Of wages and gifts

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Memorials of St. John Eudes & St. Ezechiel Moreno, Priests, 19 August 2020
Ezekiel 34:1-11 >><)))*> ||| >><)))*> ||| >><)))*> Matthew 20:1-16
Photo by author, Pulilan, Bulacan, February 2020.

As we go through more difficulties and sufferings during this time of pandemic, your words today dear God speak so well of what we need most – a true shepherd who will care for the lost and injured sheep.

Yes, you have fulfilled, O God, your promise a long time ago to Ezekiel that you yourself will come by sending us your Son Jesus Christ to look after and tend your sheep after the shepherds of Israel have miserably failed in their duties and responsibilities.

Unfortunately, there are still so many shepherds today in government even in Church who continue to pasture themselves!

Woe to the shepherds of Israel who has been pasturing themselves! Should not shepherds, rather, pasture sheep? You have fed off their milk, worn their wool, and slaughtered the fatlings, but the sheep you have not pastured. You did not strengthen the weak nor heal the sick nor bind up the injured. You did not bring back the strayed nor seek the lost, but you lorded it over them harshly and brutally. As I live, says the Lord God, because my sheep have been given over to pillage, and because my sheep have become food for every wild beast, for lack of a shepherd; I swear I am coming against these shepherds.

Ezekiel 34:2-4, 8, 10

Teach us, O Lord, through the examples of two great shepherds of souls whose feast we celebrate today: St. John Eudes who was one of the early pioneers in propagating devotion to your most Sacred Heart and St. Ezechiel Moreno who served for 15 years in the Philippines and later in South America where innumerable cancer cures were attributed to him.

St. John Eudes and St. Ezechiel Moreno showed in their lives of faithful and loving apostolate for the poor that shepherding is always a gift, never to be counted or equated nor even be seen in terms of wages and pay like in the gospel.

Remind us sweet Jesus in the midst of this pandemic when we are called to be good shepherds like you, may we always see your call and mission to us as gifts freely given not as tasks or work to be compensated by material things because you believe in us.

May we always go the extra mile in answering your call, O Lord, which is in itself a tremendous gift we must cherish for we are not even worthy at all to receive. Amen.

From Google.

Looking up to heaven, looking down within us for God

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Friday, Easter Week-II, 24 April 2020

Acts of the Apostles 5:34-42 ><)))*> + 0 + <*(((>< John 6:1-15

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

Praise and glory to you, O God our loving Father in heaven!

I have been taught since childhood that you dwell up in the sky and that is why like all the others, I always point up to you whenever we refer to your dwelling place, O God.

And I am certain, too, that you are indeed up there that every time we wake up, every time we feel happy or troubled, we always glance upwards like praying to you, calling to you, and looking for you.

Indeed, Gamaliel was absolutely correct when he cautioned his fellow Pharisees in the first reading to remind us too of this certainty:

“Fellow children of Israel, be careful what you are about to do to these men… But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.”

Acts 5:35, 39

Give us the gift of discernment of your Holy Will, Father, that we may always know what to do, that we may always decide according to your plan.

As we look up to you in the sky where believe heaven is, the more we also look down inside ourselves and everyone to find you among us in your Son Jesus Christ.

Yes, loving Father, you have sent us Jesus so that as we look up to you in the heavens, the more we shall search and probe our hearts, our lives, our situations, and our brothers and sisters to find you dwelling among us in Christ like there in the wilderness when he fed more than 5000 people.

Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, there he sat down with his disciples. The Jewish feast of Passover was near. When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowds was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them?” He said this to test him because he himself knew what he was going to do.

John 6:1-6

What a lovely scene repeated to us daily, especially in this time of the quarantine!

Jesus raising his eyes, seeing a large crowd hungry, sick, afraid… and then talking to us where to find bread in order to test us — because he always knows what he is going to do….

If we could all be like that little boy who looked into himself, into what he had, no matter how little they may be like the five barley loaves of bread and two pieces of fish….

O Lord, keep us looking for you first within us, into whatever we have, and unto others so we may let you do your work in us to feed and heal the people locked in this quarantine.

Give us the grace, Lord, to always search and find you and follow you not only up in the heavens most especially down deep in our hearts, in the face of the people we meet, in our situation in this time of the corona virus.

It is in finding you in our hearts, on the face of one another, and in the situation we are into when we truly dwell in your house, O Lord. Amen.

Sunrise at the Sea of Galilee, Israel. Photo by author, May 2017.

Best Gifts of Christmas, II

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 28 December 2019

Italian artist Giorgione’s “Adoration of the Shepherds” (1510) showing an intimate scene set up against a distant landscape. The shepherds’ gently kneeling and bowing their heads down show their humility and fascination with the Infant Jesus while the long road behind them shows the long and tiring journey they have taken before reaching their destination.

We continue with our enumeration of the best gifts of Christmas which is above all the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. And because of his coming as human like us, we have come to share in his dignity and glory, thus, making us also the best gifts to share and receive every Christmas!

We await Christmas every year because we await Jesus Christ, the most beloved person of all we can know and have as friend.

We wait only for persons, not things.

Waiting is beautiful because we never wait alone. There is always another person waiting with us, waiting for us. And when we finally come and meet with the other person also awaiting us, then we become present, a gift for one another.

In our presence with each other comes the wonderful gift of intimacy.

“God became a human being so that in one person you could both have something to see and something to believe.”

St. Augustine, Sermon 126, 5
The spot where Jesus Christ is believed to have been born now covered and protected by this hole under the main altar of the Church of the Nativity of the Lord in Bethlehem. May 2019

Christmas is a story about persons called by God to bring us his Son Jesus Christ. It is a living story that continues to our own time. Here are some of the best gifts of Christmas coming from the gift of our personhood.

  1. The gift of family. Christmas happens in a family of husband and wife and children. Very much like Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. Remove one and the Nativity scene becomes incomplete. Let us be thankful for our family, let us pray for the unity of our family. When Jesus was lost at the age of 12, Joseph and Mary decided to return to Jerusalem – symbolizing God – and eventually found him there in the temple. Let us always turn to God, ask for his guidance and protection of every family, for the healing of our family, for the mending of our broken relationships. Let us pray for all broken families whose members from the husband and wife to their children are all aching deep inside for the pains of separation.
  2. The gift of women and of motherhood. When God created man, he found “it is not good for man to be alone” that is why he created the woman as man’s “suitable partner” (Gen.2:18). What a beautiful term for woman, part-ner, a part of man who is never complete by himself alone. How sad that until now, it is right inside the home where every woman first experience physical, verbal and emotional pains. Women are the best signs of fidelity and faith: Elizabeth called Mary “blessed” because she believed the words spoken to her by the angel from God will be fulfilled. Let us pray for the women in our lives especially own own mother and sisters, lola and aunties, cousins and nieces. Remember, the way we relate with women reflect to a great extent the way we relate with God. Love and bless the women!
  3. The gift of men and fatherhood. When Jesus taught us how to pray, he taught us that God is like a “Father” whom we shall call “Our Father”. There is a crisis in fatherhood and manhood these days because many men have forgotten to be truly man enough like God our Father: a giver of life and protector of life as well. Most of all, when children lose this gift of life, it is the father who restores the life lost like the merciful father of the prodigal son in Luke’s gospel chapter 15.
Aleteia, December 2019.

This Christmas break, spend time with your family, hug your mommy and your daddy tightly and feel their presence again.

Thank your family, your mom and dad.

Pray for your departed loved ones, visit the cemetery and say a prayer for them, talk to them. Most of all, listen to them and feel them again.

Jesus, both the Gift and the Giver

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Thursday, Week XXXI, Year I, 07 November 2019

Romans 14:7-12 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Luke 15:1-10

Betania Tagaytay, August 2017.

Dearest Lord Jesus:

It seems more rains are coming today as I watched the rains last night amid dark skies with only a few stars above to accompany the moon. What a sight to behold as darkness enveloped us with the trickling of rains calming my soul while listening to St. Paul:

Brothers and sisters: none of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.

Romans 14:7-8

Thank you very much Lord for your wonderful gift of self to us!

Indeed, you are the gift and the giver at the same time.

Thank you for making each of us a small universe, self-contained but not totally complete if separated from you and from others. May we always share this gift of self with others by keeping us one in you and with you.

You are our “deep space”, our “big bang”, always expanding, ever growing, bursting with life and meaning.

May we not be bothered like the Pharisees and scribes when people seek you more than us for we are mere stars leading them to you.

May we search and bring back to you the other dead stars and lost stars of this universe we call life. Amen.

Modern jerusalem at dawn, April 2017.

Sharing the gifts within

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Thursday, Week XXIV, Year I, 19 September 2019

1 Timothy 4:12-16 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Luke 7:36-50

Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte, Atok, Benguet, 01 September 2019.

It has been raining for quite some time, Lord, dampening our moods. Some of us have been trying hard cheering ourselves up despite the rains and gloomy skies that have gotten inside inside us too!

Thank you very much for your soothing words of encouragement through St. Paul, sweet Jesus.

Beloved: Let no one have contempt for your youth, but set an example for those who believe, in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity… Do not neglect the gift you have, which was conferred on you through the prophetic word with the imposition of hands of the presbyterate.

1 Timothy 4:12, 14

There are times Lord Jesus when we just hit it so low, when everything does not seem to be going in the right directions, when we feel even under attack.

How reassuring are your words through St. Paul reminding us of our giftedness and the gifts we have to offer you and others.

More reassuring were the words you spoke about that “sinful woman” who came to anoint you with oil and perfume as you dined with a certain Pharisee.

“Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feel since the time I entered. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment. So I tell you, her may sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”

Luke 7:44-47

So nice of you to remind us today to keep on doing what we think and feel as good and beautiful, to see ourselves still blessed despite our weaknesses and sins like that woman who has so much goodness to share like the oil and perfume she poured on you, Lord.

We pray for those going through hard times these days due to many problems not only with others but with their very selves – those feeling so guilty with their sins, feeling bad with themselves due to failures, or just having the “blues”.

We pray for those having difficulties with their loved ones who are sick and simply misunderstood even unwelcomed. Those having problems with family members who refuse to admit their faults for all the problems their family is going through.

Lastly we pray for those of us misunderstood and boxed or labelled. O Lord, help us bring out the goodness and giftedness we have inside to fill our homes, offices and schools with your fragrance, sparkle, and presence. Amen.