Panalangin sa Adbiento: Ihanda daraanan ng Panginoon

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-03 ng Disyembre 2021
Larawan kuha ng may-akda, 2018.
Kay sarap namnamin,
O Diyos Ama namin
paglalarawan ni San Lukas
ng panahon noong dumating 
si San Juan Bautista sa ilang
upang ihanda daraanan ng 
Panginoong darating:

Ikalabinlimang taon noon ng paghahari ni Emperador Tiberio. Si Poncio Pilato ang gobernador sa Judea, si Herodes ang tetrarka sa Galilea at ang kapatid naman niyang si Felipe, sa lupain ng Iturea at Traconite. Si Lisanias ang tetrarka sa Abilinia. Sina Anas at Caifas naman ang mga pinakapunong saserdote noon. Nang panahong iyon, nasa ilang si Juan na anak ni Zacarias. Dumating sa kanya ang salita ng Diyos…

Lucas 3:1-2
Dumating ka na sa amin, Panginoon,
sa panahong ito sa gitna ng social media
ng mga nakabibinging ingay 
at mga sari-saring tanawin sa amin ay
umaaliw ngunit madalas ay sagwil
upang Ika'y makita at maranasan 
kay Hesus na palaging dumarating
sa gitna ng kasaysayan ng daigdig
maging sa sariling buhay namin.
Nawa matularan namin si Juan Bautista
upang ilang ay puntahan, maglaan ng
panahon ng pananahimik upang 
Iyong mga salita ay mapakinggan at
mapagnilayan, maranasan pananahan
Mo sa amin kay Kristo.
Itulot po ninyo, O Diyos,
sa liwanag ng Espiritu Santo
aming matularan si Juan doon sa ilang
aming maisigaw upang umalingawngaw 
sa mundong nagbibingi-bingihan  
sa Iyong mga panawagan na tuwirin
aming landas ng pamumuhay:
nawa'y masaid namin aming puso
at kalooban ng aming kapalaluan
at mga kasalanan upang mapunan
ng Iyong kababaang-loob, pag-ibig
at katarungan;
katulad ni Juan ay maging tinig nawa kami
ng katotohanan sa gitna ng pagpipilit ng
marami na bigyang katuwiran mga 
kasinungalingan at kasalaulaan;
tambakan nawa namin bawat lambak
ng kababawan at kawalan ng kabuluhan
ng katuturan at kahulugan kay Kristo 
lamang matatagpuan;
at higit sa lahat, nawa aming matibag
sa mabubuting gawa at halimbawa
mga bundok at burol ng aming
kayabangan at katanyagan,
maalis aming mga tarpaulin at ilawan
at tanging ikaw lamang O Diyos
ang aming matanawan, sundan,
at paglingkuran magpasawalang-
hanggan.  Amen.
Larawan kuha ng may-akda, Adbiento 2020.

Advent is being at home – with self, with others, and with God

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Memorial of St. Francis Xavier, Priest, 03 December 2021
Isaiah 29:17-24   ><)))*> + ><)))*> + ><)))*>   Matthew 9:27-31
Photo by author, Mt. St. Paul, La Trinidad, Benguet, 2020.
Your words today, O God,
are so Fatherly - comforting
and reassuring of your great
promises of redemption and
liberation from sin and miseries; 
your words are so "homey" too - 
help us this Season of Advent to find 
our way back home to you, O loving
God our Father!
Inasmuch as your words today
also speak of seeing and hearing,
make us feel at home first with
our very selves, to be at home with
who we really are, especially with our
past that no matter how dark or
painful life may have been, we are loved
most specially by you - no ifs, no buts.
Bring us home to you, Father, free from
any shame at who we really are!

Thus says the Lord God: but a very little while, and Lebanon shall be changed into an orchard, and the orchard shall be regarded as a forest! On that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book; and our of gloom and darkness, the eyes of the blind shall see. The lowly will ever find joy in the Lord, and the poor rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. Now Jacob shall have nothing to be ashamed of, nor shall his face grow pale.

Isaiah 29:17-19, 22
I wonder, Lord, how so often
I feel one of those two blind men
who have followed you into your 
house - of how you first lead me into you,
into your presence, into your love 
and mercy and forgiveness before 
you make me see and hear again.
Thank you dear Jesus for always
coming to us even if so many times
we do not see nor notice you passing by
especially through others; grant us the 
zeal of St. Francis Xavier in reaching out
to others specially this season amid the
pandemic; may we try to see you among
one another as we listen to each one's
cries of pains and joys.
Most specially, let us keep our eyes
and ears and hearts open like St. Francis
Xavier who always believed in your
presence and providence even in the most
difficult and alienating situations
in life because he has always been
at home with you.  Amen.

True discipleship

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the First Week of Advent, 02 December 2021
Isaiah 26:1-6   ><)))*>  +  <*(((><   Matthew 7:21, 24-27
Photo by author, Malolos Cathedral, 2018.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord. Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heave, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”

Matthew 7:21
Dearest Jesus,
how must I call out to you?
Not merely with my lips and mouth
but most specially with my heart
and soul as I stretch my arms, 
reaching out to others with my hands!
Thank you for the reminder, Lord;
calling you "Lord" is not enough
if we do not surrender our very selves
to you, if we do not trust in you;
to call on you Lord is to "open up the
gates to let in a nation that is just,
one that keeps faith" (Isaiah 26:2).
Help us to build our house on rock, 
one that is built upon you and identifies
with you like a "strong city with walls 
and ramparts to protect us"; let us trust
only in you, Jesus, by putting into
action our prayers, witnessing to your
words and teachings for you alone is
the everlasting rock!
True discipleship in you, dear Jesus
is believing in you, trusting in you
alone... not in one's self and abilities,
nor follies.  Amen.

Our God of abundance

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the First Week of Advent, 01 December 2021
Isaiah 25:6-10   ><]]]'> + ><]]]'> + ><]]]'>   Matthew 15:29-37
Photo by author, Dampa in Pasay City, 2018.
Praise and glory to you,
our loving God and Father,
for the abundant blessings 
you have bestowed upon us
this 2021 even in the midst of
many sufferings brought by
the COVID-19 pandemic.
As we look back to the past 
eleven months and see how far
we have come to this first day
of the merry month of December,
one thing remains clear:  you are 
a God of abundance, you always
have so many things in store for each
one of us but unfortunately we always
fail to see or even recognize them at all;
worst, with your abundant blessings, 
we are always in need with our mentality
so focused on scarcity.
The problem is with us, dear God;
your promise to Isaiah to feast us 
on "juicy, rich food" and "pure, 
choice wines" have long been fulfilled
in the coming of Jesus Christ your
Son who comes in every here and now
and would surely come again
at the end of time.
Destroy the "veil that veils" us and 
the "web that is woven over" us
so we may find Jesus silently and 
subtly working among us, right in our
midst; let us believe so we may see him
to enjoy your abundant blessings found
in him in the first place!

The disciples said to him, “where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted place to satisfy such a crowd?” Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” “Seven,” they replied, “and a few fish.”

Matthew 15:33-34
Come, Lord Jesus, fill us with
your presence and peace and grace, 
most specially with your pity
and mercy for those in need
so that we may find the abundance
we have always have in you.  
Amen.

Remembering our “fishers of men”

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle, 30 November 2021
Romans 10:9-18   ><}}}*> + ><}}}*> + ><}}}*>   Matthew 4:18-22
Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2019.
On this Feast of your "Protokletos" or
your "first to be called" as Apostle, I pray
Lord Jesus, for the many other St. Andrew
who have led me to you to be your disciple.
How beautiful it is to recall from the 
fourth gospel how St. Andrew was
originally a disciple of St. John the Baptist
but when he met you on your baptism,
he dared asked you where you stayed;
and when you told him to "come and see",
the next thing we are told he called his
elder brother Simon, telling him how he 
had seen the Messiah and brought him to you.
My coming and seeing you, and following
you, dear Jesus, happened through the men 
and women you have earlier called to be fishers 
of men to call me too with their kindness and 
witnessing to your gospel:  my former teachers,
the many priests who have inspired me with
their ministry and friendships, the nuns who 
nurtured my vocation in elementary, the many
other dedicated men and women of faith
whose lives with their encouraging conversations 
and affirmations have inspired me 
to seek and follow you more, Lord.
Hence, on this day, I pray also for deeper faith,
livelier hope and more infectious love from you,
Lord Jesus, that I may also be like St. Andrew,
a fisher of men and women who would bring 
people closer to you in the service of the Church
and for the poor and needy. 

But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent?

Romans 10:14-15
Here I am, Lord; send me!
Amen.

Making the Kingdom a reality

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the First Week of Advent, 29 November 2021
Isaiah 2:1-5   ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[><   Matthew 8:5-11
Photo by author, Basic Education Department Chapel, Our Lady of Fatima University, 28 November 2021.
Praise and glory to you,
loving God our Father in heaven
in giving us your beloved Son
Jesus Christ who had come, 
now comes, and would come again
at the end of time.
In him you have fulfilled your promised
liberation and establishment of a "temple
as the highest mountain and raised above
the hills" where "all nations shall stream
toward it and many peoples shall come"
(Isaiah 2:2-3) to worship you and follow
your path.

O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!

Isaiah 2:5
As Christians, we still have a lot
of work to do to bring the spirit of 
Jesus Christ and his Gospel into the
world to make this more humane, 
where peace and justice reign; 
remind us that Christmas is more
than mere celebrations and parties
or shopping and gift-giving.
In this Season of Advent, teach us to
reflect on the real meaning of your
coming, dear God, in Jesus who became
human like us to live and work among us;
Christ has not failed in his mission -- it is
us who have done so little to carry on,
to continue what he had began like bringing
healing and comfort to those afflicted and
suffering, joy and forgiveness to those losing
hope in the face of many sins and evil.
It is true, O Lord, that "we are not worthy to
have you enter under my roof but only say 
the word and we shall be healed" (Matthew
8:8); let us listen and respond to your 
invitation and calls, Jesus, filled with faith like
that centurion so that eventually, your Kingdom
may become a full reality among us.  Amen.

Advent is beginning with the end in sight

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
First Sunday of Advent-C, 28 November 2021
Jeremiah 33:14-16 ><}}}*> 1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2 ><}}}*> Luke 21:25-28, 34-36
Photo by author, Malolos Cathedral, 2019.

Blessed happy New Year, everyone!

Today we are celebrating a new calendar year in the Church with this First Sunday of Advent. From the Latin word adventus meaning arrival or coming, it was adapted by the early Christians from the Roman practice of preparing for the visits or assumption to power of their emperors then considered as “gods”.

It is most fitting that we prepare not only outside but most especially inside our very selves for the coming of the true God and King of kings, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior!

Hence, Advent not only opens but also defines our whole liturgical year that is centered on Christ who has come, who comes now and will come again in the end of time. This is the reason why our gospel this Sunday is looking towards the end of time at the beginning of our Church calendar.

The three comings of Jesus Christ

Advent has two aspects: beginning today the First Sunday of Advent until December 16, all readings and prayers are oriented towards the Second Coming of Christ; from December 17 to the evening of the 24th, our focus shifts to the first coming of Jesus at Christmas.

Between these two comings of Jesus that the Season of Advent reminds us is what St. Bernard of Clairvaux called as the Lord’s “third coming” – his coming everyday into our lives, especially in the celebration of the Sacraments, particularly the Holy Eucharist.

Photo by author, 2019.

Again we find that tension of his being here but not yet. It is in that between his first coming more than 2000 years ago and his Second Coming which no one knows exactly when where we are situated daily, making everyday Christ’s Advent.

“And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”

Luke 21:27-28

It may sound frightening to hear Jesus spoke of the signs of his coming but at closer look and reflections, we find it filled with joy because our redemption is at hand!

Yes, every ending forebodes destruction and passing of the old but that is in order to give way to something new, something better which Jesus had promised his disciples then and us now.

The grace of this season of Advent is the reawakening of our hope in the salvation that has already come in Jesus, who still comes now, and will surely come again in the end of time which is happening in every here and now.

That is why, there is also the sense of urgency and vigilance this Advent.

We are already living in the end-time Jesus had predicted as we have seen in the wars and conflicts going on among nations, the natural calamities happening around the globe made worst by the climate change plus this pandemic we are now having. But, it does not mean the creation will end soon as portrayed in many Hollywood films because these signs are calls for us to be ready and prepared for the final end that will prelude the new beginnings of all.

The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah… In those days Judah shall be safe and Jerusalem shall dwell secure; this is what they shall call her: “The Lord our justice.”

Jeremiah 33:14, 16
Photo by author, 2018.

Meeting Jesus in Advent

Notice how Jeremiah’s prophecy so “pregnant” with meanings: more than the coming of the promised Messiah is the radical newness of the whole creation. Judah and Jerusalem, the main province and city of Israel at that time will be transformed, referring to John’s vision in the Book of Revelation of “new heaven and new earth”.

As we have said, Advent not only opens our liturgical calendar but also defines the whole year which is the daily coming of Jesus who had come over 2000 years ago and will come again at the end of time which nobody knows.

Meanwhile, in this “third coming” of Jesus everyday, we find God working in him silently and subtly in the human history and right in our individual lives.

It is in our faithful waiting when Jesus Christ comes. It is the beauty and joy expressed by Jeremiah’s words “the days are coming” that assure us no matter how dark and bleak are our days, despite all the destructions and even death around us, the days are coming when we see everything getting better because God never stops working in our midst in Jesus, the Emmanuel.

“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”

Luke 21:34-36

Last Sunday in our celebration of the Solemnity of Christ the King we have reflected how Jesus spoke of the “truth” of his kingdom being among us, of how he had made us into his kingdom which is the reason why he was born and came into the world to testify to this truth (Jn.18:37).

See now the clearer picture of our life, of our time: we start our Church calendar preparing for the coming of Jesus our King and we end every year with the celebration of Christ the King. And we begin each new year with the end in sight of his Second Coming.

On this season of Advent, we are reminded how in our joyful waiting through prayers especially in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist that Christ’s presence is little by little being unveiled, unfolding before us, and being revealed.

It is a call for us of deepening our prayer life to truly experience Christ’s coming in our daily life. This new year in the Church, St. Luke will be our guide in our Sunday readings during the Ordinary Time; one distinction of his gospel is his portrayal of Jesus in prayer always.

Jesus comes to us first of all when we pray, when we enter into communion with him, when we listen to his voice and follow his instructions. In prayer, we are filled with God, allowing him to work his wonders in us and through us and thus make Christ’s coming a daily reality.

That is how prayer truly leads to holiness: when we are filled with God, our prayers are translated into a life of kindness and acceptance, mercy and forgiveness and most of all, of loving service to one another especially those in need.

There will always be sins and shortcomings on our part but in prayers and vigilance, we slowly “increase and abound in love for one another… strengthening our hearts to be blameless before our God our Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones. Amen. (1 Thess. 3:12,13)

A blessed happy new year again and a more blessed first week of Advent to you!

Living in the End-Time

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Week XXXIV, Year I in Ordinary Time, 26 November 2021
Daniel 7:2-14     ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[><     Luke 21:29-33
Photo by author, Assumption Sabbath, Baguio City, 2019.
Thank you very much for this
last Friday of November, God our
loving Father; what a beautiful 
reminder to us all as we prepare
for Advent at the closing of the
liturgical calendar tomorrow that
we are in fact living in the end-time.
All the signs of the end of time Jesus
mentioned in the gospel these past two
days are already happening like wars, 
plagues, famines, and earthquakes;
grant us the spiritual knowledge to 
learn the parable of the fig tree:  that
we have to be rooted in you, O God,
through Christ so that even while in
the midst of a destructive world, we
may get to know you more and be 
aware of your coming.
Like the Prophet Daniel in the first
reading, we may not even know at all
how the Son of Man - Jesus - would look like
when he comes amid the clouds;
give us the grace to know Jesus 
personally so that we may live in
communion with him to have 
the eyes to see and the ears to hear 
his Second Coming in 
every here and now, following
him in the path he had shown us
as truly our King and Savior. 
Remove our blindness of pride
and many excuses in seeing the
signs of your coming expressed 
in the parable of the fig tree; let
us rest in that complete trust in you,
dearest God, that whatever happens
in this world, you are always in control
and would always have the last say in
Jesus Christ.  Amen.

God is present

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Week XXXIV, Year I in Ordinary Time, 25 November 2021
Daniel 6:12-28   ><)))*> + ><)))*> + ><)))*>   Luke 21:20-28
“Daniel in the Lions’ Den” by Briton Riviere (1872) from reddit.com.
God our loving Father,
save us from severe tests 
and trials in life; make us
steadfast in our faith and 
trust in you like your prophet
Daniel who escaped death
without any harm at all when 
thrown into the lions' den.
As I prayed over that wonderful
scene I have known since a child,
it was only now have I realized
our biggest problem in being 
faithful to you in the face of death
and grave danger; of course, it is
pure grace from you to have such
great courage and serenity but 
always, we back out, we balk at the 
mere thought of suffering because
we are busy thinking of what will
happen next, we are busy focused
with the future than with the present
moment where you are with us.
That beautiful imagery of Daniel
spared by the ferocious lions evokes of 
a man so faithful to you, O Lord, living
in your presence, unmindful and undisturbed
of the past and the future because he was
present in you and with you!

Daniel answered the king: “O king, live forever! My God has sent his angel and closed the lions’ mouths so that they have not hurt me. For I have been found innocent before him; neither to you have I done any harm, O king!”

Daniel 6:22-23
Cleanse and empty us,
dear Father, of our many excess
baggage in life, our past sins
and worries of the future
so we may experience and live in
your presence in every here and now,
unmindful of whatever may happen
for we are safely secured in you
always.  Amen. 

Red without fear: the Church journeying as one

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Red Wednesday, 24 November 2021
Revelation 15:1-4   ><)))*> + <*(((><   Luke 21:12-19
Photo by author, Red Wednesday 2020.
It is this time of the year again,
dear God our Father, when we 
your people unite with the Pope's
official charity for persecuted Christians
worldwide through the Aid to the
Church in Need (ACN) to celebrate
Red Wednesday.
Yes, your Church continues to suffer
persecution in various forms, some
very subtle while in others very violent;
but this year, we pray most specially not
only for our Filipino martyrs who sacrificed
their lives for the Gospel but most of all
for each one of us to be a living witness
in taking the path of your Son Jesus Christ
as one Church.
As we come to the closing of our 500 years of
Christianization while preparing for the 
Synod of Bishops in 2023, help us to 
remember, celebrate, and promote 
oneness and unity in faith as we journey 
as one Church.
Banish all our fears, let us persevere
amid the trials and persecution that 
come specially from those closest to
us, those who refuse and continue to
deny you, choosing a life of sin and evil.
Inflame us, O Lord, with your fire of love
and zeal to always seek and stand by your
truth and justice; let us not, through our 
stupid choices, face your "anger" or "fury"
John saw in his vision at the "sea of glass
mingled with fire" (Rev.15:1-4) and be 
denied entry for not being worthy. Amen.