Birthday prayer

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Fourth Week of Lent, 22 March 2023
Isaiah 49:8-15 >>> + <<< John 5:17-30
Photo by author, sunrise at the Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, QC, 22 March 2023.
Loving God our Father,
Your words say it all today,
my birthday:

Thus says the Lord: In a time of favor I answer you, in the day of salvation I help you; and I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the peopleā€¦ Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.

Isaiah 49:8, 15

The Lord is gracious and merciful.

Responsorial Psalm, Ps. 145:8
Photo by author, Sacred Heart Novitiate, QC, 22 March 2023.
More than words, dear Father,
I praise and thank you 
for your boundless love
and kindness to me all these 
58 years!
You have always been present with me,
in me, for me, and through me in Jesus Your Son.
And so, I pray this to you:

Dearest Lord,
you have given me with so much,
I have given you so little;
teach me to give more 
of my time and talents,
to give more of my self 
so I can give Christ Jesus to others,
especially his love and mercy,
kindness and forgiveness;
empty me of my pride, Lord,
and fill me with your humility,
justice and love.
Amen.
Photo by author, Sacred Heart Novitiate, QC, 22 March 2023.

A very Valentine Sunday Gospel

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Sunday in the Sixth Week of the Ordinary Time, Cycle A, 12 February 2023
Sirach 15:15-20 ><]]]]'> 1 Corinthians 2:6-10 ><]]]]'> Matthew 5:17-37
Photo by author, Tagaytay City, 08 February 2023.

We are two days away from Valentine’s Day and a week from Ash Wednesday for the start of the Lenten Season. And our Gospel this Sunday speaks so much of how our hearts may be whole and pure like that of Jesus, filled with love for others as Christ’s disciples.

We are still with Jesus giving us his Sermon on the Mount. Last week we have heard him showing us the practical side of the beatitudes, of blessedness which is being the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Today, Jesus elaborates to us the meaning of putting into practice our blessedness, of being the salt of the earth and light of the world by going right into our hearts in fulfilling the Laws in him as he clarified, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill” (Mt. 5:17).

Living our lives as disciples of Jesus means that we follow a standard or norm totally different from the world’s standard that has become very personalistic and self-centered. The late Pope emeritus Benedict XVII called it as “dictatorship of relativism” – no more absolutes, no more God nor morality to follow because everything is relative that had given rise to everyone invoking each one’s rights totally disregarding the rights of others especially the weakest and most vulnerable. Worst, as most people insist on their individual rights these days, they also forget the other aspect of every right which is responsibility. What happens now is the covering up of temptations of lust so as not to deal with it like the promotion of abortion and artificial contraceptives or of divorce as a solution to marital infidelities.

The problem is not with the laws but with the heart of every person.

Photo by author, Don Bosco Chapel on the Hill, Batangas, 08 February 2023.

Jesus is challenging us today to look into our hearts, placing the responsibility on every individual and not on the object of temptations or anger or lust. He is inviting us to lead our lives with integrity where we follow not only the letter of the law but more important, its spirit. This integrity calls us to a whole-hearted living whereby more than the beautiful words we speak, our lives, our very actions reveal we are the children of the Father in Christ Jesus, animated by the Holy Spirit.

See how Matthew composed and arranged the Lord’s teachings today; there is always the reminder from the Laws of the Old Testament followed by the Lord’s clarification of its deeper meaning and application.

You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, “You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment. You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you, everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Again you have heard that it was said to your ancestors, “Do not take a false oath, but make good to the Lord all that you vow.” But I say to you, do not swear at all. Let your “Yes” mean “Yes,” and your “No” mean “No.” anything more is from the evil one.

Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28, 33-34, 37

See how Jesus is directing us into his own heart, into the very heart of his Gospel found in the beatitudes we heard the other Sunday so that our hearts would also imitate. To be truly blessed, to be a salt of the earth and a light of the world is to have a clean, pure heart like Jesus, a heart filled with love and mercy. It is very difficult to do on our own but in the grace of Jesus Christ, it is doable.

At the very heart of Christ’s teachings today is the fact that not everything in life can be written and even fiscalized or enacted as a law. Human life is dynamic, always changing, supposedly for the best. Unfortunately, what we are seeing these days in history is decadence: when we are supposed to know more and know better, the more we are becoming less human, less personal because in our “reasoning”, what prevails upon us is our ego, our pride, our self-interests. These are what Jesus is attacking in his teachings today as he invites us to examine and cleanse our hearts, and to truly “feel” the depths and meaning of the Laws long given by God.

How sad that our usual argument against old laws is how they have become obsolete, not attuned with the times like the proponents of divorce. The problem is not with the natural order of things but us. And the tragedy is that we have not only polluted our hearts but also our minds, turning them away from God and from others.

Photo from reddit.com.

Very often, especially these days, many people insist on their freedom, on their power to choose forgetting that freedom is never absolute, that freedom demands also responsibilities. Though we are free to express our thoughts and feelings, it is not allowed to use the same freedom in spreading lies or maligning others.

The key to such “whole-hearted” living is found in our first reading from the Book of Sirach which emphasizes the meeting of the heart and the mind in God to choose, to decide and to do what is right, what is good.

If you choose, you can keep the commandments, they will save you; if you trust in God, you too shall live; he has set before you fire and water; to whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand. Before man are life and death, good and evil, whichever he chooses shall be given him. No one does he command to act unjustly, to none does he give license to sin.

Sirach 15:15-17, 20

We have the natural laws etched by God in our hearts to always do good, to do no harm on others. We also have his words and teachings finally revealed and fulfilled in Jesus Christ that must guide us in making the right exercise of freedom, of choosing life not death. Here we have true integrity, the meeting of the mind and the heart at what is true, what is good!

Freedom is the ability to choose what is good. Moreover, to be free is also to decide knowingly. Freedom is diminished and impaired when judgement is disturbed. As the Latin saying goes, Mens sana in corpore sano – a sound mind in a sound body. That is why our responsorial psalm says it so well that “Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord”.

One fine example of this blessed man who follows the Lord is our national athlete and the world’s number three pole vaulter, EJ Obiena.

A UST student who has represented us in various competitions including the 2020 Olympics in Japan, Obiena opened 2023 by winning two gold medals in four tournaments. Unfortunately due to usual red tapes and inefficiencies of those in government, Obiena had to skip the Asian Indoor Championship in Kazakhstan this weekend because of lack of logistical support and fundings. He never ran out of problems despite the many honors he had brought to our country in sports that in the process had shown us also his giftedness as an athlete and as a person with his good moral character.

What I like with him most is his passion for what is ethical, for what is right. He is very consistent with that. He is a man with an undivided heart, clearly inclined to what is true, good and just.

When people wrote and offered him help to join the competition in Kazakhstan, Obiena politely declined the offers because of ethical reasons, of “double-dipping” wherein he explained how the people have already given their share for him with their tax payments, that for them to give donations was too much already, even unjust.

Wow! Praise God for a man like Mr. Obiena! Truly a man with a heart full of passion in God, in what is right, what is true!

What EJ Obiena has consistently shown us – and taught us unconsciously – is the wisdom of God in Christ crucified, the favorite topic of St. Paul in his letters like the one we have heard earlier. See how Obiena was ready to suffer and sacrifice for what is true and good that so often, he is vindicated and has won our hearts and admiration.

This Sunday, let us listen more to God’s voice there in our heart, often the softest and most feeble covered by the more noisy sounds of the world. Let us look into our hearts and see if we have more of our selves, or of others? Of persons or things? Of laws or spirit of the laws? Amen.

Have a blessed week ahead!

Photo by author, Tagaytay City, 07 February 2023.

A “centering” prayer

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Memorial of St. Josephine Bakhita, Virgin, 08 February 2023
Genesis 2:4-9, 15-17   ><000'> ><000'> + <'000>< <'000><   Mark 7:14-23   
Photo by author, 01 February 2023, La Mesa Dam Eco Park seen from OLFU-QC, Lagro, QC.
On this middle of the week,
I pray to you dear God our Father,
that I may keep you at the center of my life
always inasmuch as you have made us humans
the center of all your creation.

At the time when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens while as yet there was no field shrub on earth and no grass of the field had sprouted, 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.

Genesis 2:4-5, 7
How lovely it is, O God,
to keep in mind in this other 
creation story in Genesis that
you created us humans first as 
"center" of your creation!
Equally lovelier, O God,
is the imagery of man you have
settled in the garden of Eden,
creating him in your image and likeness
endowed with the most wondrous gift
of freedom which is at the "center"
of our humanity, right in our hearts.
Alas, O God!
Instead of remaining at the center
with you and in you, we prefer
creating our own "center",
moving away from you and from each other;
forgive us in making our hearts,
our very center, dirty with sin and evil.

Jesus summoned the crowd again and said to them, “Hear me, all of you, and understand. From the within the man, from his hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.”

Mark 7:14, 21-23
Reign in our hearts, dear Jesus;
may you be center of our lives!
Like St. Josephine Bakhita who went
through so much pain and sufferings as 
child when she was sold as a slave in Sudan 
that in the process she had forgotten her name,
she was able to keep her sanity and 
regained her dignity as a person
until she converted to Catholicism
and eventually became a nun
because she found you, Jesus,
as the center of her life, even forgiving
those who have tortured and maltreated her.
Her redemption from a life of slavery
and constant sufferings proved that indeed,
we are the center of your creation, O Lord,
that you hear our pleas
and come to save us
if we remain centered in you too.
Amen.

Inviting Jesus into our lives

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the Thirty-Third Week of Ordinary Time, Year II, 15 November 2022
Revelation 3:1-6, 14-22   ><000'> + ><000'> + ><000'>   Luke 19:1-10
Forgive us, dear Jesus,
when many times in life
we appear to be so good and pious,
religious and devout in our religion
when in fact we lack faith in you
like the people of Sardis:

“I know your works, that you have the reputation of being alive but you are dead. Be watchful and strengthen what is left, which is going to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember then how you accepted and heard; keep it, and repent.”

Revelation 3:1c-3a
Your words are so timely, Lord,
as we ourselves often hear the same words,
of how our Church is dying
because we are already dead in our faith;
we have been so complacent in our faith,
so focused with 
duties and obligations,
rites and rituals,
tasks and schedule
but so empty of YOU.

Come, Lord Jesus!
Maranatha!
Give us the holy longing
and desire of Zacchaeus to meet you,
to exert every effort to be with you
and to be filled with you!
But the most truest of your words today Lord
and most disturbing are your words to the
Church in Laodicea:

“I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

Revelation 3:15-16
Let us be clear with our stand in you, Jesus;
let us be firm in our faith and in our resolve
to follow you like Zacchaeus who gave
half of his wealth to the poor and repaid four times
those he had extorted money;
let us come to you with sincere hearts
and humility, empty us of our pretensions
and fill us with your presence and truth,
Lord Jesus!
Amen.

God-is-with-us but, are we-with- God?

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel, & Raphael, Archangels, 29 September 2022
Revelation 12:7-12     ><000'> + ><000'> + ><000'>     John 1:47-51
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Jesus answered and said to him (Nathanael), “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.” And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

John 1:50-51
O dearest Jesus,
my Lord and my God,
I have believed like Nathanael
but until now, 
I have not lived totally
in you and with you!
It was in your coming, Jesus,
the angels have become 
most truest when you opened 
the heavens for us, 
when you the Son of God
came to dwell among us
so that through you God comes
to us and we through you go to him.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have salvation and power come, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed. They conquered him the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; love for life did not deter them from death. Therefore, rejoice, you heavens, and you who dwell in them.”

Revelation 12:10, 11-12a
Archangels Michael,
Gabriel and Raphael,
enable us,
lead us to be like you:
always listening to God's 
voice, making his words
our very lives as we come 
to him in faith and complete
surrender so that life and healing,
good news and power
from him 
may flow
to mankind 
through us.
Amen.

Praying for kindness

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the Twenty-Fifth Week of Ordinary Time, 19 September 2022
Proverbs 3:27-34     ><]]]'> + <'[[[>< ~ ><]]]'> + <'[[[><     Luke 8:16-18
Photo from Facebook, April 2020.
God our loving Father, 
let me be kind today,
not just be good but be kind
by regarding everyone as my "kin",
someone not different from me, 
someone a family.
Refuse no one the good on which he has a claim when it is in you power to do it for him.  Say no to your neighbor, "Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give," when you can give at once.  Plot no evil against your neighbor... Quarrel not with a man without a cause... Envy not the lawless man and choose not his ways.
Proverbs 3:27-29, 30
Bless me 
and let the light of Jesus
shine in me to guide others;
let me not be contented 
with whatever good I have done
nor with who I have become;
grant me the grace to grow
and mature in Christ, 
moving forward,
not backwards,
never stagnate.
Amen.

True wealth

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle-C, 18 September 2022
Amos 8:4-7  ><}}}}*>  1 Timothy 2:1-8  ><}}}}*>  Luke 16:1-13
Photo by author, sunrise at Lake Tiberias, the Holy Land, May 2019.

Our first reading this Sunday from the Book of Amos sounds like coming from a recent publication denouncing the corruption and social decadence in most countries these days, of the rampant injustice and exploitation of the poor, of how hypocrisies thrive among the rich and powerful and religious too!

Hear this, you who trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land! “When will the new moon be over,” you ask, “that we may sell our grain, and the sabbath, that we may display the wheat? We will diminish the ephah, add to the shekel, and fix our scales for cheating! We will buy the lowly for silver, and the poor for a pair of sandals; even the refuse of the wheat we will sell!”

Amos 8:4-6

How sad that long before the coming of Jesus Christ and more than 2000 years after his birth with all the civilization and religion all over the world, nothing has really changed at all: greed for power and money continue to divide peoples and nations, causing many losses of lives from crimes and wars that have ensued.

"Everything has a price, 
everything has to be summed up 
that sadly in the process, 
God and people are commodified 
while things are personified! " 
Photo by Mr. Jay Javier, April 2022.

Throughout history, we have never learned and perhaps, have continued to refuse to learn from God, beginning from his prophets like Amos down to his own Son Jesus Christ, the important lesson of giving more value to him and to one another. We have always put more premium and value on things that perish than on those of true value that remain even to eternity, none other than God and one another.

“If, therefore, you are not trustworthy with dishonest wealth, who will trust you with true wealth? If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another, who will give you what is yours? No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

Luke 16:11-13

True wealth vs. dishonest wealth

Jesus continues his journey to Jerusalem, intensifying his teachings on discipleship with two parables this Sunday and next week to deepen our knowledge and relationship with him and others as disciples.

We have heard today his parable of the wise steward who reduced the debts of his master’s creditors to ensure he could find employment in them when fired from his job. Jesus did not approve of his wily scheme but praised him and those like him of the world in finding ways to “win hearts” of people with their pakikisama as we call in Pilipino which is often a wrong sense of camaraderie when people help each other even in shenanigans and other corrupt practices.

(Photo by Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images)

If we could just find means in truly helping each other in life with the same ardor, we could probably have a better and more humane society where we value persons more than things. That is the kind of discipleship Jesus is teaching us today with his sayings after narrating this parable — of having God and one another as our true wealth in life, not dishonest wealth of money, power and fame that feed on our pride and ego. Having God and others as our true wealth means valuing them most in our lives through Jesus Christ.

Problem happens when we value things like money and fame more than God and persons like in the time of Amos that continues to this day as we focus more with how much we shall earn, of what’s in store for us in terms of profits and returns without giving the slightest concern for people and God. Everything has a price, everything has to be summed up that sadly in the process, God and people are commodified while things are personified!

Sorry to say this but the clearest example of our commodification of God is this online Mass when we make him like a canned good or a video on-demand like in Netflix we take out to watch and consume when we just have a feel for it. No relationship at all. Just like that, as in ganun lang… in case of an emergency, we take out God like a life vest tucked under the plane seat.

In the same manner, we commodify people when we see them in utilitarian perspectives, in their usefulness for us in attaining our selfish goals. We commodify people when we totally disregard them as “no body”, as if they do not exist that we do not recognize them at all, not caring for them as “some body” like in next Sunday’s parable of the rich man and Lazarus.

Even us in the Church contribute in this commodification of God and of people long before the advent of online Masses in the way we regard parish assignments. How do we priests look at the people and the parish, really?

What a shame at how we priests persist that unChristian frame of mind in distinguishing parishes as “big parish” and “small parish” in reference to their income and collections, never in terms of population or number of souls and their pastoral needs! This results in the tragic mire we are stuck called careerism fueled by the never-ending competition among priests for parish assignments, forgetting altogether our sense of service and mission.

Sad. Very, very sad.

"True wealth and riches are God and people.
We live to love.  
Let us put an end to restrictions on whom to love, 
whom to value for we are all brothers and sisters in Christ..." 
Photo by author, 12 August 2022.

This Sunday, Jesus is blessing us with the grace and challenge of examining deeply in our hearts what and who do we value most?

If we consider material things as riches, then, we have not moved away from the time of Amos; we are still living in ancient time of decadence and immoralities despite the sophistications we now have like hi-tech gadgets we use for cheating others as we hide in our fine clothes and air conditioned homes, offices, and vehicles.

True wealth and riches are God and people. We need more people, more children, more family, more friends to share and celebrate life with. Not more money nor more houses and cars we cannot use at the same time; we do not need more food nor more clothes for we live not to eat.

We live to love. Let us put an end restrictions on whom to love, whom to value for we are all brothers and sisters in Christ as St. Paul reminds us in the second reading today. Most of all, the great apostle tells us to value everyone, from our leaders down to the common tao we meet everywhere, praying for one another for it is God’s design that in the end, we shall all together dwell in him in heaven, the true wealth and riches we must all aspire. Amen. Have a blessed weekend everyone!

Photo by author, 14 September 2022.

Conviction & Commitment to Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C, 04 September 2022
Wisdom 9:13-18 ><}}}}*> Philemon 9-10 ><}}}}*> Luke 14:25-33
Photo by Mr. Lorenzo Atienza, 12 June 2019, Malolos Cathedral Basilica.

One of the most moving parts of the rite of ordination to the priesthood as well at profession of vows by nuns is when they prostrate in front of the church altar to signify their total conviction and commitment to the person of Jesus Christ.

What a beautiful image of the nature and essence of discipleship requiring great sacrifices to faithfully persevere to the end in Jesus who is always the highest priority of our lives, not only of priests and religious but lay people alike for we are all called to a life of holiness.

We find this conviction and commitment to Jesus in Paul’s own experience while in prison when the slave of his friend Philemon named Onesimus fled to seek refuge in him and eventually converted into Christianity.


Conformity and fidelity to the gospel 
is beyond morality 
because it is an adherence 
to the person of Jesus Christ.

It must have been a difficult situation for Paul if found harboring a runaway slave, Onesimus, who in turn could face death as punishment for his act. Remember that slavery was normal during Paul’s time and even if he did not preach directly against its institution, here in this short powerful letter of just 25 verses he planted the seeds for its destruction when he stressed that Onesimus is Philemon’s “brother in the Lord”.

Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD at Katmon Harbor nature Sanctuary, Infanta, Quezon, 29 August 2022.

Perhaps this is why he was away from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a brother, beloved especially to me, but even more so to you, as a man and in the Lord. So if you regard me as a partner, welcome him as you would me.

Philemon 15-17

Many times in life, we realize that fidelity to the gospel can be entirely unreasonable like when we have to be like Philemon whom Paul had asked to believe in the sincerity of the conversion of Onesimus his slave when it seemed to be more of convenience or merely circumstantial. Most of all, how could we receive another as a “beloved brother in the Lord” to whom we owe nothing at all when in fact who had hurt us in the first place! Conformity and fidelity to the gospel is beyond morality because it is an adherence to the person of Jesus Christ, of our communion with him and in him as his disciples.

Are we willing to go that far, of leaving everything behind, even our loved ones, our very selves for Jesus like what the gospel asks us today?

Great crowds were traveling with Jesus, and he turned and addressed them, “If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.”

Luke 14:25-27
Photo by author, Stations of the Cross, Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Chapel, SM Grand Central, Caloocan City, June 2022.

It is already September and we have only about 12 weeks to go before closing this liturgical year to prepare for Christmas with the Advent Season. Jesus is fast approaching Jerusalem and great crowds were already following him.

However, Jesus was very much aware too of the mixed crowd following him where many were simply curious, some were interested, still searching for more proofs perhaps while a few of them were already committed.

How about us today?

See how Luke presented Jesus resolutely journeying to Jerusalem when he turned to face the crowd that includes us today to issue two important lessons about discipleship, hating those dearest to us including our very selves and, second, carrying our cross.


There comes a time in our lives 
when the only explanation, 
the only justification, 
and the only reason 
why we do something unthinkable 
even foolish is because of Jesus Christ. 

Jesus is not asking us to literally hate our family and friends or even our very selves; the word hate in this passage refers more to action than emotion, of doing something that others would surely hate like when we do not give in to their requests to support them in a lie or something not fair and just, or simply sinful and evil. We have experienced how it is actually more difficult to being good Christians doing God’s will, doing what is right and good that are exactly not what our family and friends are doing and would want us to also do. And that is why, when we do not go with them and their whims and caprices, they think we “hate” them.

Following Jesus means putting him first always, even above our loved ones that they always misinterpret as our lack of love and concern for them.

But more difficult than that is hating our very selves, doing a Philemon for the many Onesimus in our lives. There comes a time in our lives when the only explanation, the only justification, and the only reason why we do something unthinkable even foolish is because of Jesus Christ. And that is when we have to hate our selves like when we forgo vengeance, let go of some debts, forget all about technicalities and legalities because we love Jesus. It is really foolish by world standards that sometimes one comes to hate one’s self too for letting go and letting God.

Photo by author, detail of Seventh Station of the Cross in the Parish of San Ildefonso, Tanay, Rizal with a man wearing shades, January 2021.

Meanwhile, to carry one’s cross is more than patiently accepting our human conditions of suffering and sickness, weakness and trials in life. This understanding of carrying one’s cross implies passivity as if the difficulty we are into is something that just happened and fell on our lap or shoulder that we simply have to accept them in the name of Christ.

That is very good and highly commendable but, Jesus wants a more active participation from us. To carry one’s cross is to voluntarily choose and accept a difficulty in life as a direct consequence of our conviction in and commitment to Jesus Christ our Lord and Teacher!

This is the reason Jesus presented us with two parables after sounding his call to discipleship, that one of building a tower and of a general going to war. The two men in these parables had to calculate the cost of their efforts, of how much they have to sacrifice and give to be successful in their endeavors lest they become laughing stocks in the community. The same is true with each one of us today as disciples of Jesus.

“In the same way, anyone of you who does not renounce his possession cannot be my disciple.”

Luke 14:33

Of course, Jesus gives us the grace to become good disciples but grace builds on nature; how much are we willing to sacrifice, to renounce even our very selves to truly follow Jesus through and through?

Kaya mo ba?

Photo from gettyimages.com.

Discipleship in Christ is being devoted to him in the same manner he is devoted to the Father toward whom he is drawing us. There is no other Way but Jesus alone. Therefore, to be his disciple means to prefer nothing to Christ who is our very life, our being, our end.

There is no room for mediocrity in being his disciple. We have seen in history and in our very lives how superficial discipleship had caused more damages to the Church and to each one of us when we fail to be committed to our calls. Despite our long years of seminary formation, many of us priests miserably fail in our discipleship with the many scandals that plague the Church these days, not to mention the endless complaints by people of how their pastors do not prepare homilies nor celebrate Mass daily and worst, refuse to answer sick calls! On the other hand, many families and most especially children have been destroyed by the separations of many couples who have refused to learn of letting go of themselves to let God work in their relationships. Then, there are the siblings who fight simply because they cannot let go of their principles and egos and wealth that matter most to them than their brother or sister, or even parents!

This Sunday, let us pray for God’s counsels, for the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit as expressed in the first reading from the Book of Wisdom so we may not simply know what is good but most of all lead holy lives by experiencing God daily as his disciples. Amen.

Have a blessed week ahead.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Spirituality & religiosity

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Twenty-second Week of Ordinary Time, Year II, 31 August 2022
1 Corinthians 3:1-9     ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>     Luke 4:38-44
Photo by Irina Anastasiu on Pexels.com
Praise and glory to you,
God our loving Father for this
last day of August; in a few
hours at midnight we shall
move into the -ber months with
September first;
but most of all, praise and glory
to you, dear God, for the gift of
your Spirit in us that we often
fail to recognize and nurture
as your most wondrous gift to us.
Too often, we mistake our being 
religious with being spiritual when
we measure our relationship with
you in terms of what we do for you
which is religiosity, forgetting that what
matters most is our response to 
the things you have done for us,
inviting us into a communion,
a relationship which is what spirituality
is all about;
like the people of Corinth in the time
of St. Paul, what we see more are your
ministers and practices, forgetting all
about you, our Lord and God!

What is Apollos, after all, and what is Paul? Ministers through whom you became believers, just as the Lord assigned each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the growth. Therefore, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who causes the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive wages in proportion to his labor. For we are God’s co-worker; you are God’s field, God’s building.

1 Corinthians 3:5-9
Dearest Jesus Christ,
you have come to bring us closer
to God our Father; you became
like us in everything except sin,
experiencing even death so that we
may rise in you into new life, new
relationships with God and others;
let us realize like the apostles who 
interceded for your healing of 
Simon's mother-in-law that there alone
is one God above us all with whom is all
our being as origin and end; help us
realize too that like you, we have to 
move to other places, to go and see
others to experience and know God
our Father, for he alone matters most
in this life.  Amen.

Walking our talk

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Fourteenth Week of Ordinary Time, 08 July 2022
Hosea 14:2-10   ><]]]'> + ><]]]'> + ><]]]'>   Matthew 10:16-23
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD in France, March 2022.
Another week is closing,
another brand new week coming
but here I am, O God, still undecided,
dilly-dallying when to follow you,
when to change my ways,
when will I ever be true
in walking my talk; this time,
may I take with me my words
of contrition, of decision to turn
away from sin and follow your path
in Jesus Christ your Son.

Thus says the Lord: Return, O Israel, to the Lord, your God; you have collapsed through your guilt. Take with you words, and return to the Lord, say to him, “Forgive all iniquity, and receive what is good, that we may render as offerings the bullocks from our stalls.”

Hosea 14:2-3
Grant me, O Lord, 
the courage to be wise as the serpent 
and gentle as the dove in this world 
so filled with wolves and other
predators out for a kill with 
their seductive temptations
to rule and dominate; may I always
have the presence of mind to think
what is fair and just, true and good
that I may not be tempted to take 
shortcuts in life; inspire me to innovate
and be creative in proclaiming 
and living out the gospel of Jesus 
in this highly modern and complex
world; most of all, keep me faithful
to you, to always walk your path
for you are the way, the truth and 
the life.

Let him who is wise understand these things; let him who is prudent know them. Straight are the paths of the Lord, in them the just walk, but sinners stumble in them.

Hosea 14:10
There is no other way
to life, Lord, except you 
and this is the reason why
so many want to remove you,
to delete you from life, from
the world so that they can do
what is most pleasing to themselves
without realizing nor admitting
the collapse and slow death
they are experiencing.
Amen.