We are the master of the world but God remains our Master

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Wednesday, Memorial of St. Scholastica, Virgin, 10 February 2021
Genesis 2:4-9, 15-17     >><)))*>  +  >><)))*>  +  >><)))*>     Mark 7:14-23
Photo by author, Camp John Hay, August 2019.

Praise and glory to you, God our loving Father and Creator of heaven and earth. Yes, we may be so small in this vast universe but it is in our smallness you have made us so great by creating us at the center of all your creation, the master of our world!

the Lord God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being. Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and he placed there the man whom he had formed. The Lord God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it. The Lord God gave man this order: “You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From that tree you shall not eat; the moment you eat from it you are surely doomed to die.”

Genesis 2:7-8, 15-17

Forgive us, dear God when we always forget that our freedom is never absolute; that from the beginning there has always been exception in doing everything.

Yes, we are the master of our world but YOU remain our Master; hence, the primary task of keeping this relationship with you always intact, always maintained, always whole and never separated from you.

From this relationship flows everything that is beautiful in your creation, O God: from each one of us who is a microcosm of the universe, a paradise within with all the gifts and abilities to become according to your plan and, on to the whole world you have given to us as a gift we must take care and nurture by responsibly enjoying it, neither harming nor destroying it.

Photo by author, Petra at Jordan, May 2019.

Alas, like what Jesus reminds us today in the gospel, we have defiled our inner selves with evil and sins so that from our hearts come unclean thoughts and actions.

Though we may no longer have those issues of unclean food like during your time, dear Jesus, we remain focus on so many trivial things that we ignore the real evils right in our hearts.

Through the prayers of St. Scholastica, help us to consecrate ourselves to you, O God, to be pure and simple in our thoughts and ideals, words and actions that reflect your true beauty and majesty in simply being good and holy. Amen.

Keeping God’s commandments

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Thursday After Epiphany, 07 January 2021
1 John 4:19-5:4     >><)))*>   +   <*(((><<     Luke 4:14-22
Photo by author, 01 November 2020

For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.

1 John 5:3-4

Sometimes in life I really do not still get you, dearest God.

Sometimes I just think this is part of life’s mystery as well as your own mystery as God.

Like today’s letter of your Son’s beloved disciple: he said to love you is to keep your commandments.

Just that. On the surface, how can it be love when there is subjection to commandments that often feel like burdensome?

And then, the beloved disciple telling us that your commandments are not burdensome?

It is difficult to be faithful to you, God! So hard to never use your name in vain, even in jokes. And look at how everybody complains not having enough time for self and family that they skip Sunday Masses!

If we try to dissect the seven remaining commandments, surely you know O God how hard we all strive to keep them from honoring our parents to not coveting other’s wives and goods!

Photo by author, December 2020.

But, again, O God, your words are true: your commandments are not burdensome but actually set us free! That must be the victory the beloved disciple is referring to because the more we break your commandments, the more we are bondaged by sin.

Jesus can boldly proclaim your words are fulfilled upon our hearing because he said them totally free of any inhibitions, of any fear, of any doubts. So free to truly love you and everyone of us.

Enlighten us, O Lord, that your commandments are all summed up in love. It is only when we love that we find the beauty of your commandments meant for us to truly love others. It is when we keep your commandments that we become faithful and loving in you through others. Amen.

Faithful and free

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Saturday, Week XXVII, Year II in Ordinary Time, 10 October 2020
Galatians 3:22-29     ||+||   >><)))*>   ||+||     Luke 11:27-28
Photo by author, 2019.

Glory and praise, O God, our Father for another week that had passed and another new one to start! Thank you so much for everything we have received this week: the beautiful things that have blessed us wondrously and the sad things that have also blessed us with lessons in life.

Thank you for the gifts of faith and conviction, faith and being realistic, faith and consistency.

And so, I pray today for the gifts of faith and freedom for a truly faithful person is always one who is also truly free!

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

You know how so many times, Lord, when we feel imprisoned and chained by our broken and toxic relationships, sickness and handicaps, painful memories, failures and other past sins.

Let us realize and be convinced that you have come to set us free from all of these, that we are now free to love, free to be ourselves, free to grow, free and faithful in you.

Show us the path how we can break the many barriers that continue to imprison us and prevent us from maturing in faith and freedom in you like gender, color, language, social status and even religion.

Help us imitate you, Jesus, who boldly claimed before everyone that true blessedness is not found in affinities or blood ties but in freely receiving and observing the word of God. Amen.

Generous and cheerful

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial of St. Lawrence, Martyr and Deacon, 10 August 2020
2 Corinthians 9:6-10 >><}}}*> // + \\ <*{{{><< John 12:24-26
Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2019.

Dearest Lord Jesus, teach me to be generous and cheerful too, because sometimes our generosity is filled with sadness or bitterness as it is comes from having excess of anything that we have. Worst, it is only when we are forced to become generous by others or due to circumstances.

True generosity is always borne out of joy when our only reason in giving and sharing is due to our faith in you — that no matter what happens to us, you will never abandon us, Lord, providing whatever we need in this life.

Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work.

2 Corinthians 9:8

Most of all, generosity with cheerfulness is always a choice, a decision freely made in imitation of you, Jesus Christ like St. Lawrence your deacon. Those who give or share anything with a heavy heart, if given the choice, would rather keep whatever they have to remain like a grain of wheat without dying.

Like St. Lawrence, teach us generosity that is naturally human and divine, that like him while being roasted alive, he had the sense of humor to ask his persecutors to turn him so that his grilling may be perfect and even. Amen.

“Martyrdom of St. Lawrence, Deacon” by Hipolito de Rioja (16th c.); from commons.wikimedia.org

Prayer to become small

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, 19 June 2020
Deuteronomy 7:6-11 ><)))*> 1 John 4:7-16 <*(((>< Matthew 11:25-30
Photo from Google.

O most Sacred Heart of Jesus, make my heart like yours — make me small and little in standing, hidden and unknown among many, simple and humble in a world now measured in influence, popularity, and following.

On this Solemnity of your Most Sacred Heart, I thank you dear Jesus in choosing to be small and little, always hidden in the simplest things of life like soft voices of kindness and mercy, reason and wisdom, gratitude and love.

You have shown us that to be truly loving like you, we have to be small and little like children.

Most of all, free to be ourselves as beloved children of the Father!

Free from inhibitions and guilt to truly express the love and joy within.

Help us, Jesus, to cast all our worries to you, to take your yoke that is easy, burden that is light.

It is so difficult to love when we are burdened by many concerns and considerations, when we cannot be our true selves that we lack spontaneity, of being natural and easy.

In the same manner, it becomes hard for us too to love or even please someone who sees him or her self bigger than reality, when they see themselves as “big shots” and “heavyweights” who have to be pleased and “followed” or affirmed.

May we always keep in mind the words of Moses so applicable also to us today:

“It was not because you are the largest of all nations that the Lord set his heart on you and chose you, for you are really the smallest of all nations.”

Deuteronomy 7:7

O Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, you have given us your heart that bleeds due to the thorns of our sins, yet aglow with the fire of your immense love and mercy.

May we come to you, today and always to find rest, to learn from your gentle and humble ways so needed in our heartless world. Amen.

Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2019.

Accepting and Owning

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Friday, Wk. XIX, Yr. I, 16 August 2019

Joshua 24:1-13 >< )))*> <*((( >< Matthew 19:3-12

Bangui, Ilocos Norte, 09 March 2009.

Dear God:

Do we really have a choice with you? Of course, you are not forcing us to choose you because you gave us freedom, your most wonderful gift expressing your love for us. You never impose yourself on us and, we are always free to choose you or not!

But, how can we not choose you, O God? You are the only good, the ultimate good. And you never fail to give us the best, nothing less.

Joshua addressed all the people: “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I gave you a land which you had not tilled and cities which you had not built, to dwell in; you have eaten of vineyards and olive groves which you did not plant.”

Joshua 24:2, 13

Problem with us, Lord, is our failure to accept and own your gifts. We keep on looking for something else when you are giving us the very best. We always insist on what we want, on our choices we think to be good but not really good. But, because we are free, you allow us to disregard your gifts and choose something else – and still bless us!

And so we pray today that you teach us to both accept and own your gifts to us, Lord.

It is not enough that we accept gifts but we must also own them to be truly a blessing that can be shared and given to others.

Material and spiritual blessings, life lessons and life-blows, and all the other good gifts from you Lord are easy to accept but unless we own them too as ours, they get wasted.

Anything received but not owned becomes useless because it does not prosper nor grow nor mature and bear fruits. Be it our very selves, our country, our jobs, our family and friends. Everything, especially you, Lord, whom we always receive but never shared because we never truly have you in us. Let us own you, Lord! Amen.

Lent is being free

40 Shades of Lent, Wednesday, Week-V, 10 April 2019
Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95///John 8:31-42
From Google.

If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

John 8:31-32

Very often Lord Jesus, when you talk of us being set free, we feel like the people of your time bragging

…we have never been enslaved to anyone.

John 8:33

Very often, Lord, we feel so proud to claim being one with you, truly serving you when in fact we are enslaved by so many pleasures in life.

There are many ways of serving you, of being free for you, of being faithful to you.

But there is only one sure way of being enslaved: when we desire to please our very selves and others.

Like in the first reading, it is very easy to please King Nebuchadnezzar in serving false gods, thinking these would not harm us, that we can control ourselves, that we would not completely fall into it. There are many instances we think that with these modern times with the modern thoughts and modern ways of life sweeping all around us, just a little pleasure would not mean anything at all, would never have a control over us until we are trapped, enslaved, and have lost everything.

Knowing the truth is being one with you, O Lord: remaining in you, staying with you. Loving you, serving you. Through others. Not pleasing myself. Amen.

Photo by the author, Lent 2018.

On Becoming Children of God

JimMarpa9m
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe
Feast of the Holy Family, 30 December 2018
1 Samuel 1:20-22, 24-28///1 John 3:1-2, 21-24///Luke 2:41-52

         Christmas reminds us that Jesus Christ comes through our family in the same manner He came through the husband and wife of Joseph and Mary.  It is right and fitting that within the octave or eight days of Christmas we also celebrate this Sunday the Feast of the Holy Family.  In this world of broken families, by choice or by circumstances, the gospel reminds us that a family is always made up of a father, mother and child:  When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us?  Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety” (Lk.2:48).  But more than our human families, Christmas reminds us most of all of our being a family of God with Him as our Father:  And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me?  Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”  But they did not understand what he said to them.  He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.  And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man (Lk.2:49-52).

         The good news is that we all remain God’s children no matter how old we may be like Nat King Cole singing “to kids from one to ninety-two” which the beloved disciple reminds us in the second reading,  “Beloved:  See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.  Yes so we are.  The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him” (1Jn.3:1).  It is becoming disheartening when people claim that Christmas is for kids because of the superficial things about the season like happiness over gifts.  We seem to have forgotten that Christmas came because of adults like Joseph and Mary, Zechariah and Elizabeth who remained children of God in being obedient to His holy will which is at the very core of experiencing Christ’s coming not only on Christmas Day when we remain like children. This Sunday we are invited to join Mary and Joseph in searching for the child Jesus whom we have often lost in our busy schedules, responsibilities and careers so we may also rediscover in the process our being children of the Father in heaven.

         See the beauty of the response of Jesus to His parents upon finding Him at the temple, “Why were you looking for me?  Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Lk.2: 49).  Though Jesus Christ is truly human like us in everything except sin, growing up and maturing in all aspects, His divine Sonship has always been clear with Him even as a 12 year-old child.  His intimacy with the Father was never lost in His becoming human.  His being the Son of the Father in heaven is the very core of His mission that we always hear Him telling us in His preaching about His being one with the Father and most of all, of the need for us to become children to be included in His kingdom.  This He reveals to us in three ways through this only episode about His childhood as recorded by St. Luke.  First is His complete freedom as a person.

         Jesus has always been free from so many conventions and rules even laws that limit humans from being totally free for God as Father.  Remember how Joseph His legal father also showed that true holiness is abiding in the Laws of Moses based on love that he decided to leave Mary in silence after learning of her pregnancy.  But after hearing the angel’s explanation in a dream, Joseph freely decided on himself based on his love for God, for Mary and for Jesus to take her as his wife.  How funny that when we were growing up we kept on demanding for freedom from our parents thinking that being free is being able to do whatever pleases us.  Then we realize that true freedom is choosing what is good, what is true.  That true freedom leads us to be more loving and faithful.  Too often it seems that as the world gives so much emphasis on freedom, the fact remains that the more we try to be free, the more we become unfree, finding ourselves imprisoned and caught up in too much binds and traps that most of us would always go somewhere to be alone, to have “me time” because we are not free deep within as we have forgotten our basic identity as beloved children of God the Father.  Jesus was so free that He stayed behind at the Temple because deep within Him he was at home at His Father’s house.  And deep within Him He spoke freely of His Father that amazed the experts with Him at the Temple because they were constricted with many concepts and thoughts about God when Jesus was so free to share the love He has inside.

          And here lies the beauty of true freedom that leads to amazement and wonder, to being surprised by something bigger, greater, and so beautiful.  Poets claim that children are the closest to God and the spiritual realms because they always have the sense of wonder and awe.  Even Mary and Joseph must have been amazed at the response of the child Jesus, reminding them of the announcements made to them by the angel before His coming.  In this age of Netflix and daily video streaming of everything, we are being robbed of the simple and deep joy of being surprised unlike when we were younger that we have to wait for the next series of the Knight Rider or Dallas or ChiPS.  With these modern technologies, the more we have become not free at all as we just follow the flow of networks, tech giants, advertisers and markets.  We have been imprisoned by economics and profits along with gimmicks that we miss life in the process.  The finding of Jesus at the Temple reminds us that our God is a God of surprises, that when we are truly free for the Father in heaven, there is always awe and amazement with life.  We live and do not rush, enjoying time and every present moment in life, unafraid of what would happen next.  Then, we become grateful or thankful for everything we have, material and spiritual.

         Every Sunday as children of God we gather in the Holy Mass we call Eucharist, the Greek word for thanksgiving.  In the first reading we have heard Hannah offering her son Samuel to the temple as her thanksgiving for the gift of a child after God answered her prayers.  The gospels teem with so many occasions when Jesus would pray often to praise and thank God His Father, even in public.  His life is a thanksgiving in itself that He gave it entirely to the Father for us.  Though I am not a beauty pageant expert, I feel that Ms. Catriona Gray’s winning the Miss Universe title was largely because of her childlike traits of being free, amazing, and thankful.  Only a child-like attitude like hers can see the silver linings amid the children growing at the slums of Tondo and still be grateful.  It is exactly what Jesus had said that“unless you become like children, you shall never inherit the kingdom of heaven”  that she was eventually crowned as Miss Universe!

          To be a child is to owe one’s existence from another, from God and from parents and elders.  When we teach our children to always sayplease and thank you including po and opo, we are actually reminding them of that deep reality within each of us that we are here on earth because we were given as a gift.  We are not really teaching them something new but more of awakening in them something inherent that our existence is not of our own, our “I” or self not of our own making that we have to be thankful always to God and with our parents and with others.  This is something we adults always forget or even discard and abandon especially when we fill to have achieved so much in life.  We all remain children in our whole lives because are always in need of one another especially when we get older and eventually lose our memories and abilities to do things that rightly so, we get into a second childhood.  On this Feast of the Holy Family, let us be thankful for the gift of one another, especially of our family.  How lovely were those Christmas greetings on Facebook – “from our family to yours” – if each one remains a child of God, freely loving and surprising everyone of the reality of the God among us Jesus Christ, the Emmanuel. AMEN. Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan

*Photo above by Jim Marpa.  Used with permission.  Below from Google.

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