God never sleeps nor forgets us

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
First Friday, Dedication of St. Mary Major in Rome, 05 August 2022
Nahum 2:1, 3; 3:1-3, 6-7   ><]]]'> + ><]]]'> + ><]]]'>   Matthew 16:24-28
Photo by author, September 2021.
Dearest God our loving Father:
You surely know how often we
wonder why you allow bad things 
to continue to happen in our lives,
in our community, even in our country;
so many times we feel you seem to
have forgotten us, of must have fallen
asleep unaware of the sufferings we are
going through.
You know these thoughts and feelings
we often have but today, you assure us
you are always with us, that you never
forget us nor abandon us; sometimes, you
allow our sufferings to happen longer 
because you believe in us, and most of all,
you want us to become stronger and better.

See, upon the mountains there advances the bearer of good news, announcing peace! Celebrate your feasts, O Judah; fulfill your vows! For nevermore shall you be invaded by the scoundrel; he is completely destroyed. The Lord will restore the vine of Jacob, the pride of Israel, though ravagers have ravaged them and ruined the tendrils.

Nahum 2:1, 3
Finally, you  have liberated Israel
from the clutches of the "scoundrel", Assyria;
perhaps like us today, the Israelites at that
time of the Assyrian conquest wondered
if it ever would end with all the evils
perpetrated by men and women alike;
but it did!  History teems with many
episodes of great countries and empires
falling, collapsing from their towers of
success and dominance, reduced to
nothingness because evil never lasts,
it is so bad that it has all the factors
contributing to its destruction and end.
Good always triumphs, always prevails.
Storms and dark nights end,
the sun always rises,
shining brightly to gladded our hearts,
drying our tears and giving us
all the chances in life.
Like the good news brought by Nahum,
may we be your messengers of good news,
of peace to those suffering for a long time
from illness and other problems in life,
including the many evils that seem to have
become so endemic in our country;
give us the grace to persevere
in following Jesus Christ your Son,
forgetting our very selves
for what profit would there really be
for one to gain the whole world
and forfeit one's life (Mt.16:25)?
As we celebrate the dedication of 
St. Mary Major in Rome today,
may we imitate the Blessed Virgin Mary
who not only bore your Son Jesus Christ
but continues to lead others to him
by being the messenger of your 
love and salvation. 
Amen.

Slave of sin vs. slave of grace

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Week XXIX, Year I in Ordinary Time, 20 October 2021
Romans 6:12-18   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Luke 12:39-48
Photo by Ms. Nikki A. Vergara, 2020 in Victoria, Laguna.
We are all slaves, 
born as your servants
O God our Lord and Master;
how sad that the more we refuse
to accept this reality, the more
we are enslaved to sin;
the more we assert our freedom
and decide to choose whatever
we want, the more we become unfree.

Do you not know that if you present yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, although you were once slaves of sin, you have become obedient from the heart to the patterns of teaching to which you were entrusted. Freed from sin, you have become slaves of righteousness.

Romans 6:16-18
Jesus our Lord and Savior,
let us realize this truth applies to us all;
that although you have saved and
justified us with your offering on the Cross
that continues in our Sacraments like
Baptism and the Eucharist that have
brought us closest to you and the Father,
it is not something like a "magic"
that fixes everything, that automatically
brings us to heaven.
Let us be faithful and prudent stewards,
slaves of grace in you like in today's gospel
who faithfully await your return
with good works and deeds.
Let us keep in our minds and hearts that
the more we profess our faith in you, dear Jesus,
as your servants, the more we have to participate
in your grace to produce fruits of
the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Amen.

We are the Lord’s indwelling

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Week XXIII, Year I in Ordinary Time, 06 September 2021
Colossians 1:24-2:3   ><)))*> + ><)))'> + ><)))*>   Luke 6:6-11
Photo by author, December 2020.

But now it has been manifested to his holy ones, to whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; it is Christ in you, the hope for your glory.

Colossians 1:27
Praise and glory to you, God
our loving and merciful Father,
in choosing us, calling us despite our
sinfulness and weaknesses
to be the indwelling of your Son
Jesus Christ.
Thank you, dear Father,
in making us all a part of your grand
design since the beginning
that Jesus Christ may dwell in us
so we may participate in your glory.
As the "image of the invisible God"
and the "first-born from the dead",
Christ is our own destiny
who cannot be attained apart
from his Church, his Body.
Keep us united and one, Father,
as your children and brother of Christ
 in the Holy Eucharist that is the summit
 of our Christian life, bearing all pains and
sufferings with joy like St. Paul for the good
of everyone, especially the marginalized;
may in our Eucharistic celebrations
we learn to set things "straight" by doing
 what is good and pleasing to your sight
like what Jesus did in healing the man
with a withered hand at the synagogue
on a sabbath day.
Amen.

When good is not good enough

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial of St. Rock (San Roque), 16 August 2021
Judges 2:11-19   ><]]]]'> ><]]]]'> ><]]]]'>   Matthew 19:16-22
Photo by author, October 2020.
Your words today, O God
our Father are just what we 
needed most in this time when
we feel we are good, when we
are so complacent that all is fine.
Thank you for reminding us today
that we are not that "good" at all!
And worst, so many times our 
being good are not even good enough! 

A young man approached Jesus and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?” He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” The young man said to him, “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Matthew 19:16-17, 20-22
So many times, dear Father,
 good is not good where better
is expected, when being good
is not enough because in life,
what matters is not only what
we do but also what we have;
like that young man, there is 
something or someone standing 
between us and you, or anything
we cannot let go to be totally yours!
Forgive us, merciful God,
when we think more of ourselves
and forget you and others.
Forgive us when our possessions
posses us; give us the strength
to give up and surrender to you
our many attachments and false
securities that prevent us from becoming
truly free and truly your followers
like St. Rock, the patron of pandemics.
Amen.

When nothing is lost and when all is lost

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Eighth Week of Ordinary Time, 28 May 2021
Sirach 44:1,9-13     ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*>     Mark 11:11-25
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, 2020.
Now I will praise those godly men,
our ancestors, each in his own time.
And for all time their progeny will endure,
their glory will never be blotted out.
(Sirach 44:1,13)

So many times, O Lord, I have heard the same words by your sage Ben Sirach, of how so many people who have gone ahead of us are hardly known nor remembered at all not because they are irrelevant or have not left no impact to anyone and this world.

There have been so many people ahead of us and still more living among us that surely much more would still come in the future after we are gone.

But life and living is not about being remembered for whatever reason.

Life and living is always about being good and holy, of being fully alive, living in you, O God our Father through Jesus Christ your Son.

That is why Ben Sirach praised both the known and unknown men who have gone ahead of him, especially the unknown ones because though there is “no memory of them for they have ceased” (v.9) they continue to exist, they are still relevant and in a sense “remembered” by their progeny because of their goodness and holiness.

How wonderful it is to dwell on this ending words of Ben Sirach in his book that remind us that nothing is lost, everything is gained and kept when we live in goodness and kindness.

Help us, O God, to make good of all your gifts to us lest we become like that fig tree Jesus cursed at Bethany along with the priests and merchants he had scolded when they turned your temple in Jerusalem into a marketplace.

Early in the morning,
as they were walking along, 
they saw the fig tree withered to its roots.
Peter remembered and said to him,
"Rabbi, look!  The fig tree that you cursed
has withered."
(Mark 11:20-21)
Photo by author, 2019.

So many times in life, we keep on trying to make and achieve so many things for the wrong reason of being relevant, of being remembered without realizing that simply being good ensures us of never being lost and forgotten.

It is in our personal pursuits of fame, of immortality when – sadly – all is lost.

We pray today, Lord Jesus Christ, for those who are always worried of so many things that past and non-essential, of how they look like, of how they will be remembered.

Give us that true faith in you to always experience your presence especially in cultivating a prayer life that leads to real trust and communion in you. It is in prayer when we become fruitful for that is when we become sensitive of your loving presence, of our living realities enabling us to forgive and reconcile with those who hurt us.

It is this kind of faith that produces fruit that endures and lasts forever, even if we remain unknown as Ben Sirach extolled in his teachings and prayer. Amen.

Good Friday: When “negative” is “positive”

The Lord Is My Chef Good Friday Recipe by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 02 April 2021
Isaiah 52:13-53:12  +  Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9  +  John 18:1-19:42
Photo by Marc Angelo Nicolas, January 2020.
"Biyernes Santong Biyernes Santo."
(A popular expression among us Filipinos.)

Perhaps, today we can truly feel the meaning and gravity of our favorite expression when somebody looks so sad and gloomy, when somebody seems to have been totally lost: “Biyernes Santong Biyernes Santo”.

That is how we are today – stuck in our homes, others in hospitals while others almost about to give up as this new wave of COVID-19 gets stronger with about 15000 infections today!

As I have been saying since Palm Sunday, this could be our holiest Holy Week in our lives in this most unholy time of our history when we are given the opportunity to be holy, to be good and kind, to be forgiving and caring with others. Side by side every post in Facebook we find prayer requests for sick family and friends, help for those trying to find a hospital that would admit their sick, or buy much needed medicines and equipment like oxygen.

For the second straight year, churches are empty and everyone is home due to COVID-19 pandemic. Perfect example of “Biyernes Santong Biyernes Santo”… so bad… so negative.

That is often how we think of Good Friday – so negative in the sense it is so sad and gloomy, so painful and too difficult.

Ultimately, Good Friday is so negative for us because it means death. Even of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Nothing would be more sad than that.

Photo by author, Chapel of the Holy Family, Sacred Heart Spirituality Center, Novaliches, QC, 2015.

Lately due to this COVID-19 pandemic we have been living inversely or “baligtad” as we say.

We would always pray at every swab test for the virus that we be “negative”.

Never has been thinking negative has become so positive, so good, in fact!

And it all began more than 2000 years ago at the calvary when Jesus offered himself for us on the cross.

That is why Good Friday is called “Good”: the cross of Jesus Christ is a sign not of death but of the good news or gospel of life, hope, and eternal life. The cross of Jesus Christ is not a negative sign (-) but a positive sign, a plus sign (+).

We celebrate in the most solemn and unique way because the cross is no longer a sign of condemnation but honor. Before, it was a symbol of death but now a means of salvation. The cross of Christ has been the source of countless blessings for us, illuminating our path with light when our lives are so dark with sins and mistakes, sickness and disappointments. Most of all, the cross of Christ has brought us closer to God again and with one another despite our sins and past, promising us a bright a joyful Easter.

Yes, for some the cross of Christ is so negative: why display the body of the Lord everywhere in our churches and homes, bloodied and defeated, lifeless and dead?

See, my servant shall prosper, he shall be raised high and greatly exalted. Even as many were amazed at him – so marred was his look beyond human semblance and his appearance beyond that of the sons of man – so shall he startle many nations, because of him kings shall stand speechless; for those who have not been told shall see, those who have not heard shall ponder it.

Isaiah 52:13-15

Many times in life, and we have proven this, God uses of many of “negative” experiences lead us to more positive outcome and results.

Yes, we may be Biyernes Santong Biyernes Santo in sadness and fear, even anxieties.

But, we continue to pray and forge on with life’s trials and difficulties because we see the cross of Jesus Christ leading us to the light and life, joy and celebration of his Resurrection at Easter.

A very good Good Friday to you. Amen.

Photo by author, Chapel of the Holy Family, Sacred Heart Spirituality Center, Novaliches, QC, 2015.

Our good God

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the First Week of Lent, 26 February 2021
Ezekiel 18:21-28     ><}}}*>  +  <*{{{><     Matthew 5:20-26
From Google.

O God our Father, you alone are the Holy One, you alone are Good! You alone are the one who wishes and looks only for what is good in us despite our sinfulness. Your words today are very loud and clear:

“Do I indeed derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked,” says the Lord God. “Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way that he may live?”

Ezekiel 18:23

In this blessed season of Lent, help us to be good by thinking what is good, seeing what is good, saying what is good, and doing what is good.

Let us be good always in every here and now. Help us let go of the past, thinking how sinful we have been. Or, in a similar manner, claiming how good we have been. So often, we always live in the past than in the present where you are always found.

One thing so good with you dear God is your “poor memory” of our past sins! And so, bless us to always make every effort to be good and make good our relationship with you in others in every present moment so we stop harking back into the past.

You say, “The Lord’s way is not fair!” Hear now, house of Israel: Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair? When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies, it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die. But if the wicked, turning from the wickedness he has committed, does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life since he has turned away from all the sins that he committed. He shall surely live, he shall not die.”

Ezekiel 18:25-28

Let me choose you always, dear God, to relate with you in the present moment each day in love and kindness. Let it start right here inside my heart where I choose to be good in thoughts and intentions, words and actions. Through Jesus Christ your Son and our Lord, let me not reject you by turning away from my brothers and sisters for that is not the kind of worship you want; let every good begin right inside me, within my heart and not from the outside that can always be faked just to look good. Amen.

From Google.