Love and be free

The Lord Is My Chef Christmas Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday After the Epiphany of the Lord, 06 January 2022
1 John 4:19-5:4   ><}}}*> + ><}}}*> + ><}}}*>   Luke 4:14-22
Photo by Ms. Nikki A. Vergara at Victoria, Laguna, 2020.
Dearest God our Father, 
let us love, love, and love
so that we may be free;
the deeper we love, 
more we become free for 
you and others too!

For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.

1 John 5:3-4
How funny it is, Father,
when we keep on turning 
away from you, rejecting your
commandments Jesus had 
summarized to loving you and
loving others, thinking we could
be free if we separate from you
and your precepts; but, the opposite
happens every time we turn away
from you and your laws!
The more we become empty
and lost; most of all, burdened
with sin and guilt.
Deepen our love for you
and in you, loving Father
through Jesus Christ; let us
immerse ourselves into your words,
let us masticate your words
to extract its power that liberates
us in every here and now 
to experience true freedom
to love you, O God, and love
others as brothers and sisters
in Christ.  Amen.

Love and you shall see

The Lord Is My Chef Christmas Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday after the Epiphany of the Lord, 05 January 2022
1 John 4:11-18   ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[>< + ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[><   Mark 6:45-52
Photo by author, Ubihan Island, Meycauayan, Bulacan, 31 December 2021.
Dearest God our Father,
let us love, love, and love
one another so that we may
see you more in each other;
the more we love, the more we
see everyone and everything in
life.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.

1 John 4:11-12
Take away our stony hearts
and give us natural hearts
that beat firm faith, vibrant
hope and unceasing charity
and love; perfect our love
to drive away our many fears
especially the fear of getting
hurt because of love.
Soften our hearts, Jesus,
to find you in every good thing
happening in us and around us; 
let our love be genuine and pure 
to find you coming to us amid 
every storm in life; send us your 
Holy Spirit to perfect our love
so we may have the confidence 
and vision of you on judgment day.
Amen.

An epiphany of love

The Lord Is My Chef Christmas Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday after the Epiphany, 04 January 2022
1 John 4:7-10   ><)))*> + ><)))*> + ><)))*>   Mark 6:34-44
Photo by author at Liputan Island, Meycauayan, Bulacan, 31 December 2021.

By now it was already late and his disciples approached him and said, “This is a deserted place and it is already very late. Dismiss them so that they can go to the surrounding farms and villages and buy themselves something to eat.” He said to them in reply, “Give them some food yourselves.”

Mark 6:35-37
What a very moving moment,
Lord Jesus of how your heart 
was moved with pity for the people,
of how it is to truly love one
another as taught by your beloved
disciple John in the first reading.
To love is to remain with someone 
when it is already late and dark;
to love is to stay with someone
in a deserted place, accompanying
others despite the many dangers;
to love, most of all, is to give others 
with food to eat even while in darkness
and in a deserted place!
O dear Lord, the numbers of COVID
infections are rising again; dark clouds
are looming above us again; people
are back into panic buying while 
many are back to worrying where to
find their means of livelihood amid
another series of restrictions to control
the spread of the pandemic.
In this another surge of COVID infections,
may we be an epiphany of your love to
others by practicing health protocols,
being mindful of the well being of others
so that the love of God may be revealed
in us.  Amen.

We belong to God

The Lord Is My Chef Christmas Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday after the Epiphany of the Lord, 03 January 2022
1 John 3:22-4:6   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Matthew 4:12-17, 23-25
Photo by author, Ubihan Island, Meycauayan, Bulacan, 31 December 2021.
Glory and praise to you,
dearest God our Father!
Thank you for your epiphany in
Jesus Christ; thank you for 
appearing to us in many ways
we so often fail to recognize 
because we have not been wise enough
like those Magi from the east by truly
searching you first before the things
of the world.
Teach us to keep your commandments,
Lord, by "believing in the name of your
Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another
just as he commanded us" (1 Jn.3:23).
Teach us also to "do not trust every spirit
but test the spirits to see whether they
belong to you, O God" (1 Jn.4:1); 
let your Spirit lead us closer to Jesus 
your Son for we belong to you, loving God!

When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the Sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled.

Matthew 4:12-14
Whoever belongs to you, dear God
recognizes and obeys your Son Jesus; 
give us the humility to repent our sins
and be cleansed by your mercy and
forgiveness in Christ so we may begin 
this new year fully in him.  Amen. 

A prayer for 2022

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Sixth Day within the Octave of Christmas, 30 December 2021
1 John 2:12-17  ><)))*> + <*(((><   Luke 2:36-40
Photo by author, 18 November 2021 at San Fernando, Pampanga.

When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

Luke 2:39-40
God our loving Father, 
we are now about to complete 
another blessed year to meet 
another one more blessed;
thank you for the year 2021, 
for its bountiful grace and lessons
learned; for the gift of life, for the gift
of family and friends still with us.
Thank you also for all the pains and
hurts specially brought by COVID-19
to many of us; at least, we have 
realized our weaknesses and most of
all, the we love and needed to be loved.
And so, dear God, we pray like your
Son Jesus Christ after being presented
to the Temple, we may not only grow strong
physically and materially in 2022 
but most of all, that we may grow spiritually
to be filled with your wisdom so we may grow 
deeper in your favor; teach us to be like 
your prophetess Anna to cultivate a deep 
prayer life, seeking and patiently waiting 
for your voice and directions
to take in life this coming new year.
Let us heed St. John the Beloved's
warning that "the world and its enticement
are passing away.  But whoever does the
will of God remains forever" (1Jn.2:17).
Amen.

The Cross looming at Bethlehem

The Lord Is My Chef Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
A Funeral Homily, 29 December 2021
Photo by author, Basic Education Department chapel, Our Lady of Fatima University, Valenzuela City, 24 December 2021.

The Christmas liturgy offers us valuable lessons about life, of essentially the meaning of Christ’s coming into the world: He did not remove death and suffering but instead came to suffer and die with us so we may rise with him to eternal life.

Looming over the Nativity scene at Bethlehem is the Cross of the Calvary as we immediately see (except this year) the following day after Christmas on December 26 when we celebrate the feast of the first martyr of the Church, St. Stephen and again on the 28th when we wear red vestments during the Mass for the feast of the Holy Innocents massacred by Herod after being duped by the Magi.

These lessons of our Christmas liturgy become more real, even surreal for some, when there is death happening during this most joyous season of the year.

On this fifth day in the octave of Christmas, we heard from the gospel of Luke the story of the Presentation of the Child Jesus at the temple met by two elderly people promised by God to see the Christ before dying, Simeon and Anna.

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying: “Lord, now you let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled: my own eyes have seen the salvation which you prepared in sight of every people, a light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel.”

Luke 2:25-32

What a matter-of-fact story this Christmas of awaiting death, awaiting Christ’s coming!

What a beautiful scene reminding us of the realities of life and of death, coexisting side by side.

“Presentation at the Temple” painting by Italian Renaissance artist Andrea Mantegna done around 1455; Mary holding Baby Jesus while St. Joseph at the middle looks on the bearded Simeon. Photo from wikipedia.org.

Life is like our two hands, the left and the right, always with ironies and paradoxes: life and death, light and darkness, joy and sorrow, triumph and defeat, gains and losses.

That is how life is wonderfully portrayed today by Simeon who held in his arms the Child Jesus, filled with joy, basking in the sacred moment with the Savior, and the words that came from his mouth was about dying: “Lord, now you let your servant go in peace; your word has been fulfilled: my own eyes have seen the salvation which you prepared in the sight of every people.”

That is the “moment of Christmas” we mentioned last Saturday: “Christmas is therefore a blessed event, a most sacred moment of holy communion of man and God in Jesus Christ that continues to this day in the most regular yet miraculous reality of life going on amid many joys and pains, victory and defeats, prosperity and poverty, health and sickness, light and darkness and even in death” (https://lordmychef.com/2021/12/24/rejoicing-christmas-moments-all-year-through/).

Simeon shows us that it is only when we have fully appreciated this life we have in God do we fully accept and welcome death which is eternal union with God. Coming to terms with life is coming to terms with death and the same holds true vice-versa. That is why like Simeon we have to strive to live attuned to the Holy Spirit always to be aware of those sacred moments when Jesus comes to us in our daily living.

Photo by author, 18 November 2021.

I know, these are easier said than done… and, yes, it is doubly painful when our loved ones leave us during this Christmas season but when we try to reflect on it deeply, we find it more meaningful.

Ten years ago I met a family in my previous parish who have come to gather for 41 years every Christmas since their mother passed away on Christmas day. They told me how they were celebrating Mass on a bright sunny Christmas day when they have to immediately leave to rush to the hospital where their mother had died after a lingering illness. It was then I learned that their mother was born on March 24, the eve of the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Birth of Jesus; that’s when I told them of how blessed they must be: their mother was born on the date we celebrate the Incarnation of the Son of God while she entered eternal life on the date we celebrate Jesus came to earth! They loved the imagery I have shown them and from then on until now, I have been invited to their family reunions….

That is the main blessing of Christ’s coming here on earth: he sanctified death that before was a curse. Recall how we have mentioned that Jesus Christ’s Pasch actually began at Christmas, when he passed over from heaven to earth, from eternal to temporal which reached its highest point in his Passion, Death and Resurrection that led to our salvation.

Photo by author, Basic Education Department chapel, Our Lady of Fatima University, Valenzuela City, 24 December 2021.

When the pandemic came last year, everybody laughed at the year 2020 with all kinds of memes and jokes, describing the year supposed to signify “perfect vision” as the worst and most disastrous. It was labelled so bad and almost cursed that everybody eagerly awaited 2021. Now, the jokes and memes are back, calling 2022 sounds like “2020 too”, insinuating another round of disasters as COVID surges happen in Europe and the States.

But, that is life.

As we have said at the start, it is like our two hands, the left and the right. There is always life and death, light and darkness, joy and sadness. That is why Jesus came and from then on we have reckoned time to his birth because every year is an Anno Domini, the year of the Lord.

Whenever we put our hands together at prayer, life and death becomes one along with joy and sorrow, light and darkness in Jesus Christ who gives meaning and fulfillment in everything.

Handle life with prayer. God bless you all!

Glimpses of Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Spiritual Recipe by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, 27 December 2021
Photo by author, Basic Education Department chapel, Our Lady of Fatima University, Valenzuela City, 24 December 2021.

A blessed Merry Christmas to you, my dear readers and followers, fellow bloggers! Praying for you that the Child Jesus may be born daily in your hearts to fill you with his peace and joy always!

Thank you very much for your support and most specially for your likes and comments these past 624 days since this COVID-19 started. I have decided to blog my prayers and reflections daily as my contribution for those seeking spiritual nourishment and guidance during these difficult days of the virus.

Thank you my dear fellow bloggers. You are all a gift of God to me who have taught me so much about writing and blogging. Your thoughts and insights as well as photos have all enriched me, giving me glimpses of the the beauty and majesty, kindness and mercy of Jesus Christ. Most of all, you have inspired me to try writing poems which I never knew I could!

Will be taking a rest and will resume our blogs on January first, 2022.

Blessed Merry Christmas again, everyone!

The author in our chapel where we celebrate our online Masses, sharing his blogs as homilies and reflections.

Prayer for adults to find the Child Jesus again this Christmas

The Lord Is My Chef Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Sunday, Feast of the Holy Family, 26 December 2021
1 Samuel 1:20-22. 24-28 ><]]]*> 1 John 3:1-2. 21-24 ><]]]*> Luke 2:41-52
“The Finding of the Savior at the Temple” painting by William Holman Hunt (1860) from en.wikipedia.org.
Dearest Lord Jesus:
It is still your birthday 
and how sad that people
insist that Christmas is just
for kids, forgetting there won't be
Christmas at all without adults
like Mary and Joseph,
Elizabeth and Zechariah.

but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at is understanding and his answers.

Luke 2:45-47
Teach us, dear Jesus, 
to go back to Jerusalem -
to go back to prayer and
simplicity and humility,
to go back to God as adults
to find you again this Christmas;
so many of us have been so
busy with so many other things
in life like career and earning a 
living, or this season when we were
so caught up with the rush and 
madness that we have forgotten 
about you found first in the family.
Yes, Lord Jesus, 
you willed in your becoming
human to dwell among us
that you be born in a family,
in the husband and wife of 
Joseph and Mary;  we pray for
couples going through crises
in their relationships or have 
separated already by choice or
circumstances; we pray for families
where everyone is forgetting one's
role, losing respect for one another
that they can no longer find you
in the love they must have for
each other; we pray for children
who refuse to honor their mother
and father in words and in deeds.
Let us find you again, dear Jesus
like a child in our sense of wonder 
and awe among our family members'
daily and simple acts of kindness
and love; let us find you again, dear
Jesus in our being our true selves
as children of the Father belonging
to one family; and most of all, let us
be grateful again for our families
for their gifts of life and presence
despite our many imperfections for
it is only with a grateful heart that we 
truly remain like children at heart,
always believing and trusting in God
who is our life and meaning.  Amen.

A prayer at the end of the Lord’s birthday

The Lord Is My Chef Christmas Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
25 December 2021 
Photo by author, chapel at Basic Education Department, Our Lady of Fatima University, Valenzuela City, 24 December 2021.
 A blessed happy birthday again to you,
dear Lord Jesus:  people were so happy 
and joyous this evening as many of them
head home while the rest begin to gather
again as family and friends to keep sharing
stories and selves.  And hopefully, 
prayers with too!
Thank you, dear Jesus for coming to us:
Thank you, Lord, in passing over from heaven
to earth to renew us and bring us back
to the Father;
Thank you, Jesus, for making us experience
your love and mercy by being one of us - weak
and poor, hungry for attention and care,
thirsting for commitment and kindness;
Thank you, Lord, for coming in the darkness
and stillness of the night so we can be 
aware and conscious of others living in 
pain and sufferings, crying alone in silence;
Thank you, Jesus, for being an infant, a child
to remind us of losing ourselves to you in 
precious sacred moments of your coming
in regular daily miracles amid the ironies of life
with all the drama and humor at the same time.
The night is dark again, dear Jesus,
let us rest in you like the shepherds: 
Let us set aside all our worries and fears, 
regrets and anxieties to join the angels 
in being caught in the moment of your coming 
as we put everything on hold, trusting 
that something good and better is coming to us. 
Let us learn to lose ourselves in this moment 
with you, dear Jesus, to join in your pass over. Amen.
Photo by author, chapel at Basic Education Department, Our Lady of Fatima University, Valenzuela City, 24 December 2021.

Advent is making God present

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Third Week of Advent, 15 December 2021
Isaiah 45:6-8, 18, 21-25   ><)))*> + ><)))*>   Luke 7:18-23
Lord Jesus,
like the disciples of John
the Baptist, we are so
tempted to ask you at this
time of pandemic and confusion:
"Are you the one who is to come,
or should we look for another?"
(Luke 7:18)
Yes, dear Jesus,
you are the One 
who is to come because
all these things like healing 
of the sick and proclamation 
of the good news to the poor
are happening before our very
eyes even to these days.
The problem, Lord Jesus,
is our failure or hesitancy and 
sometimes refusal to contribute 
our part in making your presence
known and felt in this time of the
pandemic and election campaigns.
Liberate us, Jesus, 
from the blindness, deafness,
paralysis and darkness that 
prevent us in making your Kingdom
and power felt here on earth;
in the same manner you have used
the pagan king Cyrus, use us, O Lord,
in building your Kingdom here on earth
so that people may finally find that
there is no other God except you alone.
Amen.