Prayer to know when to stay and when to go

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the Sixth Week of Easter, 24 May 2022
Acts 16:22-34     ><))))*> + <*((((><     John 16:5-11
Photo by Mr. Chester Ocampo, springtime in Japan, 2017.
Lord Jesus Christ,
today I pray for those in a dilemma 
on whether they should stay 
or they should go; on whether 
they have to remain or leave 
as your words today offer us 
with so many leads when 
we must stay and when
we must go.
In the first reading, it is very
interesting why Paul and Silas
who were both in prison in Philippi
decided to remain inside their cell
than leave and go after a strong 
earthquake shook the city:

When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his word and was about to kill himself, thinking that the prisoners has escaped. But Paul shouted out in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself; we are all here.” He asked for a light and rushed in and, trembling with fear, he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you and your household will be saved.”

Acts 16:27-31
Lord, teach us to be patient to
always wait for you in joyful prayers
like Paul and Silas to prevent us 
from jumping into hasty conclusions
when opportunities come for us to
leave and go; let us remain especially
in trying and difficult situations where
you may have other plans for others
who need our presence in difficult situations
like the jailer of Paul and Silas.
How ironic that it was the jailer who had to
ask Paul and Silas what he must do
to be saved, to be set free when your
two servants were the ones imprisoned! 
On the other hand,
dear Jesus, teach us when to
go and leave in you and for you
like what you told  your disciples
at the Last  Supper:

But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.

John 16:7
There are times, Lord, 
that we have to go like you
not for our own sake but for others;
we have experienced many times
when parents, friends and loved ones
have to go and leave us for our own good,
so we may grow and mature;
let us know when we must go, Jesus
when it is you to whom we are going,
when it is not for our own good
but for others.
Help us realize,
Lord Jesus that whether
we stay and remain or 
go and leave, may our
primary consideration and
motivation is our love for you
alone and not our selfish motives;
most of all, either staying or leaving 
is always for the good of others
and never for us as you surely
take care of us.  Amen.
Photo by Mr. Chester Ocampo, springtime in Japan, 2017.

The joys and pains of every beginning

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the Sixth Week of Easter, 23 May 2022
Acts 16:11-15   ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[><   John 15:26-16:4
Photo by author, sunrise at Bolinao, Pangasinan, 20 April 2022.
Praise and glory to you,
O God our loving Father in 
giving us each day as a new 
beginning, a fresh start in life
with every grace we need in Christ;
how amazing are your words today,
O Lord, that both speak of the 
joys and perils of every beginning.
In the first reading,
we are inspired by the initial works 
of St. Paul in that great city of Philippi
where he met and baptized Lydia, a gentile
convert in the Lord; it was the first European
city to listen and accept the Christian message,
the beginning of a glorious history that 
transformed the continent not only in religion but
also in arts and culture.  
What a beautiful example of St. Paul 
being a "sower" of the gospel 
so that others may "reap" its fruits
until now!  
Teach us, Lord Jesus, 
to be sowers of your word 
to win more Lydias and most of all, 
so that there would always be something 
to reap in the future.
On the other hand,
your gospel today reassures us,
dear Jesus, of your presence and
defense in the Holy Spirit for the many
dangers we face in every beginning.

“I have told you this so that you may not fall away. They will expel you from the synagogues; in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God. They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me. I have told you this so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you.”

John 16:1-4
Our work in you, O God, is never finished.  
Let us continue to welcome each day as a new
beginning to sow your seeds of love and kindness,
mercy and salvation to make known to everyone
of you as our loving Father in Christ Jesus.  Amen.

Friends in Jesus Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Fifth Week of Easter, 20 May 2022
Acts 15:22-31   ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[><   John 15:12-17
Photo by Mr. Gelo Nicolas Carpio, January 2020.
Jesus said to his disciples,
"I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know 
what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything
I have heard from my Father"
(John 15:15).
Lord Jesus, thank you very much
for this great honor of being called
your friend, for this great status of
being your friend, of having known
everything you have heard from the Father,
that we are loved, we are forgiven,
that we are cared for.
How sad, dear Jesus, so many times
I have not been a friend to you by 
not believing your words, of refusing to
believe that I am loved by the Father,
that I am your friend.
There are times also, dear Jesus,
that I refuse to tell others how they
are cared for, how they are loved
and even looked up to; so unlike the
Apostles and presbyters who affirmed
Barnabas and Paul as co-workers with
the Lord, as his friends too when they 
wrote the believers in Antioch, "we have
with one accord decided to choose 
representatives and to send them along
with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
who have dedicated their lives in the
name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 15:25-26).
How lovely were the Apostles and
presbyters here in recognizing the
labors of love for you by Barnabas and
Paul!  Here they have shown their
intimate friendship in you, dear Jesus
and with Barnabas and Paul.
To be considered as your friend, Lord Jesus
means to consider others as my friends too,
especially fellow workers in your vineyard,
fellow shepherds of your sheep;
To be considered as your friend, Lord Jesus
means to recognize your friendship with
others not with me alone;
To be considered as your friend, Lord Jesus
means to tell everyone what you have told us
too about the goodness and dedication
of our fellow workers in you.
Teach me Jesus to truly love you
and to love like you, willing to forget
myself, to let go of all recognition and
honor because it is only when you are made
known and glorified that we truly experience
deep joy inside, when we have done your most
holy will.  Amen.

Loving means a lot of bending

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Fifth Week of Easter, 19 May 2022
Acts 15:7-21   ><))))*> + <*((((><   John 15:9-11
Photo by author, Bgy. Pulang Bato, San Juan, Batangas, 14 May 2022.
Lord Jesus Christ,
let me "remain in your love
by keeping your commandments
so that my joy might be
complete in you" (cf. Jn.15:9-11)!
To remain in your love, 
dear Jesus, takes a lot of
bending and bowing low
before you and others, 
of forgetting myself and 
all my other ideas of you
in order to truly see you 
in others especially with 
those different from me.

The whole assembly fell silent, and they listened while Paul and Barnabas described the signs and wonders God had worked among the Gentiles through them.

Acts 15:12
I wonder, Lord, why the whole 
assembly fell silent after Peter had
spoken about your works among 
Cornelius and his household; whatever
it meant, it must have paved the way
for everyone to bend their ways
and beliefs especially with their
traditions in order to commit 
themselves anew to you,
Jesus Christ, our way and truth
and life!
In this highly competitive world 
we now live in, we have forgotten
to bend low in life, literally and
figuratively speaking; we are always
seeking the vantage position of 
being above others, always clapping
for others and for one's self but
rarely bending; maybe, that is why
it has become so difficult to truly love
others these days.  Teach us to learn
to bend, to kneel, to bow not out of 
fearful submission to anyone but 
out of respect and love for you
present among us despite and in spite
of our many differences.  Amen.

Diversity without the divisions

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Fifth Week of Easter, 18 May 2022
Acts 15:1-6   ><}}}}*> + <*{{{{><   John 15:1-8
Photo by author, February 2022.
Lord Jesus Christ,
you are the "true vine,
we are the branches...
Let us remain in you, 
just as you remain in us"
(John 15:4).
Today I pray for diversity
without the divisions that come
along this beautiful development
among us when we learn to accept
one another amid our many
differences in color and cultures,
traditions and roots.
May we focus more on what is
common among us than on 
what differentiates us from each other.
While it is true that we have to
keep some of our traditions from
the past, make us realize the need
to always assess its centrality to
our faith in you as well as its 
meaningfulness in our practices.
Keep us open and sincere in
keeping up with the signs of the
times without losing sight of
you, dear Jesus as the very
core of our being together
as one Body, one Church.
May we emulate the Apostles
and the presbyters to enter
into a dialogue in resolving
issues of differences among us
(cf. Acts 15:6), a very fine example
of your kind of peace being given 
to us that calls for sacrifices and
dying into one's self, exactly the
meaning of being pruned like
the vine in order to bear much
fruit in you (Jn.15:2-3).
May we always focus on you,
Lord Jesus, so that we may keep
our communion intact amid our 
diversities.  Amen.

Praying for peace

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the Fifth Week of Easter, 17 May 2022
Acts 14:19-28   ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[><   John 14:27-31
Photo by author, Bolinao, Pangasinan, 20 April 2022.
Jesus said to his disciples:
"Peace I leave with you;
my peace I give you.
Not as the world gives
do I give it to you.  Do not let
your hearts be troubled or 
afraid" (John 14:27).
Lord Jesus Christ,
forgive us for taking the gift
of peace so lightly,
turning it into a cliche
and worse, making it a joke;
yet, it is always the one gift
we all desire and wish for but
so afraid of truly having it
because it demands
great things from us
like faith in you so that
we can follow you carrying our
cross, bearing all pains and willing
to sacrifice to achieve real peace.

They (Paul and Barnabas) strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”

Acts 14:22
Your peace, dear Jesus,
is so different from the "peace"
the world gives or knows about
which is a peace that is centered on
man than on God our Father; 
your peace, Lord Jesus, demands 
that we make the world know 
that we love the Father like you
(cf. Jn.14:31) because it is a peace
borne out of justice and love, virtues
that call us to forget ourselves and
think more of others.  Amen.

Maturing in the Holy Spirit

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the Fifth Week of Easter, 16 May 2022
Acts 14:5-18   ><))))*> + <*((((><   John 14:21-26
Photo by author, Parish of San Juan Bautista in Calumpit, Bulacan, 02 May 2022.
Dearest Lord Jesus,
you have promised to send us 
the Holy Spirit to teach us everything
that you have told; bless us,
cleanse us to be open to you always,
to welcome the Holy Spirit so we may
always be disposed to its will and 
directions.
How funny to hear the experience 
of Paul and Barnabas today at Lystra 
where people insisted to offer
them with sacrifices and garlands to
honor them both as gods, Zeus and 
Hermes after they have healed a crippled
man; funny because it continues to happen
among us your disciples these days when at the 
other end are people persecuting us for
speaking about justice and truth while at the
other extreme are people who worship us,
regarding us like gods in bringing your good
news of salvation and healing to them.
In both instances, Lord, we need to mature
in the Holy Spirit:  that we be filled with courage
and determination to proclaim your gospel
among those who resist us and at the same
time that we may always be humble and 
sincere in our mission to share you alone, 
dear Jesus when people tend to see us more, 
almost adoring us that we forget we are your
mere servants and vessels of grace.  Amen.

Jesus Christ, our reality

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Fourth Week of Easter, 13 May 2022, Feast of Our Lady of Fatima
Acts 13:26-33   ><))))*> + <*((((><   John 14:1-6
Photo from the Commission on Social Communications, National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, 2020.
Your words today, O Lord Jesus Christ
are so timely, so perfectly meant for us
these days:  "Do not let your hearts be
troubled. You have faith in God; have 
faith also in me" (Jn.14:1).
Forgive us, dear Jesus,
in believing so much with ourselves,
forgetting you and God in the process;
help us accept the many realities
in life, help us to move on with life,
and most of all, stop from being 
bitter and being unkind with others;
make us realize we cannot have the
truth when we are apart from you.
It is so timely that on this 105th
anniversary of the first apparition 
of your Mother the Blessed Virgin Mary
in Fatima, Portugal that our gospel
is very much the same truth she had
revealed to the three children and 
to the world:  that you alone, Jesus is
the true reality in this life for you 
are "the way and the truth and the life,
that no one comes to the Father
except through you" (Jn.14:6).
It was at Fatima where your Mother
told us how your way is always 
accessible and leads to fulfillment, 
so unlike our many ways in this world
that change and disappear, sometimes
become obsolete.
It was at Fatima where your Mother
assured us too that there is no other
way nor a secret road in life except you,
dear Jesus.
It was at Fatima where Mary brought us
back to reality of you Lord Jesus that
no one comes to Father except through
you.
Help us dear Jesus,
through our Lady of Fatima,
to return to you again in 
the sacraments of Penance
and Eucharist, to trust in you again,
to follow your Person as the way,
the truth, and the life.  Amen.
Photo from the Commission on Social Communications, National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, 2020.

Mary in our troubled time

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, 105th Anniversary of the Apparition of Our Lady of Fatima, 13 May 2022
Acts 13:26-33   ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[><   John 14:1-6
Photo from vaticannews.va, 13 May 2017.

Our gospel this 13th of May is so timely for us in the Philippines when Jesus said to his disciples shortly before his arrest at the Last Supper, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me” (Jn.14:1).

It is the same message of the Blessed Virgin Mary when she first appeared to the three little children at Cova de Iria in Fatima, Portugal exactly 105 years ago today.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me.”

John 14:1
Photo from vaticannews.va, 13 May 2017.

In the past 200 years, notice how the two most significant apparitions by the Blessed Virgin Mary at Lourdes in France (1858) and at Fatima in Portugal (1917) were both calls for us to renew our faith in God through Jesus Christ, something we keep on forgetting and even disregarding in these modern times.

When the Blessed Mother appeared in Fatima, the First World War was still raging with the former Soviet Union spreading its venomous doctrines of atheism and communism. Today, though the USSR has long been gone and dismantled, its ideology still lives on in Russia which had recently invaded its neighbor Ukraine.

And here in our country, the mood since Monday evening when unofficial results of the elections started to come has been like a Good Friday with so many going through some forms of emotional stress and distress.

It is very sad and disheartening when people started saying of moving to other countries abroad, casting doubts on the elections results with all the insults and other moral aspersions against the winners and their supporters.

Where is our faith in God, in Jesus Christ?

Photo from Commission on Social Communication, National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, 2020.

When Mary appeared in Fatima in 1917, the world was in a great transition like our time with ever increasing discoveries and inventions in the field of science and technology with the new ideas and thoughts being put forth that were so materialistic, disregarding God, spirituality and morality.

Today we are reminded anew of the ever-relevant calls of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Fatima to go back to her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ in this time characterized by so much modernities in life brought about by new technologies that also spawn more materialistic thoughts that are often relativistic.

How ironic that as we love to hate modern media, we ourselves have relied on them too these past months. We have relied more on numbers than with God, falling into the trappings of social media of all glitz and glamour that were empty and worst, not the reality at all! We have been warned long ago to never rely on what we see in media that are most often human constructs. There is only one reality in this life, in this world: Jesus Christ.

Photo from Commission on Social Communication, National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, 2020.

Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:5-6

The recent events in the country speak so loud and clear of how we have forgotten Jesus Christ. We have believed so much in ourselves, especially some of us in the clergy who have crossed the lines or, moved the lines, so to speak, forgetting the most essential, the only one Real, the person of Jesus Christ and his universal message of love and salvation to everyone.

In all our efforts and endeavors in this world, especially in those advocacies and causes we passionately work for, may we not forget that ultimately, it is all about persons and not ideals. The ideals we work and stand for are good because of the persons we fight for and ultimately, because of its very roots, the Person of Jesus who called us to do his work or mission in liberating the people, especially the poor.

Jesus had told us that the way, the truth, and the life on this earth is himself, a Person. Our ways can disappear and become totally obsolete but Jesus is always relevant and accessible, most of all, infallible as we have reflected last Sunday in his being the Good Shepherd who gives us eternal life. That is why he is the way as well as the truth and the life for everything hangs together in himself.

This is the basic truth that the Blessed Mother expressed at Fatima that she insisted to the three children of the need for us to enter into an intimate relationship in Jesus Christ her Son through the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist.

Going back to Jesus as Mama Mary had taught us is going back to prayers and the sacraments. Of course, they are not everything but what can we live on if we are empty of Jesus? The recent exchanges of insults are proofs enough of whether we have Jesus or not.

Photo from Commission on Social Communication, National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, 2020.

Life is filled with so many mysteries, with more questions than answers. We have had all these questions long before of actors/actresses getting elected to local posts and to both houses of Congress but until now we have refused to accept the answers that majority of voters are not like us – proof how we especially in the Church have always been detached from the rest of the people. Instead of spending too much time with politics and with social media, we must go out and reach out to those people at the margins, the poorest of the poor we find only in our countless documents but never inside the church.

When Jesus and later his Mother Mary told us the simple answer to our question verbalized by Thomas, that Jesus himself is the way and the truth and the life, we are reassured that there is no other secret path or road to fulfillment in this world and into heaven where he is preparing a room for us to dwell after this life. But for now, we have to focus on Jesus more because as he later stressed to Philip in our gospel today, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn.14:9) – which is a call to witnessing the gospel more than ever!

In the first reading, Paul reminds us of the wrong choices made by his countrymen and fellow Jews in crucifying Jesus Christ who rose again from the dead. His Resurrection is proof of how God continues to work for us in our favor despite and in spite of setbacks and even crushing defeats.

Never lose hope in God. Do not let your hearts be troubled. Like in 1917 when Mother Mary first appeared in Fatima, life was so difficult and truly uncertain with so many kinds of wars at all fronts like today. On this feast of Our Lady of Fatima, Mother Mary is assuring us of better days ahead despite trials and difficulties if we choose and remain in her Son Jesus Christ.

May the Blessed Mother of the Rosary, our Lady of Fatima, pray for us always. Amen.

From FB of Our Lady of Fatima University and Fatima University Medical Center, 06 May 2022.

To serve is to be present in Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Fourth Week of Easter, 12 May 2022
Acts 13:13-25   ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[><   John 13:16-20
Photo from gettyimages.com.
Thank you, Lord Jesus Christ,
for this timely reminder in today's
gospel in being your true servant -
one who is always present in you,
and present for you.

When Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet, he said to them: “Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater than his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it.”

John 13:16-17
Let us do your work of
loving service for one another,
dear Jesus by imitating you in
your humble presence with everyone,
especially enemies; let us be like you,
kind and magnanimous with everyone,
without any airs of superiority even if
you are our Master.
In this time of sadness and 
disappointment and failures,
let us look back to our own lives
like Paul in his preaching 
to see how God's providence
has always been at work in 
various key moments leading us
to something bigger and higher;
these experiences have always 
left us both with happy and painful
memories but you were always there
present with us.
Teach us to continue to be
present in you and for you 
in our loving service for others,
like John the Baptist heralding
your coming and your very
presence among us.  Amen.