Thank God for life’s mysteries

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity-A, 04 June 2023
Exodus 34:4-6, 8-9 ><}}}*> 2 Corinthians 13:11-13 ><}}}*> John 3:16-18
Photo by author, sunrise at Anvaya Cove, 19 May 2023

Our Sunday gospel on this Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity is one of the shortest proclaimed in the year with just three verses that may be finished in just two minutes. And yet, it contains the most popular verses from the whole Bible used in the song “Tell the World of His Love” when St. John Paul II visited our country in 1995.

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

John 3:16-18
Photo by author at the Anvaya Cove, 19 May 2023

See how these three verses powerfully summarize our Christian faith of a personal, relating God who is love himself, doing everything in love which is the very meaning of the doctrine of the Most Holy Trinity.

The word mystery is from the Greek mysterion, something hidden but now revealed by God. While it is true that a mystery is beyond human reason because it is divine, it may still be explained and understood though not fully. That is why it is described as non-logical or beyond reason but not illogical which lacks reason.

Most of all, a mystery is not a problem to be solved because it simply cannot be solved at all. In fact, we need to keep mysteries like secrets because mysteries give meaning and depth to our very existence, to our lives. This is the problem with so many people these days lacking mysteries in life when everything about them is shown, even overexposed in the social media. Perhaps that is why so many people are losing meaning in life because they no longer have depth as everything is bared and opened. Life has become so artificial for many not realizing that the most wonderful things in life are those hidden and not seen. Like mystery of God!

Photo by author at the Anvaya Cove, 19 May 2023

There lies the beauty of mystery that is not a problem to be solved but a reality we need to accept and embrace, or better, to allow ourselves to be wrapped by it. As we try to learn and understand more of every mystery in life, especially of God and of our very selves, the more we find life meaningful, the more we appreciate it especially our gift of faith.

When we allow ourselves to be absorbed by life’s mysteries, primary of which is the mystery of God in three Persons, the more we appreciate life itself and our very selves who are in fact a mystery too to ourselves. As we move on in life, as we age and mature, we realize life is not about covering distances but going deeper within ourselves, being transformed into better selves and persons like God, loving and merciful. Eventually we realize too that each one of us is in fact an indwelling of the Holy Trinity, an image and likeness of God himself.

Here we find mystery as a call to a relationship, a communion with God and with others that is why Jesus told Nicodemus in the opening verse of our gospel today that “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.

A mystery is a mystery because it is shared. It is nothing if it is merely in itself. We are intrigued with stories and reports because they create relationships in us and with us. That is why God in himself as a mystery is a community of persons. Person implies relationship. From the Latin word persona which is a translation of another Greek word prosopon or the mask worn by stage actors/actresses to indicate their roles in a play or drama.

Remember the term dramatis personae or list of actors in a play and their roles? To a certain sense, there are three persons or personae, that is, roles in our God as we profess in our Creed: the Father as Creator of everything, the Son as the Savior, and the Holy Spirit as the Sanctifier. With God, his persona is eternal while in drama or play, it is temporary.

The more we enter into relationships, the more we relate with other persons, the more we discover the many mysteries of this life, of God because we sooner or later find out we in our selves and humans are not enough. Things cannot relate no matter how hard Steve Jobs and his successors tried their best to design Apple gadgets that conform to human form to give them a sense of relating. Not even animals nor plants no matter how intimate we grow closer to them. Only God suffices.

Photo by author at the Anvaya Cove, 19 May 2023. Though I do not know how to swim, I have always loved the beach where everything and me becomes one in God like the sky that is so far and yet so close. A mystery so lovely!

That is the good news of this Sunday – our awesome and all-knowing, all-powerful God opening himself to us to enter into a personal relationship in him and with him through his Son Jesus Christ who sent us the Holy Spirit to enable us in this sacred mystery.

In sending us Jesus Christ his Son, God took the initiative to be close to us. In fact, closest to us as our breath in sending us the Holy Spirit.

Every time we think of God, when we marvel at him and his creations, the more we find ourselves so different, even too distant from him while at the same time we also feel and experience in the most unique manner how closest we are to him. That is one of life’s most profound and deepest mysteries when are so surprised to our very core of our being that despite our sinfulness and worthlessness, we are still so loved and cared for by God. Difficult to explain but go back to our lowest moments in life when suddenly we sighed for a brief relief that amid our pains and tears, God suddenly comes to comfort us like when Moses met God face-to-face at Mount Sinai.

Having come down in a cloud, the Lord stood with Moses there and proclaimed his name “Lord.” Thus the Lord passed before him… Moses at once bowed down to the ground in worship.

Exodus 34:5-6, 8

Note that God is called “Lord” or “Adoni” in Hebrew because the Jews do not speak out loud the name of God spelled as YHWH, or Yahweh as we say. It is interesting to know that the first letter for God in Hebrew, Yoda, is pronounced like a breath, yahhh. Because that is who God is, our breath, our life, so closest to us but we rarely recognize him because we are so busy with our selves and many endeavors.

That is why I always insist until now to everyone especially seminarians to seriously and faithfully do the sign of the Cross which is more than a prayer but an expression of the mystery of the Trinity not far from us. Every time we make the sign of the Cross properly, that is when we let our selves be wrapped by God and his mysteries.

Photo by author, Anvaya Cove, 05 January 2023.

In the sign of the Cross, God comes closest to us in our very selves and body, relating to us in our head being the Father who is over and above us always, the creator of everything; as the Son who became human like us born by the Virgin Mary passing through her womb, experiencing everything we went through except sin; and as the Holy Spirit on our shoulders giving us balance in this life.

See that at the resumption of Ordinary Time last Monday, we transition to Ordinary Sundays today and next week celebrating the two most important doctrines and mysteries of our faith, the Most Holy Trinity and the Incarnation of Jesus which is what is next Sunday’s Body and Blood of Christ is all about.

Today we reflect on the highest truth of our faith, the mystery of one God in three Persons to remind us that our faith is more than knowing the teachings but most of all of relating in love and mercy, kindness and service like God. Finding that mystery of the Trinity in ourselves leads us to finding God in others too. Amen. Have a blessed week.

Faith is relationship with God

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Memorial of Sts. Marcellinus and Peter, Martyrs, 02 June 2023
Sirach 44:1.9-13   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Mark 11:11-26
Photo by author, January 2023.
Praise and glory to you,
God our loving Father,
for this first Friday of June;
your words are very interesting
with Ben Sirach calling us to
recall and remember the faithful
men and women who have lived'
and gone ahead of us while Mark
combined two stories in our
gospel scene today.

Now I will praise those godly men, our ancestors, each in his own time. But of others there is no memory, for when they ceased, they ceased. And they are as though they had not lived, they and their children after them. Yet these also were godly men whose virtues have not been forgotten.

Sirach 44:1, 9-10
So true indeed are his words
until now!  There are many great
people we remember their names
for their great faith and but there 
are still far more than them whom we
know remain unnamed having served
God so well among his people;
may we try to remember today 
our simple folks whose faith
have inspired us to be more
faithful and charitable like
On the other hand, 
Mark combines two stories
in the life of our Lord Jesus 
to instill in us the importance 
of faith not just as a belief
nor a system of theology
we must learn but a relationship
we must keep with God through
our brothers and sisters.
Forgive us, Jesus,
for those times our faith
bore no fruit and withered 
so dried like the fruitless fig tree;
forgive us, Jesus,
when we make religion
an economic enterprise 
like what happened to the
temple of Jerusalem during
your time; cleanse us of our 
selfish motives that faith
has become more of a means
for social mobility than for
spiritual growth through
meaningful relationships
with God and with others.
Grant us, Jesus,
the courage and fidelity
of Sts. Marcellinus and Peter
to be firm in our faith in you.

Pakikiramay at paglalamay bilang pagpapala

Lawiswis Ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-24 ng Mayo 2023
Larawan kuha ng may-akda, Jesuit Cemetery sa Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, Quezon City, 21 Marso 2023.

Bago pa man ako naging pari ay madalas ko nang naririnig ang tanong ng karamihan na bakit nga ba tayo nagkikita-kita lamang kung mayroong namamatay? Bakit nga ba hindi tayo magkita-kita ng madalas habang buhay pa upang ipahayag ating pagmamahal sa kaibigan o kamag-anak kesa yung sila ay patay na?

Bakas sa mga katanungang ito ang malungkot na katotohanan ng buhay lalo na sa mga nagkaka-edad tulad ko. Minsan naroon din ang panghihinayang at pagiging-guilty na kung bakit nga ba hindi tayo nagsasama-sama habang malakas at buhay pa mga yumaong mahal natin sa buhay?

Pero ang nakakatawa sa ganitong mga usapan ay ang katotohanan na pagkaraan ng ilang buwan o taon, magkikita-kita muli tayo pa ring magkakamag-anak at magkakaibigan sa susunod na lamayan nang hindi pa rin nagkasama-sama habang mga buhay pa!

Ano nangyari? Hindi na nga ba tayo natuto sa aral ng mga naunang yumao, na magsama-sama habang buhay at malakas?

Sa aking palagay ay hindi naman sa hindi na tayo natuto kungdi ang totoo, higit pa ring mainam ang magkita-kita sa lamayan kesa saan pa mang pagtitipon dahil sa ilang mas malalim na kadahilanan.

“Kaunting panahon na lamang at hindi na ako makikita ng sanlibutan. Ngunit ako’y makikita ninyo; sapagkat mabubuhay ako, at mabubuhay rin kayo. Malalaman ninyo sa araw na yaon na ako’y sumasa-Ama, kayo’y sumasaakin, at ako’y sumasainyo.”

Juan 14:19-20
Larawan kuha ng may-akda, Jesuit Cemetery sa Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, Quezon City, 21 Marso 2023.

Una, sa ating pakikiramay buhay ang pinararangalan at hindi ang kamatayan. Nakikiramay tayo upang ipagdiwang mabuting pamumuhay at magandang pakikisama ng yumao. Wika nga sa amin sa Bulacan, ang lamay lang ang hindi ipinag-iimbita. Ito ang sukatan ng kabutihan ng isang tao na siya ay parangalan hanggang magkapuyatan. Ito ang dahilan kung bakit paulit-ulit sinabi ni Jesus sa kanyang mga alagad na maging handa palagi dahil hindi natin alam ang oras ng ating pagpanaw. Alalaong-baga, mamuhay tayo sa kabutihan.

Isa sa mga paborito kong pelikula ay ang The Last Samurai ni Tom Cruise. Sa huling bahagi ng pelikula bago siya bumalik ng Amerika, namaalam siya sa batang emperador ng Hapon na nagsabi sa kanya, “Tell me how did my samurai die.” Sumagot si Tom Cruise, “I will not tell you how he died but I will tell you how he lived.”

Kaya nga sa lamayan hindi naman pinag-uusapan kung ano at paanong namatay kungdi paanong namuhay ang mahal nating pumanaw. Narito ang malaking kaibahan ng mga pagtitipon ng buhay gaya ng mga handaan at party na nauuwi lamang sa kainan, inuman, at tawanan o kantahan hanggang magkalasingan at di matunawan sa kabusugan. Minsan nauuwi pa sa away mga ito.

Ang ibig ko lang sabihin ay ito: sa patay mayroon ding kainan at inuman kung minsan pero iba ang lalim ng usapan at kuwentuhan. Lalong higit ng pagsasalo-salo – walang nagbabalot! – kasi iba ang level ng pagtitipon sa lamayan. Mayroong rubdob. Nahirapan lang ako sa isang bagay na sadyang makabago at hirap pa rin akong tanggapin. Ang pagpapakuha ng litrato sa mga lamayan. Mula pagkabata kasi aking nagisnan ay seryoso ang lamayan at dahil noon ay wala pang mga camera phone kaya asiwa ako na pumorma o mag-pose sabay ngiti kasama mga naulila sa tabi ng mga labi ng giliw na pumanaw. Maliban doon, ito ang unang kagandahan at biyaya ng pakikiramay at paglalamay – ito ay pagdiriwang ng buhay hindi ng kamatayan.

Larawan kuha ng may-akda, Jesuit Cemetery sa Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, Quezon City, 21 Marso 2023.

Ikalawang biyaya ng pakikiramay at paglalamay sa patay ay ang pagpapahayag ng patuloy nating pagmamahal at pagpapahalaga sa ating ugnayan hindi lamang sa pumanaw kungdi pati sa kanyang mga naulila. Hindi lamang tayo nakikibahagi sa kanilang dalamhati na siyang kahulugan ng pakikiramay o pagdamay, kungdi higit sa lahat ay ang ating pagtitiyak sa kanila na kahit wala na ang giliw nating pumanaw, nananatili pa rin tayong kamag-anak at kaibigan.

Pinakamasakit na bahagi ng pagmamahal ang paghihiwalay, pansamantala man o pang-magpakailanman tulad ng kamatayan. Isa itong katotohanang ating naranasang lahat dahil walang permanente sa buhay na ito. Darating at darating ang sandali na tayo ay mahihiwalay sa ating minamahal kapag ang mga anak ay nagsipag-kolehiyo o kapag sila ay nagsipag-asawa upang bumuo ng sariling pamilya. At ang pinaka-masakit sa lahat ng paghihiwalay, ang pagpanaw ng mahal sa buhay.

Gayon pa man, naroon sa kamatayan ang pinakamatinding hamon ng pagmamahal na ating ipinahahayag at ipinadarama sa pakikiramay. Alalaong-baga kapag tayo pumupunta sa lamayan, ating pinagtitibay sa kanilang naulila ang ating ugnayan, na tayo ay magkakamag-anak pa rin, magkakaibigan pa rin. Kahit mawala ang isang kamag-anak o pamilya at kaibigan, hindi mawawala ating ugnayan. Sama-sama pa rin tayo hanggang sa kabilang buhay kung saan magiging ganap at lubos ating mga ugnayan sa Diyos kay Kristo Jesus.

Kitang-kita ang ugnayang ito na hindi kayang putulin ng kamatayan sa paraan ng ating pagpapaalam. Walang nagsasabing “aalis na ako” o “lalayas na ako” maliban kung siya ay galit. Kapag tayo nagpapaalam saan man, ating sinasabi palagi ay “mauuna na po ako” gayong wala namang susunod sa ating pag-alis. Atin ding sinasabi bilang pamamaalam ang “tutuloy na po ako” e lumalabas nga ang isang nagpapaalam paanong tutuloy?!

Ang mga ito ay tanda ng pagtimo sa ating katauhan ng katotohanan ng kamatayan at buhay na walang hanggan. Sinasabi nating mauuna na ako dahil batid natin lahat ang katotohanan na una-una lang sa kamatayan. Gayon din ang pagsasabi ng tutuloy na ako tuwing nagpapaalam kasi isa lang ating hahantungang lahat, ang buhay na walang hanggan sa piling ng Diyos sa kalangitan.

Larawan kuha ng may-akda, Bolinao, Pangasinan, 19 Abril 2022.

Kaya hindi rin kataka-taka minsan kung kailan pumanaw at nawala na ang isang mahal sa buhay saka lumalalim ating ugnayan. Iyan ang ikatlong biyaya ng pakikiramay at paglalamay, ang pananatili ng pag-ibig. Higit nating nadarama lalim ng ating pagmamahal kanino man kapag siya ay pumanaw na. Ito yung hiwaga ng aral ni Jesus sa bundok, “Mapapalad ang mga nahahapis, sapagkat aaliwin sila ng Diyos” (Mt.5:4).

Mapapalad ang nahahapis dahil una, sila ay nagmamahal. Sabi ni San Agustin, kaya tayo umiiyak kapag namatay ang isang mahal sa buhay kasi tayo ay nagmamahal. Masakit ang mawalan at hindi na makita ang isang minamahal.

Higit sa lahat, mapapalad ang nahahapis dahil silay ay minahal. Iyon ang pinaka-masakit sa pagmamahal. Matapos maranasan ikaw ay mahalin, saka naman siya mawawala sa piling. Ngunit iyon din ang pagpapala. Kaya masakit mamamatayn kasi nga tayo ay minahal. Sabi ng isang makata, “kung ikaw ay mayroong pagmamahal, ikaw ay pinagpala; kung ikaw ay minahal, ikaw ay hinipo ng Diyos.” Tuwing tayo ay nakikiramay, naglalamay, ating ipinahahayag ating pagmamahal gayun din ang biyaya na tayo ay minahal ng pumanaw.

Tama si San Pablo na sa kahuli-hulihan, lahat ay maglalaho at tanging pag-ibig lang ang mananatili (1Cor. 13:13). Gayon din ang inawit ni Bb. Cookie Chua sa Paglisan.

Kung ang lahat ay may katapusan
Itong paglalakbay ay makakarating din sa paroroonan
At sa iyong paglisan, ang tanging pabaon ko
Ay pag-ibig
Ay pag-ibig
Ay pag-ibig

Manatili sa pag-ibig ni Kristo! Amen. Salamuch po.

Larawan kuha ng may-akda, Bolinao, Pangasinan, 19 Abril 2022.

Blessing our goodbyes

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Seventh Week of Easter, 24 May 2023
Acts 20:28-38   ><]]]'> + ><]]]'> + ><]]]'>   John 17:11-19
Photo by author, sunset at Tagaytay Vista Hotel, 07 February 2023.
Lord Jesus Christ,
help us to pray and say
our goodbyes
just like you
and St. Paul 
in today's readings.
How lovely to keep in mind
that the word "goodbye"
is from "God-be-with-you"!
Leaving and separation,
whether temporary or permanent
like death is the most painful part
of living and loving;
like you on that last supper
and St. Paul as he departed from Ephesus,
may we also pray for our loved ones
to be left behind; let us be realistic too
in our goodbyes so that they we leave
behind are not just warned of the
coming dangers but most of all,
be equipped in you.

“I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock. And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them.”

Acts of the Apostles 20:29-30
Whenever we leave home,
whenever we leave a gathering,
may we leave the people with the
beautiful experience of your loving 
presence in our giving than receiving,
 in standing by your truth, rejecting 
 lies and dishonesty,
in relying more on you than in ourselves.
When we leave,
may they remember you more
than us.

The joy of leaving

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Solemnity of the Lord's Ascension-A, 21 May 2023
Acts 1:1-11 ><}}}*> Ephesians 1:17-23 ><}}}*> Matthew 28:16-20
Photo by author, sunset in the city from OLFU-QC, Hilltop Campus, January 2023.

Last Sunday we reflected that leaving is the most painful part of loving. Every separation hurts us, whether it is temporary or permanent like death. However, leaving can also be the source of our deepest joy when every departure is because of love, for love.

When we truly love, we only wish the best for our beloved. And sometimes that happens when our beloved leaves like when Jesus told his disciples at the last supper that it is better for him to leave so that the Holy Spirit would come (Jn. 16:7).

Moreover, when a loved one leaves, we are certain he/she is coming to somewhere better, someone better. That is why we have said last week that every leaving is also a coming like our coming together as a relationship no longer bounded by time and space but happening in spirit and truth.

That is the joy of leaving – it is a coming into a deeper or higher level of relationship that no longer depends in time and space.

That is the meaning of the Lord’s Ascension we celebrate today.

That is why the Ascension is not to be seen as Jesus “floating” on air going up to heaven which is not just a place but more of a relationship with God who is everywhere. Ascension is Jesus Christ’s entry into another level of intimacy and glory with the Father he shares with us his disciples as a result of his Passion, Death, and Resurrection.

The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshipped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:16-20
Photo by author, Chapel of the Ascension at the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, May 2017.

It is in this context of a relationship, an intimate one, where we can understand fully what Matthew meant when he wrote how on the Ascension of Jesus, the disciples “worshipped, but they doubted him.” How could anyone worship but at the same time doubt?

Doubt here does not mean skepticism about the person of Jesus Christ. It has been 40 days since Easter and surely, the disciples have been convinced it was the Lord. The disciples’ doubt referred to their hesitancy to make a commitment to Jesus. No problem with Jesus. Problem was with the disciples. Just like us!

Photo by author, inside the Chapel of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, 2017.

We recently celebrated our silver anniversary in the priesthood. All six of us classmates unanimously agree on the tremendous grace of still being priests after 25 years despite our many flaws. Most of all, amid our doubts and hesitancy 25 years ago if we could really be that faithful and good as priests of Jesus Christ. That was the doubt of the disciples. “Makaya ko kaya yung ipinag-utos ni Lord?” must be the question nagging them that moment.

Or, that doubt of the disciples may be likened with the doubts of a man and a woman getting married, both so afraid with the vows and commitments they would make if they could really be faithful and loving to each other, “for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.”

Remember that the Resurrection of Jesus did not instantly lead to a perfect faith for his followers who experienced it. They were still grappling with everything but have already embraced Jesus. There is no doubt with their love in Jesus. They were afraid for themselves they might fail, they might not measure up to Jesus whom they have failed on Holy Thursday and Good Friday. They were still wavering in their understanding and commitment to the Lord.

That is the good news of the Ascension – that amid all those doubts and hesitancies of his disciples, Jesus still believed in them, entrusting his mission to them, including us today. Imagine how everyday when we wake up, Jesus reminds us to “ascend” in him and with him to a higher level of relationship with the Father through one another in the exercise of our duties and responsibilities, in fulfilling our vows to God, to the Church, or to the country, to your wife, to your husband, to your office.

Like his disciples on that Ascension day, Jesus continues to entrust to us his Church his mission to the world because he believes in us even though he knows very well our imperfect faith.

Of course, it is difficult to make a complete and irrevocable commitment especially when there is the slightest doubt within us; but, most often what we do is to still make that bold step forward to grow deeper in that faith in God and with others than reduce or remove that little faith we have. This is most true as we have experienced in our relationships, that is why we celebrate anniversaries.

Photo by author, pilgrims waiting entrance into the Chapel of Ascension, May 2019.

Have you noticed how these past ten years young lovers celebrate “monthsaries” that sometimes look so cheesy and baduy? It was only recently have a realized how our young people are really serious with their relationships, with things of the heart like faith, hope and love. Their celebrations of their “monthsaries” indicate how the young generation desires long term relationships, celebrating each month of triumph over their initial doubts of keeping their love alive.

Even parents these days post pictures of the “monthsaries” of their babies to show how they have grown since birth which also indicate how the parents themselves have grown and matured despite so many odds and doubts within them in nursing, nurturing the life of another person, of their offspring.

These are all indications of our imperfect faith that gets perfected, gets deeper and stronger in the passing of each day every time we assert it. Not when we discard it. Try recalling those instances when you doubted your abilities in fulfilling a mission or assignment, in keeping a relationship and see how far you have gone now in life.

Photo by author, part of the site believed where Jesus stepped on his Ascension inside the Chapel of the Ascension, Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, May 2017.

Nobody is perfect. Everyone, including the most accomplished and successful people among us have our strengths and weaknesses. We all have our different areas of doubts we still struggle up to this time but that does not diminish the faith we possess. In fact, that is how our faith have grown deeper, our love perfected while our relationships leveled up higher than before.

This Sunday, Jesus does not only command us to fulfill his mission entrusted to us more than 2000 years ago through his eye-witnesses who made up the first community of disciples.

We who comprise this community of disciples today are likewise assured of Christ’s grace for us to grow in our faith and commitment to him.

Like in the first reading, we are reminded by the angels not to be idle nor complacent but instead to go out to fulfill Christ’s mission of proclaiming his gospel in words and in deeds.

Every Sunday we proclaim our faith in Christ’s death and resurrection until he comes again. That second coming belongs to our time. St. Paul is encouraging us in the second reading “to enlighten the eyes of our hearts” (Eph. 1:18) to realize how God had done everything and continues to do everything in Christ for us to mature in our faith, helping us in every step of our journey as disciples of Jesus. We cannot see the whole path of the journey but each step forward is enough for us to progress in our faith expressed in our loving service to one another.

This is the gist of the Pope’s Message for this Sunday’s World Communication Day, of “Speaking with the heart” which means to communicate in love and in truth, not with lies and fake news. To speak with the heart is to have a heart opened to love in strengthening our relationships not in destroying them like what is happening in the world with so much divisions and polarizations. Speaking with the heart means leaving behind our mistrust and doubts for one another in order to make that bold step toward peace by recognizing each one as a brother and sister in Christ. Amen. Have a blessed week ahead!

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.

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
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.

Ang nakababalisa

Lawiswis Ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-09 ng Mayo 2023
Larawan kuha ng may-akda, Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, Quezon City, 20 Marso 2023.
Paano nga ba
katiyakan sa atin 
ni Jesus, 
"huwag kayong mabalisa"
sa dami ng sakbibi
nitong buhay
walang katapusan
di malaman hahantungan?
Ngunit kung susuriin
pagkabalisa natin
ay hindi naman 
mga bagay-bagay
sa labas kungdi yaong
nasa loob
mismong sarili
ang sumisinsay
upang manalig
at pumanatag.
sa pagkakasakit
hindi dahil sa hirap
at sakit kungdi 
sa panahon at pagkakataong
winaldas, lahat natapon
walang naipon;
sa kamatayan 
hindi dahil sa di alam 
patutunguhan kungdi
malabo pinanggalingan
at pinagdaanan,
walang kinaibigan
ni hiningan ng kapatawaran;
nababalisa hindi sa mga nangyayari
kungdi sa mga pagkukunwari
kapalaluan di matalikuran
gayong sukol na
sa sariling kapahamakan.
Hangga't wasak
at di buo ating samahan 
at ugnayan
sa sarili, 
sa Diyos at 
sa kapwa
lagi tayong balisa
nanghihinayang at kulang
dahil sa kahuli-hulihan
sila ating kailangan;
iyan ang kahulugan
ng mga sumunod 
na salitang binitiwan
ni Jesus na sa kanya
tayo ay manalig
upang siya at ang Ama
sa atin ay manahan
ating sandigan
tunay maasahan

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.

Loving God is continuous service

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Fourth Week of Easter, 05 May 2023
Acts 13:26-33   ><)))*> + <*(((><   John 14:1-6
Photo by author, Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, Quezon City, 20 March 2023.
Thank you very much,
Lord Jesus Christ
for the assurance 
"Do not to let 
your hearts be troubled.
You have faith in God;
have faith also in me.
In my Father's house 
there are many dwelling places.
If there were not, would I have
told you that I am going
to prepare a place for you?"
(John 14:1-2).
Thank you,
thank you,
thank you, Lord Jesus!
We pray for those whose hearts
are so troubled these days:
those who will undergo surgery
especially in the heart and 
in the brain; parents worried of
their sick children or children
who have gone wayward, lost
in life despite the love they 
have showered them;
spouses taking care of their
sick husband or wife;
those of us going through
anxiety or panic attacks
for so many reasons that
are often not valid at all:
Lord, we are so troubled 
with everything because 
so often we do not dwell
in you, our true home!

Many times, we are troubled
because we do not abide 
or dwell in you with each other 
when some of us have suddenly
turned cold and distant,
unfaithful or feeling betrayed
and taken for granted.

Let us be present, Lord,
in you in others; 
let us serve in love.
Loving God is a 
continuous service
of being present 
with others,
especially our family
and friends.
Help us renew our ties,
our dwelling in you,
Lord Jesus, God's 
"begotten Son" (Acts 13:33)
by continuing this journey
of loving service in you
for you are "the way 
and the truth
and the life" (Jn. 14:6).