The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday within the Octave of Easter, 07 April 2021
Acts of the Apostles 3:1-10 <*(((>< + ><)))*> Luke 24:13-35
When the crippled man saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms. But Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, "Look at us." He paid attention to them, expecting to receive something from them. Peter said, "I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, rise and walk." Then Peter took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles grew strong. (Acts 3:3-7)
Praise and glory to you, our Risen Lord Jesus Christ, in sharing with us your victory and glory over sin and death, sickness and powerlessness. In joining us in our humanity in all of its aspects except sin, you have made us share in your divinity at Easter.
Like Peter and John at the Beautiful Gate that afternoon, fill us with your presence and power, love and mercy to uplift and empower our brothers and sisters afflicted with sickness and other burdens that drag them down, unable to rise again to experience life anew.
Give us the courage to tell people to look at us and find you like that crippled man you have healed through Peter and John.
Moreover, let us look at your face, look for what will unite us than divide us, look at your light than at the world’s darkness and shadows so we may look for Easter especially in this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Remove the pessimism and cynicism growing among us in this worsening pandemic.
Ignite the flames of faith, hope and love within us so our eyes may be opened to see you again walking with us in this journey.
Cleanse us of our biases and prejudices, as well as of our expectations and other personal beliefs so we may see you most especially when we are treading the wrong path to our Emmaus of sunset and defeat.
That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus' disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. (Luke 24:13-16)
O dear Jesus, may welook at Easter on the face of everyone you send us and at every situation we find ourselves into so we may lead and guide others to you.
May we see and recognize you most of all in the darkness enveloping us this time of crisis so that eventually, we may come together in the breaking of bread and sharing of our very selves to others blinded by the calamities that have fallen upon us. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 29 November 2020
I have been thinking of a song that speaks of darkness and light that best describes the Season of Advent. As I surfed YoutTube song with words like “night” and “darkness”, I stumbled upon this old classic and everyone’s favorite (those in our generation) with its unmistakable opening:
Hello, darkness my old friend...
Advent is from the Latin adventus that means coming or arrival. It is the start of the new year in our Church calendar made up of four Sundays meant to prepare us spiritually for Christmas.
This year, it is hoped that we take the Advent Season seriously by praying more, reflecting our lives and examining our conscience so we can have a meaningful Christmas this 2020 that will surely be bleak and dark due the pandemic.
And that is why I immediately felt Paul Simon’s The Sound of Silence as the perfect music this first Sunday of Advent when darkness is all around us with the pandemic and other calamities while also deep within each of us is another darkness like an illness or somebody with a serious ailment in the family, a lost job, or even death of a beloved.
In the bible, darkness is the realm of evil like when Jesus was betrayed by Judas on that Thursday evening at Gethsemane; however, with the coming of Jesus, darkness has become also the best time to believe in light! See how Jesus was born on the darkest night of the year, Christmas eve, to bring light to the world; likewise, it was during the darkness of the first day of the week when Jesus also rose from the dead on Easter.
It is in silence where we learn to be patient and vigilant, two virtues becoming so rare in our world that has come to live 24/7 in artificial lights many think to be the real thing.
Patience and vigilance are both fruits of prayer and expressions of our faith when we bear all pains and sufferings wide awake because we believe God is leading us to something good, something better and brighter.
In this song written by Paul Simon and first recorded with Art Garfunkel in 1965, we find silence that represents prayer and reflections helping us find the realities of life amid the many darkness surrounding us or even encroaching within us.
In restless dreams I walked alone
Narrow streets of cobblestone
'Neath the halo of a street lamp
I turned my collar to the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash of a neon light
That split the night
And touched the sound of silence
And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence
I have always loved these two stanzas, citing them in my teachings and sharing with students and young people to explain to them the value of silence and to befriend the many darkness we have in life. It is a paradox, a part of life’s mystery when we actually find its light and understanding in darkness which is also our starting point in clearing and dealing with all these darkness around and within us.
After the Lord’s supper on Holy Thursday, we find in the gospel how he brought his three apostles with him to Gethsemane to accompany him pray in agony while awaiting his betrayer. Jesus asked the three apostles to watch with him, to pray with him.
This Advent, Jesus is asking us to watch and pray with him so we remain focused in God, not to the neon gods we have made to overcome the many darkness of life.
If darkness is the realm of evil in the bible, silence is the realm of trust: even if life may be dark when we cannot see clearly, we go on in silence because we believe somebody sees better than us, leading us to light and better days.
Enjoy this classic again with family and friends. Have a blessed Sunday!
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
First Sunday of Advent, Cycle B, 29 November 2020
Isaiah 63:16-17, 19; 64:2-7 + 1 Corinthians 1:3-9 + Mark 13:33-37
A blessed happy new year to everyone as we begin today the new liturgical year of our Church calendar with the first Sunday of Advent. From the Latin word adventus for “coming”, Advent is a time meant to prepare us spiritually for Christmas.
And with all the problems and sufferings we have been going through this 2020 with the pandemic still around us in this joyous season of Christ’s coming, we hope that we make this Advent Season more serious so we may have a more meaningful Christmas, prepared for 2021 (see our recent blog, https://lordmychef.com/2020/11/23/surely-there-will-be-christmas-2020/)!
Like Lent, though in a less penitential mode, Advent is a time to pray and reflect on our lives and if possible, go to confessions to cleanse our hearts so Jesus may come and rest there like when he was born on a manger in Bethlehem more than 2000 years ago.
Our first reading today beautifully sets the mood for Advent 2020 in the midst of COVID-19 with a prayer so true with each one of us:
You, Lord, are our father, our redeemer you are named forever. Why do you let us wander, O Lord, from your ways, and harden our hearts so that we fear you not? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes of your heritage. Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down, with the mountains quaking before you…
Isaiah 63:16-17, 19
Advent is for new beginnings, for coming again.
Year 2020 is without doubt very difficult for everyone but it teaches us in the most unique way the essentials in life like God, family, friends, true self, and things like kindness, respect, thoughtfulness, simplicity, presence, and other niceties we have taken for granted for so long. It is about time that we recover these specially in Advent which is the season of new beginnings when we start anew in life.
And where do we start?
Right where we are, here in our darkness in the pandemic and within our hearts, far from God by beginning to pray anew to him so he may finally come and return to us!
The words by Prophet Isaiah in the first reading are so perfect at this time as if these were written only recently, expressing our true sentiments within: that we are sorry for having drifted far from Jesus and from others all these years, so focused with things and gadgets than with God and persons.
Our hearts have been too hard, distant from God and each other, so cold and so dark that we have become so insensitive, callous and numb or even without any conscience at all that in the midst of a pandemic, there are some who can still utter lies and malice with their hands also tainted with blood and corruption.
It is so sickening but, the more we pray and listen to our inner selves, we also find how this darkness has slowly encroached on us too, happening at different levels right in our own family circles, in our community, and even in our church maybe!
On bended knees, we humbly admit our need for God to intervene now – to rend the heavens – and bring us back to our senses and unto him, so we may finally find rays of hope, even a glimmer of light in this darkness we are into.
As we pray for the Lord’s advent or coming, we need to strive to be vigilant on our part as we patiently await him right in our hearts in this night of the pandemic and chaos going on.
Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!'”
Mark 13:33, 35-37
Though we live in darkness, we belong to Christ who is light himself!
Everywhere in the world, except Down Under perhaps, the Season of Advent always falls in that time of the year when the nights are longer and most of all, darkest as in winter experienced in the western hemisphere, including Europe.
In fact, Christmas Eve is the darkest night of the year, the date Christ was born to bring light and be the light of the world.
See how Jesus used the night as the time of the return of the “lord of the house” (who is himself, too) when everything is dark and difficult.
For the young generation today, it may mean nothing at all as they have grown accustomed to our 24/7 world where work continues into the night like during the day with offices and stores opened and public transportation readily available.
During the time of Jesus and even 30 years ago, we rarely travelled nor even went out past six in the evening because of the many dangers at night like criminal elements lurking for their preys and simply the difficult situation of seeing clearly the roads ahead. In the bible, darkness is the realm of evil and sin like Jesus being betrayed by Judas after their last supper while in Genesis, we find how in darkness was nothing but chaos until God created everything.
And there lies the good news of the night, of darkness, and of Advent: Jesus Christ as the light himself of the world comes to save us at night! It was before dawn when Jesus walked the waters of the Sea of Galilee to save his apostles while being tossed by giant waves in their small boat. It was also in the darkness of the night when Jesus rose from the dead on Easter Sunday.
Yes, we all live in the night when darkness envelops us, even our hearts and very lives with so many problems and crises happening but we never lose hope, we never lose sight of that glimmer of light for we do not belong to the night but to Jesus Christ, the light of the world.
Advent is patient waiting for the Lord’s coming.
Night is the time when it is best to believe in the light. As one poet had said, “The darkest nights produce the brightest stars.” But, another unknown poet had also said that “Only the brave who dare to walk the darkest of nights shall see the brightness of the stars above.”
Our lives may be in darkness or even dark itself these days but we celebrate the Sunday Eucharist today even if the the Lord’s coming may be delayed because we know deep in our hearts that “God is faithful, and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1Cor.1:9).
One thing we need to pray for this season are patience and vigilance in awaiting his return during this darkness.
Patience is a virtue becoming so rare these days when everything is rushed as we live in a world of “instants” like instant gratification and, yes! — even instant vaccine against COVID-19 without us realizing its deep implications of calls for changes in the way of living and doing things in the world as individuals and as nations. From the Latin “patior” which is to bear all pains, patience is also believing that something better will happen in every sufferings we patiently endure.
Likewise, vigilance is more than being awake and prepared for any eventuality but an active waiting for someone or something by taking risks due also to a firm belief something better will come out of trying situations.
Patience and vigilance go together for both are fruits of real and hard prayer, expressions of deep faith in God.
On this first Sunday of Advent with clouds still turning dark with rains that have never stopped drenching us these past weeks, we continue to celebrate the Eucharist thanking God for our long-term faith in Christ’s Second Coming.
When we look back to those past nine months of darkness in this pandemic worsened by recent calamities and a clueless government since January, we actually gone far than we have expected.
Why? Because we have never lost hope from the little glimmers of lights God has sent us since the lockdown in March! We have survived and slowly, many of us are finding life’s deeper meanings and realities in God our Father.
Notice how in every patient waiting for Christ’s Second Coming in the midst of the many darkness in life, the Lord actually comes nearer to us, albeit slowly and unnoticeably?
That’s the beauty of Advent, new beginnings always happening for those patiently waiting in the Lord.
Let us be on guard during these long nights of darkness when temptations are strongest and so appealing. Like at the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus wants us to “watch” with him by praying to the Father so we may remain faithful and focused on him alone to soon find life in the dead of the night. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Wednesday, Easter Week-IV, 06 May 2020
Acts of the Apostles 12:24-13:5 ><)))*> + ><)))*> + ><)))*> John 12:44-50
Our lamentations continue, O Lord, as our nation is plunged into deeper and disturbing darkness. How can all kinds of darkness fall upon us in this administration? First, they found death as solution to many problems. And then came all their lies and fake news.
Not to mention their diplomatic ties with a godless government that has been dishonest from the very beginning regarding this pandemic.
They themselves have chosen to be in darkness at the very start of the COVID-19 pandemic who would rather pass blame and wash hands for every confusion in implementing the quarantine.
And, now comes their most serious attack to light, in shutting down a beacon of light of news and information.
The more we cry out to you, O dear Jesus, please come to us now. Quickly. And save us!
Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me, and whoever sees me sees the one who sent me. I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness.”
We pray for those in government, in this administration who’s leader had blasphemed your Most Holy Name not only once or twice for the grace of enlightenment and decency from the Holy Spirit.
We pray like your early church for the Holy Spirit to set aside just one or two good souls in this government – if there are still any – to be sent to bring enlightenment to this administration who thrives on lies and malice along with their minions and supporters.
Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy.
Hear our cries and our pleas, O Lord of justice.
Show us your path of holiness amid this time of darkness and evil. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe, Holy Wednesday, 08 April 2020
Tonight is “Spy Wednesday” – the night traitors and betrayers are put on the spotlight because it was on this night after Palm Sunday when Judas Iscariot struck a deal with the chief priests to hand them over Jesus for 30 pieces of silver (Mt. 26:14-16).
The “Tenebrae” is celebrated in some churches when candles are gradually extinguished with the beating of drums and sounding of matraca to evoke silence and some fear among people as they leave in total darkness to signal the temporary victory of evil in the world for tomorrow we enter the Paschal Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil of the Lord.
Darkness generally evokes evil and sin, uncertainties and sufferings. But, at the same time, darkness preludes light!
That is why Jesus Christ was born during the darkest night of the year to bring us light of salvation.
Beginning tonight, especially tomorrow at his agony in the garden, we shall see Christ entering through darkness reaching its climax on Friday when he dies on the cross with the whole earth covered in darkness, rising on Easter in all his glory and majesty.
Our present situation in an extended Luzon-wide lockdown offers us this unique experience of darkness within and without where we can learn some important lessons from the Lord’s dark hours beginning tomorrow evening of his Last Supper.
St. John gives us a glimpse into how we must deal with life’s darkness that plagues us almost daily with his unique story of the Lord’s washing of his disciples’ feet on the night he was betrayed.
Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper… he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. He came to Simon Peter…
John 13:1-2, 4-6
It is very interesting to reflect how Judas Iscariot and Simon Peter dealt with their own inner darkness on that night of Holy Thursday when Jesus was arrested.
Though Judas Iscariot and Simon Peter are poles apart in their personalities, they both give us some traits that are so characteristic also of our very selves when we are in darkness. In the end, we shall see how Jesus turned the darkness of Holy Thursday into becoming the very light of Easter.
Getting lost in darkness like Judas Iscariot
Right after explaining the meaning of his washing of their feet and exhorting them to do the same to one another, Jesus begins to speak of Judas Iscariot as his betrayer.
When he had said this, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, “Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me …It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I had dipped it.” So he dipped the morsel and handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. After he took the morsel, Satan entered him… and left at once. And it was night.
John 13:21, 26-27, 30
The scene is very dramatic.
Imagine the darkness outside the streets of Jerusalem in the stillness of the night and the darkness inside the Upper Room where they were staying.
More darker than that was the darkness among the Apostles not understanding what Jesus was saying about his betrayer because they thought when Judas left, he was being told to buy more wine or give money to the poor!
Most of all, imagine the darkness within Judas.
To betray means to hand over to suffering someone dear to you.
That’s one darkness we always have within, of betraying Jesus, betraying our loved ones because we have found somebody else to love more than them. Satan had taken over Judas. The same thing happens to us when we sin, when we love someone more than those who truly love us or those we have vowed to love always.
And the darkest darkness of all is after handing over our loved ones, after dumping them for something or somebody else, we realize deep within the beautiful light of truth and love imprinted in our hearts by our betrayed loved ones – then doubt it too!
The flickering light of truth and love within is short lived that we immediately extinguish it, plunging us into total darkness of destruction like Judas when he hanged himself.
See how Judas went back to the chief priests because “he had sinned”, giving them back the 30 pieces of silver to regain Jesus.
Here we find the glow of Jesus, of his teachings and friendship within Judas still etched in his heart — the light of truth and love flickering within.
Any person along with their kindness and goodness like Jesus, our family and true friends can never be removed from one’s heart and person. They will always be there, sometimes spurting out in our unguarded moments because they are very true.
That is the darkest darkness of Judas – and of some of us – who think we can never be forgiven by God, that we are doomed, that there is no more hope and any chance at all.
See how the evangelist said it: “Judas left at once. And it was night.”
And that is getting lost in darkness permanently, eaten up by darkness within us because we refuse to believe in the reality of a loving and forgiving God who had come to plunge into the darkness of death to be one with us so we can be one in him. What a loss.
Groping in the dark into the light like Peter
Of the Twelve, it is perhaps with Simon Peter we always find ourselves identified with: the eager beaver, almost a “bolero” type who is so good in speaking but many times cannot walk his talk.
“Master, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”
Here is Peter so typical of us: always assuming of knowing what is right, which is best, as if we have a monopoly of the light when in fact we are in darkness.
See how during the trial of Jesus before the priests, Peter denied him thrice, declaring he never knew Jesus while outside in the dark, completely in contrast with Jesus brilliantly answering every question and false accusation against him inside among his accusers!
Many times in our lives, it is so easy for us to speak on everything when we are in our comfort zones, safe and secured in our lives and career. But when left or thrown out into the harsh realities of life, we grope in the darkness of ignorance and incompetence, trials and difficulties.
How often we are like Peter refusing Jesus to wash our feet because we could not accept the Lord being so humble to do that simply because he is the Lord and Master who must never bow low before anyone.
And that is one darkness we refuse to let go now shaken and shattered by the pandemic lockdown! The people we used to look down upon are mostly now in the frontlines providing us with all the comforts we enjoy in this crisis like electricity, internet, security, food, and other basic services.
We have always thought of the world, of peoples in hierarchy, in certain status where there are clear delineations and levels of importance, totally forgetting the lessons of Jesus of being like a child, of service and humility: “whoever wants to be great must be the least and servant of all.”
According to Matthew and Luke, Peter realized his sins – the darkness within him – of denying Jesus thrice after the cock crowed that he left the scene weeping bitterly, feeling so sorry. Eventually after Easter, Peter would meet Jesus again on the shores of the Lake of Tiberias, asking him thrice, “do you love me?”
Peter realized how dark his world has always been but in that instance when he declared his love that is so limited and weak did he finally see the light of Christ in his love and mercy!
Unlike Judas, Peter moved out of darkness and finally saw the light in the Risen Lord right in the very place where everything started when he was called to be a fisher of men, in his humanity as he was called by his original name, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me?”.
Human love is always imperfect and Jesus knows this perfectly well!
The best way to step out of darkness within us is to be like Simon — simply be your imperfect self, accepting one’s sins and weakness for that is when we can truly love Jesus who is the only one who can love us perfectly.
Overcoming darkness in, Jesus, with Jesus, through Jesus
Though the fourth gospel and the synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke differ in providing us with the transition from the Upper Room of the Last Supper into the agony in the garden, the four evangelists provide us with one clear message at how Jesus faced darkness: with prayer, of being one in the Father.
Even on the cross of widespread darkness, Jesus spoke only to pray to the Father.
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to feel sorrow and distress.
Before, darkness for man was seen more as a curse falling under the realm of evil and sin; but, with the coming of Jesus, darkness became a blessing, a prelude to the coming of light.
We have mentioned at the start of our reflection that Jesus was born during the darkest night of the year to show us he that is the light of the world, who had come to enlighten us in this widespread darkness, within us and outside us.
As the light of the world, Jesus was no stranger to darkness which he conquered and tamed in many instances like when they were caught in a storm at sea and in fact, when walked on water to join his disciples caught in another storm.
But most of all, Jesus had befriended darkness and made it a prelude to light.
How? By always praying during darkness. By prayer, it is more than reciting some prayers common during his time as a Jew but as a form of submission to the will of the Father. Jesus befriended darkness by setting aside, forgetting his very self to let the Father’s will be done.
This he showed so well in two instances, first on Mount Tabor where he transfigured and second in Gethsemane before his arrest.
In both events, Jesus showed us the path to overcoming darkness is always through prayers, of being one in the Father.
It is in darkness when God is most closest to us because it is then when we get a glimpse of himself, of his love and mercy, of his own sufferings and pains, and of his glory.
This is something the three privileged disciples – Simon Peter, James and his brother John – did not realize while being with Jesus at both instances until after Easter. We are those three who always fall asleep, who could not keep with praying in Jesus, with Jesus, and through Jesus.
It was in the darkness of the night when Jesus spent most of his prayer periods, communing with the Father up in a mountain or a deserted place.
On Mount Tabor, Jesus showed his coming glory while in Gethsemane he showed his coming suffering and death. But whether in Gethsemane or on Mount Tabor, it is always Jesus we meet inviting us to share in his oneness with the Father, in his power in the Holy Spirit to overcome every darkness in life.
And the good news is he had already won for us!
In these extended darker days of quarantine period, let us come to the Lord closer in prayer to. experience more of his Passion and Death, more of his darkness so we may see his coming glory when everything is finally cleared in this corona pandemic.
Prayer does not necessarily change things but primarily changes the person first. And that is when prayer changes everything when we become like Jesus in praying.
Jesus is asking us to leave everything behind, to forget one’s self anew to rediscover him in this darkness when we get out of our comfort zones to see the many sufferings he continues to endure with our brothers and sisters with lesser things in this life, with those in total darkness, with those groping in the dark.
Now more than ever, we have realized the beauty of poverty and simplicity, of persons than things.
And most especially of darkness itself becoming light for us in this tunnel.
May Jesus enlighten us and vanish all darkness in us so that soon, we shall celebrate together the joy of his coming again in this world darkened by sin. Amen.