the most number of saints.

Seeing Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Memorial of St. Lawrence, Deacon & Martyr, 10 August 2022
2 Corinthians 9:6-10   ><}}}*> + ><}}}*> + ><}}}*>   John 12:24-26
Photo by Onnye on Pexels.com
God our loving Father,
just this Monday I have prayed,
telling you how I sometimes wished
to find you in strange visions like
your prophet Ezekiel; today, as we
celebrate the Memorial of your
great Saint, Lawrence, the gospel
speaks so well of finding you
when some Greeks approached Philip,
asking him to help them see Jesus
while in Jerusalem:

Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.”

John 12:24
Lord Jesus, so much have changed
in this world in terms of freely worshipping you
 unlike during the early centuries of Christianity
 when your followers shed blood witnessing you;
today, there are no more lions to devour us
nor executioners to crucify or decapitate us
or roast us on gridiron like St. Lawrence;
but your call for martyrdom remains.
Give us the courage to "let go and let God"
in our lives which is to become fruitful
like the grain of wheat to see you
by allowing you dear Jesus to make us become
 everything you want us to be, that is,
a bread produced by grains of wheat
grounded and disintegrated to become
food for others.

“Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life.”

John 12:25
Help us realize, dear Jesus,
that to see you means to think more
of eternal life than of this present life
that is passing; that we own nothing at all
in this world, not even our very lives;
like St. Lawrence who faithfully served
 the poor and disadvantaged the world refuses
to recognize until now as your presence
and "life" because "life" has always been
seen in glitz and glamor revolving around one's self
as the center of everything;
help us realize that we cannot find meaning of life
in ourselves, by being self-centered;
it is in finding you in others, in valuing them too
 that we find life and its meaning!

“Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.”

John 12:26
Finally, finding you dear Jesus
and the Father is entering into your very person,
getting into a communion that "it is no longer I 
who live but you, O Christ, lives in me"
(Gal.2:20);
let me welcome you, Jesus into myself,
let me embrace you and your Cross,
join you in your Passion and Death to be 
one in you more than ever in your Resurrection.

Pray for us, most blessed
St. Lawrence that like you,
we may generously offer our lives
to God and inspire others
to experience and see Jesus Christ
present in this world so blinded
by vanities and fantasies.
Amen.
“Martyrdom of St. Lawrence, Deacon” by Hipolito de Rioja (16th c.) from commons.wikimedia.org

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!

We are “earthen vessels” handled with care by Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Feast of St. James the Greater, Apostle, 25 July 2022
2 Corinthians 4:7-15   ><)))*> + ><)))*> + ><)))*>   Matthew 20:20-28
Photo by author, 2018.
Praise and glory to you,
Lord Jesus Christ for your
saint and apostle, James the
Greater!
His martyrdom and holiness
are testaments to your
gentleness, Lord, 
for we are all earthen vessels
keeping you, proclaiming you
to all nations.

Brothers and sisters: We hold this treasure in earthen vessels that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.

2 Corinthians 4:7-10
Despite his weaknesses
in having a big ego as seen
in many instances like when he 
his brother John told you to send 
fire to a Samaritan village that have
refused you to pass through and
making a request through their mother
to be seated at your right later when
you have established your kingdom,
you never dismissed James as a 
hopeless case; instead, full of love and
mercy, kindness and patience, you
"handled him with so much care" by 
bringing him along during your transfiguration
and agony in the garden; you let him
experienced your gentleness and humility
that after you have gone back in heaven,
he became the first bishop of Jerusalem
and because of that, the first among 
your Apostles to die like you, 
for you and your flock.
Dearest Jesus,
please be patient with me,
with my pride and arrogance;
let me realize that I am nothing
but like an earthen vessel, a claypot
so privileged not because of my own
merit but due to your own choosing
to be a vessel of your love and mercy.
Thank you, Jesus,
for taking care of me, 
for handling me with care
the way you did with James
the Greater and all the others saints
who were all like us - sinful and weak
but so loved and blessed by the Father
in you.  Amen.

Seeking the face of the Lord

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Memorial of St. Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr, 06 July 2022
Hosea 10:1-3, 7-8, 12   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Matthew 10:1-7
Photo by Mr. Jay Javier, January 2020.
Today's responsorial psalm 
perfectly says our prayer, O God,
which is to "Seek the face 
of the Lord".
But, what is your face,
O Lord that we must seek?
Do you have a face like ours,
now covered with masks due to
pandemic?  The author of Genesis
claims you created us, O God,
in your image and likeness but
how can that be if you are spirit? 
Indeed, the beloved disciple of
Jesus was right:  "nobody has ever
seen God.  Yet, if we love one another,
God remains in us, and his love is 
brought to perfection in us" (1John 4:12). 

To seek your face, O Lord, is to be one
in you, one with you.
To seek your face, O Lord, is to be
intimate with you.
To seek your face, O Lord, is to be 
like you, holy and loving.
To seek your face, O Lord, is to be
pure and chaste in thoughts and
in deeds like St. Mary Goretti who
chose death than sin.
Forgive us, merciful Father,
in choosing to love wealth and power,
in becoming to look like money -
so "mukhang pera" as we would say
in Filipino for our hearts have become
false as we turned away from you in sin.
Thank you that despite our sins,
you continue to call us in Jesus Christ
to be his apostles, being sent out to
seek those who are lost; help us to always
seek your face, Lord, for in every ministry,
it is your face of mercy and love that we
must share with everyone.  Amen.

When harbor is not a harbor…

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of First Martyrs of Holy Roman Church, 30 June 2022
Amos 7:10-17   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Matthew 9:1-8
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD at Nazare, Portugal, March 2022.

Harbor (noun) – a place on the coast where vessels may find shelter, especially one protected from rough water by piers, jetties, and other artificial structures.

Harbor (verb) – keep (a thought or feeling, typically a negative one) in one’s mind, especially secretly; also, shelter or hide (a criminal or wanted person). In Pilipino, “magkimkim”.

On this final day of June 2022
as we honor all the martyrs in the
persecution under Nero in 64 AD Rome,
you gave me O Lord the word "harbor"
as a focus of prayer and reflection after
finding the playful twist in the gospel
of Jesus crossing the lake into his own town 
where he healed a paralytic by telling him 
"Courage, child, your sins are forgiven" 
(Mt.9:2).

At that, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, “Why do you harbor evil thoughts?”

Matthew 9:3-4
What a sad turn of events that continue
to this day when prophets come into our midst, 
especially those of our own like Jesus to his folks, 
who are denounced for speaking your words, 
O God our Father; instead of finding shelter among
us like a "harbor" for telling the truth, prophets
have always become targets of negative thoughts
we "harbor" within like when Brazilian Archbishop
Helder Camara said, "When I give food to the poor,
they call me a saint; when I ask why they are poor,
they call me a communist."
Bless us, dear Father, to be like a "harbor"
to your prophets; let us not imitate Amaziah
in the first reading who drove away your prophet
Amos back to Judah to earn his keeps as
shepherd and dresser of sycamores;
forgive us when we "harbor" negative thoughts
on those who tell and speak to us your truth;
and most especially, let us "stir into flame 
the gift of God that we have" (cf. 2 Tim.1:6)
at Baptism, the sharing in Christ's prophetic
ministry of witnessing your truth and mercy,
justice and love among the people at all time.
Let us not fear, O Lord, 
to cross the seas of this life
to spread your gospel of salvation,
finding only in you our safe harbor
from all storms that come our way
in carrying your Cross.  Amen.