The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Week XXII, Year I in Ordinary Time, 02 September 2021
Colossians 1:9-14 ><}}}*> ><}}}*> ><}}}*> Luke 5:1-11
As the pandemic rages with its
more devastating surge affecting
whole families, we pray dear Father
not only for healing of those afflicted
with COVID-19 but also for the opening
of our minds and hearts to find the
deeper realities of life instead of still
being preoccupied with mundane and
selfish desires we have taken as our
false securities. Let us remove all these
blindness in us to see and embrace
the truth of your Son Jesus Christ, the
only one who can lead us out of this
darkness that is also of our own making.
Let the prayer of St. Paul for the Colossians
be our prayer today, Father: "that we may walk
in a manner worthy of the Lord so as to be fully
pleasing in every good work, bearing fruit
and growing in the knowledge of God" so that
"we may be fit to share in the inheritance
of the holy ones in light" (Colossians 1:10,12).
Dear Father, help us realize the need for us
to seek fulfillment only you in Christ Jesus
"in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness
of sins" (Colossians 1:14).
Open our eyes to see the deeper story behind
the news happening around us today:
of what sense is our pursuit for fame,
wealth and power when we can easily die with
COVID-19 or when our country is overrun
by rebels like Afghanistan?
Fulfillment in life can only be found
in Jesus Christ your Son who had come
to enable us "catch abundant fish" when
all our toils and efforts yielded nothing;
teach us to trust in you more, to dare
cast the net into the deep and most of all,
to leave our "boat" of comfort and ease
to walk with Jesus, following him as
"fishers of men" sharing his loving service
and presence, mercy and kindness with everyone.
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle-B, 24 January 2021
Jonah 3:1-5, 10 >><)))*> 1 Corinthians 7:29-31 >><)))*> Mark 1:14-20
The sea evokes mixed feelings of both joy and fear at the same time. It symbolizes life itself that may be nice and lovely but difficult and dangerous too. For many people, the sea is the sign of abundant life, a source of livelihood while for some, a reminder of death and misery.
Such is the mystery of life too that at the start of the ministry of Jesus Christ, we find Mark locating its setting by the sea as we embark fully into the Ordinary Time of the liturgy.
After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen.
Mark wrote the first gospel account that became the framework for Matthew and Luke in writing their own versions. He was in a hurry in writing his gospel because he felt the urgency in making known the good news of Jesus Christ; thus, his gospel is also the shortest, doing away with so many other details without losing the essentials.
This we find in his brief presentation today of the beginning of Christ’s ministry set by the Sea of Galilee.
Our sea of discontent.
First thing we notice is the very nature of the coming of Jesus Christ that happens when we are in rough waters, perhaps even with a violent storm at the middle of the sea called life: After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
The setting was not totally good. John had been arrested. People must have been disappointed. But, that is always the cue in God’s coming called “kairos” or fullness of time, the day of judgment.
It is when we are going through difficult situations in life when we must examine ourselves too, of the need to set aside our own plans and agenda to let go and let God.
Every here and now is the time of fulfillment, a time of God’s coming to us.
Do we have the room, the space in us to welcome him to bring us into fulfillment? Hence, the need to empty ourselves, to repent and believe in Jesus Christ, the gospel himself.
Secondly, it is when we are sailing through rough seas when we also experience within that feeling of discontentment, of emptiness when there seems to be something missing in our lives even if everything is going fine like with our career or business, relationships, or family where nobody is sick or maybe the kids have all grown up and now on their own.
There comes a time in our lives when our problem is not having any problems at all — when we are no longer contented with being happy and satisfied but longing for fulfillment.
Rejoice and be glad when feeling this way! Emptiness leads to fullness as discontentment in life is always a sign of spiritual growth if we heed the calls of Jesus when desolation is a prelude to consolation.
Like in the story of creation, out of chaos comes order, exactly the experience of the first four disciples of Jesus.
As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Then they abandoned their nets and followed him. He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.
When we are sailing through rough seas in life, that is when we have to trust God more so he can do and move in our lives to achieve the great plans he had created us for. “Be still and confess that I am God!” (Ps. 46:10), so the psalmist tells us.
Money and material things were not a problem for Simon and company. They must be well to-do as they have their own fishing boats at the time, even with men hired to work for them. Opening their hearts to listen to Jesus, they must have felt deep inside them that finally, they have found direction in life, something they have been searching for a long time.
Did they understand the meaning of “fishers of men”? We have no way of knowing it but Mark tells us how upon listening to Jesus, Simon and Andrew left everything behind and followed the Lord! Imagine the great fortune they have left behind.
Even Zebedee, the father of James and John, did not complain nor run after them to at least ask them to stay behind so they would help him run their family business because he too must have been praying for his sons to grow up and mature! Recall how the mother of James and John requested Jesus the favor to have them seated beside him when reigning in his kingdom they thought to be like the kings of their time living in a palace. Or, their attitude in asking Jesus to burn down a Samaritan village that refused them passage. These instances indicate how the brothers James and John may have been like today’s typical happy-go-lucky rich kids of their time but searching for meaning in life amid the many troubles and misadventures in life.
Jesus comes to us in a similar manner, in the ordinariness and problems and struggles of our lives like when Simon and Andrew, James, and John were busy working near the Sea of Galilee. The Lord speaks to them about what they were doing as fishermen to express to them his plans to make them fishers of men.
We do not find God;
it is God who finds us.
Every day, Jesus Christ is passing by, calling us, inviting us to repent and believe in his gospel, challenging us to face our responsibilities and most of all, asking us for our commitment. He never imposes but would always patiently wait for us.
We all search for meaning in life; for some, it may come early in life while for others, it might come later. But surely, our search for meaning, for God always come for sure because we were created that way by God.
In my personal experience, I have realized that we do not really find God; it is God who actually finds us! Moreover, nobody escapes God as attested by so many saints and even ordinary people we have known who have experienced conversion.
One beautiful story of God coming to us, searching for us, and saving us from storms at the middle of the sea of life is that of Jonah and the city of Nineveh in the first reading. Jonah himself tried to escape God when his ship encountered a severe storm in the middle of the sea that he was thrown out to be swallowed by a whale. Of course, it is symbolic but it tells us in a nutshell the urgency of proclaiming God’s message of conversion, of not escaping God. This we find when Jonah was surprised at how a pagan nation like Niniveh listened to his preaching that they were spared of God’s wrath and punishment.
Jonah and Niniveh both give us beautiful lessons in resolutely turning back to God and his ways without wasting any instant as well as God’s immense love and concern for everyone, offering his mercy and forgiveness no matter how serious our sins are.
The characters of Jonah and of the inhabitants of Niniveh may be exaggerated but they are very true even among us in our own days! Recently we have seen how things have gone worst in this life in almost every aspect especially since last year with the coming of COVID-19 pandemic.
That is why St. Paul’s call in the second reading is so timely: “I tell you, brothers and sisters, the time is running out. For the world in its present form is passing away” (1Cor.7:29,31).
When St. Paul wrote the Corinthians telling them to act as not having wives or weep as not weeping means we have to detach ourselves from all that perish like material things as well as jobs and careers, and even this life we have. We have to focus more on things that last who is ultimately God in Jesus Christ.
Last week, I was so saddened with the news of the closing of the Makati Shangri-la Hotel next month. One of our parishioners is a young man working there as a chef since 2004. He is a very good man, always dropping by the parish after work, never missing a Sunday with his father who died last summer. When COVID-19 started, he would always attend our online Mass wherever he may be.
I texted him the night the news came out of the closure of their hotel next month. Beside is a screenshot of our chat that turned my sorrow into joy upon realizing Carlo’s deep faith in God.
That night, I thanked God in my final prayer, for letting Jesus passed by my room while chatting with Carlo, in taking care of Carlo.
Yesterday after Mass I talked to him again and he was already very upbeat, looking forward to celebrating the Mass with us more often while looking for a new job.
Let us pray this Sunday for everyone going through many hardships these days so they may remain open in their hearts, listening to Jesus who is passing by, calling them to be his fishers of men in this troubled seas. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Friday after the Epiphany, 08 January 2021
1 John 5:5-13 <*(((><< + >><)))*> Luke 5:12-16
Beloved: Who indeed is the victor over the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ, not by water alone, but by water and blood. The Spirit is the one who testifies, and the Spirit is truth.
1 John 5:5-6
If we could all be aware of this wonderful declaration by your Son’s beloved disciple, O God our Father, surely there would be fewer disappointments and frustrations among us in this life, especially from that “rat race” where there are no victors but only losers.
As we advance in science and technology supposedly making life better and easier for us, making us more affluent to some degree, what a tragedy that we still do not feel contented as life has become more competitive in quantitative terms than qualitative aspects like love and understanding, closer ties and cooperation.
Life may be easier but, unfortunately we cannot see its great value that even on the personal level, there is still so much self-hate and self-rejection going on among us.
Help us, dear Jesus, to keep in our minds and our hearts how you wish only the best for us, our healing and our fulfillment in life like that leper you have healed in the gospel today.
It happened that there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where Jesus was; and when he saw Jesus, he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I do will it. Be made clean.” And the leprosy left him immediately.
Lord Jesus, let us believe in you wholeheartedly by embracing your Cross where you won the world for us with “the Spirit, the water, and the blood” that all testify to you as the Christ, the Anointed One of God who saved and redeemed us. Amen.
Praise and glory to you, O God our loving Father! Please, keep us open to your coming in Jesus Christ. Surprise us always with your simplicity, silence, and hiddenness.
You know how we are always attracted with people’s credentials and titles, outward appearances, and great talents in speaking and explaining things that we get carried away, leaving you behind.
I came to you in weakness and fear and much trembling, and my message and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of spirit and power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.
1 Corinthians 2:3-5
Let us come to you and meet you in Jesus by forgetting our self, taking our cross and following him in his passion and death.
Sometimes we forget your simple invitation to come to you with our sinful selves minus our pretensions and masks because all you want is our total selves. You do not ask for our perfections but imperfections, nor for our virtues and talents but for our lacking and sins.
And through this all, Lord, you give us life and freedom, fulfillment in you in our hearing:
Jesus unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord. Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Come, Lord Jesus, you are most welcomed in me. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Week XX, Year II in Ordinary Time, 17 August 2020
Ezekiel 24:15-23 >><)))*> || + || <*(((><< Matthew 19:16-22
The young man said to him (Jesus), “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
The young man’s question to you, Jesus, still echoes in me: “What do I still lack?” A question that reverberates in me on many occasions for different reasons. So many times, Lord, I felt the answer lies on something that my hands can simply grab or hold to take and be not lacking anymore.
What do I still lack? A question I automatically ask because I have always felt I have the answers, I can always work for it and have whatever I lack.
When tragedy and failures strike, I ask the same question, what do I still lack? What have I missed? What went wrong?
It is a question I have always felt as a problem needing solutions, of something missing that must be filled to be no more lacking.
But today, Lord, I felt the emptiness of the young man too.
It is not just lacking of something but more of a longing for you. It is an emptiness of the heart and soul that nothing can ever fill because “What do I lack” is not a problem to be solved but a situation, a condition to be with you always, Lord.
That is why, sometimes, you have to “take away the delight of our eyes” (Ez.24:16), Lord, so we may see what we lack ––YOU!Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, 01 May 2020
Genesis 1:26-2:3 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Matthew 13:54-58
As we start the third extension of our quarantine period, you have gifted us O God, our loving Father, with this Feast of St. Joseph the Worker to guide many of us working at home during this time of the corona pandemic.
St. Joseph must have been a very good father to Jesus at Nazareth and a very wonderful carpenter too to their neighbors that long after he had died, the people still remembered him being the father of the Lord.
Jesus came to his native place and taught the people in their synagogue. They were astonished and said, “Where did this man get such wisdom and mighty deeds? Is he not the carpenter’s son? Is he not his mother named Mary and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Are not his sisters all with us? Where did this man get all this?”
Remind us always, O Lord, that like St. Joseph, our main task in life is to do your work in the way you would want it to be done because all our work is just a sharing in your creation completed in six days, setting aside the seventh day of sabbath as a day of rest in you.
In this time of the corona virus when many of us are working at home with almost all establishments including churches are closed, may we find again the true meaning and value of all work and material endeavors in the light of Jesus Christ who did and spoke only what you willed, our heavenly Father.
May we break free from our works and be not their slaves that have destroyed our personal and family lives as well as our environment as we pursued in recent years material wealth and fame now useless in the face of COVID-19.
May we always find you, Lord, in all our work and undertaking as our only fulfillment. Amen.
40 Shades of Lent, Friday after Ash Wednesday, 28 February 2020
Isaiah 58:1-9 +++ 0 +++ Matthew 9:14-15
Have mercy on us, O God, have mercy… for we are still totally lost on the real meaning of fasting and abstinence. We have lost its spiritual meaning, focusing more on ourselves for vanity reasons like losing weight and looking good, totally forgetting fasting is all about you and others than us!
How unfortunate, dear God, that we no longer fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday but even on Sundays before receiving your Son Jesus in the Holy Communion by making all kinds of excuses with bold claims of having sacrificed so much in doing good deeds for you.
Thus says the Lord God: Cry out full-throated and unsparingly, lift up your voice like a trumpet blast. Tell my people their wickedness, and the house of Jacob their sins. They seek me day after day, and desire to know my ways, like a nation that has done what is just and not abandoned the law of their God. They ask me to declare what is due them, pleased to gain access to God. “Why do we fast, and you do not see it? Afflict ourselves, and you take no note of it?” Lo, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits, and drive all your laborers. Yes, your fast ends in quarreling and fighting, striking with wicked claw. This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own.”
Isaiah 58:1-4, 6-7
Make us realize that fasting is not punishing ourselves, of denying ourselves with goods and pleasures of the world that leave us empty, wanting for more but never fulfilled deep inside.
Fasting is actually rewarding ourselves with you, O God, our only wealth and treasure, our only fulfillment.
Help us create an empty space within ourselves through fasting and abstinence so that your Son Jesus may dwell and reign in our hearts, saying from within us, “Here I am!” (Is. 58:9).Amen.