Breaking free from our prisons

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Memorial of St. Blaise, Bishop & Martyr, 03 February 2023
Hebrews 13:1-8   ><000'> + <'000>< = ><000'> + <'000><   Mark 6:14-29
Photo by author, La Mesa Dam Eco-Park,
01 February 2023.
Praise and glory to you,
O God our loving Father
in giving us your Son
Jesus Christ always with us
for indeed as the first reading
perfectly said it today, "Jesus
Christ is the same yesterday,
today, and forever" (Heb. 13:8).
Keep us aware with your
presence in our lives, Jesus,
whether we are in good times
or bad; "let our brotherly love
continue, without neglecting 
hospitality, for through some
have unknowingly entertained
angels" (Heb. 13:1-2). 
Set us free from the prisons
we ourselves have made and
locked us in - the prisons of
ego and pride when we delight
in the thought of holding others
imprisoned to insist on our own
thoughts and whims like Herod
in the gospel and the Romans in
the story of St. Blaise whose 
memorial we celebrate today.

Many times, O Lord, what really
happens is that the more we 
keep others in prison with our 
pride and insistence of self,
dominations and manipulations,
of vengeance and revenge as we
believe we punish them with our
being unforgiving and unmerciful,
the more we imprison ourselves,
the more we are shutout from the 
world, the more we are alone 
in the darkness of evil.
You have come, Jesus,
to show us the beauty of life
by living in your light and truth,
love and mercy; set us free from
the sins and pride that obstruct us,
that hold us from being truly free
and faithful to you through others.
Amen.
St. Blaise,
pray for us and heal us
of our ailments in the 
throat so that our hearts
and minds may always be
bridged in Christ.  Amen.

From shadow to image

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Memorial of St. Francis de Sales, Bishop & Doctor of the Church, 24 January 2023
Hebrews 10:1-10   ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[><  -  ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[><   Mark 3:31-35
God our loving Father,
help us grow from being 
your shadows into your
image and icon among peoples;
thank you for sending us
your Son Jesus Christ who came
to do your will of offering his
very self as a sacrifice for the
forgiveness of our sins
so that in the process,
we too may learn to
offer ourselves to you, 
surrender ourselves wholly to
you like Jesus to become your mirror.

Brothers and sisters: Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of them, it can never make perfect those those who come to worship by the same sacrifices that they offer continually each year. Then he (Jesus) says, Behold, I come to do your will. He takes away the first to establish the second. By this “will,” we have been consecrated through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Hebrews 10:1, 9-10
There are times, dear Jesus,
that I listen and speak of your words, 
very much "inside" with you
in the church, 
in our community,
among our family and friends;
but sadly, Lord, I am so far
from doing the will of the Father
after listening and preaching
your words.
Teach me to be like your Mother,
Mary:  though she was "outside"
that house where you were staying
teaching the people gathered around you,
she was very much "inside",
in you in her total identification with you
and your mission until the end.
Enable me, Jesus,
like St. Francis de Sales
who used to have a fiery temper
and problem in handling his anger
to surrender myself to you,
to make the Father's will my own,
experience liberation from sin
and sanctification in your Spirit
to become united as one in 
the Father, his mirror
and image.
Amen.

Who are you? What are you?

The Lord Is My Chef Christmas Recipe by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial of Sts. Basil the Great & Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops/Doctors of the Church
02 January 2022
1 John 2:22-28     ><))))*> + ><))))*> + ><))))*>     John 1:19-28
Photo by Mr. John Ryan Jacob, 31 December 2022, Paco, Obando, Bulacan.
What a great Monday morning
in this new year of 2023,
God our loving Father!
Thank you for your words
that invite us to examine
our true selves,
of who we are,
and what are we?

This is the testimony of John. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him to ask him, “Who are you?” He admitted and did not deny it, but admitted, “I am not the Christ.” So they asked him, “What are you then? Are you Elijah?” And he said “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.”

John 1:19-21
Many times we are at a loss
for answers for these basic
questions we refuse to face
and answer, always evading
because deep inside we are lost;
empty our hearts of our pride
and sin to let your Son Jesus Christ
come within;
may we let him dwell in our hearts
and fill us with his humility,
justice,
and love.
Like John,
may we be firm in telling
and showing everyone who we are;
let us not be liars who deny
Jesus is the Christ not only in
words but most especially in deeds;
many times, we just remain silent
amid all the evil and indecencies
that abound us these days especially
in social media.
Like the two great friends
Sts. Basil the Great and
Gregory Nazianzen who were both
Bishops and Doctors of the Church,
they never buckled down in their faith
defending and fighting the truth of Jesus Christ;
help us cultivate such kind of friendships
and relationships that flourish
in great faith and love of Jesus.
Amen.

Christmas is when God’s love came down so that our love may rise in him

The Lord Is My Chef Christmas Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the Octave of Christmas, Feast of St. John Evangelist, 27 December 2022
1 John 1:1-4     ><000'> + ><000'> + ><000'>     John 20:1, 2-8
God our loving Father,
we thank and praise you in 
giving us a great saint in
John the Evangelist, 
the beloved disciple of your Son Jesus Christ
whose feast we celebrate in this
Octave of Christmas;
it was John who declared that
"God is love" (1 Jn. 4:8, 16),
the most sublime assertion about God
not found in any other religion!
John did not merely said "God loves"
nor "love is God"; instead, John expressed
that you, O God, is love, your essence is love
that is why everything you say and do is love!
In his gospel and letters,
John showed us how your love, O God,
came down on us so that our love
may go up in you, with you, through you
in Christ Jesus who is the expression of your
love himself when you sent him to us this Christmas
for "God so loved the world that he gave us
his only Son" (Jn. 3:16);
when Jesus Christ was about to offer himself
on the Cross, his lowest point in life when he
suffered and died, he gave us his new commandment,
"that you love one another; even as I have loved you,
that you also love one another" (Jn.13:34).
How beautiful that John,
the only Apostle to have grown old
without tasting death as a martyr
unlike the others and remained standing
at the foot of the Cross to whom Jesus 
entrusted his Mother,
was able to contemplate all these
wondrous movements of your love, O God,
so that our joy may be complete in Christ.
Open our eyes and our hearts of faith, 
Lord Jesus Christ like John the Beloved
so that we may always believe even when
the tomb is empty, when you seem to be missing
and absent; teach us to love you more dearly
so that we may be true in our love in
loving our brothers and sisters whom we can see
as expression of our love to God whom we cannot see; 
let us keep on loving so that love may be perfected in us
so we may see God in others
and God may be seen in us always.
Amen.

Advent is putting on love

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Memorial of St. John of the Cross, Doctor of the Church, 14 December 2022
Isaiah 45:6-8, 18, 21-25   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Luke 7:18-23
Photo by author, 08 December 2022.
Glory and praise to you,
God our Father, for this lovely Wednesday!
We have Isaiah with all your wonderful words
of love and assurance from whom 
all good things come from
for there is no other God but you 
who "form light and create darkness...
designing earth to be lived in" (Is. 45:7, 18);
wherever there is a healing of the sick,
when "the blind regain their sight, 
the lame walk, lepers are cleansed,
the deaf hear, the dead are raised,
the poor have good news 
proclaimed to them" (Lk.7:22),
then, indeed, you are there!
Where there is love and everything that
is good, sincere and true, 
like saints and holy people,
then it must be only, YOU, God
who had come to us;
like St. John of the Cross,
inflame us with your love
move us with your love
let us live in your love!
Let us never get tired walking in your love,
Lord, as expressed to us by St. John of the Cross:
"El alma que anda en amor, 
ni cansa ni se cansa"
(The soul that walks in love 
neither tires nor gets tired);
and if there is no love,
let us therefore put love
in order to find love.
Amen.

Tasting Jesus Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Memorial of the Dedication of the Basilicas of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, 18 November 2022
Revelation 10:8-11   ><000'> + ><000'> + ><000'>   Luke 19:45-48
Lord Jesus Christ,
as we celebrate today the
memorial of the Dedication of the
last two Basilicas in Rome -
St. Peter's in Vatican and 
St. Paul's Outside the Walls -
you give us a "taste" 
of what is to be your Church,
your Body,
and your accompanying mission.

I took the small scroll from the angel’s hand and swallowed it. In my mouth it was like sweet honey, but when I had eaten it, my stomach turned sour. Then someone said to me, “You must prophecy again about many peoples, nations, tongues, and kings.”

Revelation 10:10-11
Thank you, Lord Jesus Christ,
for the sweet taste, 
for the sensation of being a Christian,
of listening to your words,
of being a Catholic,
of serving you,
of worshipping you,
of being loved by you.
Definitely so sweet indeed
to experience you in the Church!
But everything becomes sour
and bitter when we internalize
your words,
your call,
your mission
for that is when reality happens,
when we realize being your disciple
is a way of life in you,
a way of the Cross,
of giving one's self
to others like
the two pillars of your Church,
St. Peter and St. Paul.
Sometimes, Lord Jesus,
give us a taste of your anger
like when you cleansed the temple; 
let us taste your strong words
when we make the church a den of thieves
literally speaking;
let us have a taste of your discipline
when we dirty your Body,
when we hurt your Body,
and worst, 
when we mutilate your Body,
the Church with our lives so far from
your calling and mission
especially us your apostles.
Let us learn to love and accept
being Christian is savoring both
the sweet and sour tastes of
proclaiming your gospel 
both in words and in deeds.
Amen.

*Photos from en.wikipedia.org.

Walking in love, walking in truth

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Memorial of St. Martin of Tours, Bishop, 11 November 2022
2 John 4-9   ><000'> + <'000>< --- ><000'> + <'000><   Luke 17:26-37
St. Martin of Tours, Patron of our hometown Bocaue in Bulacan.
Lord Jesus Christ,
today you confront us with
the two contrasting attitudes
we disciples should have,
walking in love and 
walking in truth.

To walk in love is to live in love
which is to love one another
as you have loved us, Lord Jesus,
even to the point of giving our very selves
in love for another just like you.
Of course, we know it so well
and we have said so much about it
but have miserably failed in truly loving
like you because, O Lord, we have failed
to walk in truth; love and truth
always go together!
We cannot truly love when 
we live in lies and falsehoods,
when we are not sincere and faithful;
most of all, when we choose to be
blind and deaf 
to what is true and good.

For this is love that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, as you heard from the beginning, in which you should walk. Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh; such is the deceitful one and the antichrist. Anyone who is “progressive” as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God; whoever remains in the teaching has the Father and the Son.

2 John6-7, 9
Grant us, Jesus, the grace of walking in love
and walking in truth like St. Martin of Tours,
a great Saint who taught us in his life
how these two contrasting attitudes
perfectly go together in witnessing your gospel.

Upon seeing a beggar on a cold winter night,
he cut his cape into two without hesitation
to share it with the beggar freezing in cold;
he was not yet baptized at that time that
you appreciated it Lord by appearing to him
in a dream with the other half of his cape.

After he was baptized, as a soldier of
the Roman army, he realized that war
and the gospel are incompatible that he
refused to fight in a battle by declaring
"I am a soldier of Christ; I cannot fight."
Threatened to be jailed for cowardice,
St. Martin volunteered to be sent unarmed
to the frontline when just before his
commanders challenged his offer,
their opponents sued for peace,
preventing any battle.
After his discharge from the Roman army,
St. Martin founded monasteries
and soon his holiness became known that
he was elected Bishop of Tours in France,
faithfully serving you Jesus by
walking in love,
walking in truth.
After his death,
 his cult spread and was so popular
in Europe, proof that indeed,
"whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it,
but whoever loses it will save it"
(Luke 17:33).
St. Martin of Tours,
Pray for us!
Amen.
An icon of St. Martin giving the other half of his cape to a beggar; photo from blog.obitel-minsk.com.

Making things happen in Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop, 04 November 2022
Philippians 3:17-4:1   ><}}}*> + ><}}}*> + ><}}}*>   Luke 16:1-8
Praise and thanksgiving,
God our loving Father
for the grace of your Son
Jesus Christ 
who had come 
to make us closer to you
more than ever, 
making us "citizens of heaven"
(Philippinas 3:20).
Teach us, dear Jesus,
to be imitators of St. Paul
witnessing your Cross, 
the only path to salvation
because it is our liberation from sin;
do not allow us to be
"enemies of the cross"
whose "God is their stomach;
their glory is in their shame.  
Their minds occupied with earthly
things" (Philippians 3:18-19);
keep us faithful to your teachings 
and example, Lord Jesus Christ
by living your paschal mystery.
Like St. Charles Borromeo
whose memorial we celebrate today,
give us the grace of determination
and perseverance in keeping us
true and faithful to you
by making things happen 
like making Christ present
no matter how difficult and 
unpopular it may be especially 
when others especially our pastors 
have forgotten to live in your footsteps,
when too much time and emphasis
are spent with outward appearances
forgetting internal reformation;
let us stop wishful thinking that
things may get better by being just idle,
simply awaiting for events to happen.
Like that shrewd steward in the gospel,
let us find ways, O Lord, in making
justice and mercy,
love and kindness
become realities
by making them happen
by standing firm in you
Jesus Christ.
Amen.

When our skin is detached from our soul

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of St. Martin de Porres, Religious, 03 November 2022
Philippians 3:3-8   ><]]]'> + <'[[[>< ~~ ><]]]'> + <'[[[><   Luke 15:1-10
Your words today, O Lord,
are so lovely,
so picturesque,
so fitting in our celebration
of the memorial of 
St. Martin de Porres:
right away as I prayed
St. Paul's letter to the Philippians,
I felt your Spirit leading me to examine
my body, my skin, my very self.
Every time I am so absorbed 
with my self, with my body and skin,
with my outward appearance,
of how people see me and
how I project myself to them,
there is that Paul in me,
that attitude of his kin
of feeling so good,
so special,
so worthy
and so entitled
in life and even to God.

…although I myself have grounds for confidence even in flesh, all the more can I. Circumcised on the eighth day, of the race of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrew parentage, in observance of the law a Pharisee, in zeal I persecuted the Church, in righteousness based on the law I was blameless.

Philippians 3:4-6
How funny it is, dear Jesus,
that so often my skin is detached 
from my soul, from my heart, 
from my being and from you, 
my root and essence;
more funny is that as I cling
to my skin color and outside appearances,
the more I turn away from you
just like "the Pharisees and scribes
who distanced themselves from you,
complaining at how tax collectors and sinners
were all drawing near to you" (cf. Lk. 15:1-2)!
Through the example of 
St. Martin de Porres who was
rejected by his own father and
others because of his skin color,
teach me to look more inside
my heart and my soul 
to find you in me and in others;
like St. Paul, open my mind
and my heart, my whole self 
to you Christ Jesus
and "consider everything as a loss
because of the supreme good 
of knowing you my Lord" (Phil.3:8)!
Amen.

Heaven our Promised Land

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Solemnity of All Saints, 01 November 2022
Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14 ><}}}}*> 1 John 3:1-3 ><}}}}*> Matthew 5:1-12
Glory and praise to you,
O God our loving Father 
in fulfilling your Promised Land
to us all in Jesus Christ
in heaven!

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the land.

Matthew 5:5
Thank you for the gift
of All Saints Day as we remember
and emulate those who have gone
ahead us into heaven,
the real Promised Land you
had promised since the beginning;
more than a piece of land nor a country
nor a continent nor a place in this planet,
your Promised Land dear God is heaven -
a sacred space within us where YOU and I,
Father, commune, live together as one in
Jesus Christ.
Heaven is the paradise Jesus
promised the thief on the Cross;
Heaven is when we live in communion
in Jesus Christ not only after we have died
but while we are still here on earth,
when we are meek and humble 
bearing in you and with you
the pains and sufferings
of lovingly serving others,
of working for peace, 
of hoping in eternity.
Inheriting the land, dear Jesus,
means orienting our goals into
striving to let your reign of peace
be a reality despite all the troubles
we have here on earth; after all,
history has shown us how the violent 
and powerful conquerors have come
and go when it is always the humble
and lowly who remain and last longer
just like the Saints now in heaven.
Enable us dear Jesus 
to alway listen and pray,
most of all abide in your words
like the Saints who have truly
lived out the Scriptures that they
have inherited heaven; like all the
Saints now in heaven, may we put
into practice the words of the Sacred
Scriptures no matter how we may 
sound and look foolish like with the experiences
of St. Paul, St. Francis, and St. John Paul II;
the Saints are the best examples 
of being meek to inherit the land
because in living out the Sacred Scriptures,
they have opened so many possibilities 
of good things in life in the future,
not only in heaven but here on earth
as testified by their many works
and teachings still continuing to this day.
As we slowly return
to normal these days, Jesus,
may we humbly return to you
in our Sunday Masses when
you as Prince of Peace reigns
supreme in your words proclaimed, 
in your offering of your Body and Blood,
when we also create a sacred space 
for you in our hearts so that every Eucharistic
celebration becomes a dress
rehearsal of our entry into heaven.
Amen.

*Photo credits: from en.wikipedia.org painting by Fra Angelico called “The Forerunners of Christ with Saints and Martyrs”.