True blessedness

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Sunday in the Fourth Week of Ordinary Time, Year A, 29 January 2023
Zephaniah 2:3, 3:12-13 ><}}}*> 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 ><}}}*> Matthew 5:1-12
Photo by author, 2020.

Blessedness is a very contentious term for us Filipinos. Very often, we equate blessedness with being rich and wealthy like having a lot of money, a beautiful house, and the latest car model as well as clothes and gadgets. Being blessed sometimes means being lucky or fortunate like winning the lotto or having a child graduating in college or getting promoted in one’s job.

In the Visitation, Elizabeth defined for us the true meaning of being blessed like Mary as someone who believed that what the Lord had promised her would be fulfilled (Lk.1:45). Blessedness is essentially a spiritual reality than a material one; however, it implies that being blessed results from doing something good like being faithful to God.

Today in our gospel from Matthew, Jesus shows us that blessedness is still a spiritual reality than a material one but, it is more of a being – like a status in Facebook – than of doing.

Most of all, being blessed is not being in a good situation or condition when all is well and everything proceeding smoothly in life; blessedness according to Jesus at his sermon on the mount is when we are on the distaff side of life like being poor, being hungry, being persecuted and insulted – being like him!

Photo by author, Church of the Beatitudes, Israel, 2019.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land. Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they insult and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.”

Matthew 5:3-12

After going around the shores of Galilee, preaching and healing the people, Jesus went up a mountain upon seeing crowds were following him. They were mostly poor people with deep faith in God, hoping and trusting only in him for their deliverance called the anawims.

They were in painful and difficult situations, maybe like many of us, fed up with the traffic and rising costs of everything, fed up with the corruption among public officials and most of all, disillusioned with our priests and bishops!

Then, Jesus called them blessed.

Now, please consider that it is more understandable and normal to say that after being persecuted or after losing a loved one, after all these sufferings that people would be blessed, that the kingdom of God would be theirs.

But, that is not the case with the beatitudes whereby Jesus called them already blessed now, right in their state of being poor, being persecuted, being maligned!

Keep in mind that Matthew’s audience were his fellow Jewish converts to Christianity. By situating Jesus on the mountain preaching his first major discourse, Matthew was reminding his fellow Jewish converts of their great lawgiver, Moses who stood on Mount Sinai to give them the Ten Commandments from God.

However, in the sermon on the mount, Matthew was presenting Jesus not just as the new Moses but in fact more than Moses because Jesus himself is the Law. His very person is what we follow that is why we are called Christians and our faith is properly called Christianity so unlike other religions that are like philosophies or any other -ism.

To understand the beatitudes, one has to turn and enter into Jesus Christ for he is the one truly poor in spirit, meek, hungry and thirsty, merciful, clean of heart, who was persecuted, died but rose again and now seated at the righthand of the Father in heaven. Essentially, the Beatitudes personify Jesus Christ himself. Those who share what he had gone through while here on earth, those who identify with him in his poverty and meekness, mercy and peace efforts, and suffering and death now share in his blessedness.

Therefore, the Beatitudes are paths to keeping our relationship with Jesus Christ who calls us to be like him – poor, hungry and thirsty, meek, clean of heart and persecuted. The Beatitudes are not on the moral plane like the Decalogue that tells us what to do and not to do. Have you ever used the Beatitudes as a guide in examining your conscience when going to Confessions? Never, because the Beatitudes are goals in life to be continuously pursued daily by Christ’s disciples.

Photo by author, Church of the Beatitudes, Israel, 2017.

The Beatitudes are more on the spiritual and mystical plane of our lives that when we try imitating Jesus in his being poor and merciful, meek and clean of heart, then we realize and experience blessedness as we learn the distinctions between joy and happiness, being fruitful and successful.

That is when we find fulfillment while still here on earth amid all the sufferings and trials we go through because in the beatitudes we have Jesus, a relationship we begin to keep and nurture who is also the Kingdom of God. Of course, we experience its fullness in the afterlife but nonetheless, we reap its rewards while here in this life.

As we have noted at the start, we must not take the beatitudes in their material aspect but always in the spiritual meaning. This we find in the first beatitude, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Actually, this first beatitude is the very essence of all eight other blessedness. Everything springs forth from being poor in spirit, of having that inner attitude and disposition of humility before God. We cannot be merciful and meek, nor pure of heart nor peacemakers unless we become first of all poor in spirit like Jesus, who, “though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness and humbled himself” (Phil. 2:6-7, 8).

The prophet Zephaniah showed us in the first reading that poverty in the Old Testament does not only define a social status but more of one’s availability and openness to God with his gifts and calls to us to experience him and make him known. Experience had taught us so well that material poverty is one of life’s best teacher as it leads us to maturity and redemption best expressed in the Cross of Jesus Christ.

In this sense, the beatitude is also the “be-attitude” of every disciple who carries his cross in following Christ. See that each beatitude does not refer to a different person; every disciple of Jesus goes through each beatitude if he/she immerses himself/herself in Christ. That is why last week Jesus preached repentance which leads to conversion. Notice that the beatitudes of Christ are clearly opposite and contrary to the ways of the world as St. Paul tells us in the second reading with God calling the weak and lowly to manifest his power and glory.

Many times in life, we fail to recognize our blessedness when we are so focused with what we are going through, with our work and duties and obligations. This Sunday, Jesus takes us up on the mountain, in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist for us to see ourselves blessed and loved right in the midst of our simplicity and bareness, sufferings and pains. Stop for a while. Find Christ in all your troubles or darkness in life. If you do not find Jesus in your labors and burdens, you are just punishing yourself. If you find Christ because you see more the face of other persons that you become merciful, you work for peace, you mourn and bear all insults and persecution… then, you must be loving a lot. Therefore, you are blessed! Amen.

Have a blessed week ahead!

Photo by author, Church of the Beatitudes, Israel, 2017.

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.

Jopay

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-29 ng Disyembre 2022
*Isang tula bunsod ng nakatutuwa na awitin ng Mayonnaise.
Sino ka nga ba, Jopay?
Ako ay nakikisabay,
nakikibagay sa sayaw at ingay
pero pramis,
ang sarap sumakay 
sa awit sa iyo ay alay!
Jopay, 
gusto ko rin umuwi sa bahay
simpleng buhay 
hawak lang pamaypay
sabay kaway kaway
maski kaaway!
Kung sino ka man, Jopay,
totoo sabi nila sa iyo:
minsan masarap umalis
sa tunay na mundo,
walang gulo -
pero wala ding tao!
Kaya kung ako sa iyo,
Jopay, kakanta na lang ako
sabay sayaw:
spaghetti pababa
spaghetti pataas
ganyan ang buhay, Jopay,
isang magandang sayaw
lalo na kung iyong kasabay
mahal sa buhay 
mga kaibigan
hindi ka iiwan
maski kelan.
Mayroon tayong
isang kasabay
 sa sayaw ng buhay, Jopay:
tunay ka kaibigan
huwag lang siya ang mawawala
tiyak ika'y matutuwa
sa hapis at lungkot
hirap at dusa
hindi mo alintana
mga ito'y nalampasan mo na
siya palagi mong kasama
hanggang sa bahay ng Ama!
Pasensiya ka na, Jopay
ako ma'y walang kasama
at kausap dito sa bahay
sa mundong magulo;
naisip ko lang tumula para sa iyo
at sa mga kagaya mo
palaging masaya sa paningin
pero maraming kinikimkim
saloobin at pasanin
kaya isang taus-pusong panalangin
aking alay sa inyo,
para lumigaya kayo!

*We have no intentions of infringing into the copyrights of this music and its uploader except to share its beauty and listening pleasure.

From YouTube.com

Christmas is about accepting

The Lord Is My Chef Simbang Gabi Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Fourth Sunday in Advent, Third Simbang Gabi, 18 December 2022
Isaiah 7:10-14 ><]]]]'> Romans 1:1-7 ><]]]]'> Matthew 1:18-24
Photo from vaticannews.va, 14 December 2020.

We are now at the final stretch of our Advent Season, getting closer to Christmas Day with our gospel today directly telling us how it all happened. And it was not very easy – in fact so difficult – just like with most of us in our many experiences in life when everything did not go so well as planned.

It would not be surprising at all that so many times, many of us would have also thought of giving up, of letting go everything like St. Joseph!

Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.

Matthew 1:18-19

Christmas is a story of accepting difficulties in life especially persons dearest to us suddenly thrown into challenging situations. Exactly what happened to St. Joseph and Mama Mary.

Many times in life, we advise people going through problems to just simply accept how things are –“tanggapin na lang” – with some sense of resignation as if there is nothing we can do.

Sometimes it is true but many times, not at all true like with St. Joseph’s predicament. He accepted first Mary and then Jesus on a totally different manner worthy of our emulation. It was not out of resignation to the situation but was first of all focused in accepting and valuing persons.

St. Joseph decided to silently leave Mary because of his great love for her. He did not want to expose her to shame and public humiliation that would surely result in being pregnant with a child not his. He did not merely accept the situation as if it were his lot to be “scooped” out by somebody else faster than him with Mary. Keep in mind how the evangelist described St. Joseph as a righteous man, a holy man that despite Mary’s pregnancy, he loved and valued her so much, totally as a person. His leaving her silently was a testimony to his great love and respect for her!


We demand "understanding" in order to "accept" 
without realizing that it is different 
with persons and with life in general 
when we must first "accept" in order to "understand"!

Unlike with us these days when everything has to be explained and spelled out in details before anything or anyone may be accepted. In this age of instants, we want instant explanations too on everything before making any decision, demanding many information to understand anything.

And everyone.

We demand “understanding” in order to “accept” without realizing that it is different with persons and with life in general when we must first “accept” in order to “understand”!

That was exactly the accepting attitude of St. Joseph. He might have not totally understood everything when explained to him by the angel in a dream. Imagine how very difficult it must have been to listen to instructions and explanations in a dream that are already difficult to grasp when done in normal circumstances while awake. But that shows the great maturity and deep spirituality of St. Joseph, of how he accepted everything told to him by the angel in a dream that upon waking up, he absolutely obeyed God’s instruction by taking Mary as his wife.

Photo by Arch. Philip Santiago, Basilica of San Padre Pio, Italy, 2017.

One of my favorite singers is the late Marvin Gaye whose 1971 hit What’s Going On I have used extensively in lessons and recollections to young people. Its lyrics are so poetic yet so deep, with its first two stanzas calling for “loving” before it could lead to “understanding” at the third stanza after the chorus. It calls for acceptance first of everyone, of respect so we could love and understand more.

Picket lines and picket signs
Don’t punish me with brutality
Talk to me
So you can see
Oh, what’s going on (What’s going on)
What’s going on (What’s going on)
What’s going on (What’s going on)
What’s going on (What’s going on)

People can never be understood really. There are some people who are truly difficult to understand or as we say, “mahirap ispellengin”. Many times in life I have learned that we simply just have to accept everyone as unique, that God comes through everyone in each one’s uniqueness and peculiarities.

Situations become more difficult to accept unless we accept first the persons involved.

That begins with our very selves when we have to set aside our pride, our own good, even our own plans and agendas like St. Joseph in order to let God lead us truly to fulfillment.

Very often this is the problem with us when we insist on ourselves, on our own ideas and own plans. We get blinded with what we know and even with what we believe in like King Ahaz in the first reading.

Photo from Aleteia.org, “Let Mum Rest”, 2019

St. Joseph as an accepting person was also a very welcoming man like St. Paul in the second reading who took pride in being called and sent by God to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. A truly accepting person is always a welcoming one, full of warmth and joy because he/she has Jesus!

See the beauty of St. Joseph’s acceptance of God’s plan: when he accepted Mary, that is when Jesus came.

Thus, we must first accept God.

If we truly accept God, we must accept others as his gifts to us. No matter what.

It is in accepting others with all their differences when Jesus Christ truly comes.

When we learn to accept and welcome people, that is when Christmas truly happens. Not only in December but all year through! Let us pray:

Lord Jesus Christ,
thank you for coming to us daily
not only in our very selves and the many
events that happen to us but most especially
among people you send us;
there are times they are good and so faithful
like St. Joseph who are easy to accept;
but there are also times, they are very
difficult to accept or even understand
especially when they happen to be those
closes to us whom we also love.
Teach us to appreciate the value of silence
like St. Joseph so we may be accepting like him
because it is in our accepting of people and difficult
situations in life when you often come.
Amen.

Christmas, our being & mission

The Lord Is My Chef Simbang Gabi Recipe by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Saturday in the Third Week of Advent, Day 2 of Christmas Novena, 17 December 2022
Genesis 49:2, 8-10     ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*>     Matthew 1:1-17
Photo by author, 2021.

Beginning today, we shift our focus in our Christmas preparations into the second phase of Advent, of looking back to the first coming of Jesus Christ when he was born in Bethlehem more than 2000 years ago.

The birth and origin of Jesus has always been an issue to many people then and now. It was the main reason he was put to death for the case of “blasphemy” because his enemies at that time refused to accept he is the Son of God, the fulfillment of the promises in the Old Testament, of him coming from the lineage of King David.

Until now, people continue to question his origin with so many others insisting Jesus is not God, that he is only human.

That is why all four evangelists began their gospel accounts by first establishing his identity and roots with Matthew doing a very superb job by starting right away with the genealogy of Jesus Christ.

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham became the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar. Perez became the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram….

Matthew 1:1-3
Photo by author, November 2022.

For the early Christians, it was very important to first establish the origin of our Lord because his roots reveal his very being and mission – that indeed, he is the Christ, the promised one of God since the beginning sent to save us from sin and bring us back into one with the Father.

The same is very true with us. Unless we know our roots, our origins, we will always have those confusions in life like identity crisis and meaning of existence. All these problems about gender identity, drug addictions, teenage pregnancies, depressions and so many others are basically due to lack of our knowing of ourselves, of our being. How can we go on with our life journey and mission if we are not even sure of ourselves, of who we are, of our grounding, of where we came from?

When I was a newly ordained priest assigned to a school in Malolos, at first I felt so mad at seeing how our young people behaved, their lack of discipline and sense of responsibilities. But after three months in school, I realized that the question we should be asking even until now is not why are the young acting that way today but, “where are their parents”?

Now that I am assigned as a university chaplain, the more I see this reality so true, even at its worst and ugly faces of the many burdens and sufferings our young people have to bear and contend with right in their homes – incest and physical abuses, absentee parents and separated parents or single parents made more difficult by poverty that many of them even go without breakfast or decent meal on many occasions every week.

Now more than ever, the school has become truly the home of every student because they have no home, no parents and no love to come home to! They prefer hanging out anywhere including school and get into drugs and other vices at a young age because nobody cares for them except their equally lost peers. Many practically live in the internet and social media because nobody is around to interact with them at home.

Many young people are lost simply because their parents are lost too. They have all kinds of issues because they do not know who they are and where they are going to. They have low self-confidence and low self-esteem, depressive and yes, almost everyone contemplates committing suicide even once because they could not find meaning in their lives anymore.


... human love is imperfect,
only God can love us perfectly.

So sad, so disheartening.

This past week, I have been hearing confessions of our students who poured out everything to the point of crying. What is so moving for me was how they still professed their love for their parents and siblings despite their pains and sufferings.

After listening to them – sometimes crying with them – I tell them that human love is imperfect, only God can love us perfectly. For sure, I tell them that their parents must have also come from so many pains and hurts in their lives, even broken homes too like theirs. Widen your perspectives, I tell them. And keep your hearts wide open to God, to welcome Jesus who comes daily in our lives especially in the most trying time.

This is the meaning of all those names in Jesus Christ’s genealogy – he is so like us with many imperfect relatives and family like quarrelsome siblings, single-parents, prostitutes, unfaithful kings and husbands, illegitimate children, and probably all those things we describe or label as “dysfunctional family”.

Deep within every name is a real person, broken and sinful, hurting and lost just like us yet, loved and saved by God in Jesus Christ. All of them remind us we all came from God like Jesus and with him, in him and through him, we shall all come home to God our true Father.

Every time I administer Baptism, I remind parents to shower their children with love especially in their formative years from infancy to early teens while singing to them a few lines from James Taylor’s “Shower the People with Love” to make my point.

Recently I found in my Facebook feeds from one of the sites I follow a beautiful story and shared it on my wall, saying, “Ito ang tunay na pag-ibig” (this is true love):

From Facebook, The Language Nerds, 13 December 2022.

Our being is from God who is love. Therefore, our mission too is love. Just like Jesus Christ. That is the meaning of all those names in the genealogy of Jesus Christ. The very same meaning we shall find when we trace our own roots, when we do our family tree to find our being and mission.

This is the grace of Christmas 2022 – after two years in the pandemic with so many restrictions, we are celebrating face-to-face to personally experience one another again. Most of all, to personally experience of being loved and loving again.

Christmas is essentially a story of our first love – God – who comes to us face-to-face. Even its preparation as we have seen in the Lord’s genealogy, of God coming to us in our imperfections and weaknesses happened face-to-face in the context and spirit of love, a love that covers a multitude of sins, welcomes everyone, ready to forgive and celebrate life.

Let us see and welcome God in our hearts by rekindling that love we have always have. And upon finding him there, may we also find him in the face of everyone we meet, especially those closest to us, our family and relatives. Let us pray:

Lord Jesus Christ,
thank you for coming to us;
thank you for showing us that
like us, you came from very 
dysfunctional family too!
Thank you for assuring us
that despite our many imperfections,
sins and weaknesses,
you still come and even more present
in our hurts and wounds.
Let us find you where we are,
right here in our brokenness 
and darkness so that in the process,
we may also show you to others
lost in their many sufferings and pains.
You have given us yourself, Jesus,
let me give you to others 
in love and kindness,
in my mere presence.
Amen.
Photo by author, November 2022.

Daily presentation to the Lord

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog 
Monday, Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 21 November 2022
Revelation 14:1-3, 4-5   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Luke 21:1-4
Lord Jesus Christ,
as we enter today this final stretch
of the current liturgical calendar,
you gave us the Memorial of the 
Presentation of your Blessed Mother
as an occasion for us to present ourselves
to you fittingly like her.
Help us to always remember your love
and mercy, Lord, so we may remain on track
on your path of humility and obedience
like Mary; may we always remember
your call to holiness and to mission
being sent like you by the Father;
may we always remember like Mary
to be always truthful and clean in our lips.

These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been ransomed as the first fruits of the human race for God and then Lamb. On their lips no deceit has been found; they are unblemished.

Revelation 14:4-5
Help us imitate, dear Jesus,
that poor widow at the temple area
who gave everything she had - 
"two small coins" - into the treasury box;
grant us the grace to be like her,
to be like your Mother Mary,
to be like your grandparents St. Joachim and St. Anne
who offered their whole lives, 
their whole livelihood to God
because they believed,
they trusted, and hence,
they loved without measure.
Amen.

Praying to bring back love

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time, Year II, 14 November 2022
Revelation 1:1-4; 2:1-5   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Luke 18:35-43
Your words today, O dear Jesus,
to your servant John 
in writing the Book of Revelation
speak also directly to me:

“I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate the wicked… Moreover, you have endurance and have suffered for my name, and you have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: you have lost the love you had at first. Realize how far you have fallen. Repent, and the works you did at first.

Revelation 2:2, 3-5
Thank you, dear Jesus, for reminding me
of how I have lost that love for you
when I have stopped loving others too;
help me find my way back to you.
Like the blind Bartimaeus in today's gospel,
I have been blinded too by so many
other things like wealth and power and fame;
help me see again your face in the persons
closest to me, those I encounter each day;
let me see beyond the ordinary
and temporary things so I may be more 
loving, looking beyond outer appearances
but more into the worth and dignity of
everyone bearing your identity which is also
LOVE,
Why is it, O Lord, that as we grow old, 
when we mature,
when we are supposed to be
more knowledgeable and more intelligent
when we become less loving?

Why is it, O Lord, as we become
more blessed in you in so many things
when we turn away from you,
when we love less
and think more,
desire more,
count more?

Lord Jesus,
like Bartimaeus,
please let me see:
let me see again myself so loved
and forgiven by you;
let me see again one another as
my brother and sister in you,
a companion in this journey of life;
let me see the way back home
to you in the Father
and start loving again!
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.

Bearing with one another

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Twenty-Ninth Week of Ordinary Time, Year II, 21 October 2022
Ephesians 4:1-6   ><000'> + ><000'> + ><000'>   Luke 12:54-59
Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2018.
Another week is closing,
another week is beginning
and still, Lord Jesus,
as you have noticed,
we still can't interpret
the present time as
your very presence
in everyone of us.

Jesus said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west you say immediately that it is going to rain – and do it does; and when you notice that the wind is blowing from the south you say that it is going to be hot – and so it is. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky; why do you not know how to interpret the present time? Why do you not judge for yourselves what is right?

Luke 12:54-57
St. Paul's admonition
to the Ephesians is most
timely even to us these days
when our season is in transition
but not our sensitivities to one another;
teach us to live in a manner worthy of
our calling as "Christians" - brothers and
sisters in you, dear Jesus and most of all,
your followers.
Teach us, dear Jesus, 
to "bear one another through love,
striving to preserve" our unity
as one family in one loving Father above;
so many times, we can read the weather
but not people, becoming callous
and numb to one another's presence
and needs, pains and hurts;
heighten our sensitivities so
we may be more compassionate
with everyone, be more consoling
and caring, most of all, understanding
and kind by seeing God's image and 
likeness in each one's face.
Amen. 

Losing one’s self in Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Twenty-Ninth Week of Ordinary Time, Year II, 20 November 2022
Ephesians 3:14-21   ><000'> + <'000>< = ><000'> + <'000><   Luke 12:49-53
Photo by author, 2018.
Dearest Jesus,
Help me imitate St. Paul's
beautiful prayer for the Ephesians:
may the Holy Spirit strengthen my 
"inner self" so that you may dwell
in my heart that is "rooted in faith"
and "grounded in love";
grant me the "strength to comprehend" -
not just understand but embrace totally
"the breadth and length and height and depth"
of your love that "surpasses knowledge"
by entering into a communion in you,
an intimacy "with all the fullness of God"
(Ephesians 3:16-19).
This can only happen to me,
Lord Jesus Christ,
if I allow myself to lose my soul to you
in order to gain it by allowing
your fire to purify me of my sins
and self-centeredness
(Luke 12:49-51).
Set me on fire, Jesus,
as you have declared in the gospel:
lit me with courage and joy in witnessing
your Cross in this time of darkness
when everybody follows the artificial lights
of the world that lead to emptiness;
let me be immersed into your paschal mystery
of Passion, Death and Resurrection,
of bearing all the pains that lead to conversion
and to true peace as you have promised
at the Last Supper that is the fruit of
love and sacrifices, not of compromises
as the peace of the world offers.
Dearest Lord,
let me see everything in your love
even if it seems so impossible
like your victory over death;
seduce me, O Lord,
dupe me like Jeremiah
to join you in your adventure,
to go beyond my limits
even if it may be fatal
for that is the only way 
to lose myself
in order to gain you,
Jesus Christ our Lord!
"Now to him 
who is able to accomplish
far more than all we ask or imagine,
by the power at work within us,
to him be glory in the Church
and in Christ Jesus to all generations,
forever and ever.  Amen."
(Ephesians 3:20-21)
Photo by author, 2018.