Finding our directions in life

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
First Friday in Week XIII of Ordinary Time, 01 July 2022
Amos 8:4-6, 9-12   ><))))*> + ><))))*> + ><))))*>   Matthew 9:9-13
Photo by author, 14 May 2022 in Los Baños, Laguna.
Glory and praise to you,
God our loving Father for this
brand new month of July 2022:
new beginning, new batch of 31
days filled with your wonderful 
surprises, filled with life and joy!
Grant us, dear Father,
with sense of directions in you
through Jesus Christ your Son;
like Matthew, may we have the grace
to respond to his call to follow him;
help us realize like Matthew
that life is not about having 
wealth and every thing money can buy
but finding meaning and 
directions in life in you.
Forgive us, O Lord, 
when affluence and comforts
overtake us that we forget you
and the people around us
like the people of Israel at the time
of Amos who "trampled upon the needy
and destroyed the poor of the land"
(Amos 8:4); all the sad conditions
happening then still happen today when
nobody cares at all about Sunday worship
nor with honesty in trading and work.

Yes, days are coming, says the Lord God, when I will send famine upon the land: Not a famine of bread, or thirst for water, but for hearing the word of the Lord. Then shall they wander from sea to sea and rove from north to the east in search of the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it.

Amos 8:11-12
Continue to speak to us, Lord,
for without your words,
we are lost like many of those
among us today, "wandering from sea
to sea, roving from north to the east"
searching for your words,
searching for meaning and
directions in life.
Amen.

In praise of women

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church, 06 June 2022
Genesis 3:9-15   ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*>   John 19:25-27
Photo by author, 2018.
Praise and glory to you,
God our loving Father
for all the women of the world
as we resume Ordinary Time
in our Church calendar honoring
Mary, Mother of the Church.
How wonderful to recall how
all four evangelists narrated the 
presence of women at the crucifixion
of your Son Jesus Christ:  what a 
most wondrous sight that continues 
to this day when behind every sufferings
we go through are the women who
often join and accompany us even
until death, giving us strength and 
courage, comfort and consolation.
But most wondrous, O God,
is the account of the beloved disciple
of Mary, the Mother of Jesus at the
foot of his Cross on Good Friday,
being addressed as "woman".

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.

John 19:25-27
Only you, O God in your Son Jesus, 
can give that unique gift of womanhood
especially your Mother Mary;
you first called her "woman" at the
wedding feast at Cana and now here
at the Cross, when your hour had come.
What a beautiful image, dear Lord,
of Mary, of the woman in your work of
redemption so close and so near you
that is in direct contrast with the other woman
in Genesis, Eve, who turned away from you
in sin.
Bless us dear Jesus, 
to constantly repeat this beautiful
scene at the Cross, as an individual
and as a community of your disciples:
let us relive this scene in our lives
as Christians taking Mary your Mother
as well as the Church into our own homes
and most especially of respecting every
woman still ignored and taken for granted
in this time; let us remember always our
equal dignity with women as image and likeness
of God as we carry out your final instructions
of remaining one in you in love and mercy.
Amen.
Photo by author, 2019.

Love & Peace in Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Sixth Sunday in Easter-C, 22 May 2022
Acts 15:1-2, 22-29 ><}}}}*> Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23 ><}}}}*> John 14:23-29
Photo by Ms. Danna Hazel de Castro, Kiltepan Peak, Sagada, Mountain Province, 2017.

We are now in our penultimate Sunday of the Easter Season as Jesus announces his Ascension and the sending of the Holy Spirit “who would teach his followers everything and remind them of all he had told them” (cf. Jn.14:26).

Jesus was still having his heart-to-heart talk with his disciples at the Last Supper “after Judas had left”, teaching them two very important realities in life we all wish and pray for but always afraid to work for – love and peace. Keep in mind that during the Last Supper, Jesus was telling everyone about his coming departure from earth after going through his Pasch, making his disciples to worry and be fearful of what would happen to them when the Lord is “gone”. To assure them of his continuing presence among them when his departure happens, Jesus reiterated his commandment to love one another as he gave them his gift of peace, promising the sending of the Holy Spirit who would enlighten them to understand and remember everything he had taught them.

Photo by author, Bolinao. Pangasinan, 19 April 2022.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Whoever love me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him… The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You have heard me tell you, ‘I am going going away and I will come back to you. If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now, I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe.'”

John 14:23, 26-29

Love & peace as deeper realities, not fancies

Jesus reminds us today like at the Last Supper how love and peace are essential to remain close to him after he had returned to the Father in heaven, making him present among us and in the world we live in filled with many sufferings and pains, trials and struggles.

From the love and peace we strive become also our sources of joy as we go through in life as followers of Jesus Christ. That is why Jesus insists in the gospel this Sunday that love and peace are not mere fancies nor emotions and feelings as the world presents them; love and peace in Christ demand the Cross. It is both a decision we have to keep and sustain through the Holy Spirit Jesus had promised to give us the courage and wisdom to truly love and work for peace.

Photo by author, Parish of St. John the Baptist, Calumpit, Bulacan, 02 May 2022.

Priority of love. See again Jesus teaching us today on the priority of love which must always be the foundation and motivation of our relationships with him and with one another. Recall how he told us last week of the “newness” of his commandment to love which is a radical commitment to Jesus, that in imitating his kind of love willing to sacrifice and die in one’s self, we remain one in the Father and with each other.

Love is the very foundation of our lives as image and likeness of God who is love himself. It is the kind of love that seeks to do the will of the Father like Jesus, willing to forget one’s own good, comfort and convenience. The Greeks call it agape, the very kind of love Jesus witnessed to us on the Cross, the same love he asked Simon Peter at the shores of Lake Tiberias after Easter.

It is humanly very difficult to love that is why the Greeks and Romans have thought of having gods and goddesses of love. It is the reason why Jesus became human so that we can love like God by asking us to keep his word so that he and the Father may dwell in us and enable us to do his works in us. Love is doable in Christ if we let him live in us. As the beloved disciple tells us, “No one has ever seen God. Yet if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us” (1Jn.4:12).

Photo by Ms. Jing Rey Henderson in Taroytoy, Aklan, 30 April 2022.

Motivated by love. If love is the foundation of our lives, then, love must also be the motivation of everything we think, say and do. It is easy to be rooted in the love of God but it can happen that we may be doing things for God not truly borne out of love but due to fears and even selfish reasons. Hence, our need of constantly purifying our love for God

To love like Christ is to do away with all of our ifs and buts, excuses and alibis but simply to love like him. This is the most challenging part of discipleship, making it so difficult to be a Christian especially at this time. The recent events happening in our country challenge us to examine the purity of our love in him as disciples that despite of what have transpired, of whatever have been said and done, we continue to truly love and serve in Jesus.

We heard in the first reading how love inspired the early Christians to meet at the Council of Jerusalem in year 50 to discuss and resolve the many differences they encountered that early in the Church. It was first severe test of the Apostles and early Christians from within and because of love, they have triumphed and has continued to remain until now!

There will always be differences among us especially fellow Christians but these are not meant to divide us but to become means to be one in Christ in love. It is a tragedy when we disciples of Christ who claim to always know what is true and good when in fact we become the obstacles to dialogue and understanding, to peace and unity.

Love leads to peace. Here we find how love leads into peace. Like love, peace is not an emotion nor a feeling, a mere absence of war and differences but more of a product of love that is willing to sacrifice and suffer.

Jesus made it clear during Last Supper that the peace he gives is not like what the world gives that is often due to compromises, to quid pro quo in exchange of some concessions. The peace Jesus gives us is first of all one that is motivated by love of God that calls for a deep faith and trust in the Father.

Photo by author, Bolinao. Pangasinan, 19 April 2022.

Peace does not depend on everything going right in our lives, when all is “silent and peaceful” as we would say. Peace sometimes comes most to us when we go through many trials in life as we trust in God more, in his goodness and in his plans for us.

The peace of Jesus Christ comes and is found within us, not outside us. That is why Jesus tells us to not let our hearts be troubled or afraid. When we trust Jesus and do whatever he asks us out of love, then we experience peace even if there are temporary setbacks to our efforts for ourselves or family or even nation. We just have to have faith in God and continue to love in Christ for in the end, good and truth prevail.

In the Hebrew language, peace is shalom which means finding order or good relationships with one’s self, with others and with God. Let us examine our hearts and our lives this Sunday to see areas within us needing order, where we lack love as foundation and motivation in doing things that peace remains elusive to us.

May the love of Jesus Christ shine in us and through us like in the vision of John of the new Jerusalem coming down that “had no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gave it light, and its lamp was the Lamb, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rev. 21:23). Amen.

Have a blessed and fruitful week ahead!

Photo by author, San Juan, Batangas, 14 May 2022.

Faith + works = discipleship

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Week VI, Year II in Ordinary Time, 18 February 2022
James 2:14-24, 26   ><)))*> + ><)))*> + ><)))*>   Mark 8:34-9:1
Photo from inquirer.net, 2021.
Awaken us, O Lord,
from our mistake and
error of insisting 
that our pious and religious 
exercises are the "good works"
that express our faith in you;
let us realize that it is not 
enough that we simply 
celebrate Mass, recite the
Rosary, join processions and
pilgrimages and keep other 
devotions that make us good
practicing Catholics; these are
not the good works that St. James
is asking from us in the first reading:
faith is the true living out 
of our faith in you, Jesus Christ!

For just as a body without spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

James 2:26
True faith in you,
O Lord, is forgetting 
one's self to reach out
to those in need, fighting
for justice and peace,
being more loving and kind,
forgiving and understanding
of others just like you, dear Jesus.
True faith in you,
dear Jesus, is being 
your disciple which is  
a call to deny one's self,
to take up one's cross in life,
and to follow YOU always
(Mark 8:34).
Give me the grace
this day, Jesus, 
to sincerely look into
myself and examine 
how true is my
faith in you, 
how my very life
and actions reveal
the faith I have
or simply do not have
at all.  Amen.

Beatitudes of Jesus, attitudes of his disciples

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Sunday Week VI-C in Ordinary Time, 13 February 2022
Jeremiah 17:5-8 ><}}}}*> 1 Corinthians 15:12, 16-20 ><}}}}*> Luke 6:17, 20-26
Photo by author, monastery inside the compound of the Church of Beatitudes, the Holy Land, 2019.

From the shores of Lake Gennesaret in Capernaum, Jesus now takes us to the plains for his first series of teachings called “sermon on the plains”. In Matthew’s gospel, it is called “sermon on the mount” due to his different emphasis and audience, his fellow Jews while Luke situated it on the plains based on his own focus directed to gentiles or non-Jews.

But, whether it was on the mount or on the plains, one thing remains clear: Jesus taught important lessons specifically for his disciples called the Beatitudes.

Last Sunday Jesus called his first four disciples to become “fishers of men” and as he travelled preaching along the shores of Galilee, they grew to Twelve in number.

On the night before this scene of sermon on the plains, Jesus went up a hill with the Twelve to pray before appointing them as Apostles. It was the first “face-to-face” class of the Twelve with the Beatitudes labelled as Discipleship 101.

And raising his eyes toward his disciples he said: Blessed are you who are poor for the kingdom of God is yours. Blessed are you who are now hungry for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven. But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are filled now for you will be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will grieve and weep. Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way.”

Luke 6:20-26
Photo by author, Church of the Beatitudes, the Holy Land, 2019.

Beatitudes, the meaning of discipleship

The Beatitudes tell us the meaning of discipleship, of not simply following Jesus but making a choice, taking a stand to be like him. Each “blessedness” is actually Christ who is described as the poor, the hungry, the weeping, and the hated.

Again we find in the Beatitudes of Jesus the contrasts and contradictions we have reflected three Sundays ago when he was rejected by his own folks at a synagogue in Nazareth (see https://lordmychef.com/2022/01/29/living-loving-amid-contradictions/).

See the set of “Blessed” followed by a corresponding set of “woes”, giving us a hint that the Beatitudes were patterned by Jesus to Jeremiah’s pronouncements to the people we heard in the first reading,

“Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the Lord. Blessed is the who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord. He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: it fears not the heat when it comes, its leaves stay green; in the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit.”

Jeremiah 17:5, 7-8

Both in Jeremiah and in the Beatitudes by Jesus, there is the promise of blessings in the future; however, it is not something we only hope to achieve in the future but something realized in the present IF we trust in the Lord.

Photo by author, pilgrims entering the Church of the Beatitudes, 2019.

More than a promise of hope in a future glory, the Beatitudes by Jesus are directions every disciple must take as path in life, guides or criteria in discerning the will of God for us in this life. It is said that the word beatitude is from “be attitude” or the attitudes of a disciple.

That gesture of the Lord looking up to his disciples that include us today while teaching the Beatitudes indicates his recognition of our present situation by speaking in the present tense with “Blessed are you who are now poor, hungry, weeping and hated”.

Are we not feeling poor and hungry, actually weeping and hated in this intensely heated politics in the country where everyone seems to be lacking reason and shame, everyone going insane and worst, salaula (filthy) without any sense of shame at all?

At the same time, all those pronouncements of having the Kingdom of God, of being satisfied, of laughing, and of being rewarded greatly in heaven are not things we get in the future if we suffer now; these we can NOW have amid our sufferings when we are one in Jesus Christ.

The saints have shown us in their lives most especially St. Paul how while being poor, hungry, weeping and hated they have experienced fulfillment and joy at the same time. We ourselves have proven them right that with St. Paul we can “boast” like him, “Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10).

The key is union in Jesus Christ because the Beatitudes not only reveal to us his very person but also his Paschal Mystery of Passion, Death and Resurrection. It is therefore an imperative that every disciple must be immersed in Christ because discipleship is the imitation of Christ. Again, we borrow from St. Paul who said, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal.2:20).

Photo by author, dome of the Church of Beatitudes, the Holy Land, 2019.

Woes of not following Jesus

Contrary to claims by many philosophers and filosofong tasyo alike who are atheists and anti-Church, God is not a sadomasochist who delights in seeing his people suffer and die. Nothing bad can come from God for God is love (1 Jn. 4:8).

Unbelievers continue to question God, most especially Jesus and his Beatitudes that are clearly about sufferings with its apparent dislike or rejection of wealth and fame like what Jesus spoke of the woes in the second part of his Beatitudes.

There is nothing wrong with being rich, being filled, of laughing and being spoken well by others per se; in fact, these are all good in themselves. However, Jesus spoke of them as woes based on the pattern we have seen from Jeremiah’s pronouncements in the first reading: “Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the Lord.”

See how Jesus was more “soft” and gentle in his woes than God in Jeremiah’s instruction to the people that was so harsh, saying “cursed” is the man who trusts in human beings, whose heart turns away from the Lord.

Photo by author, altar in the Church of Beatitudes, 2019.

But here we find its true context too: it is a warning sign, a reminder of the dangers that can happen to anyone who trusts in himself more and turns away from God.

Here we find something truly happening in the future – not now – unlike in the Beatitudes wherein the future blessings are experienced in the present moment if we suffer in communion with Christ.

Very clear in Jeremiah and in the woes of Jesus, turning away from God surely leads to disaster because it is the opposite path of blessings.

At the same time, since God does not punish, the woes by Jesus are not a condemnation of those who are rich, filled, laughing and well spoken of others. His woes are not expressions of hatred nor hostilities but warning against the dangers of being so proud, of being filled with one’s self, of playing god because it is the path to destruction. Or even perdition as we shall see later this year in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man found only in Luke’s gospel.

The Greeks have a more precise term for that called hubris – an excessive pride and defiance of the gods that leads to one’s nemesis. Clearly, God does not punish nor condemn anyone of us. It is always our choice that we are lost and end in woes, as Shakespeare immortalized in the words of Cassius in Julius Caesar,

"The fault, dear Brutus, 
is not in our stars 
But in ourselves, 
that we are underlings".

Have a blessed week ahead, everyone. God bless you all. Amen.

Praying to be simple

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of St. Blaise, Bishop & Martyr, 03 February 2022
1 Kings 2:1-4, 10-12   ><}}}}*> + <*{{{{><   Mark 6:7-13
Photo by Emre Kuzu on Pexels.com
God our Father,
as we celebrate today
the memorial of St. Blaise,
a Bishop and Martyr so loved
by people for the many miracles
attributed to him, I pray only for 
one thing:  to be simply simple
like him.
His life was clearly a life of simplicity
anchored in deep faith in you, in just
having you in through prayers and
examples of life; St. Blaise took to
heart Jesus Christ's instructions to 
the Twelve "to take nothing for the 
journey but a walking stick - no food,
no sack, no money in their belts" as
"they proclaimed repentance, driving
off many demons, and healing the
sick" (Mark 6:8, 12).
Famous for healing those with 
afflictions of the throat and neck,
St. Blaise's life of simplicity reminds
us how too much things of the world
like wealth and fame could "choke" us,
preventing us from bridging what is
in our hearts and what is in our minds. 
Like King David in the first reading,
let us realize that someday, we are 
"going the way of all flesh" that 
for us to be truly rich and fruitful 
in life, it is best to keep the mandate
of the Lord always for he alone is our
life and meaning.  Amen.

Seeing Jesus, walking with Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Sunday Week XXX-B in Ordinary Time, 24 October 2021
Jeremiah 31:7-9 ><]]]]'> Hebrews 5:1-6 ><]]]]'> Mark 10:46-52
Photo by Mr. Jay Javier, Quiapo, January 2020.

We are about to end our liturgical calendar in five Sundays from now and Jesus is fast approaching Jerusalem, his final destination in fulfilling his mission to redeem us from our sins. Along this path, we are reminded of the many blindness within us that prevent us from meeting Jesus who is passing by.

Recall how last week we reflected on the “blindness” of the brothers James and John to their ambitions, wishing to Jesus that once he becomes king, they would be seated at his right and at his left, forgetting the Lord’s teaching that he is a “suffering Messiah”, far from their expectations of a triumphant victor or liberator.

Today, we heard the story of a blind man named Bartimaeus who kept shouting, pleading to Jesus’ attention who was passing by the city of Jericho on his way to Jerusalem.

The story reminds us of the need for us to be aware of our many blindness in life, of things that keep us from seeing Jesus, others and our very selves. Here is a man very realistic, aware of his blindness, focused on his need and goal to be able to see, most specially Jesus.

As Jesus was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a sizable crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind man, the son of Timaeus, sat by the roadside begging. On hearing that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he kept calling out all the more, “Son of David, have pity on me.” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.”

Mark 10:46-49

So often, we get blinded by even the most obvious things in life like our present condition that needs to be improved or even saved. In the Book of the Acts of the Apostles is a story of that crippled beggar at the Beautiful Gate of the temple whom Peter and John healed one afternoon after the Pentecost. According to Acts 3:1-9, when the beggar who was crippled from birth saw Peter and John approaching him, he thought they would give him alms; but much to his surprise and of everybody, Peter made him walk in the name of “Jesus Christ the Nazorean”!

Imagine how the crippled beggar so used to his condition, so comfortable to some extent that he was preoccupied to just begging for alms, forgetting or abandoning all hopes to be able to walk like most people.

There are times we really do not know what we need and want in life that we are easily distracted and defocused from having the essential things in life like seeing our true selves, those around us and even our need for God who has been loving us, showering us with his many blessings and grace we hardly notice because we are busy complaining for so much wants not important.

Here, Bartimaeus was so sure of what he wanted: to recover his sight.

And the most wonderful thing is how he completely had faith in Jesus as the only one who can restore his sight, calling him “Son of David” which is the title of the coming Messiah or Christ. He must have heard a lot about his healings and preaching, realizing Isaiah’s prophecy of how the Messiah would restore sight to the blind. Jesus himself had confirmed this at the inauguration of his ministry at Nazareth when he proclaimed that part of the Book of Isaiah in the synagogue (Lk.4:18).

That is how realistic and grounded was Bartimaeus to the realities of himself that he shouted to beg Jesus to have pity on him. His faith in Jesus was so firm that when people tried to silence him, the more he persisted and shouted aloud so Jesus would hear him!

How well do we know the many blindness we have in ourselves that we would exert such effort like Bartimaeus in asking Jesus for light, to restore our sight so we would see and know him clearly, love him dearly and follow him closely?

He threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus. Jesus said to him in reply, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man replied to him, “Master, I want to see.” Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.

Mark 10:50-52

Moreover, it is not enough to be healed of our blindness in faith; 
the truest sign of having our sights back, 
of being healed from blindness is to leave 
the roadside to follow Jesus "on the way".

“Jesus healing the Blind Man” painted by Brian Jekel (born 1951) in 2008, oil on canvas. From http://www.Christian.Art.com.

What a wonderful story of healing and faith, of seeing and following Jesus! “Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way.” Today the gospel reminds us to take a critical look at ourselves to root out whatever it is that keeps us from seeing who Jesus is like self-centeredness and pride, preoccupation with fame and wealth, or our toxic relationships and painful past we could not let go.

See how Bartimaeus “threw aside his cloak, sprang up, and came to Jesus” upon being called from the roadside. That is the key to any real prayer, of encountering and meeting Jesus when we are willing to let go of whatever we have, of letting ourselves be stripped naked before God without any ifs and buts, offering him our very selves.

Moreover, it is not enough to be healed of our blindness in faith; the truest sign of having our sights back, of being healed from blindness is to leave the roadside to follow Jesus “on the way”.

Again, we hear from St. Mark using that word “way”: last month Jesus asked his disciples what were they arguing along the way and no one could answer him because they were discussing who was the greatest among them. In the healing of Bartimaeus, there is that beautiful imagery of Jesus our way, truth and life; of Jesus passing by, calling everyone to come to him, to leave the roadside and walk with him on the way to Jerusalem like Bartimaeus.

In this critical period of our history when we are celebrating the 500 years of the coming of Christianity while we are in the midst of a crucial election campaign period on the second year of a crippling pandemic, we are all called by Jesus to leave the roadside like Bartimaeus to join him on the main road, to journey with him, and most of all, to carry our cross with him.

Joining Jesus on the main road with his Cross means becoming his very presence among other people too. Discipleship is more than seeing and following Jesus – it means setting aside our false securities and “springing up” from our comfort zones in order to give ourselves to others too.

Discipleship is walking with God, walking with his people, bringing them joy and hope while in the midst of sufferings like the prophecy of Jeremiah in the first reading: “Behold, I will bring them back from the land of the north; I will gather them from the ends of the world, with the blind and the lame in their midst, the mothers and those with child; they shall return as an immense throng” (Jer.31:8).

Yes, this has been fulfilled by Jesus in his coming but the journey continues to this day with his faithful disciples who guard against all kinds of blindness within, leaving the roadside of comforts to meet and share Jesus on the dusty road of life.

Many times, Jesus is passing by the road invisible to many, unnoticed by many due to various kinds of blindness. Jesus wants us all to be with him, to join in his journey to light, to freedom, to peace and to joy. Everybody is invited to leave the roadside and hit the main road with Jesus.

Let us be open to listen to his coming, to his calls.

Most of all, let us beg him for mercy to open our eyes, to heal us from the many blindness we have so we may see and meet him, love and follow him always. Amen.

Have a blessed week ahead!

Photo by Mr. Jay Javier, Quiapo, January 2020.

This God who connects us

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Solemnity of the Holy Trinity-B, 30 May 2021
Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40 ><}}}'> Romans 8:14-17 ><}}}'> Matthew 28:16-20 
From Pinterest.com

If there is anything most difficult and frustrating next to COVID-19 these days, it must be having your internet going “off line” as you lose “connections” with family and friends – and NETFLIX – while isolated in your home due to the pandemic. Making it worst is when it happens on a Saturday evening with no one to even answer your calls at the supposed to be 24/7 hotlines of internet providers that we were flooded with complaints and queries as we could not air our online Masses last Sunday.

As we went back to “stone age” without any internet signal for almost a week, I realized some beautiful things this modern lifestyle we all enjoy with a lot of great patience courtesy of our unreliable telcos. See the terms we use these days that speak of our modern life but at the same time reveal to us something so ancient, so true, and so basic that we take for granted or even disregard – GOD.


Unlike the internet that can be cut off for many reasons, 
our connection with God is permanent --- 
upgraded to the highest level more than 2000 years ago 
in the coming of Jesus Christ and the sending of the Holy Spirit!

God is the original internet, the very first Wi-Fi! He cannot be seen but can be strongly felt. Most of all, God is always around, never goes off line. All we need is make the effort to connect. He has created the whole world and universe as his “Wi-Fi Zone” where we are all interconnected in time and space that we can go back to our past and be healed in him or look into the future and be assured with all of his support.

Unlike the internet that can be cut off for many reasons, our connection with God is permanent — upgraded to the highest level more than 2000 years ago in the coming of Jesus Christ and the sending of the Holy Spirit!

It is in this light that I wish to invite you to join me in reflecting the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity we are celebrating on this first Sunday of the resumption of Ordinary Time.

From shutterstock.com via Aletheia.com

God in our midst

The challenge is not to explain fully 
the mystery of the Trinity, 
of the three Persons in one God 
but how we make that mystery 
a living reality in us and among us.

Before the people of the Bible reflected and wrote about the origins of the world and the universe, they were first preoccupied with their long experience with God. They have felt and have wondered how somebody bigger than them, more powerful yet so loving and caring related with them in a personal way in the many events of their lives employing various signs and wonders that instilled the whole spectrum of feelings like joy and fear, guilt and thanksgiving, commitment and love, and all the other emotions we also go through in our own experiences of him!

And that is the most amazing about his total mystery: we cannot fully know and understand God but we know deep inside us he is true, he is real, he exists. We can prove beyond doubt his very existence and use so many illustrations to explain him but will never be enough.

What matters most is that we “know” him, that he is real, that he is true.

To know in the Jewish thought is not only an intellectual assent but more of a relationship: to know a person is to have a relationship with that person. Hence, every knowledge and recognition of God implies a lifelong commitment and relationship with him!

Moses said to the people: “Ask now of the days of old, before your time, ever since God created man upon the earth; ask from one end of the sky to the other: Did anything so great ever happen before? Was it ever heard of? Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of fire, as you did, and live? This is why you must now know, and fix in your heart, that the Lord is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and that there is no other”

Deuteronomy 4:32-33, 39

Beyond doubt, God is always present, the perfect present in fact as he told Moses at the burning bush, “I Am Who Am” (Ex.3:14) that to say the very word GOD means he exists, a foolishness to claim that “there is no god” (Ps.14:1).

We have come to know him in our many experiences, giving us a sense of “belonging”, of being linked and interconnected like Wi-Fi that we do not see and for all we know, has always been there present in the airwaves, in the atmosphere tapped only recently through our modern communications technology.

The challenge is not to explain fully the mystery of the Trinity, of the three Persons in one God but how we make that mystery a living reality in us and among us.

Photo from kimaldrich.com

To be wrapped by – not to grasp – the mystery

Unlike the internet signals we have discovered only lately in history, God as a reality revealed himself to us in his relationships in the past, reaching its highest point in Christ’s coming that was affirmed and enlightened to the Apostles at the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in Jerusalem which continues to our time.

For this Sunday, we use the majestic conclusion of the Gospel according to St. Matthew that has a very strong Trinitarian flavor with the Lord’s command before ascending into heaven.

The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshipped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached, and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

Matthew 28:16-20

Last Thursday after Pentecost we celebrated the new Feast of Jesus Christ, the Eternal Priest to remind us of our sharing in the priestly ministry of Jesus when we were baptized. That is, to adore, honor, praise and thank the supreme majesty of God in our prayers. We see this exercise of our common priesthood in Christ in this gospel we have heard: the disciples went to a mountain in Galilee as ordered by Jesus. The mountain indicates the presence of God, conveying a message of praying and coming to him.

The Sign of the Cross is essentially an ascent to a mountain, a prayer in itself to God in the Holy Trinity. When we make the Sign of the Cross, we become the embodiment of God’s mysterious threeness of persons in one God. We affirm his reality as we enter into his mystery of the Trinity by fulfilling Christ’s triple mission given to the apostles.

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” To truly experience the mystery of the Trinity is to lose one’s self in Christ as his disciple. In his teachings and very life, Jesus had shown us the importance of forgetting one’s self as his follower, of becoming like a child that whoever wants to be the greatest must be the least and servant of all. The mystery of God is not something we grasp but something we allow to envelop us to be covered with his transcendence in order share in Christ’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection. Remember that it is not difficult to find God who reveals himself to those truly seeking him by following Jesus on the Cross.

“Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” We have seen how since the start of the Church after Pentecost, baptism has been conferred to those who welcomed the Gospel of salvation from Jesus Christ. Through him, with him, and in him, every baptized person is born into God’s life in his Holy Trinity as beloved children of the Father and coheirs of his kingdom in heaven, as brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, and as the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Thus, we become a holy people to God, one again in him as he had deemed since the beginning that was fulfilled in Jesus our Eternal High Priest at the last supper and Good Friday.

“Teach them to observe all I have commanded you.” St. Matthew has been very particular in this aspect in his entire gospel account, of the need to put into practice the Lord’s teachings. It is not enough that people are baptized, that they welcome in faith Christ’s commandment to love: they have to live it up! That is when the Trinity becomes so real and true in us when we live in love, when we are willing to give ourselves in love for others.


In this world that has become so highly sophisticated and complicated as well, when what matters most are fame and popularity, connections that do not last at all, always erratic, never contented with what is most essential like value of persons and life, it is no wonder that even God is slowly being removed from the daily equation of life.

Photo by author, Bangui Windmill, Ilocos Norte, 2011.

This is most especially true in this post-modern generation without absolutes, when anything goes as everything is relative; and worst, when something that cannot be proven as tangibly present and real, then the mystery of the Trinity is even pushed even to the back seats of our lives.

See how so many people are so ashamed of even doing the Sign of the Cross in public!

This solemnity of the Trinity that we celebrate on the first Sunday at the resumption of Ordinary Time reminds us of the daily coming of God into our lives, of his personal relationship with us that is being challenged strongly by the ways of the world that is opposite his ways of love and kindness, mercy and forgiveness, simplicity and humility.

Let us ask the help of the Holy Spirit to lead us as “children of God, not slaves” of the world’s selfish ways (Rom. 8:14-17) so we may maintain that strong connections in the Father through Jesus Christ. Amen.

A blessed first week of June 2021 to everyone!

Being true collaborators of Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Tuesday, Memorial of Sts. Timothy and Titus, Bishops, 26 January 2021
2 Timothy 1:1-8    >><)))*>   +++   <*(((><<     Luke 10:1-9
Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA-7 News, sunrise at Natonin, Mountain Province after a devastating landslide in October 2018.

Dearest Lord Jesus Christ:

A day after celebrating the feast of the conversion of your great Apostle Paul, we now remember his two collaborators and companions in fulfilling his mission from you, Timothy and Titus, trustworthy men who carried out so many of his works.

And so today, we pray Lord Jesus in your name to please send us collaborators in your mission, men and women who are trustworthy who share in your vision and mission, endeavors and responsibilities. Collaborators in you, Lord, who are willing and ready to serve the Gospel with generosity like Timothy and Titus who represented Paul in many circumstances far from easy.

Send us, dear Jesus, more workers in your field, collaborators in you with our bishops and priests, even with our leaders in government who shall think more of serving the people, thinking more of the welfare of others than one’s personal advantages like power and fame.

“The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves.”

Luke 10:2-3

What will happen to your people, Lord Jesus when your servants and collaborators become the wolves, unmindful of the needs of the people, forgetting their mission of proclaiming your Gospel, of celebrating your Holy Sacrifice of the Mass much needed these days?

What will happen to your people, Lord Jesus when your servants and collaborators become afraid of doing what is true and right, trying to please men and women than God, avoiding problems and difficulties?

Photo by Dr. Mai B. Dela Peña, MD, Carmelite Monastery, the Holy Land, 2017.

“For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control … bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God.”

2 Timothy 1:6-7, 8

Help us follow, dear Jesus, your Apostle Paul’s recommendation to Titus, “I desire you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to apply to themselves to good deeds; these are excellent and profitable to men.”

May we be more committed to you, Jesus Christ than to anyone else, even to our selfish motives so that we may be rich in good deeds to open the doors of the world to you our Lord and Master. 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).