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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