Faith is standing up, not dancing

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Tenth Week of Ordinary Time, 08 June 2022
1 Kings 18:20-39   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Matthew 5:17-19
Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2017.
God our loving Father,
as we rejoice into coming to
the halfway month of the year,
we are also wary that it is during 
this month of June when the days
move slowly, exactly just how 
life has been moving on for many
of us; there is the usual grind with
daily living's many woes made worst
by rising prices of goods and
commodities.
For some, it is indeed a new phase in
our journey with you but for many,
an occasion to dilly-dally in our faith,
to dance with the many false gods
of our time offering quick fixes to our
problems.
We have become like the Israelites
of Elijah's time.

Elijah appealed to all the people and said, “How long will you straddle the issue? If the Lord is God, follow him; if Baal, follow him.” The people, however, did not answer him.

1 Kings 18:21
Forgive us, dear Father,
for not making a stand 
for you, with you and in you;
forgive us for dancing,
for straddling as we play safe,
avoiding any commitment as
we wish to please ourselves than
you and others;
forgive us for still searching
as if there is still any other true God 
besides you who would give in to 
all our whims and caprices.
Push us, inspire us in Christ Jesus
to move forward in life, finding new ways
of living out our faith to fulfillment
amid the changing times and situations
not for the sake of change but to make
you present, dear Lord, in our present
time when people turn away from you and
religion, and from each other.  
Amen.

My sweet Lord!

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday after the Ascension of the Lord, 02 June 2022
Acts 22:30; 23:6-11     ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[><     John 17:20-26
Photo by author, Chapel of the Most Holy Rosary, SM Grand Central, Caloocan City, 26 May 2022.
Forgive me, Jesus
but my initial reaction upon 
reading today's gospel was to
sing George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord"
because your words are so sweet indeed,
so comforting!

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed, saying: “I pray notn only for these, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they may also be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

John 17:20, 24
Who are we,
who am I to be considered
as a gift to you, my Lord and my God?
Are we not the ones supposed to say 
and claim that you are, dear Jesus, 
the Father's gift to us and not the other
way around?
But, great thanks, sweet Lord Jesus
in taking us as the Father's gifts to you;
deepen in us your gift of faith in you
so we may work hard for the unity you
prayed for us, that we may truly enter 
into a communion with the Father
and one another in you and 
through you.
Do not allow us, dear Jesus
to be divided like the Pharisees and
Sadducees who both claimed to be
the followers of God but could not 
agree on anything about him except 
in being your enemies.
Let us be the visible signs
of your loving service and presence
in this world plagued with so much divisions
and violence as many among us continue
to refuse in seeing each one's giftedness  
in God our Father through you, dear Jesus.
Amen.
Photo by author, Chapel of the Most Holy Rosary, SM Grand Central, Caloocan City, 26 May 2022.

Easter is being rooted in Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial of St. Athanasius, Doctor of the Church, 02 May 2022
Acts 6:8-15   ><))))*> + <*((((><   John 6:22-29
Photo by Ms. Jing Rey Henderson in Taroytoy, Aklan, 29 April 2022.
In this Season of Easter,
help us, dear Lord Jesus 
to know you more clearly
so that we may deepen our
faith in you and eventually do
your work of loving service
to one another; so many times 
in life we seek you for selfish 
and personal reasons 
like the people you have fed 
at the wilderness.

And when they found him across the sea they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw the signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.”

John 6:25-27
Like St. Stephen in the first
reading, fill us with passion 
in "working for God" which is
primarily to believe in you as 
the Christ, the one he sent;
but so many times, even in this
modern age, we doubt you,
O Jesus, as the Son of God:
like those Jews, we ask
"when did you get here" -
from where are you, Jesus,
because we always doubt you
as the Son of God like our separated
brothers and sisters until now
influenced by Arianism.
Hence, it is not enough for us 
to be simply passionate like St. Stephen -
grant us the academic discipline 
of St. Athanasius whose memorial 
we celebrate today;
his sound mental acumen formed by
his deep spirituality based on prayers
made him a pillar of the Church in 
defending your truth as the Son of God.
The more he knew you more clearly,
the more he followed you closely
even if he was banished so many
times from his posts due to his rootedness
in you; most of all, in his knowledge 
and wisdom, the more he loved you dearly, 
Jesus, by serving the flock entrusted to him.  
Amen.

Holiness is being faithful

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Holy Tuesday, 12 April 2022
Isaiah 49:1-6   +   John 13:21-33, 36-38
Photo by Ms. Ria De Vera, Christ the King Procession, 2020.

Maybe so many times you have felt nothing seems to be happening with all your efforts in school or office, in your relationships, and even in your prayers and devotions. Everything seems to be going to nothing at all.

Have a heart. Just be faithful in your studies, in your work, with your family and friends, most especially with God.

Though I thoughts I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength, yet my reward is with the Lord, my recompense is with my God.

Isaiah 49:4

When I was still a seminarian, there was a moment after our class when I went straight into our chapel and slouched on a pew, complaining and whining to God for the many problems that never stopped coming my way despite my efforts to be good. With my head bowed down, I had a litany of complaints to God that I felt like packing my things, go home and forget all about the priesthood. But after getting tired with my monologue and as I raised my head, something struck me that I felt so good while looking at our huge image of the Crucifixion at the altar of the chapel. As I looked in silence, I felt myself praying,

"Lord Jesus Christ, 
before all these pains and sufferings came, 
before all these problems happened, 
you were there first on the Cross - 
suffering for me, dying for me first."
Photo by author, ICMAS Chapel (Theology Dept.), 2020.

My dear friends, holiness is being faithful to God in Jesus Christ. St. Mother Teresa perfectly said that, “We are called to be faithful, not successful.” In my 24 years in the priesthood, I have realized that many times, our success are actually failures with God while our failures are what he often considers as success!

Of course, we need to plan and set goals in life and in work but we need to focus more on Jesus Christ as center of our lives, trying to see everything in his light not in our own limited views and perceptions. There so many things in life that cannot be quantified like our spiritual and emotional well-being on which actually depend many of our other aims in our personal and professional life.

Notice how in our gospel today the Apostles were so focused on themselves instead with Jesus that they totally missed what he was telling them about his coming betrayal by “one of them”. Particularly interesting was Simon Peter who asked the beloved disciple, John, to clarify it with Jesus since he was seated closest to him.

He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him, “Master, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I had the morsel after I have dipped it.” So he dipped the morsel and took it and handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. After Judas took the morsel, Satan entered him. So Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Now none of those reclining at table realized why he said this to him.

John 13:25-28

Did you see the comedy, the humor?

Everybody was so focused on everyone and with each self except with Jesus! Were they so dumb not to understand the words of Jesus that to whomever he would give the morsel dipped in wine is the one who would betray him? Not really. Most likely, they were not listening, they were not focused on Jesus but with their very selves.

Being faithful is first of all being focused on God, in Jesus.

How can God fill us with his holiness when our thoughts and our being are always somewhere else or with somebody else? How can God fill us with his holiness when we cannot spend time with him every day in prayer?

Photo by author, Mass by the shore of Galilee, the Holy Land, 2017.

How lovely is the context of Simon Peter’s question that it happened during their Last Supper because that is where our fidelity to God is first nurtured to grow and deepened – at the Holy Eucharist of the Mass.

Remember, the minimum requirement for anyone to be called a good, practicing Catholic is to go Mass every Sunday. That is the most minimum but, have we kept it? It has been more than two months since we returned to alert level 1 in this time of the pandemic with almost everybody going to the malls and many vacation spots but what a shame when many still refuse to go to churches for the Sunday Mass!

Being faithful to Jesus to become holy begins with the Sunday Eucharist where we are nourished by the words of God and by the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ himself who enables us to overcome the many trials and difficulties of this life and make it into the Father’s house in eternity.

Have you gone back to your parish church for the Sunday Masses?

Forgive us, Lord Jesus Christ,
for being unfaithful to you, 
for betraying you like Judas Iscariot
right in the context of the Holy Eucharist
when we skip Sunday Masses;
when we come to Mass not for you 
but for our friends to whom we listen more; 
and most especially when we refuse or fail 
to practice the essence of the Eucharist
of sharing the love of Christ to everyone.
Amen.
Photo by author, Parish of St. John the Baptist in Calumpit, Bulacan, 31 March 2022.

Praying for Ukraine

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Week VIII, Year II in Ordinary Time, 28 February 2022
1 Peter 1:3-9   ><)))*> + ><)))*> + ><)))*>   Mark 10:17-27
Photo by Irina Anastasiu on Pexels.com
Your words today, O Lord,
remind me so much of our 
brothers and sisters in Ukraine
now suffering too much a week 
after Russian forces invaded them;
they are exactly like the early 
Christians being persecuted 
during the time of St. Peter:

In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet you believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of faith, the salvation of your souls.

1 Peter 1:6-9
So many times, Lord, the faith of
your people in Ukraine had been tested
in so many instances but this war now 
going on is something not only too difficult
to wage but to grasp even for us from a far
and distant land from them.
Though we do not see each other,
we feel their pains and hurts, their worries
and anxieties, most especially their fears
and uncertainties; I pray, dear God, for more
strength and courage, more unity among 
the people of Ukraine; most of all, 
I pray for deeper hope among them,
that even if things get worst, they too
may rise from the dead like your Son
Jesus Christ our Lord and true hope.
At the same time, dear Jesus,
I pray most fervently for Russian
President Putin - a very rich man 
like the one in today's gospel
who clings so much to wealth and 
power; it is so sad and deplorable
that a man like him in this age would
do the unthinkable and shameful act
of waging a war against a smaller and
peaceful nation that is their neighbor!
Awake the Russians, O Lord, 
from their drunkenness to power
and wealth; awake the Russians, O Lord,
to realize not only the follies of wars
but most especially the precious
value of every human life.  Amen.

Being faithful, being more loving

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, 22 February 2022
1 Peter 5:1-4   ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*>   Matthew 16:13-19
Photo from en.wikipedia.org.
Glory and praise to you, 
O Lord Jesus Christ, 
as we celebrate today 
a most unique feast, 
the Chair of St. Peter
your anointed leader of
your Church here on earth.

It is so unique especially 
in this time 
when we are so concerned 
where we sit - whether at home, 
in school, in offices, in churches,
and in buses and planes - everywhere!
because every seat is about position, 
rank, power and convenience,
always having the "keys" so to speak.

Sadly, as we seek the comfort
of our "asses", we have forgotten 
that more important than where we seat
is where we stand.

Remind us, dear Jesus, 
on this Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, 
especially us your priests 
of that beautiful example 
you have shown at the Last Supper 
when you left your seat 
to wash the feet of the Apostles.

How sad and shameful, O Lord, 
when we your priests fail to realize 
that the throne of the Eucharist 
is not a seat of power or prestige 
but a seat of loving service to everyone.

St. Ignatius of Antioch said it so well 
in his Letter to the Romans (year 110)
that the Primacy of Rome 
is the Primacy of Love 
because primacy in faith 
is always primacy in love, 
two things we can never separate.
May we all heed the call of St. Peter, 
the designated “owner” of that Chair, 
that we “Tend the flock of God in your midst, 
overseeing not by constraint but willingly, 
as God would have it, 
not for  shameful profit but eagerly.  
Do not lord it over those assigned to you, 
but be examples to the flock” (1Pt.5:2-3).  
Lord Jesus, 
as we grow deeper in faith,
make us more loving too!
Amen.

God is present

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Week XXXIV, Year I in Ordinary Time, 25 November 2021
Daniel 6:12-28   ><)))*> + ><)))*> + ><)))*>   Luke 21:20-28
“Daniel in the Lions’ Den” by Briton Riviere (1872) from reddit.com.
God our loving Father,
save us from severe tests 
and trials in life; make us
steadfast in our faith and 
trust in you like your prophet
Daniel who escaped death
without any harm at all when 
thrown into the lions' den.
As I prayed over that wonderful
scene I have known since a child,
it was only now have I realized
our biggest problem in being 
faithful to you in the face of death
and grave danger; of course, it is
pure grace from you to have such
great courage and serenity but 
always, we back out, we balk at the 
mere thought of suffering because
we are busy thinking of what will
happen next, we are busy focused
with the future than with the present
moment where you are with us.
That beautiful imagery of Daniel
spared by the ferocious lions evokes of 
a man so faithful to you, O Lord, living
in your presence, unmindful and undisturbed
of the past and the future because he was
present in you and with you!

Daniel answered the king: “O king, live forever! My God has sent his angel and closed the lions’ mouths so that they have not hurt me. For I have been found innocent before him; neither to you have I done any harm, O king!”

Daniel 6:22-23
Cleanse and empty us,
dear Father, of our many excess
baggage in life, our past sins
and worries of the future
so we may experience and live in
your presence in every here and now,
unmindful of whatever may happen
for we are safely secured in you
always.  Amen. 

We are God’s temple

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Week XXXIII, Year I in Ordinary Time, 19 November 2021
1 Maccabees 4:3-37, 52-59   ><)))*> + <*(((><   Luke 19:45-48
Photo by Ms. Ria De Vera, November 2020.
Today you remind us, dear God
our Father, of the need to keep our
house of worship always in order, 
clean and sacred; like Judas and
his brothers who rededicated and purified
your Temple in Jerusalem after driving
away the pagans, may we also keep
in mind that your house of worship is
always indicative of the kind of relationship 
and faith we have in you.
While it is very true you dwell in us
your people, O God, for we are indeed
your temple, we cannot discount the fact
that the way our church buildings and facilities 
look like show the kind of people we are, 
of how much care and respect we have for you 
and for one another; buildings and material
structures of any church and house of worship
always reflect the spirituality or lack of it 
of the pastors who minister and the
people who celebrate and worship there.
It is in this manner we become truly
your very temple! 
Cleanse our hearts in Jesus Christ,
may he dwell in our hearts and reign
over us so that we the people, the 
body of believers become your true
temple dear God, no matter what others
may say for or against us like the chief
priests, scribes and leaders of the 
people during the time of Jesus.
Amen.

Surprise us with hope, Lord!

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Week XXX, Year I in Ordinary Time, 26 October 2021
Romans 8:18-25   ><)))*> + ><)))*> + ><)))*>   Luke 13:18-21
From Pinterest.com.
Today we share in St. Paul's
outburst of joy in you, O God
our loving Father when he claimed
"the sufferings of this present time 
are as nothing compared with 
the glory to be revealed for us"
(Rom. 8:18).  Like Pope Emeritus
Benedict XVI, we are absorbed
in the reflection of St. Paul about hope:  

For in hope we were saved. Now hope that see for itself is not hope. For who hopes for what one sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait with endurance.

Romans 8:24-25
So true, indeed, loving Father:
we hope because while we do not see,
we still believe and we have faith
 in you through Jesus Christ
your Son and our Lord;
teach us to grow deeper in our
hope in you not just as a feeling
or a desire nor a wait-and-see
attitude but more as a conviction
in Christ that when worst comes to worst,
we hold on to you because only
you will remain even in the end,
loving us, believing in us,
transforming us.
Let us persevere in Christ with
our commitments no matter how hard
and even painful specially in this time
of pandemic and in moments of severe
trials and tribulations when people fail us;
like the mustard seed that grows into
a leafy plant providing branches for birds
and yeast that leavens a dough,
let us be surprised with your grace
of hope, Lord, by enabling us to see
light even in darkness,
life even in sickness and death
because to truly hope is to
trust and believe in you alone,
O God, who is our very life.
Amen.

The way to God

The Lord Is My Chef Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Feast of St. Lorenzo Ruiz and Companion Martyrs, 28 September 2021
Zechariah 8:20-23   ><)))*><*(((><  +  ><)))*><*(((><   Luke 9:51-56
Photo by author, Jerusalem, May 2019.

Thus says the Lord of hosts: There shall yet come peoples, inhabitants of many cities; and the inhabitants of one city shall approach those of another, and say, “Come! Let us go to implore the favor of the Lord;” and, “I too will go to seek the Lord.”

Zechariah 8:20-21
Thank you, dear God our
loving Father for continuing to lead us
to your holy city, your holy presence:
more than the ancient Jerusalem,
all we want is to make to your presence
that we beg you to continue to guide
us in this journey.
We know it is dangerous,
filled with many obstacles and
difficulties like peoples and
situations that try to let us lose
focus on you our destination.

When the days for Jesus being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem.

Luke 9:51
Through your Son Jesus Christ
give us the courage and strength
to be "resolutely determined
to journey to Jerusalem" by defusing
hostilities among peoples, showing them
the path of peace that calls for witnessing
to your love and care for everyone.
May we never lose sight of the reality
that the path to you, God our Father
is Jesus Christ himself who said
 "I am the way and the truth and the life";
bless us in imitating St. Lorenzo Ruiz
and his companion martyrs in Japan
who followed Jesus to his martyrdom
on the cross, shedding their blood
to witness to your truth and glory.

In this modern age when such
cruelties are a thing of the past,
the challenge remains the same
for us to lead people to you, O God;
how sad that many people today
are "leaving" your city, 
never coming back
because they could no longer see you
in us, in our lives and examples;
open our minds and hearts
that like St. Lorenzo, may we
examine ourselves closely to see
what changes we need to live out
Christ's gospel so that even if we are
given with a thousand lives
we would still offer it all
to you.  Amen.
Photo from thecatholictalks.com, 2019.