Opening to God

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Friday, Fifth Week in Ordinary Time, Year I, 12 February 2021
Genesis 3:1-8     <*(((><<   +   >><)))*>     Mark 7:31-37
Photo by author, Pililla Wind Farm in Rizal, 07 January 2021.

Listening to your words as the day unfolds, dearest Lord, I have realized that not all “opening” is good after all. Sometimes we want to open so many things in ourselves that only lead to opening to sin and evil, instead of opening to truth and peace and justice found only in you.

Teach us, O God our loving Father, to open only to you and completely trust you in your opening to us because it is when we start opening other possibilities like gaining more knowledge, more life, more of ourselves that we actually start closing out from you like in the story of the fall of man.

The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked. When they heard the sound of the Lord God moving about in the garden at the breezy time of the day, the man and his wife hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

Genesis 3:6-7, 8
Photo by author, Mt. St. Paul Spirituality Center, La Trinidad, Benguet, February 2020.

So many times in life, dear God, we cannot accept other’s openness because we are so closed to ourselves. There are times that instead of going out into the open, we hide from you as if we can conceal what is exposed and open.

Open our eyes to see you in ourselves, to see ourselves in you and in others too.

How funny that in the gospel today, your Son our Lord Jesus Christ, healed a deaf man by opening his ears. And in doing so, he first “took him off by himself away from the crowd” (Mk.7:33), then healed him by looking up to heaven, groaning with the word “Ephphatha!” (that is, “Be opened!”).

Ultimately, Lord, it is always easy to open our eyes and see or, open our ears and hear without really opening ourselves, opening our hearts that connect all senses into our whole being.

What matters most which we all pray today is to open us, O God, to you completely so that we may see and listen with our hearts inclined to you. Amen.

Postscript-2 to St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 21 October 2020
Statue of St. Paul at the Malolos Cathedral by the famed ecclesiastical artist Willy Layug.

Today we conclude our reflections – or “postscript” – to St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians about faith we heard proclaimed in the weekday readings two weeks ago from October 05-14, 2020.

A truly faithful person 
is one who is also free.

We have said that faith is a relationship with God and with others like in marriage and friendship. When our faith with God and with persons is strong with conviction and realistic, then the more we become free because there is no room for doubts that we are not loved.

Brothers and sisters: Scripture confined all things under the power of sin, that through faith in Jesus Christ the promise might be given to those who believe. Before faith came, we were held in custody under law, confined for the faith that was to be revealed. Consequently, the law was our disciplinarian for Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a disciplinarian.

Galatians 3:22-25

Recall those times we have felt imprisoned and chained by the past with all of our broken and toxic relationships, sickness and handicaps, failures and sins, and other painful memories: that was when we wavered in our faith, when we lacked conviction in our faith.

We have to be convinced that Jesus came to set us free from all forms of slavery that prevent us from growing and maturing in faith and freedom in him. When our faith is strong, then we are able to break the many barriers that imprison us like gender, color, language, social status and even religion.

Nourish our faith to be free to become our true selves!

Photo by author, 2019.

Faith works through love.

It is God’s gift of faith that enables us to do good, to do our works of charity and love. And because we are faithful and free, then we also love!

Incidentally, being faithful and free are always tied up with being able to love because love is a choice, a decision we make, not just feelings or emotions.

Every choice is made out of freewill and here is the most interesting part of being faithful and free and loving: like love, man is able to believe and trust because it is God who first believed and trusted us!

A faithful person is always a loving person because he is free to choose what is good, what is right. And the more faithful we become to God, to your spouse, to your family and friends, the more loving you become like them!

For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.

Galatians 5:6

Without faith, it is difficult for us to love because of the pains that come always in loving.

Without faith, it is impossible to forgive and be merciful, to let go of others’ infidelity and lack of love and concern because these are virtues and values that come only from within, from a loving heart that is also faithful where Jesus Christ dwells and reigns.


A few years ago, GMA-7 launched its talent search called Starstruck inviting young people to… Dream. Believe. Survive.

For us Christians, it is… Dream. Believe. Live.

The moment we believe, then we are able to see, even God hidden among each one of us. Amen.

*All photos by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD at Katmon Harbor Nature Sanctuary, Quezon, 2020.

Christ’s ascension, our mission

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe, Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, 24 May 2020

Acts of the Apostles 1:1-11 ><)))*> Ephesians 4:1-13 ><)))*> Matthew 28:16-20

Paschal candles at the entrance to the burial site of Jesus inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. Photo by author, May 2017.

We are now at the penultimate Sunday of the Easter Season with the Solemnity of the Ascension of Jesus into heaven. Next Sunday we close the season with Pentecost and begin the Ordinary Time following Monday.

But, with our situation expected to last until 2021 when we shall have a vaccine against COVID-19, it still feels like Lent for many of us who now feel the economic and psychological impact of this pandemic.

More than ever before, we are challenged today to give testimony to Christ’s Resurrection so we can grasp the meaning and beauty of our celebration today.

The Ascension of Jesus is not about his movement or change of residence from earth into heaven or some remote part of the deep space to start his “working from home”: the Ascension of Jesus is the “leveling up” of the relationship of Christ with his disciples who include us all today.

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. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20
Dome of the Chapel of the Ascension beside a mosque outside Jerusalem. Photo by author, May 2019.

Giving testimony to the Risen Christ

Notice how our gospel today does not speak much about Jesus Christ’s ascension or his being taken up to heaven unlike with Luke both in his gospel account and Book of Acts of the Apostles.

With Matthew, it is very clear that with Jesus Christ’s departure comes the mission to give testimony to him who is risen from the dead. Every disciple’s testimony is essentially his/her mission to proclaim to the world that Jesus is alive, that he is Life itself.

Like during his Ascension on a hill outside Jerusalem, Jesus is calling us all today to gather again around him, to seek those who are lost and forgotten in order to bring them all together in Christ especially at this time when people suffer more from the neglect and double-standards of this government than from COVID-19 itself.

Where is God?

We are about to end two great seasons in our liturgical calendar but it seems that we are stuck in the Holy Week. We wonder what have happened to us in this pandemic when every scene we see, every situation we are into are unbelievable, something we see only in movies. And this one’s for real!

For those of us who have not lived through wars like our parents, the atrocities of Martial Law like others, or great catastrophes like the Baguio earthquake of 1990 and the recent “Yolanda” in Samar and Leyte, when the only sufferings we can “brag” are “Ondoy” and EDSA traffic, we now live life in the most uncertain way. In between the temporary escapes and respites offered by Netflix and social media platforms, we go through a lot of self-doubts, sometimes with fits of depression or sadness and loneliness especially when the day ends and darkness begins to envelop us.

For the first time, many of us have truly experienced of not having that much in life, whether they are family and friends, or money and things.

Window inside the Chapel of Ascension, May 2017.

This is the call of the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord: that we gather ourselves anew, our families and friends, our memories, most of all, our faith and hope in God whom we have always taken for granted all these years.

This is the great challenge of our time as Christians: how can we be like the Apostles and other followers of Jesus along with his Mother the Blessed Virgin Mary be filled with joy at his departure, bearing all the pains and sufferings of persecution in this time of the corona virus?

Can we gather ourselves anew – not only our family and friends but our very selves to proclaim in our lives, in our presence, in our social media posts, in everything that Jesus Christ is risen, that he is with us always?

Brothers and sisters: May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him. May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones, and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe, in accord with the exercise of his great might….

Ephesians 1:17-19

Opening our hearts

I have always loved that part of St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, imploring God that the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened, that we may be opened to the truths and realities of Jesus Christ truly alive in our midst.

Giving testimony that Jesus Christ is risen, that he is alive, that he is Life itself needs an open heart.

Our minds will never be enough to capture, to understand and process everything about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ because it is something beyond history, beyond logic. We are sure it had truly happened, leaving imprints in the hearts and persons of all of Christ’s followers, from his first witnesses like the apostles down to us in our own time. What we need are listening hearts, seeing hearts… hearts that are open to the realities of God dwelling in us.

You must have followed the news last week about Mang Dodong of Caloocan City who was detained for more than ten days in Navotas where he was caught buying fish without a quarantine pass.

We were all saddened and affected by the news because it was at that same time when the President had pardoned and retained in position a police general who had violated quarantine rules he had vowed to implement. In fact, so severely in many instances including with Mang Dodong!

Good news is how so many people helped him pay his bail to be set free. That’s the risen Jesus working in our own time!

Fish vendor Joseph Jimeda, aka, Mang Dodong in his detention cell in Navotas. Photo from GMA News.

The path of love towards Easter and Ascension

What really makes this quarantine period too difficult and painful is not COVID-19 itself but the incompetence and injustice of this government personified by officials who are mostly arrogant, inconsistent, liars, and closed from the realities of life. They are so blinded by material things that they see businesses like malls as more essential than houses of worship that remain closed up to this day (unfortunately, even our bishops are so silent about it except for a few of them).

Sometimes, I feel we are not doing enough as witnesses and disciples of Christ, that we must be bolder and more adamant in insisting what is right, what is just with various social media platforms offering us venues for expressing our views.

But, as I prayed more about the pandemic in the light of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ, the more I see him present in his seeming absence by being silent amidst all these threats of the pandemic worsened by the government’s irresponsibilities, insensitivities, and injustice.

The very site where Jesus is believed to have stood during his ascension now encased in glass inside the Chapel of the Ascension. Photo by ator, May 2017.

To give testimony to the Risen Lord, to make disciples of all nations, and to teach everyone all he had commanded us to observe need not use force. Like Jesus and the Father, we need to remain gentle and patient despite the violence prevailing around us.

See how God patiently waited for the fullness of time before sending us his Son; and when Jesus was born, notice also the many trials he went through from Bethlehem to Egypt and back to Nazareth, reaching its highest point in his Passion and Death on the Cross on Good Friday.

Then came Easter Sunday and now, his Ascension.

Everything happened in silence, so gently and gradually, mostly with only a few people present.

That has always been the way of God from the Old Testament to the New Testament and right into our own time: no use of external powers and violent forces, only freedom to offer and elicit love that conquers all.

Today we are also celebrating the 54th World Communication Sunday, the only feast mandated by Vatican II for us to realize the importance of modern means of communications in proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ.

For this year, Pope Francis has chosen the topic of the human story, of how our individual story is woven into our collective stories as a family, nation, and church. And the good news is, according to the Pope, all these stories of ours are made part of God’s story of love, the greatest story of all, the story that renews us.

Yes, we all have dark stories in this time of pandemic. Or even in childhood or the past. But, if we look into our hearts in prayer and in faith, we find Jesus there, loving us, keeping us, guiding us. Most of all, authenticating his resurrection in us, in our own life!

There are more beautiful stories we can tell during this pandemic that enable others to see the Risen Lord among us. Let us entrust ourselves to Jesus, to keep our hearts open as he authenticates our many experiences of witnessing to his Resurrection like he did to all others ahead of us.

Be assured we are on the right path in him. Amen.

Pilgrims waiting to enter the Chapel of the Ascension in the Holy Land, May 2019.

Being calm in the time of corona

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Friday, Easter Week-IV, 08 May 2020

Acts of the Apostles 13:26-33 ><)))*> +++0+++ <*(((>< John 14:1-6

Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte in Atok, Benguet, 2019.

Your words today, O Lord Jesus, are so assuring, so refreshing like the rains last night. Even if all our problems and worries remain, your words are more than enough to banish their power over us as we gain that trust and confidence to forge into this day we do not know where it would lead us to.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me.”

John 14:1

Keep us by your side, Jesus.

Let us take your path of love and humility, kindness and mercy especially in this time when patience is running out among many of us and emotions in everyone go high that we lose sight of the other persons going through troubles similar with ours.

Sometimes we fail to recognize you like what St. Paul said in the first reading because we always seek something more tangible, someone we can talk to like another person.

Let us be calm and trust in you that no matter what happens, you will never leave us alone and eventually lead us home to the Father’s house in heaven. Amen.

What are you looking for?

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Tuesday, Easter Week-IV, 05 May 2020

Acts of the Apostles 11:19-26 +++0+++ John 10:22-30

Photo from Reddit

Our loving God and Father, as countless men and women are now searching for the cure and vaccine against this corona virus that have hit us, you have also given us opportunities to look inside ourselves to examine the things and persons we are searching for in this life.

Today’s first reading reminds us how Barnabas went to Antioch to see for himself the power and grace of the gospel of your Son Jesus Christ being preached there among the gentiles.

When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain faithful to the Lord in firmness of heart, for he was a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith. And a large number of people were added to the Lord.

Acts of the Apostles 11:23-24

Not only that: Barnabas also “went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him he brought him to Antioch” (Acts 11:25).

What a remarkable attitude by Barnabas to search for the truth, to find the realities going on in Antioch!

Most of all, his efforts to look for Saul – a person feared and perhaps hated at that time – to bring him into the church in Antioch that eventually led to his baptism and adoption of the new name of Paul.

Give us, O Lord, the same desire for you! That we may always look for you in every situation we are into especially in this time of the corona. May we also look for those people we can bring closer to you through our communities, especially those suspected of so many things like St. Paul before.

How sad that sometimes, we are more like those in the gospel who kept on looking for you, Jesus, not because of a desire to really know you and follow you but to test you.

Give us a heart and the eyes of faith that truly search for what is true and good, that look for you in people and events because, like the deer that yearns for streams of water, our soul thirsts for you. Amen.

From FB/Be Like Francis.

Bakas ng habag at awa ni Jesus

Lawiswis Ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-20 ng Abril 2020

Nakita lamang kita
kamakalawa sa balita
ng social media
karga-karga isang matanda
habang lumilikas mga nasunugan
sa gitna nitong lockdown
doon sa inyong tirahan
kung tawagi'y "Happyland"
sa Tondo na napakaraming tao.
Hindi ko sukat akalain
sa sumunod na pagtingin
naiba at nabago ang lahat sa akin
sa larawan ng naturang balita pa rin
matapos ito ay guhitan at kulayan
dahil kinabukasan ay kapistahan
ng Divine Mercy
at ikaw pala iyan, Jesus
aming Panginoon at Diyos.
Sa gitna ng naglalagablab na apoy
nag-aalab mong pag-ibig Panginoon
ang umantig sa pananalig
ng Iyong dibuhista at pari
Marc Ocariza kaagad nagpinta
gamit bagong teknolohiya
upang ipakita kakaiba niyang nadama
na sadyang tamang tama naman pala 
upang itanghal iyong Mabathalang Awa talaga.
"Panginoon ko at Diyos ko!"
ang panalanging akin ding nasambit
katulad ni Tomas na apostol mo
nang muli Kang magpakita sa kanila;
tunay nga pala
mapapalad ang mga nananalig
kahit hindi ka nakikita
dahil hindi itong aming mga mata
ang ginagamit kungdi aming pagsampalataya.
Nawa ikaw ang aming makita
mahabaging Jesus
sa gitna ng dilim nitong COVID-19
Iyong Dakilang Awa aming maipadama
sa pamamagitan ng paglimot sa aming sarili
 at pagpapasan ng krus upang Ikaw ay masundan
tangi Mong kalooban ang bigyang katuparan
upang Ikaw ay maranasan at masaksihan
ng kapwa naming nahihirapan.
Turuan mo kami, maawaing Jesus
na muling magtiwala sa iyo
kumapit ng mahigpit
hindi lamang kapag nagigipit
at huwag nang ipinipilit
aming mga naiisip at mga panaginip
na kailanma'y hindi nakahagip
sa ginawa Mong pagsagip at malasakit
upang kami ngayo'y mapuno ng Iyong kariktan at kabutihan! *

*Maraming salamat kay Marivic Tribiana (hindi ko kakilala) na nagpost sa kanyang Facebook ng unang larawan ni kuya pasan-pasan lolo niya sa kainitan ng sunog sa Happyland noong Abril 18, 2020.

At higit ding pasasalamat ko kay P. Marc Ocariza sa pagmumulat sa aking mga mata ng kanyang pagninilay at obra gamit ang Digital Art Timelapse na kanyang tinaguriang “Nag-aalab na Pag-ibig”.

Ang lahat ng ito ay para sa higit na ikadadakila ng Diyos na nagbigay sa atin ng Kanyang Anak “hindi upang tayo ay mapahamak kungdi maligtas” lalo ngayong panahon ng pandemiya ng COVDI-19.

At sa inyo, maraming salamat po sa pagsubaybay sa Lawiswis ng Salita.

Remaining in Jesus in quarantine

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Friday within the Octave of Easter, 17 April 2020

Acts of the Apostles 4:1-12 <*(((>< +++ ><)))*> John 21:1-14

Photo by Mr. Chester Ocampo in Catanduanes, 2019.

Dearest Jesus:

Today I am so tempted like your Apostles to go back to previous life, to do the usual old things amid the very trying times of this quarantine period.

Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We also will come with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garments for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea.

John 21:3-7

Like your Apostles, I am supposed to be happy, joyous because you have risen, Lord.

But, what happened that you are suddenly nowhere to be found?

Why, dear Jesus, in our joy of sharing you with others amid this quarantine period, problems arise, when we have to go back into self-quarantine, to be in total isolation to prevent the spread of this dreaded corona virus?

Why do people still lie, careless in their ways, particularly our leaders, our co-workers?

Help us to find you in all these things, Lord.

Open our minds as Peter and John later explained to the chief priests that it is you whom we must always find and see in every event in our lives, to always try to find the good things happening amidst the many dismal situation we are into.

Most of all, give us the grace of the sight of faith like your beloved disciple who immediately recognized you upon seeing the bountiful catch of fish. Amen.

Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2018.

Jesus in our destructive world

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Thursday, Week XXXIV, Year I, 28 November 2019

Daniel 6:12-28 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Luke 21:20-28

Red Wednesday 2019 at our Parish.

Thank you very much Lord Jesus Christ for making us remember our persecuted brothers and sisters in faith at last night’s “Red Wednesday” celebrations.

One of the lasting impressions it had left me is the sight of those lighted candles amid the darkness and the red light that bathed our churches.

Keep our eyes open, Lord, like the Prophet Daniel who tried to find you even inside the lions’ den.

Make us realize that we belong to you and would always be safe with you even in this world full of destruction and troubles like a lion’s den.

Let us live in constant communion with you, Jesus, so that we may always find you, trust you, and rest in you amid the many turmoils that happen daily in our lives in this crazy world.

Give us the grace of being one those blessed people who would find you coming in time of our trials and tribulations.

“And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”

Luke 21:27-28

Come, Lord Jesus! Amen. Amen.