The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Week XVII, Year II in Ordinary Time, 27 July 2020
Jeremiah 13:1-11 >><)))*> >>><)))*> >><)))*> Matthew 13:31-35
What a great way to start our last week of work and studies in July with your sense of humor, O God! Your words are so witty and funny but with a strong punch. Hard-hitting, so biting. And so revealing.
For, as close as the loincloth clings to a man’s loins, so I had made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, says the Lord; to be my people, my renown, my praise, my beauty. But they did not listen.
You really got me, Lord.
What can I say?
Our underwear, that is, the loincloth of Jeremiah’s time, is our most intimate clothing, always in contact with our very selves, in that part of our body that we always guard and keep to ourselves.
But, what happens when we “dirty” ourselves with sins, when we put on all those filth in ourselves, we also feel the same way inside, no matter how clean and crisp our clothes are but when deep down our loincloth – underwear – is rotted and good for nothing?
We can always hide it from others and they will never know the kind of underwear we have but we cannot deceive ourselves of how dirty we are with sins and evil.
And so far from you, O God.
Forgive us when you are supposed to be the closest to us, the one we are always in contact with but we have totally disregarded because of our many sins, when we thought we can always have our own ways without you, denying the fact it simply cannot be for indeed, you have made us to be that closest to you.
Forgive us in your Son and our Lord Jesus Christ. Renew us inside, cleanse us and refresh us to be in close contact with you again, O God.
Help us to remain good and clean inside like the little mustard seed so we may grow to have leafy branches for birds to come and dwell in us.
In your mercy, cleanse us of our sins and be our yeast to mix with us again to leaven into a dough to make your kingdom come here on earth. Amen.
Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 11 June 2020
With houses of worship still closed despite the opening of most business establishments, here is the final installment of reflection in our series on how the life and teachings of St. Paul may help us in our ministry during this time of COVID-19 amid a perceived government “persecution” of the Catholic Church.
There is no doubt that like during his time, St. Paul would be using modern means of communication to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ especially in this most trying time of our history, using the internet as the new “Areopagus” with social media in particular.
Then Paul stood up at the Areopagus and said: “You Athenians, I see that in every respect you are very religious. For as I walked around looking carefully at your shrines, I even discovered an altar inscribed, ‘To An Unknown God.’ What therefore you unknowingly worship, I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and all that is in it…”
Acts of the Apostles 17:22-24
Perhaps before we go into our reflection, it is imperative especially for bishops and priests to be reminded anew of some important terms in communications; this is more than about names or nomenclature because for as long these terms of communications are not clear with us, all our evangelization efforts would be askewed as it is now showing with an explosion of online Masses and other religious celebrations.
First priority is to stop using the words “mass media” and even “social media” in our church communications because these are very limited in scope and context.
It is important to note that in the 2000-year history of the Church, it was only in Vatican II that we have issued a conciliar document on communication wherein the Fathers also introduced the term social communication as a new name for communications in the Church.
How sad that there are still bishops and priests using the terms “mass media” or “media” and lately “social media” when more than 50 years ago the Church through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit coined social communication to refer to “the communication of and in human society including all the ways and means used in this process” (Fr. Franz-Josef Eilers, svd, 2009 BISCOM-FABC, Bangkok).
Social communication is a very prophetic term because it is theological and rooted in God who is communication himself, sharing with us his power to communicate so we may also communicate with him and with others. Most of all, God continues to communicate with us and from that lies our task as a Church to communicate him to the world.
This is the reason why we have to keep on using this term “social communication” in our Church communications to keep us Christocentric, meaning, every communication in the Church and by the Church has Jesus as Message.
And that is essentially the kind of communication process followed by St. Paul the Apostle. In fact, reviewing his letters and the various accounts about him would show us that early, this great apostle has been into social communication, specifically “pastoral communication” that is an emerging field in Church communications whose realities have long been espoused by St. Paul himself.
Pastoral communication is anchored on Jesus Christ, the “Good Shepherd” who sets himself as the norm and standard of our Church communications.
Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep… I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep.”
John 10:11, 14-15
St. Paul has always been very clear with this in all his communications that towards the end of his life, he had beautifully written his disciple this wonderful piece:
Beloved: I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word; per persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient… For I am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.”
2 Timothy 4:1-2, 6-7
Communicating Jesus Christ is always about self-sacrifice, about giving of one’s self like our Lord and Master. In whatever form of communication we use, it is always a call to “enflesh” the Word. In short, communication is spirituality that indicates the kind of relationship we have with God. How we reflect that relationship with God in words and in deeds, in our clothings and everything is communication.
Like St. Paul, he was able to offer himself wholly to God as reflected in his writings and preaching because he was more concerned with the needs of the flock and not with his own needs.
And this is where I sadly feel our bishops sorely absent and silent except for just two, Lingayen-Dagupan’s Archbishop Soc Villegas and Manila’s Apostolic Administrator Bishop Broderick Pabillo.
Where are the other bishops?
Business establishments are almost all opening, even dine-in restaurants and yet, until now for no valid reason, the government continues to ban religious mass gatherings except for maximum of ten persons in areas under GCQ.
When are the bishops and priests going to speak out against this and open the churches so people may be spiritually nourished?
What an auspicious time for the clergy and hierarchy to speak against this continued closure of churches as we are on the eve of our 500th year of Christianization when under serious persecution. Has the Church grown timid in the face of an unfriendly government?
Worst are some priests who seem to follow more the secular world in their digital presence but empty of Jesus Christ, concerned only with popularity measured in number of likes and shares as well as followers.
Many of us have become more of personalities than as priests and ministers, unconsciously trying to be more popular than the Lord himself that we no longer have sacrifice of the Mass but a variety show, complete with sound effects and digital characters, some wit dance numbers and raffles!
When God is displaced, then our love is misplaced, then, we lose all communications too.
Communication is more than the expression of ideas and the indication of emotion. At its most profound level it is the giving of self in love. Christ’s communication was, in fact, spirit and life. In the institution of the Holy Eucharist, Christ gave us the most perfect and most intimate form of communion between God and man possible in this life, and, out of this, the deepest possible unity between men. Further, Christ communicated to us His life-giving Spirit, who brings all men together in unity. The Church is Christ’s Mystical Body, the hidden completion of Christ Glorified who “fills the whole creation”. As a result we move, within the Church and with the help of the word and the sacraments, towards the hope of that last unity where “God will be all in all”.
Communio et Progressio # 11
Problem with online Masses and religion
Every communication presupposes presence. That is essentially the meaning of God’s “I AM” in the burning bush to Moses and the “I AM” declarations by Jesus in the New Testament, especially in the fourth gospel where we find him saying “I am the good shepherd”.
Even St. Paul in his letters always began with his standard salutations like “I, Paul…” to indicate his very presence among his “parishioners”.
However, in the digital media, presence is not so essential and can even be faked both ways, either by being “taped” or “replayed” by viewers.
And there lies the great danger of online Masses and other celebrations: whether we like or not, online religious celebrations give the impressions on people that God is a “consummable”, a product or a show that can be had when most convenient to us like video on demand or the streamed shows of Netflix.
That is why we have to open churches soon to stop these online Masses except for those in the Cathedrals and in existence long before COVID-19 that cater to the needs of the sick and elderly in their homes.
Pope Francis has always been clear with this, stressing that these online Masses and religious celebrations are very temporary due to the extraordinary situation brought about by the pandemic.
Imagine the problem at Corinth that reached St. Paul’s attention, prompting him to write them another letter to reprimand them but at the same time to encourage them to mend their ways. It was a problem of abusing the Eucharist when St. Paul was no longer with them.
It is the same thing happening in many of our online Masses that have become variety shows to impress viewers. Long before we got into this lockdown, many priests have crossed the boundaries without knowing they have made fools of themselves as they rely more on “likes”, on being viral or trending, dishing out shallow reflections covered with cute song numbers, litany of greetings on air, and so many other inanities that Jesus is lost in the process.
Unfortunately, many laypeople are now also having their own digital preaching or evangelization with their own “productions” taking their cue from their showbiz pastors.
If St. Paul were with us today, he would surely write again to express his dismay at the people seeking more of entertainment than having Jesus Christ.
“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts may be corrupted from a sincere and pure commitment to Christ. For I think that I am not in any way inferior to these “superapostles”. Even if I am untrained in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.
2 Corinthians 11:3, 5-6
Church communication is Jesus Christ and his Cross as St. Paul reminds us in his writings (1Cor.15:1-3); it is never about techniques or gadgets.
Though we need to be present online, the cutting edge of real communication remains in pastoral communication that means being present with others who need us most including those without internet access, witnessing to the values of Jesus in relating with people, bringing people together into a communion and helping them find answers in their search for meaning and directions in life, in making the right choices and in living their convictions and faith.
What we are speaking of are real people, persons and lives that matter so much, more precious than goods and commodities.
Let us not fall into the trappings of this “media revolution” that made one futurologist describe our contemporary society as
Technologically Intoxicated Zone defined by the complicated and often paradoxical relationship between technology and our search for meaning.
According to Naisbitt and other experts, while people prefer quick fixes online of everything, from religion to nutrition, while at the same time fearing and worshipping technology that had blurred the distinction of what is real and fake, the more they live their lives distanced and distracted — something we are already seeing even before the coming of social distancing!
To communicate in the Church at this time is to imitate St. Paul: be present for and with the people wherein we help them find their way to God by being their companions and “co-journeyers” in life, witnessing to them the Cross of Jesus Christ with our very lives as an offering and sacrifice, not as a commodity or a show to be “liked” on Facebook and Instagram.
And, lest we forget, it is God whom people must follow and worship, not us.
So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Saturday, Week IX, Year II of Ordinary Time, 06 June 2020
2 Timothy 4:1-8 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Mark 12:38-44
Imagining and praying this whole scene at the temple, Lord, is so chilling, demanding each of us to examine our being your disciple especially in this time of social media when every good deed being presented is no good at all.
There you are, Lord, warning us against doing every piety and religiosity for a show:
“Beware of the scribes , who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets. They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers.”
Forgive us, dear Jesus and have mercy for those moments we think more of getting famous, of getting known, of having more likes and more followers, when everything is done for the sake of setting a trend and becoming viral.
How sad that we miss the more important that is always beneath the surface, of what is in our hearts.
As I prayed on your next scene when you “sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury”, that’s when the veracity of our prayers and deeds are proven, when what is in our hearts are trul poured out.
If anything is done not coming from the heart, nothing can truly come out from the heart!
Grant us, Jesus, the same gift of selflessness of St. Paul that at the end of each day, we can sincerely pray to you,
“I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.”
2 Timothy 4:7
If possible, Lord, teach me today to be like that poor widow to draw from my inmost being what is most precious to give and offer you. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Tuesday, Easter Week-III, 28 April 2020
Acts of the Apostles 7:51-8:1 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> John 6:30-35
Thank you… and forgive us also, Lord Jesus, in this time of the corona virus.
Thank you in giving us the much needed time to be with you and with our loved ones in this time of quarantine. Thank you most of all, Lord, in giving us this chance to meet our true selves too.
The enhanced community quarantine has brought out the best in us, like with St. Stephen in the first reading who was filled with the Holy Spirit while being stoned to death by the people in proclaiming your gospel.
Thank you for the gifts of humility and courage to confront our true selves to see your true glory.
Forgive us also, Lord, because this same quarantine period has brought out the worst in us: every day in the news we see disturbing reports of people getting into all kinds of troubles displaying arrogance and pride that have wounded many bloated egos and, sadly even led to death.
We have been playing gods more than ever in this time of the corona virus, Lord Jesus.
Are we the ones also being referred to by St. Stephen in the first reading?
Stephen said to the people, the elders, and the scribes: “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always oppose the Holy Spirit; you are just like your ancestors.”
Acts of the Apostle 7:51
On the other hand, sometimes we act like the people of your time in Capernaum who, despite the many signs you have shown as being the Christ, we continue to doubt you, Lord Jesus, even daring you to do more than Moses and others!
The crowd said to Jesus: “What sign can you do, that we may see and believe in you? What can you do? Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”
Forgive us, Lord Jesus in playing gods when we neither see you among others nor in your very self because the sad truth, all we can see, that we choose and insist on seeing is only our very selves.
Open our eyes, dear Jesus. And if needed, humiliate us so we may be humble again to see you are our Lord and our God and nobody else before we end up inflicting more harm to one another than the corona virus . Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Thursday, Easter Week-II, 23 April 2020
Acts of the Apostles 5:27-33 ><)))*> 0 + 0 <*(((>< John 3:31-36
Yesterday Lord was so humid but it was a lovely sight while the sun was about to set, you sent some rains to quench the thirsty earth, to remind us you have never left us, that you are still with us in the midst of this lockdown due to corona pandemic.
Thank you, O Lord!
Give us the same fervor and attitude of Peter and companions after being arrested as they stood before the Sanhedrin in the first reading, so that like them we may boldly declare:
“We must obey God rather than men.”
Acts of the Apostles 5:29
How sad, O Lord, in this time of pandemic while so many are attesting and witnessing to your saving power, there are still some who refuse to recognize you, or even believe you.
On the other hand, there are those who ride on your goodness and kindness, taking upon themselves all your blessings, claiming everything in their name on the pretext of working for you, doing your work.
Lord Jesus Christ, please clear our minds and our hearts that the very reason why we should rather obey God than men is what you have told Nicodemus that night:
“For the one one whom God sent speaks the words of God. He does not ration his gift of the Spirit.”
Yes, dearest Jesus, you never ration your gift of the Spirit to us.
You always pour out unto us your many gifts that indeed, you have given us with so much and we have given so little.
And in spite of that, we still complain!
Please forgive us, Lord, when we feel so afraid, so unsure, even insecured to the point of being delusional that we might be forgotten that we choose to obey men than you. Amen.
Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7 ><}}}*> Acts 10:34-38 ><}}}*> Matthew 3:13-17
Today is our “holy birthday” as children of God, the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus. That explains the sprinkling of Holy Water at the start of our Mass to remind us of continuing the Christmas story the whole year through as sons and daughters of God.
With this feast, we close the Christmas Season by celebrating the great mystery of Christ’s Nativity when he became human like us so that we can become divine like him as children of the Father in heaven.
Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. John tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you and yet you are coming to me?” Jesus said to him in reply, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed him. After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
We are the children of God
Every morning when we wake up, the same thing happens with us with Jesus at Jordan: as we arise whether filled with joy or saddled with so many pains and worries from the previous day or night, Christ joins us in every brand new day as his brother and sister in the Father.
Despite all our anxieties and fears with every new day of work and school, the heavens open and the Holy Spirit comes down to us with our Father in heaven declaring to all his creation, “This is my beloved child, with whom I am well pleased.”
That is the mystery of Christmas we must celebrate daily when Jesus became human like us in everything except sin. In Baptism, we have become sons and daughters of the Father in his Son Jesus Christ our Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit.
That coming down of Jesus to John to be baptized in Jordan is the message of Christmas, of how God became human like us to be one with us in our dirt and stain so he may cleanse us in his Passion and Death in order to share in the glory of his Resurrection .
That is why Christmas is a continuing story we have to keep on telling and sharing with our life of holiness with others.
As children of God, we are called to holiness
Please don’t be scared with the call to “holiness”, my dear reader and follower.
Holiness is not being sinless.
Holiness is being filled with God.
Holiness is following Jesus who calls us to be holy like the Father in heaven with all of our imperfections and sinfulness.
So many times in our lives, as we strive to lead holy lives by being good individuals, we also feel so tired and exhausted that we question or wonder if we are still doing the right things in life especially when we try to be faithful to God and with others.
There are times we just cry and suffer in silence in order not to hurt with our words and actions those people dearest to us who are oblivious or even do not care at all to the pains and difficulties they cause us.
Like a slave driver boss, demanding and exacting parents, a perfectionist husband or wife or partner, a naive sibling.
It is very difficult to be holy, to be like Jesus who is so loving and merciful, kind and understanding.
And that is why he chose to come to us, to be with us, to help us, to assure us that “the Father is so well pleased with us”!
God is well pleased with us
Three things I wish to share with you this lovely Sunday, especially for some of us feeling tired and exhausted this early with our many tasks and responsibilities at home, the school, the office, and even the church and community.
First is get it done. We all have roles to play in life. Remain faithful and stay focused with the mission not with the person. Yes, it is easier said than done but like Jesus instructing John for his baptism, he said, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Mt.3:15). It must have been so difficult for John to baptize Jesus the Son of God but the Lord told him anyway, get it done! And just as John did his role, everything happened according to God’s plan.
Second is give others the chance to do the will of God. Sometimes many of us have that “messianic complex” as if we are the saviour of the world. No! That is Jesus alone and he has tasked all us with specific roles in doing his mission. Let others do their part. Stop monopolizing all good deeds because when there is a monopoly of holiness, certainly there is already a pervading evil. Jesus as the Christ is the definitely the holy one but he told John to baptize him and he in turn “allowed” the baptism to take place.
Third is do whatever is good. Always. That’s what Jesus told John, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Mt.3:15). Doing what is righteous is doing what is good, what is holy, what is just. But, it is not that easy. I know.
“Minsan nakakapikon na magpakabuti lalo na kapag tila walang pakialam yung mga ginagawan mo ng kabutihan.”
We have felt so many times that being good, doing what is right can take its toll. We always wonder “when is enough really enough” with people who have made it their way of life of hurting us, of stressing us, of being pain in the ass.
We want to scream, to spill the beans, to unmask them to reveal them as fakes and hypocrites!
Do not be like them.
Be good like Jesus, the one prophesied by Isaiah in the first reading.
Thus says the Lord: Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations, not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street. A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench…
In the second reading, we heard St. Peter preaching after the Pentecost of how “Jesus went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him” (Acts 10:38).
Whatever difficulty you are going through at this very moment, you are still God’s beloved child with whom he is well pleased. God is always with you. Continue the beautiful Christmas story with your life of loving service, even to people who hurt you.
2 Maccabees 6:18-31 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Luke 19:1-10
While praying over today’s first reading, Lord, I wondered what if you were just pretending to be good? What if everything going on in our lives is a big act of pretending so as not to destroy the flow of life or throw everything off balance?
No, it cannot be, dear loving Father!
We are so sure you are real! And this life, our very selves are real.
The problem is with us when we always pretend, when we are afraid to show what is true, what is real, what we believe and what we feel.
So often we pretend you are not real, that you do not exist even if we are convinced of your love and presence.
The problem with pretending is that it is not true, it is a lie.
The problem with pretending is we never realize our true value.
Unfortunately, we still keep on pretending that pretending can work, that pretending is good.
Let us stop pretending, Lord, because we can never escape you, the Ultimate Truth.
Eleazar said: “Should I thus pretend for the sake of a brief moment of life, they would be led astray by me, while I would bring shame and dishonor on my old age. Even if, for the time being, I avoid the punishment of men, I shall never, whether alive or dead, escape the hands of the Almighty.”
2 Maccabees 6:25-26
Give us the courage to be truthful like the 90 year-old Eleazar and chief tax collector Zacchaeus of Jericho who never pretended about who they really were, of the truth about you, O God, that eventually they experienced your saving power in Christ. Amen.