What God is asking from us

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Week XIX, Year I in Ordinary Time, 13 August 2021
Joshua 24:1-13   ><]]]]*> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]*>   Matthew 19:3-12
Photo by author, modern chapel at the Milk Grotto in Bethlehem, the Holy Land, 2019.
I know, dear God our Father,
you have no need of our words 
nor works in exchange for your 
abounding love and grace given us 
in Christ Jesus; and there lies 
your goodness and holiness when 
all you ask of us is our fidelity
to your covenant, that we remain true 
to you by dealing with love and justice
to one another which is all for our own good too.

“I gave you a land that 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 24:13
You have given us everything, O God:
the earth and everything on it that we have
wasted and destroyed; worst of all, you
have given us family and friends, every person
 and people to love and cherish, respect and
be kind with but whom we have always
hurt with our words and actions when we
see only our very selves, failing to see
others as brothers and sisters in you
as Father from the the very beginning.

“Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and said, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.”

Matthew 19:4-6
Forgive us, merciful Father
for the "hardness of our hearts" (Mt.19:8),
in our building walls among us instead
of bridges to bring us close together
as your children reconciled in Jesus Christ;
help us to find the common grounds that
make us all the same, not different;
make us find and accept our vocation
in life so we may fulfill your calling
by serving you through one another
with love and respect, kindness and mercy
especially in this time of the pandemic.
Amen.

God doing everything for us

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Week XIX, Year I in Ordinary Time, 12 August 2021
Joshua 3:7-10, 11, 13-17   ><]]]]'>   Matthew 18:21-19:1
Photo by author, sunrise at Lake of Tiberias (Galilee), the Holy Land, 2019.
Praise and glory to you,
O God our loving Father!
How great indeed are your
works that you do everything for 
our own good even long before 
we are born, preparing us
for every great moment of 
trials long before we have seen
them coming or even happening!
You are always there, Father
ahead of us in every step of 
the way in this life like in the 
entrance of your chosen people
to your promised land preceded
by the ark of the covenant,
parting the Jordan River so that
your people may cross on dry land
reminiscent of the Exodus at Red Sea.

No sooner had these priestly bearers of the ark waded into the waters at the edge of the Jordan, which overflows all its banks during the entire season of the harvest, than the waters flowing from upstream halted, backing up in a solid mass for a very great distance indeed… While all Israel crossed over on dry ground, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord remained motionless on dry ground in the bed of the Jordan until the whole nation had completed the passage.

Joshua 3:15-16, 17
Dear God, whenever I review my life
especially those low moments of
failures and disasters, sins and evil,
sickness or wrong decisions when I thought
everything had collapsed and totally gone,
you were always there, bringing me to safer
grounds; you were always there five steps
or more ahead of me, fixing all the problems
and troubles I have fallen into, even trapped inside.
Like in the history of Israel from Abraham to Joshua,
you never stopped surprising me
with your mighty presence and love.
 
But the greatest of all
marvelous things you have done
to me and us all, loving Father,
is sending us your Son Jesus Christ
to save us from all our sins with your mercy
 and forgiveness that is without end.
Like in today's parable, teach us to be
merciful and forgiving to those who have 
sinned against us for we are all 
forgiven sinners you love so much.
You have done so much for us, Father,
but we have done so little for you through others.
Amen.

When God acts like one of us

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial of St. Irenaeus, Bishop and Martyr, 28 June 2021
Genesis 18:16-33   ><)))*>  +  <*(((><   Matthew 8:18-22
Photo by Ms. Ria De Vera at Lalakhan, Santa Maria, Bulacan, 02 June 2021.
You are sometimes
so funny and amusing, dear God
when you act like our daddy
as if like dilly dallying
on whether to tell us something 
he is planning
knowing so well
he is the father and the master
that we his children must obey
and abide by his will and order.
How nice of you, O Lord
to act so decent, so good 
full of kindness and consideration
to make us feel important
with what you have in mind
of our role and part in your divine plan
because when you act like one of us
that is when you also want us
to act like you, to think like you
to be holy like you.
The Lord reflected,
"Shall I hide from Abraham
what I am about to do
(to Sodom and Gomorrah),
now that he is to become a great
and populous nation,
and all nations of the earth
are to find blessing in him?
Indeed, I have singled him out
that he may direct his children
and his household after him
to keep the way of the Lord
by doing what is right and just,
so that the Lord may carry into effect
for Abraham the promises he made about him."
(Genesis 18:17-19)
But more than acting
and thinking like you, O God,
is for us to love like you
that is why sometimes
Jesus sounds too harsh and 
difficult to follow, challenging us
to let go of our own desires 
and usual ways of living
in order to love you completely
and selflessly.
Jesus answered him,
"Foxes have dens, birds have nests,
but the Son of Man has nowhere
to rest his head."
Another of his disciples said to him,
"Lord, let me go first and bury my father."
But Jesus answered him,
"Follow me,
and let the dead bury their dead."
(Matthew 8:20-22)
We pray, O Lord, 
for our leaders in the Church
and in government
to be more committed
in serving your people
than in serving their own interests;
enlighten them of your ways, Lord,
of your kindness and mercy
dispensing justice swiftly
where there is outcry against sin.  Amen.

Praying to the Sacred Heart

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, 11 June 2021
Hosea 11:1, 3-4, 8-9  +  Ephesians 3:8-12, 14-19  +  John 19:31-37
Let me begin my prayer to you, dear God,
with a confession from my heart that despite my 
many years of praying, I have not really known you;
when I pray the "Our Father" 
words simply pass my lips  
slipping, skipping depths of my being.
On this Solemnity of Your Son's
Most Sacred Heart, please grant me
intimacy you have long offered a reality
if only our eyes can see
by looking at him whom they have pierced
blood and water flowed, our source of peace.
In that natural heart of your Son
is found your revelation 
that outside of him
we find no salvation;
open our hearts, clear our doubts
to experience your love!  
How sad that we cannot love
because we feel not being loved
when our Father in heaven is truly a Dad
who has never been mad when we are bad
in his boundless love for us
gave us his Son, full of tenderness and compassion!

For our reflection, see https://lordmychef.com/2021/06/10/god-our-tender-loving-dad/

Photo by the author, Sacred Heart Center for Spirituality, Novaliches, QC, 2016.

Sincerity of God, hypocrisy of human

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the Second Week of Lent, 02 March 2021
Isaiah 1:10, 16-20  ><}}}*> + ><}}}*> + ><}}}*>  Matthew 23:1-12
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, at Infanta, Quezon, February 2021.

Thank you, dear God our Father for this wonderful Season of Lent when we are able dwell and contemplate your immense love for us. Despite our many and serious sins that we deserve to be called as “princes of Sodom” and “people of Gomorrah” (Is.1:10) reminiscent of those two cities you have annihilated with fire, you still call us to come to you, ready to forgive us and set things right in our lives.

Come now, let us set things right, says the Lord. Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; though they be crimson red, they may become white as wool.

Isaiah 1:18

How lovely are those lines from you, Father, “Come now, let us set things right” — filled with love and tenderness, so sincere, so true!

Whose heart would not melt with such an invitation, when we should be the one begging you for mercy and forgiveness?

But, here you are, O Father, so concerned with us that you made the move, even willing to adjust so we may be able to start anew. You are so sweet and comforting that you did not mind going down to our level in your Son Jesus Christ to reach us, fix us, and set things right once and for all.

Give us the grace through your Son Jesus Christ to believe in your love, mercy and forgiveness.

Most of all, give us the courage to turn our hearts back to you, dearest God, to be true and humble as who we really are instead of pretending to be somebody clean and perfect (cf. Mt.23:8-12). Amen.

We are God’s favorite!

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
First Friday, Memorial of Guardian Angels, 02 October 2020
Exodus 23:20-23   | + |  >><)))*>   | + |   Matthew 18:1-5, 10
Photo by author, dome of the Malolos Cathedral, December 2019.

Praise and thanksgiving to you, O God our loving Father! In your great love for us, you did not only give us your Son Jesus Christ to redeem us but also sent us guardian angels who guide and protect us in this journey in life.

What an honor in making each one of us truly your favorite child!

May we always heed the guidance and leading of our guardian angels so we may always follow and do your Holy Will, O God.

May we be respectful, devoted and grateful to our guardian angels who function as our protectors, keeping us safe from all harm and dangers.

Lastly, give us the courage and banish our fears, Lord, for we have our guardian angels always beside us, sometimes ahead of us to prepare our paths.

Let us “follow them, stay close to them so we may dwell under the protection of God’s heaven” (St. Bernard). Amen.

Photo by author, Baguio Cathedral, January 2019.

Mind of Christ

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Week XXII, Year II in Ordinary Time, 01 September 2020
1 Corinthians 2:10-16 >><)))*> || >><)))*> || >><)))*> Luke 4:31-37
Photo by author, Chapel of Holy Family, Sacred Heart Novitiate, Novaliches, May 2017.

Lord Jesus, let me be focused on you alone, on your suffering and death for my sins, on your love for me, on your dying on the Cross for me. Breathe in me your Holy Spirit so I rely on you alone to have your “mind”.

Brothers and sisters: The Spirit scrutinizes everything, even the depths of God. Among men, who knows what pertains to the man except his spirit that is within? similarly, no one knows what pertains to God except the Spirit of God… The one who is spiritual, however, can judge everything but is not subject to judgment by anyone. For “who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to counsel him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:10-11, 15-16


What is this “mind of Christ”, O dear Jesus, that astonished the people of Capernaum at your preaching because you spoke with authority that even the unclean spirit of the possessed man rightly recognized you?

So many times, we fail to experience and manifest your mind because we have been so preoccupied with our very selves, so confident in our wild thoughts about you despite our claims that you are beyond human comprehension.

Photo by author, inside our parish at sunrise, 2019.

Yes, many of us are so conceited in knowing you so well, Lord, preaching all about health and wealth, the good life minus your Cross and sufferings that have sadly continued to mislead so many people today like during the time of Paul at Corinth.

Refresh your mind of Christ in us, Jesus by instilling in our hearts and minds that everything is grace from the Father, that whatever gift we have received from him is perfected when we are one with you in your suffering and death on the Cross.

That is the mind of Christ, dear Jesus: a beautiful mind so faithful and trusting in the Father who makes everything possibly good and wonderful, even the most painful experiences or darkest moments we ever had.

Keep us attuned with your Spirit so we may always follow the depths of God and be one in him through you, Lord Jesus. Amen.

The goodness of God our Father

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Week XIV, Year II in Ordinary Time, 09 July 2020
Hosea 11:1-4, 8-9 >><}}}*> >><}}}*> >><}}}*> Matthew 10:7-15
Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2019 in Carigara, Leyte.

This is the fourth straight day, O God when you have come to me in the most touching and personal manner through your prophet Hosea. It is so comforting to dwell on the tenderness of your love for me but at the same time so embarrassing too at what I have given back to you.

Thus says the Lord: When Israel was a child I loved him, out of Egypt I called my son. The more I called them, the farther they were from me, sacrificing to the Baals and burning incense to idols. Yet it was I who thought Ephraim to walk, who took them in my arms. I drew them with human cords, with bands of love; I fostered them like one who raises an infant to his cheeks. Yet, though I stooped to feed my child, they did not know I was their healer.

Hosea 11:1-7

These expressions are so true and so lovely, O God! I could feel your personal closeness to me as my Father, feeling all your love and concern for me, teaching me how to walk, taking me into your arms. And most especially that part of being fostered and raised like an infant to a father’s cheeks.

That’s how close you have been to me in many instances but sadly, it is true that the more you called me to stay closer to you, the more I drifted apart from you in sin and evil.

Forgive me, dearest God our Father, in taking you for granted in the same manner we I disregard the love and affection of those closest to me.

And that is where I feel most your personal love for me — when despite my sinfulness and turning away from you, you prefer not to give vent to your “blazing anger” to me because you are God, not human.

In fact, when your Son Jesus Christ came, his first order to his disciples was to cure the sick among us, raise the dead, cleanse lepers and exorcise those possessed by evil spirits. You only have our good always in your mind that we always fail to see or even refuse to accept and believe.

Today, Lord, we ask you for the grace to bask in your goodness and grace! Amen.

Photo by author, Church of the Our Father outside Jerusalem where Jesus taught his disciples the Lord’s Prayer.

Our attitudes before God

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Week XI, Year II in Ordinary Time, 18 June 2020
Sirach 48:1-14 ><)))*> ><)))*> ++0++ <*(((>< <*(((>< Matthew 6:7-15
Photo by author, Malolos Cathedral, 2019.

Your sage Ben Sirach today reminds us, O God, about the greatness of your two prophets, Elijah and Elisha who both worked wondrous deeds in your name before the mighty and powerful of their time.

They were so powerful in words and in deeds, both in life and in death.

In fact, Elijah never tasted death as you took him up to heaven on a fiery chariot while you granted Elisha’s wish to have twice the powers of his mentor.

How awesome are you, Elijah, in your wondrous deeds! Whose glory is equal to yours? You brought a dead man back to life from the nether world, by the will of the Lord. You sent kings down to destruction, and nobles, from their beds of sickness. You were taken aloft in a whirlwind, in a chariot with fiery horses. O Elijah, enveloped in the whirlwind! Then Elisha filled with a twofold portion of his spirit, wrought many marvels by his mere word. during his lifetime he feared no one, nor was any man able to intimidate his will. Nothing was beyond his power; beneath him flesh was brought back to into life. In life he performed wonders, and after death, marvelous deeds.

Sirach 48:4-6, 9, 12-14

Are there really people you have gifted with special powers and favors, Lord?

But, the more I prayed over Elijah and Elisha along with your other prophets and saints who have followed up to our own time, I have found one distinctive characteristic they all have: their attitudes of submission and of gratitude to you as Lord and Master.

You are the one who calls us, Lord, and always you are aware of our weaknesses and limitations, even our sins. Yet, what impresses you most is our attitude of submission and gratitude: the first is self-emptying to allow you to work in us, Lord, and the second is to always recognize you, never to claim anything on our own.

No wonder, the only prayer taught to us by your Son Jesus Christ our Lord is the “Our Father” which encapsulates those attitudes of submission and gratitude.

If only we could be more willing and more thankful to you, God our Father, maybe we could have changed the world with just the Lord’s Prayer. Amen.

The Church of te Our Father outside Jerusalem believed to be the site where Jesus taught the Lord’s Prayer to his disciples. Photo by author, 2017.

Father, into your hands I commend my spirit

Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 15 April 2020

Photo by Mr. Chester Ocampo, Immaculate Conception Seminary chapel, 2014.
It was three in the morning
my day was earlier than usual calling
while kneeling I began praying
I could not believe the words coming
for they are meant before sleeping:
"Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit."
Since the beginning
of this quarantine
there is this feeling
seeping within, asking
what is happening
but scared when answering.
It is reality now biting
reminding me of one thing
that is so intimidating
haunting me ever since
not just of dying
but of being alone.
I know it is the Easter season
but there must be a reason
why this is going on:
I have never felt alone
until I have grown old
when there is nobody home.
When Jesus died on the cross
he was alone but never abandoned
for when he implored 
the Psalm for his farewell song
he added the word "Father" that will lead us on.
Father, into your hands I commend my spirit!
Such was the loneliness of the Lord
but in one word expressed his oneness
and closeness amid the great darkness
a love so immense, so intense
where every life and spirit here on earth commenced.
What a unique invitation
from Jesus to follow him on the Cross
into his Resurrection  
by being lonely and abandoned
so we may pray in his filial way
Father, into your hands I commend my spirit!
It is in calling God our Father
when we are far and lost
that we can truly have that intimacy
with our Maker who breathed into thee
the very spirit that keep us alive
here and in eternity.