God remembers… don’t quit!

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the Second Week of Ordinary Time, Year I, 17 January 2023
Hebrews 6:10-20     ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>     Mark 2:23-28
This prayer I offer 
for those losing hope,
wanting to quit and leave,
losing patience and sense
in all their efforts for the
betterment of others and the world,
for those disappointed or frustrated,
for those always on the distaff side,
always seen as odd and weird
because of their firm stand for
their beliefs and values:
remind them, Father, 
that you are aware of all their
noble efforts for the uplifting
of lives of many,
for their fight for justice
and truth.

Brothers and sisters: God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name by having served and continuing to serve the holy ones.

Hebrews 6:10
Dearest Jesus,
you know so well
how difficult and even
painful to remind people 
of their giftedness,
of their dignity,
of their honor;
many times, we feel tired
and sad at how others see us
and all our efforts for their good;
we are not asking for quick fixes
nor shortcuts for we know that indeed,
doing your work is never easy,
it is always a process;
all we are asking is rest,
a break perhaps
like your apostles one sabbath
who picked the heads of grain;
many times like the Pharisees
people give more emphasis and
importance to rites and rituals,
to rules and laws without any regard
for persons.
Lord Jesus,
remind us always that when
people fail to see our personhood,
our self-dedication to you and
your works,
remind us to never sag in spirits,
to never be sluggish
but instead be filled with more
fire and ardor in doing your work
until they realize that "The sabbath
was made for man, not man for 
sabbath.  That is why the Son of Man
is lord even of the sabbath"
(Mark 2:27-28).
Amen.

Come and see so you will see greater things!

The Lord Is My Chef Christmas Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Weekday of Christmas, 05 January 2023
1 John 3:11-21     ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>     John 1:43-51
Phot by Mr. John Ryan Jacob, 02 January 2023 in Paco, Obando, Bulacan.
Lord Jesus Christ,
now I can feel your insistence
for me to come so I may see you;
I think it should be the first thing
to preoccupy us every new year:
how we must come in order to see
you each day, each year.

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said to him, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.”

John 1:45-47
Let us be sincere, O Lord Jesus,
like Nathanael or St. Bartholomew
who never hesitated to tell Philip
the prevailing belief of your time that
nothing good comes from Nazareth;
problem with us is we always deny
such truths deeply ingrained within us
like our personal biases against others
due to region and religion,
language and politics,
color and inclinations.
Let us come so we may see
you more in others that despite
our many biases and prejudices,
you do come in our many differences;
let us be bold and brave to subject
our beliefs and perceptions to tests
by personally coming to see the reality,
the truth so that we may realize
that you are not only the Messiah
but most of all, like Nathanael,
you are "the Son of God, the King of Israel"
(John 1:49).
Most of all,
Lord Jesus Christ,
let us come and see
with all our reservations
and doubts,
biases and mistrust
so that we may see
far more greater things
than what we have already seen
in passively following you -
let us come so we may see
"the sky opened and 
the angels of God
ascending
and descending
on the Son of Man"
(John 1:51).
Amen.

Christmas is recognizing the face of Christ in everyone

The Lord Is My Chef Christmas Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Octave of Christmas, Feast of Holy Innocents, Martyrs, 28 December 2022
1 John 1:5-2:2     ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>     Matthew 2:13-18

Beloved: This is the message that we have heard from Jesus Christ and proclaim to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say, “We have fellowship with him,” while we continue to walk in darkness, we lie and do not act in truth. But if we walk in darkness, we lie and do not act in truth. But if we walk in the light as he is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another, and the Blood of his Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin.

1 John 1:5-7
God our loving Father,
thank you for sending us your Son
Jesus Christ, the light of the world;
we have experienced many times in life
especially during these three years of pandemic
that no matter how dark our lives may be,
for as long as we walk in Jesus Christ,
there is always light.
Forgive us, Father,
that many times we look for other lights;
we are so tempted and delighted in 
following the lights of the world with its
vast array of colors that blind our eyes
or with klieg lights that put us on spot like stars
yet leave us groping in emptiness after;
forgive us, Father, in following other lights 
that turn us away from one another and you;
until now, many of us act and think like Herod
and the experts of Jerusalem who refuse to
follow the light of Jesus that make us recognize
you on the face of one another.
Let the light of Jesus born on Christmas
enlighten our minds and our hearts to see
and follow you, O God our Father,
found on the face of every child still in the womb,
on the face of every child who must be cared and protected,
on the face of every woman, especially mothers
and grandmothers forgotten after nurturing us,
on the face of every dad especially those working 
away from family and loved ones, rarely seen
crying and rejoicing for their loved ones,
on the face of young people so lost with no one
to listen to them, be with them, assure them of love,
on the face of our health workers considered heroes
yet still taken for granted and even forgotten,
on the face of farmers and fishermen marked with
so many lines of hardships and sufferings under the sun
to feed us yet totally left on their own,
on the face of others in the margins and the disadvantaged,
those forgotten by the society and unfortunately by families:
this Christmas, call us into our own Egypt,
into a retreat and soul-searching for enlightenment
to find your face anew within us
so we may find you on one another.
Amen.

Christmas, our being & mission

The Lord Is My Chef Simbang Gabi Recipe by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Saturday in the Third Week of Advent, Day 2 of Christmas Novena, 17 December 2022
Genesis 49:2, 8-10     ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*>     Matthew 1:1-17
Photo by author, 2021.

Beginning today, we shift our focus in our Christmas preparations into the second phase of Advent, of looking back to the first coming of Jesus Christ when he was born in Bethlehem more than 2000 years ago.

The birth and origin of Jesus has always been an issue to many people then and now. It was the main reason he was put to death for the case of “blasphemy” because his enemies at that time refused to accept he is the Son of God, the fulfillment of the promises in the Old Testament, of him coming from the lineage of King David.

Until now, people continue to question his origin with so many others insisting Jesus is not God, that he is only human.

That is why all four evangelists began their gospel accounts by first establishing his identity and roots with Matthew doing a very superb job by starting right away with the genealogy of Jesus Christ.

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham became the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar. Perez became the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram….

Matthew 1:1-3
Photo by author, November 2022.

For the early Christians, it was very important to first establish the origin of our Lord because his roots reveal his very being and mission – that indeed, he is the Christ, the promised one of God since the beginning sent to save us from sin and bring us back into one with the Father.

The same is very true with us. Unless we know our roots, our origins, we will always have those confusions in life like identity crisis and meaning of existence. All these problems about gender identity, drug addictions, teenage pregnancies, depressions and so many others are basically due to lack of our knowing of ourselves, of our being. How can we go on with our life journey and mission if we are not even sure of ourselves, of who we are, of our grounding, of where we came from?

When I was a newly ordained priest assigned to a school in Malolos, at first I felt so mad at seeing how our young people behaved, their lack of discipline and sense of responsibilities. But after three months in school, I realized that the question we should be asking even until now is not why are the young acting that way today but, “where are their parents”?

Now that I am assigned as a university chaplain, the more I see this reality so true, even at its worst and ugly faces of the many burdens and sufferings our young people have to bear and contend with right in their homes – incest and physical abuses, absentee parents and separated parents or single parents made more difficult by poverty that many of them even go without breakfast or decent meal on many occasions every week.

Now more than ever, the school has become truly the home of every student because they have no home, no parents and no love to come home to! They prefer hanging out anywhere including school and get into drugs and other vices at a young age because nobody cares for them except their equally lost peers. Many practically live in the internet and social media because nobody is around to interact with them at home.

Many young people are lost simply because their parents are lost too. They have all kinds of issues because they do not know who they are and where they are going to. They have low self-confidence and low self-esteem, depressive and yes, almost everyone contemplates committing suicide even once because they could not find meaning in their lives anymore.


... human love is imperfect,
only God can love us perfectly.

So sad, so disheartening.

This past week, I have been hearing confessions of our students who poured out everything to the point of crying. What is so moving for me was how they still professed their love for their parents and siblings despite their pains and sufferings.

After listening to them – sometimes crying with them – I tell them that human love is imperfect, only God can love us perfectly. For sure, I tell them that their parents must have also come from so many pains and hurts in their lives, even broken homes too like theirs. Widen your perspectives, I tell them. And keep your hearts wide open to God, to welcome Jesus who comes daily in our lives especially in the most trying time.

This is the meaning of all those names in Jesus Christ’s genealogy – he is so like us with many imperfect relatives and family like quarrelsome siblings, single-parents, prostitutes, unfaithful kings and husbands, illegitimate children, and probably all those things we describe or label as “dysfunctional family”.

Deep within every name is a real person, broken and sinful, hurting and lost just like us yet, loved and saved by God in Jesus Christ. All of them remind us we all came from God like Jesus and with him, in him and through him, we shall all come home to God our true Father.

Every time I administer Baptism, I remind parents to shower their children with love especially in their formative years from infancy to early teens while singing to them a few lines from James Taylor’s “Shower the People with Love” to make my point.

Recently I found in my Facebook feeds from one of the sites I follow a beautiful story and shared it on my wall, saying, “Ito ang tunay na pag-ibig” (this is true love):

From Facebook, The Language Nerds, 13 December 2022.

Our being is from God who is love. Therefore, our mission too is love. Just like Jesus Christ. That is the meaning of all those names in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. The very same meaning we shall find when we trace our own roots, when we do our family tree to find our being and mission.

This is the grace of Christmas 2022 – after two years in the pandemic with so many restrictions, we are celebrating face-to-face to personally experience one another again. Most of all, to personally experience of being loved and loving again.

Christmas is essentially a story of our first love – God – who comes to us face-to-face. Even its preparation as we have seen in the Lord’s genealogy, of God coming to us in our imperfections and weaknesses happened face-to-face in the context and spirit of love, a love that covers a multitude of sins, welcomes everyone, ready to forgive and celebrate life.

Let us see and welcome God in our hearts by rekindling that love we have always have. And upon finding him there, may we also find him in the face of everyone we meet, especially those closest to us, our family and relatives. Let us pray:

Lord Jesus Christ,
thank you for coming to us;
thank you for showing us that
like us, you came from very 
dysfunctional family too!
Thank you for assuring us
that despite our many imperfections,
sins and weaknesses,
you still come and even more present
in our hurts and wounds.
Let us find you where we are,
right here in our brokenness 
and darkness so that in the process,
we may also show you to others
lost in their many sufferings and pains.
You have given us yourself, Jesus,
let me give you to others 
in love and kindness,
in my mere presence.
Amen.
Photo by author, November 2022.

Christmas, a return to Paradise

The Lord Is My Chef Simbang Gabi Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Third Week of Advent, Day 1 of Christmas Novena, 16 December 2022
Isaiah 56:1-3, 6-8     ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*>     John 5:33-36
Photo by author, 08 December 2022.

All roads lead to the church early today for the start of our traditional Christmas novena known as Missa de Aguinaldo or simply, Simbang Gabi. And this year, we are having a truly blessed Christmas because after two years in COVID pandemic, we are celebrating Christ’s birth face-to-face while still keeping basic health protocols like the wearing of face masks inside churches.

Christmas is essentially face-to-face. The Son of God became human like us in everything except sin so we may experience and meet God personally, face-to-face in Jesus Christ.

Everything in Christmas is face-to-face, from the Annunciation to Mary of Christ’s birth to the Visitation, the Nativity itself when shepherds and magi visited Jesus face-to-face until the presentation at the temple of Jesus when Simeon and Anna saw and carried him while a child.

According to Pope emeritus Benedict VI, what Jesus really did in his coming was to bring God closest to us humans. In that sense, Christmas is then a return to Paradise, to Eden — of the Son of God fetching us back to the Father.

That is why on the first week of Advent, we claimed this season is a Sabbath when we go back to God to rest in him, to be breathed on by him and be filled with his life and spirit.

Photo by author, 2021.

Christmas is a return to paradise which we have lost after the Fall when Adam and Eve turned away from God. And that is why we find the word sabbath twice in our first reading on this first day of our Christmas novena.

Thus says the Lord: Observe what is right, do what is just; for my salvation is about to come, my justice, about to be revealed. Blessed is the man who does this, the son of man who holds to it; who keeps the sabbath free from profanation, and his hand from any evil doing… all who keep the sabbath free from profanation and hold to my covenant, them I will bring to my holy mountain and make joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offering and sacrifices will be acceptable on my altar, for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.

Isaiah 56:1-2, 6-7

This Christmas 2022 when God willed that we celebrate his Son’s birth on a Sunday is very special because he wants us to go back to him, to stop playing God. On this Simbang Gabi, we are invited to return to Eden to be the image of God once again – loving and kind, beautiful and free as his children doing what is right.

Christmas as a sabbath is rediscovering the rhythm of time like the time of creation, the time of birth, the time of everything centered on God. On this Simbang Gabi as we go back to God, it is hoped that we discover anew our own rhythm of time too! How sad that the more we get so centered with ourselves, pursuing everything in life with so many excuses and alibis of not being able to celebrate Masses or even pray, the more we get lost. And the more we get sick physically and most of all, emotionally drained and practically empty, no matter how much money and gadgets we may have. There is always that feeling of emptiness within. A kind of discontentment, of someone of something so great missing in our lives.

That is God who comes to us through our family and friends.

God reminds us through Isaiah to go back to him, to be rooted in him again which means simply being good and holy. Being holy is not being sinless – being holy is being filled with God. Being aware we are his children, he is our Father to whom we must always go home to, touch base with. Just like in the family, we are never complete without one another. Though we are separated by great distances, we still try to get connected once in a while not only to express our love for them but because deep inside, we miss them, we long them. We know we are not complete without our mom and dad, brothers and sisters – no matter how much pains they may have done to us. They are a part of our very selves and we can never be complete without them.

No wonder, it is during this time of the year when we have all kinds of get together and reunions as families and friends, classmates and colleagues in work. Let us not forget the lessons of 2020 when COVID first came and forced us to separate from one another physically. Now we have realized that the meaning of life can only be found in another person, not in one’s self. Let us seek and follow Jesus this Christmas in one another, especially our family and church.

From Facebook 2019.
Our dearest Lord Jesus Christ,
as we prepare for your birthday,
let us seek you in our hearts,
in the sacraments especially
the Eucharist and Confession,
let us recognize you on the face
of every person we meet,
on those we miss so much,
and on those we have hurt
or have caused us pains;
help us go back to the Father
and may his face shine on us;
most of all, dear Jesus,
let us not be stuck with all those 
glitters and lights of this season:
let us rest in you,
feel you
and experience you
in those great and little things
you have been doing for us
especially when we are lost
and empty.  Amen.

God living among us

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time, 25 November 2022
Revelation 20:1-4, 11-22:2   ><]]]'> + ><]]]'> + ><]]]'>   Luke 21:29-33 
God our loving Father,
your words today spoken both by
John and your Son Jesus Christ
are frightening at first hearing;
but, as we dwell more on your words,
we are comforted because your promised
end of the world is the beginning
of "new heaven and new earth"
(Revelation 21:1-2);
it has started coming already
in the birth of Jesus Christ 
as we join the psalmist
in proclaiming this wonderful truth,
"Here God lives among his people"
(responsorial psalm).
"My soul yearns and pines for 
the courts of the Lord.
My heart and my flesh 
cry out for the living God.
Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest in which
she puts her young ---
your altars, O Lord of hosts,
my king and my God!
Blessed they who dwell in your house!
Blessed the men whose strength
you are!"
(Psalm 84:3, 4, 5, 6)
Despite the many trials
and sufferings we have been going 
through, you never ceased to
guide us to life and fulfillment
in you through Jesus Christ.
Make us aware and conscious
of your presence among our brothers
and sisters especially those in pain
and in the margins;
may our eyes,
our minds,
and our hearts
be open to your presence
in everyone we meet inasmuch
as we can read the signs of 
the fig tree and other trees
(Luke 21:29-30);
may we stop for a while
in our tasks and duties
to feel each one's humanity
and personhood to find you
and experience you.
Amen.

Passion, not efficiency

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the Twenty-Seventh Week of Ordinary Time, Year II, 03 October 2022
Galatians 1:6-12   ><000'> + ><000'> + ><000'>   Luke 10:25-37
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, 10 September 2022.
Praise and glory
to you, O God our loving Father!
Thank you for this great
Monday, the first working
day of October!
Stir into flame your gift
to me, dear God, (2 Tim. 1:6),
fill me with zest 
fill me with passion
fill me with life
to forge on amid all
the difficulties and trials
this day
this week
may bring to me.
Like the zeal 
and enthusiasm
of St. Paul,
let me be firm
in asserting your 
Good News of salvation
in Christ Jesus:
"If I were still trying 
to please people, 
I would not be a slave
of Christ" (Galatians 1:10c).
Keep me faithful to you,
Lord, and stop me from
pretending somebody
else, impressing people
by claiming to be your
disciple in all of its outward
signs without your Cross.

Keep me faithful to you,
Lord and stop me from 
seeking attention,
perks and privileges
to be famous by claiming
to be your disciple but
afraid to suffer, afraid of 
losing, afraid of failures.

Keep me faithful to you,
Lord, not to the cultic 
signs and symbols we have
developed in deepening our
faith in you but, like the
priest and the Levite in 
your parable today, 
have totally disregarded 
the wounded and sick, 
the abandoned and
lost, the sinful and poor.
Deepen my faith,
strengthen my faith
to have passion in doing
your works, Lord; 
forgive me, Jesus,
when I think and see more
of efficiency and programs
without meeting and
experiencing persons,
building relationships
in you, with you, and
through you.
Amen.

True wealth

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle-C, 18 September 2022
Amos 8:4-7  ><}}}}*>  1 Timothy 2:1-8  ><}}}}*>  Luke 16:1-13
Photo by author, sunrise at Lake Tiberias, the Holy Land, May 2019.

Our first reading this Sunday from the Book of Amos sounds like coming from a recent publication denouncing the corruption and social decadence in most countries these days, of the rampant injustice and exploitation of the poor, of how hypocrisies thrive among the rich and powerful and religious too!

Hear this, you who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land! “When will the new moon be over,” you ask, “that we may sell our grain, and the sabbath, that we may display the wheat? We will diminish the ephah, add to the shekel, and fix our scales for cheating! We will buy the lowly for silver, and the poor for a pair of sandals; even the refuse of the wheat we will sell!”

Amos 8:4-6

How sad that long before the coming of Jesus Christ and more than 2000 years after his birth with all the civilization and religion all over the world, nothing has really changed at all: greed for power and money continue to divide peoples and nations, causing many losses of lives from crimes and wars that have ensued.

"Everything has a price, 
everything has to be summed up 
that sadly in the process, 
God and people are commodified 
while things are personified! " 
Photo by Mr. Jay Javier, April 2022.

Throughout history, we have never learned and perhaps, have continued to refuse to learn from God, beginning from his prophets like Amos down to his own Son Jesus Christ, the important lesson of giving more value to him and to one another. We have always put more premium and value on things that perish than on those of true value that remain even to eternity, none other than God and one another.

“If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours? No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

Luke 16:11-13

True wealth vs. dishonest wealth

Jesus continues his journey to Jerusalem, intensifying his teachings on discipleship with two parables this Sunday and next week to deepen our knowledge and relationship with him and others as disciples.

We have heard today his parable of the wise steward who reduced the debts of his master’s creditors to ensure he could find employment in them when fired from his job. Jesus did not approve of his wily scheme but praised him and those like him of the world in finding ways to “win hearts” of people with their pakikisama as we call in Pilipino which is often a wrong sense of camaraderie when people help each other even in shenanigans and other corrupt practices.

(Photo by Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images)

If we could just find means in truly helping each other in life with the same ardor, we could probably have a better and more humane society where we value persons more than things. That is the kind of discipleship Jesus is teaching us today with his sayings after narrating this parable — of having God and one another as our true wealth in life, not dishonest wealth of money, power and fame that feed on our pride and ego. Having God and others as our true wealth means valuing them most in our lives through Jesus Christ.

Problem happens when we value things like money and fame more than God and persons like in the time of Amos that continues to this day as we focus more with how much we shall earn, of what’s in store for us in terms of profits and returns without giving the slightest concern for people and God. Everything has a price, everything has to be summed up that sadly in the process, God and people are commodified while things are personified!

Sorry to say this but the clearest example of our commodification of God is this online Mass when we make him like a canned good or a video on-demand like in Netflix we take out to watch and consume when we just have a feel for it. No relationship at all. Just like that, as in ganun lang… in case of an emergency, we take out God like a life vest tucked under the plane seat.

In the same manner, we commodify people when we see them in utilitarian perspectives, in their usefulness for us in attaining our selfish goals. We commodify people when we totally disregard them as “no body”, as if they do not exist that we do not recognize them at all, not caring for them as “some body” like in next Sunday’s parable of the rich man and Lazarus.

Even us in the Church contribute in this commodification of God and of people long before the advent of online Masses in the way we regard parish assignments. How do we priests look at the people and the parish, really?

What a shame at how we priests persist that unChristian frame of mind in distinguishing parishes as “big parish” and “small parish” in reference to their income and collections, never in terms of population or number of souls and their pastoral needs! This results in the tragic mire we are stuck called careerism fueled by the never-ending competition among priests for parish assignments, forgetting altogether our sense of service and mission.

Sad. Very, very sad.

"True wealth and riches are God and people.
We live to love.  
Let us put an end to restrictions on whom to love, 
whom to value for we are all brothers and sisters in Christ..." 
Photo by author, 12 August 2022.

This Sunday, Jesus is blessing us with the grace and challenge of examining deeply in our hearts what and who do we value most?

If we consider material things as riches, then, we have not moved away from the time of Amos; we are still living in ancient time of decadence and immoralities despite the sophistications we now have like hi-tech gadgets we use for cheating others as we hide in our fine clothes and air conditioned homes, offices, and vehicles.

True wealth and riches are God and people. We need more people, more children, more family, more friends to share and celebrate life with. Not more money nor more houses and cars we cannot use at the same time; we do not need more food nor more clothes for we live not to eat.

We live to love. Let us put an end restrictions on whom to love, whom to value for we are all brothers and sisters in Christ as St. Paul reminds us in the second reading today. Most of all, the great apostle tells us to value everyone, from our leaders down to the common tao we meet everywhere, praying for one another for it is God’s design that in the end, we shall all together dwell in him in heaven, the true wealth and riches we must all aspire. Amen. Have a blessed weekend everyone!

Photo by author, 14 September 2022.

Praying for those we value

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the Twenty-Fourth Week of Ordinary Time, 12 September 2022
1 Corinthians 11:17-26, 33   ><)))*> + <*(((>< ><)))*> + <*(((><   Luke 7:1-10
Photo by author, 2018.
On this blessed Monday
after a weekend of heavy rains
and thunderstorms, I pray dear 
Lord Jesus for those dearest to
me, the persons I value for they
have all showed me a glimpse of
your goodness and kindness;
most of all, it was from them that I
have experienced your love and care.

When Jesus had finished all his words to the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave who was ill and about to die, and he was valuable to him.

Luke 7:1-2
How touching,
lovely, and so sweet Luke's 
opening lines for today's gospel:
of how a gentile military officer
valued a slave, asking for
representation to Jesus for a much
needed healing, because "he was
valuable to him."
How lovely as the story went on
when the centurion declared those 
very words we also pray before
receiving you, Jesus, in Holy Communion:
"Lord, I am not worthy that you should
enter under my roof, but only say the word
and I shall be healed" (Lk.7:6).
So true, indeed, when we have deep faith
in you, dear Jesus, like that centurion, we
would surely have great love for others;
it is in this deep faith in you, O Lord
who is most present with us in the Eucharist
that we pray for the healing of our loved ones,
those we value most of their sickness 
not only in body but also in mind, heart and soul; 
deepen and strengthen their faith in you,
keep their hopes alive in you always
despite the pains and fears within them.
O dear Jesus,
may we truly be Eucharistic
in our lives, valuing every person
especially those going through 
sufferings and difficulties these
days so that "as often as we eat this
bread and drink this cup, we may
proclaim your death Lord until 
you come again" (1 Cor.11:26).
Amen.
Photo by Ka Ruben of the Parish of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima.

“Where is my new heart, Lord?”

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Twentieth Week in Ordinary Time, Year II, 18 August 2022
Ezekiel 36:23-28   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Matthew 22:1-14
Photo by author, Makati skyline at dusk from Antipolo, 13 August 2022.
Your words today, O God
are so reassuring,
so comforting and consoling:
"I will sprinkle clean water upon you
to cleanse you from all your impurities,
and from all your idols I will cleanse you.
I will give you a new heart and place
a new spirit within you, taking from your
bodies your stony hearts and giving you
natural hearts" (Ezekiel 36:25-26).
As I dwell on your words,
including the psalms taken from
my favorite chapter 51 called
"miserere nobis" (have mercy on me),
your Holy Spirit prompted me,
even insisted me to ask, "where is my
new heart, Lord?"
Many of us wonder, Lord, where is my 
new heart of flesh, the new spirit
within me you have promised?
Why do I not feel your clean water
cleansing me of my impurities?
Why do I still feel tired, sometimes
uninspired, even lost and alienated,
losing hope, getting cynical,
feeling so low?
Has the Lord taken back our new hearts
and new spirit within he had promised?
Of course not!
God has given us with new hearts,
new spirit within by cleansing us with
clean water to remove our impurities
in the Passion, Death and Resurrection
of Jesus Christ, his Son and our Savior.
In baptism, we have been cleansed
and we are continually cleansed of our
impurities in the sacraments we celebrate
like the Holy Eucharist.
And there lies the problem
when we do not feel our new hearts,
new spirit:  when we refuse to join your
celebrations, O Lord, like in your parable.
Not only that:  teach us too to rise to
your celebrations, dearest Lord;
let us change our inner selves in more
prayers and introspection and confession
of sins so that we may be transformed to 
better persons as Christians; clothe us with 
more commitment to our baptismal promises,
to live out in our lives and relationships 
what we claim as we believe in.

And so, where is our new hearts,
O Lord?  

It is right here in our very present moment 
whenever we accept your invitation, your call
to turn away from sins, from selfishness, and 
vested interests!
It is right here in our present moment when
we allow our new personhood in Christ 
lead us to pray more, listen more, forgive
more, serve more, and witness his gospel
more.  Amen.