Remembering our “fishers of men”

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Feast of St. Andrew, Apostle, 30 November 2021
Romans 10:9-18   ><}}}*> + ><}}}*> + ><}}}*>   Matthew 4:18-22
Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2019.
On this Feast of your "Protokletos" or
your "first to be called" as Apostle, I pray
Lord Jesus, for the many other St. Andrew
who have led me to you to be your disciple.
How beautiful it is to recall from the 
fourth gospel how St. Andrew was
originally a disciple of St. John the Baptist
but when he met you on your baptism,
he dared asked you where you stayed;
and when you told him to "come and see",
the next thing we are told he called his
elder brother Simon, telling him how he 
had seen the Messiah and brought him to you.
My coming and seeing you, and following
you, dear Jesus, happened through the men 
and women you have earlier called to be fishers 
of men to call me too with their kindness and 
witnessing to your gospel:  my former teachers,
the many priests who have inspired me with
their ministry and friendships, the nuns who 
nurtured my vocation in elementary, the many
other dedicated men and women of faith
whose lives with their encouraging conversations 
and affirmations have inspired me 
to seek and follow you more, Lord.
Hence, on this day, I pray also for deeper faith,
livelier hope and more infectious love from you,
Lord Jesus, that I may also be like St. Andrew,
a fisher of men and women who would bring 
people closer to you in the service of the Church
and for the poor and needy. 

But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent?

Romans 10:14-15
Here I am, Lord; send me!
Amen.

Imitating St. Matthew

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Feast of St. Matthew, Apostle, 22 September 2021
Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-13   ><}}}'> + <'{{{><   Matthew 9:9-13
Photo by author, pilgrims ready to walk at a site in Jerusalem, the Holy Land, May 2019.

As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him.

Matthew 9:9
We know for sure, dear Jesus Christ
that you are always passing by,
calling us to follow you but
most often, we do not see you,
or worst, we refuse to look at you
nor listen to you.
Forgive us, dear Jesus
for choosing to be contented
and comfortable on our seats -
especially on those seats of power;
sorry when we are so glued on
our seats watching mostly trash
on television and internet;
drag us, if you may, if we choose
to be stuck on our seats of all
kinds of vices and sins.
Give us the grace, O Lord Jesus
of imitating St. Matthew
who immediately heeded your call:
open our eyes and our ears
to await your daily coming to us;
may we have the will and resolve
to change ourselves, to arise from our
being seated and slumped on our 
comfort zones of mediocrity and sins;
most of all, strengthen our knees and our feet,
our limbs that as we arise 
to listen to your voice, we may follow
you closely every step of the way
to the Cross.

Brothers and sisters: I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Ephesians 4:1-3
Merciful Jesus Christ,
teach us to forget our desires
for positions and recognition,
for fame, power and wealth;
make us realize that what really
matters is not where we are seated
but where we make a stand -
and to how far can we go walking
in standing up for you always.
Like St. Matthew, 
your Apostle and Evangelist,
let us arise and follow you
daily in faith, hope and love
as we write another gospel of
 Jesus Christ according to each one of us.
Amen.

The 13th Apostle of Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Monday, Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle, 25 January 2021
Acts 22:3-16    <*(((><<   +++   >><)))*>     Mark 16:15-18    
A sculpture of St. Paul near the entrance to the Malolos Cathedral by artist Willie Layug.

Praise and glory to you, O Lord Jesus Christ in coming to us always in the most personal manner in calling and inviting us to follow you to become fishers of men like in this Sunday’s gospel. You always come in the ordinariness of our lives, challenging us to face our responsibilities and most of all, asking for our commitment to you.

It is very funny but so true when you called St. Paul, he was out on his “ordinary” task of arresting followers of your Way while en route to Damascus. In that brief moment of encounter with him that eventually led to more days of prayers and teachings, you have shown us Lord the true meaning of conversion: it is not really a change in person in us but more of a change in focus.

St. Paul remained zealous in his ways but this time no longer to defend the old Mosaic Law he had defended at all costs before but this time for your gospel, Lord Jesus. He remained a committed person but no longer to the old ways but now in your person, dear Jesus, that he can claim in that “it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me” (Gal.2:20) .

That is essentially what conversion is all about: remaining the same person but no longer living in himself alone but in Jesus Christ alone.

Teach us, dear Jesus, that conversion in you is a daily happening, that needs to be cultivated in prayer and witnessing like St. Paul; that what really matter is to place you, O Lord Jesus at the center of our lives so that our identity is essentially marked by our encounter in you, by our communion with you and with your Word. More than seeing you in a vision, illumine us with your light, Jesus so we may recover and purify everything in us that has become dull due to sin.

We pray also for those people like Ananias who have been instrumental in bringing us close you, Jesus, people who set aside their biases against us and listened to your instruction so we may be converted and be your witness. Amen.

Prayer to respond faithfully to calls by Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Friday, Memorial of St. Vincent, Deacon and Martyr, 22 January 2021
Hebrews 8:6-13     >><)))*>  = + =  <*(((><<     Mark 3:13-19
Photo by author, Dominus Flevit Church, the Holy Land, 2017.

Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him. He appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and have authority to drive out demons. He appointed the Twelve: Simon, whom he named Peter; and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him.

Mark 3:13-16, 19

How great indeed is your love for us, O Lord Jesus Christ! I just wonder how or what are your criteria in calling those you wanted to follow you? You do not seem to reject anyone at all! You want all because you love us all!

Thank you very much, dear Jesus! Despite our many flaws and weaknesses, you still want us, you still call us, and most of all, even send us despite our imperfections.

And amid your great love for us is your “poor memory”, of always forgetting or disregarding our sins against you. Like when you called Simon and named him Peter to lead the Twelve as attested in all accounts as being the first among the list of the Apostles; but, at the same time, always mentioned last in every list of your inner circle is Judas Iscariot who betrayed you. Why called him at all?

So often, I find that so strange with you who knows everything and reads our hearts; but, the more I pray over your calls and our response, the more I find it more strange on our part when despite your mediating a new and perfect covenant in God (first reading from Hebrews), we still choose to turn away from you in sin.

Forgive me, Lord Jesus, when I cannot resist the temptation to slide back to the past, to seek something already obsolete and imperfect simply because they are easier.

Teach me to have the inner strength like of St. Peter, your prince of the Apostles and of St. Vincent, your Martyr and Deacon whose feast we celebrate today. May we remain faithful and vigilant in our commitment in responding to your call, Lord Jesus so we may always be one in the Father. Amen.

Photo by author, St. Joseph Parish in Baras, Rizal (07 January 2021).

Disturb me to follow you, Jesus!

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, 30 November 2020
Romans 10:9-18     >><)))*>  +  >><)))*>  +  >><)))*>     Matthew 4:18-22
Photo by author (May 2019), shore of Galilee at Capernaum where Jesus called the brothers Peter and Andrew to come and follow him.

Praise and glory to you, Lord Jesus Christ, on this second day of Advent you have given us the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle known as the “protoclete” or protokletos, the first to be called to follow you because he was also the first to entertain be “disturbed” by you.

Grant us this grace of being disturbed, of being moved within in a positive manner to seek out the truth like St. Andrew.

The moment he first saw you when John the Baptist identified you as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,” he was there, moved in his heart and so disturbed that he asked you, “Rabbi, where are you staying?”  And when you invited him and his companion to “come and see,” he believed you are the Messiah (Jn.1:35-41)!

I wonder what did he see in you, in your home, Lord Jesus that convinced him right away you are the Christ? What disturbed him?

Then in the wilderness as you tested Philip and asked him where you could buy food to feed more than 5000 people, Andrew again felt his heart so disturbed with the situation they were into that he was moved to bring to you a boy with five loaves of bread and two pieces of fish but at the same time, sincerely admitted to you how disturbed he was when he asked you, “what good are these for so many?” 

You never answered his question, dear Jesus, but Andrew remained with you and the crow until the great miracle happened when everyone was fed and satisfied with so many leftovers (Jn.6:1-15)!

St. Andrew must have been more disturbed than ever with what he had seen and experienced that he came to follow you more closely like his brother Peter!

For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.

Romans 10:10

St. Andrew always believed in his heart, always allowed his heart to be disturbed with your words, with your presence, with your feelings.

And he never kept to himself those stirrings in his heart, always asking you or voicing out what he felt or thought no matter how crazy or even stupid they may be!

It was because of this openness with himself to you with his inquiries that you were made known as the Christ that eventually in his death, he chose to be crucified in the most different manner because he had truly owned your cross!

Give me that same grace, dear Jesus, to be honest in recognizing the inner stirrings in my heart no matter how crazy they may be, always telling these to you as part of carrying my cross. Like St. Andrew, may I have the courage to lovingly, faithfully and sincerely embrace your cross by expressing to you always whatever disturbs me that in the process you are more revealed in me and to others. Amen.

More than words

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle, 24 August 2020
Revelation 21:9-14 >><}}}*> |+| >><}}}*> |+| >><}}}*> John 1:45-51
Photo by author, Subic, 2018.

Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus, the “Word who became flesh and dwelt among us” to reveal the Father’s immense love for us all. He was not contented in just telling the prophets of Old Testament how he loved us that He came and lived with us in you, Lord Jesus!

And that is why we also rejoice on this Feast of St. Bartholomew, a.k.a. Nathanael, who was introduced to you by another Apostle you have called earlier:

Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth.” But Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How did you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”

John 1:45-49

O dear Jesus, like St. Peter in the gospel yesterday and now St. Bartholomew, you are telling us anew to never be contented with mere words, with the “what” of who you really are, that we must always “come and see you” in order to experience your very person and truly know you.

I really wonder O Lord what your words meant that before Philip called Nathanael-Batholomew, you have seen him under the fig tree; however, I am so convinced that in your words, Nathanael-Bartholomew must have felt something deep inside him that he threw himself totally to you as your Apostle.

Most of all, teach me to remain simple and hidden in you, Jesus that like St. Bartholomew, despite the scarcity of stories and information about him except this little anecdote from the fourth Gospel, he remained faithful to you until his death by flaying reportedly in India.

May we imitate St. Bartholomew who had shown us that more than words, what matters is our oneness in you, Jesus, without any need for us doing sensational deeds, earning thousands of “likes” and “followers” in social media because only you, Lord, remains extraordinary above all. Amen.

Journeying in Christ

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 25 July 2020

Santiago de Compostela in Spain is one of the world’s oldest and most popular pilgrim sites where the body of the Apostle St. James the Greater whose feast we are celebrating today is believed to be buried in its beautiful cathedral.

I have not been there yet and despite COVID-19’s disruption of air travel expected to last until 2022, my hope remains that someday in God’s time I may finally do the “el camino de Santiago de Compostela” (the way of Saint James of Compostela), too.

But, with or without the el camino de Santiago de Compostela, this great Apostle from the very beginning had always been in a journey in himself into the kingdom of God – Jesus Christ – by showing us the way of transformation into a true disciple of the Lord.

He is called the Greater not because he is holier than the other St. James called “the Lesser”, son of Alpheus, but to simply indicate the different importance they received in the writings of the New Testament. In the gospel of Mark, he comes in second in the list after Peter while in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, he is ranked third after the brothers Peter and Andrew; he again comes in third in the Acts of the Apostles after St. Peter and his brother St. John.

It is from this book where we also learn St. James the Greater as the first bishop of the original Christian community in Jerusalem that during the persecution by King Herod Agrippa in 40 AD, he also became the first Apostle to be martyred (Acts 12:1-2).

His martyr’s death thus fulfilled Christ’s words to him that he would indeed “drink from his chalice” to be with him in his Kingdom, a journey that essentially began within this great apostle after leaving everything behind to follow Jesus.

The journey within self to Jesus Christ

St. James the Greater and his brother St. John the Evangelist and believed to be the same beloved disciple came from a middle class family with both parents still alive and most likely, very supportive of them as attested by some little anecdotes in the gospel accounts.

Money was never an issue for them because their father Zebedee could hire workers to work in their fishing business. He must have sighed with a great relief when James and John immediately left him after being called by Jesus to be his disciples.

Marker along the “el camino de Santiago de Compostela”.

Finally, his sons have found some directions in life following Jesus who was getting known then in Galilee as a powerful and credible Teacher unlike the Pharisees and scribes.

Jesus nicknamed James and John as Boanerges for “Sons of thunder” (Mk.3:17) due to their temperament like when they proposed that they send fire to burn a Samaritan town that have refused them passage during their journey to Jerusalem (Lk.9:54).

They have seen and experienced the tremendous powers of Jesus not only in preaching but most especially in calming the storms, walking on sea, exorcising evil spirits, healing all kinds of sickness, and even raising to life some who have died.

Most of all, St. James the Greater was privileged to witness along with his brother and St. Peter the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ on Mount Tabor, seeing all the glory of Christ conversing with Moses and Elijah. It was after this major event that their most controversial episode would occur when their mother came to ask Jesus that James and John be seated “one at your right and the other at your left, in your Kingdom” (Mt.20:21).

The other ten Apostles “grew indignant” of the brothers James and John for being so ambitious but Jesus summoned them and explained things which all of them would heed except for one:

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be also among you. Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave. Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give is life as a ransom for many.”

Matthew 20:25-28

This took place shortly before Palm Sunday when Jesus entered Jerusalem.

A few days later on the evening of Holy Thursday, Jesus again brought St. James the Greater with his brother St. John and St. Peter to accompany him pray at Gethsemane where Judas Iscariot eventually betrayed him to his enemies.

A pilgrim hugging from the back the statue of Santiago de Compostela after completing his el camino.

Here we find St. James the Greater being present to two major stops in Jesus Christ’s journey to the Calvary: first, on Mount Tabor for his Transfiguration and second, at Gethsemane for his agony in the garden. In both events in the life of our Lord, St. James the Greater was a privileged witness, first of his coming glory and then of his passion and death.

It would only be after Easter and the Pentecost when all these major stops in his personal journey with Christ when everything would become clear to him and the other Apostles.

All along their journey from the shores of Galilee to Jerusalem, St. James the Greater remained by the side of Jesus Christ, probably unaware of another journey with the Lord taking place right inside his heart to truly be a part of his Kingdom by sharing in his Passion, Death, and Resurrection.

For his faithful adherence to Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem, St. James the Greater again had the rare privilege like at Mount Tabor and Gethsemane in being the first to die as a martyr proclaiming the Gospel of Christ which is the meaning of the expression of “drinking from the chalice” of the Lord.

Sometimes in life, we just have to make “sakay” as my generation used to say, “sakay lang ng sakay” or “ride on, man, ride on” without really knowing where our trip would lead us. St. James just made “sakay” without knowing Jesus was already fulfilling his wish of “drinking from his chalice”.

Photo by Fr. Gener Garcia, sculpture of a pilgrim’s feet at Santiago de Compostela museum, 2019.

St. James the Greater was truly great not because of the distances in miles or kilometers he had covered with Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem and all the way to Compostela in Spain; we honor him today because of that great journey he had undertaken within him, in his heart to remain always at the side of Christ even if had to smoothen his many rough edges as a person, and cleanse his heart as a sinner like us.

That is the most important journey we are all taking in this life, the journey within us.

The longest journey in life is the distance between the heart and the mind.

Former UN Sec.Gen Dag Hammarskjold in “Markings”

My friend Fr. Gener Garcia last year went to Santiago de Compostela to follow the el camino with our kababayan Bishop Bart Santos of Iba, Zambales and Fr. Jaypee Avila assigned as a chaplain for OFW’s in Milan, Italy.

He is so generous to share with us his photos of their pilgrimage as well as his experiences and realizations in life. According to him, on the four sides of the sculpture of the pilgrim’s feet in front of the museum of Santiago de Compostela is the following quotation:

Marker along the el camino de Santiago de Compostela.

Camino recto, camino erguido, camino buscando un sentido. Camino porque tengo un objetivo, y no parare hasta alcanzar mi destino.

(I walk straight, I walk upright, I walk looking for meaning. I walk with a purpose and I won’t stop until I meet my destiny.)

The pilgrim’s journey is the same one you and I are on. Know your goals and understand your challenges. Face them head-on, tackle them with intention, and never give up.

Do you know what your purpose in life is? What would you say if someone ask you what your destiny was?

Santiago de Compostela Museum of Pilgrims

Have a blessed Saturday everyone!

*All photos by Fr. Gener Garcia, 2019.

His wounds – not his face – make us recognize Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle, 03 July 2020
Ephesians 2:19-22 >><)))*> <*(((><< >><)))*> <*(((><< John 20:24-29

Thank you very much, dearest Jesus, in founding your church upon your Apostles who were all like us: full of flaws and weaknesses, faults and failures, sins and imperfections.

Every time we celebrate their feasts, you remind us of your call to be near you like the Apostles despite our sins and inadequacies, to be sorry and make amends to return to you to be built into a dwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Brothers and sisters: You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. Through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord; in him you are also being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Ephesians 2:19-22

Help us, Lord Jesus, to be like St. Thomas your Apostle who came but doubted, returned and saw you a week later and believed, declaring “My Lord and my God” upon seeing you.

But what did St. Thomas really see that he believed?

Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and out it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

John 20:27


Through St. Thomas, you have blessed us and helped us, dear Jesus to believe in you not in seeing your face but more in seeing and feeling your wounds.

How wonderful, O Lord!

It is not your face but your wounds that enable us to recognize you and believe in you.

We will never see your face in this lifetime, Lord, but every day in our trials and sufferings, in our pains and hurts, in our wounds and woundedness, in our brokenness — there you are most present in us and among us.

Heighten our awareness of your presence, to accept pains and sufferings for your love and mercy so we may deepen our faith in you, following you always in your path of the Cross.

Like St. Thomas, may we follow you closely at your Cross, offering ourselves like you to be broken and shared so that in our wounds and woundedness, others may find healing, most especially you, sweet Jesus. Amen.

The kind of people we need in this time of corona

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of St. Barnabas, Apostle, 11 June 2020
Acts of the Apostles 11:21-26; 13:1-3 ><)))*> +++ 0 +++ <*(((>< Matthew 5:20-26
Photo by Roberto Nickson on Pexels.com

Thank you very much, O dear Jesus, for the gift of your Apostles who became the foundations of your Church here on earth like St. Barnabas whose Memorial we celebrate today.

Despite his being a “Johnny come lately” replacing your betrayer Judas Iscariot, St. Barnabas proved to be a true apostle with his life of loving service to the early Church.

A Levite Jew from Cyprus who settled in Jerusalem, he was one of the first to embrace your new way of life, Lord, described by St. Luke as “a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith” (Acts 11:24).

What is so wonderful, Lord, is how he lived out the meaning of his name “Barnabas” which is “son of encouragement” or “son of consolation”, exactly the kind of people we need at this time of corona pandemic and of so many social unrests and issues happening.

Send us, Jesus, more “Barnabas” – good men and women filled with your Holy Spirit and faith who would encourage people to do what is good, direct others into reason and understanding through cooperation and collaboration to hurdle all these troubles, not divisions.

Like St. Barnabas who searched and encouraged St. Paul in Tarsus to join the Christians at Antioch in proclaiming your gospel of salvation to those outside Israel including the Gentiles, may we gather and inspire other people into working together in this troubled time instead of fighting each other.

May our words also bring more encouragement to people to rise above each one’s differences in color and language and beliefs to seek what is common so we can collaborate more for peace and common good like what St. Barnabas did in convincing the Christians in Antioch to welcome their former persecutor, St. Paul.

Help us imitate the generosity of St. Barnabas in selling his piece of property so that the Apostles may have the means to provide for the needs of the early Church and thus, consoled the poor and widows.

Most of all, like St. Barnabas who participated at the Council of Jerusalem, may we seek ways in resolving issues among us that may lighten the burdens of people saddled with so many concerns in life without diluting the essence of being your follower, sweet Jesus.

Lastly, like St. Barnabas, may we always have an open heart for reconciling with others, in setting aside past misunderstandings like his falling out with St. Paul to be one again in your most holy name, O Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

St. Barnabas, pray for us!

From Pinterest.

It is always the Caller, not the call

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle, 14 May 2020

Acts of the Apostles 1:15-17, 20-26 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> John 15:9-17

Photo by author, Mirador, Baguio City, 2019.

Lord Jesus Christ, as we celebrate today the feast of St. Matthias your Apostle chosen to replace your betrayer Judas Iscariot, you remind us anew that in every call in life, it is you -the Caller – who matters most not the mission at all.

It does not really matter if we play at the starting line-up or the second team or substitute like St. Matthias who was originally one of your 72 disciples who have witnessed your works and preaching until your Resurrection and Ascension.

The only thing is he was never a part of those closest to you as one of the Twelve.

But, nothing is “second-rate” when we see you Jesus in every task, every mission given to us.

From Google.

Like St. Matthias, may we always be counted as one of your faithful followers ready to counter the evils by some of our traitorous and unworthy members of the Church like Judas Iscariot with our life of witnessing for you our Caller.

Thank you for the gift of being called by you as a friend.

May we always have the courage to remain faithful to you, Jesus, so we may accomplish our call. Amen.