God’s invisible hand

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Sixth Week of Easter, 18 May 2023
Acts 18:1-8   ><)))*> + ><)))*> + ><)))*>   John 16:16-20
Photo by author, sunrise in Tagaytay, 08 February 2023.
Praise and glory to you,
Lord Jesus Christ!
You never fail to surprise us
with your goodness and
generosity as your invisible hand
guides us through this life.

How wonderful that 
very often in life, 
we find fulfillment and
realization of our dreams
and plans in places we never
find conducive for any kind 
of success; but your invisible hand
proves us otherwise, like Paul 
finding rejection and resistance 
in the sophisticated city of Athens yesterday
only to find acceptance and affirmation 
in the seedy and immoral
city of Corinth where ironically
your gospel took roots!

Many times, Jesus,
we are baffled with your ways
and your words like your
apostles in the gospel today;
like them, we are so afraid 
to ask you even for clarifications
because we surely do not
know much!

There are times, Lord,
even the person we take for 
granted turn out to be the
one who would help us
in our needs.

Indeed, your invisible hand
is always present guiding us,
leading us Lord to green pastures,
to fulfillment; many times
your invisible hand pats our
backs and shoulders to comfort
and assure us; sometimes, 
your invisible hand spank
us, reprimanding us in times
we turn away from you;
let us remember that
whether you are patting our
shoulders or slapping us,
it is always your loving
and graceful 
invisible hand, 

Staying attuned with God

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Sixth Week of Easter, 17 May 2023
Acts 17:15, 22-18:1   ><)))*> + <*(((><   John 16:12-15
Photo by author, Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, Quezon City, 20 March 2023.
Keep us attuned with you,
Lord Jesus in the Holy Spirit;
grant us the grace to cultivate
that deep and lively prayer life
making a specific time for us to
commune in you in prayers
so we may be enlightened always
in witnessing your gospel in this 
world no different in the past wherein
we never learn from their mistakes,
merely continuing their errors.
How funny that just like before, Lord,
the cities and peoples we consider advanced and
sophisticated like Athens in the time of Paul
were also centers of superstitions and paganisms!

How funny that until now, the modern societies
professing to be progressive in their thoughts
with all arguments for pluralities and 
inclusiveness are actually backwards and

More funny, Lord, is how these modern and
sophisticated societies insist on their modern
thoughts and ideas are merely masks of 
their being primitive, and arrogant as they
reject the God who revealed himself to us
definitively in Jesus Christ who rose from the dead;
what a shame at how they would hold on their
various esoteric beliefs than accept you,
O Lord, who is so true!

St. Paul said it so well, 
"He (God) made from one the whole 
human race to dwell on the entire surface
of the earth, and he fixed the ordered seasons
and boundaries of their regions so that 
people might seek God, even perhaps grope
for him and find him, though indeed he is not
far from any one of us" (Acts 17:26-27). 
Make us humble before you,
dear Jesus, accepting our own 
limitations, admitting our weaknesses
that we need the Spirit of truth to
guide us always
in realizing and experiencing first hand
your truth so we too may preach you
to others, especially the simple ones.

Let us not be deceived by modern
thoughts and beliefs that have long been
debunked, disproved and discarded 
as untrue
and baseless.

When catastrophes happen

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the Sixth Week in Easter, 16 May 2023
Acts 16:22-34   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   John 16:5-11
Photo by author, Katmon Nature Sanctuary & Beach Resort, Infanta, Quezon, 04 March 2023.
Today dear Jesus we pray 
for those going through
catastrophes in life:
victims of natural and man-made
victims of wars and persecutions,
people going through everything
that is wrong in life, so to speak.
Teach us Lord to stay still
in you in times of catastrophe;
like St. Paul and Silas who remained
inside their prison cell when a powerful
earthquake struck Philippi:

About midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God as the prisoners listened, there was suddenly such a severe earthquake that the foundations of the jail shook; all the doors flew open, and the chains of all were pulled loose. When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, thinking that the prisoners had escaped, But Paul shouted out in a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself; we are all here.”

Acts 16:25-28
Oh what a beautiful event
for that jailer, Lord!
Twice he faced situations with
catastrophic consequences that could
have cost his own life - first the severe
earthquake and second the possible escape
of Paul and Silas;
but you spared his life, Lord,
not only in making him survive
the earthquake but most of all
opening eternal life to him
in hearing your gospel from Paul
and eventually being baptized with
his whole family!
In the gospel, amid the 
dangers lurking with your 
impending arrest and pasch,
you told your disciples that it
is better for you to go and leave
so you could send the Holy Spirit,
the Advocate (Jn.16:7).
Teach us, Jesus,
to be still, to be not foolish
in rushing, to avoid panic 
when catastrophes happen;
let us trust in you alone;
let us think clearly of avoiding
drastic steps that may put us
and others in harm's way;
let us cultivate a prayer life,
a relationship with you that 
would keep us attuned with the
Holy Spirit in reading the signs 
of the times so we may find you
always especially when uneventful
things happen to us.

Praying not to quit

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the Sixth Week of Easter, 15 May 2023
Acts 16:11-15   ><)))*> + ><)))*> + ><)))*>   John 15:26-16:4
Photo by author, Jesuit cemetery, Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, Quezon City, 21 March 2023.
Dearest Jesus,
this prayer is for those
who are about to quit,
for those who feel like giving up,
for those losing hope and
meaning in life because of
failures and disappointments,
of sickness and medical conditions,
of all kinds of brokenness.
Send them your Holy Spirit, Lord,
to touch their hearts and souls,
to enlighten their minds and their hearts
that they are loved,
that nothing happens in life without
your knowing,
and most of all, setbacks are temporary;
not all days are bright
and shiny!
Console, dear Jesus,
those at the edge of giving up
their dreams and goals,
of giving up in life;
let them see the beautiful journey
they have taken even though marred
and punctuated with losses
and defeats; 
give them strength and courage 
to move on, to forge on,
to persevere like St. Paul;
give them breaks to lighten their loads,
to put smiles on their lips,
and deep sighs of relief
with little moments of grace
and consolation. 
For those undergoing different
forms of persecution in life,
keep them strong testifying
and witnessing to your truth, Jesus;
despite the many oppositions 
and darkness we face in life,
let us still choose
love because it is stronger than fear,
life which is stronger than death,
hope that is stronger than despair;
let us choose you always, dear Jesus,
because it is always worth the risk
in following your Cross.

Jesus, the basis of our relationships

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Saturday, Memorial of Our Lady of Fatima, 13 May 2023
Isaiah 6:19-11 ><}}}*> Galatians 4:4-7 ><}}}*> Luke 11:27-28
Praise and glory to you,
God our loving Father 
for the gift of your Son Jesus Christ
who gave us his Mother,
the Blessed Virgin Mary 
to be our Mother too
and model in discipleship!
On this Feast of our Lady of Fatima
on the occasion of the 106th year 
of her apparition in Portugal,
may be we reminded anew of her calls
to prayer, penance, and conversion
for peace in the whole world.

Most of all,
may we imitate Mary in always
listening, accepting, and doing your word:

While he was speaking, a woman from the crowd called out and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.” He replied, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”

Luke 11:27-28
May we keep your words, Jesus,
in our minds and in our hearts
that true blessedness is in
believing and doing your words;
most of all, that the basis of our
relationships is not blood nor belief
nor anything else except you, dear Jesus.

It is only when our relationships
are based on you, Jesus, that there can
be true prayer, penance and conversion
because you are the way and the truth and the life;
everything becomes clear when seen
in your light,
everything becomes acceptable and fair
when measured in your person,
everything becomes bearable
when taken in your love.
Help us, dear Jesus,
to know you more clearly,
to love you more dearly,
and to follow you more closely
so we may attain peace
which is the fruit of love and justice
in you.

Friends in Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Fifth Week of Easter, 12 May 2023
Acts 15:22-31   ><)))*> + ><)))*> + ><)))*>   John 15:12-17
Photo by author, Chapel of the Holy Family, Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, Quezon City, 2016.
As we come to close the week,
I tried reimagining your last supper,
that Holy Thursday before you were
betrayed, arrested and tried 
then sentenced to death 
the following Good Friday;
also known as Maundy Thursday
from the Latin word "mandatum, mandatus"
which is "commandment" because
it was on that evening you gave us 
your only commandment.

Jesus said to his disciples: “This is my commandment: love one an other as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. 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 15:12-15
Oh sweet Jesus!
Earlier after washing 
your disciples' feet that evening,
you told them you were their
Lord and Master 
even if you acted like their 
slave in washing their feet;
but still in that scene came 
these words, you calling them
and us --- as friends with whom
you have revealed everything
from the Father, and most of all, 
friends for whom you offered
your very life for our salvation!
That evening, you have shown us,
dear Jesus, that love is our destiny;
to love like you is more than obeying
your commandment to love but 
becoming like you who is love himself!
Is it not that is the goal of every love,
to become like the beloved?
You first showed us how is that possible
when you as the Son of God became human
like us, your beloved so that
we may become like you,
holy, our beloved.
Let us grow in that wonderful friendship
only you can offer us;
may we not be like those some early
Christians who insisted on imposing
their beliefs on others;
let us learn that to truly love like you
is to think less of ourselves,
of our beliefs
in order to see your face on
others not like us
so that we start becoming
like you, Jesus our beloved
found in others;
teach us, Jesus, 
to be a friend 
to others especially
those in the margins
who for the longest
time have been looking 
at us from afar,
hoping they could be
like us too -
"upwardly mobile",
with access to education,
to clean water
and decent home.

Wash and cleanse
our eyes, Lord, 
so we could also see
others wishing to be
your friends too
in us.
From Google.

Remaining in love

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Fifth Week of Easter, 11 May 2023
Acts 15:7-21   ><]]]'> + ><]]]'> + ><]]]'>   John 15:9-11
Photo by author, Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, Quezon City, 20 March 2023.
Today dear Jesus,
thrice you have asked us
"remain in my love"
in three short verses
of the gospel.

And I wonder why you used
the word to "remain" 
than "stay" as we would use
these days,
"staying in love"?
Should I stay, or
should I remain?
It may sound like more of 
semantics but to remain 
sounds strong,
evoking firmness
and resolve.

Jesus said to his disciples: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.”

John 15:9-10
Remaining in your love,
Lord Jesus, 
is being deeply rooted in you
like a big tree;
to be rooted in you
means being secured 
about who we are
as your beloved
and what is our mission
in this world which is to love,
love, and love;
remaining in your love, Lord,
is therefore having our hearts
connected with your heart,
feeling your presence
and movements in us and among us,
when we do not become anxious
when challenged and attacked,
when turmoil happen in our
relationships because it is you
whom we always see
and tries to find like Peter
and James, Paul and Barnabas
during the Council of Jerusalem
in the first reading.
Remaining in your love,
Jesus, is remaining connected,
remaining one in you, with you
that results in joy in us
because what we see,
what we experience,
what we believe 
is you working
in us and among us.

Jesus is the vine, we are the branches, love is our fruit!

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Fifth Week of Easter, 10 May 2023
Acts 15:1-6   <*((((>< + ><))))*>    John 15:1-8
From Google.com
Thank you dear Jesus
for not just coming to us
but also in becoming human
like us in everything except sin,
in being planted here on earth
to be one with us
and we be one in you,
one with you.
Thank you dear Jesus
for being our true vine,
making us your branches;
many times we do not understand
and would even refuse your Father's
ways and methods of "pruning" us,
of purifying us so that we 
may bear more fruit.
But, what fruit must we bear,
Lord Jesus?

“I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.”

John 15:5
Lord Jesus,
when you died on the Cross,
you bore only one fruit we
continue to savor and
enjoy today --- LOVE.

Thank you for the fruit
of love; we can only be 
fruitful in love if we
remain in you,
when we are purified
and pruned.  
Many times, 
our pruning and 
purification do not look 
good at all like when there are
differences among us
that arise like with
the first Christians
when some insisted that 
Gentile converts be subjected
to Mosaic laws like circumcision;
keep us intact with you, Lord, 
so that we may see more
of you, our true vine than us
who are merely your branches;
keep us open to one another,
trying to find you, Jesus, 
by being more kind,
more understanding,
more open to overcome 
our differences
so that in the end, 
without us even knowing,
we have become fruitful,
not necessarily successful
because we have become
in your love.

True and lasting peace

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the Fifth Week of Easter, 09 May 2023
Acts 14:19-28   ><))))*> + ><))))*> + ><))))*>   John 14:27-31
Photo by author, Jesuit Cemetery, Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, Quezon City, 21 March 2023.
Lord Jesus Christ,
today I feel it is not enough
that we simply pray for peace;
before we could pray for peace,
let us first understand
and embrace the peace 
that you give.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”

John 14:27
Dear Jesus,
in this time when the world
including our families
and very selves are beset 
with tensions and conflicts,
the more we keep on praying
for peace but the more it
has become elusive; worst,
on many occasions, peace is 
often used as a slogan just
for the sake of saying something
precious and important without
realizing the more peace is
cheapened and played at.
Let it be clear with us,
Jesus, that your peace is not
just the absence of war nor
of conflicts but the fruit of love
as our Church Fathers declared
at Vatican II; let it be clear with us
that your peace is not like what
the world gives based on transactions
that often favor the powerful;
let it be clear with us that your
peace entails sufferings, 
of "undergoing many hardships"
(Acts 14:22) and most of all, 
calls us to confront our true 
selves because what troubles us
most are those moments and things
we insist more on ourselves than
surrender ourselves to you and
to others; many of our troubles
are rooted inside us making 
peace improbable because 
we have too much of ourselves,
without any room for others
and for you.
Teach us, Lord Jesus,
that to achieve your peace,
we have to be at home with
our true selves by accepting
our strengths and giftedness
as well as weaknesses in order
to be at home too with those 
around us in their own imperfections
and talents so that in the end,
we all rely only on you, Jesus,
as we entrust ourselves to you,
our thoughts and feelings,
our plans and agenda
including our fears
so that we all
become at home
with you because 
your peace 
is being at home
with our true selves,
with others, 
and with you.