Our good God

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the First Week of Lent, 26 February 2021
Ezekiel 18:21-28     ><}}}*>  +  <*{{{><     Matthew 5:20-26
From Google.

O God our Father, you alone are the Holy One, you alone are Good! You alone are the one who wishes and looks only for what is good in us despite our sinfulness. Your words today are very loud and clear:

“Do I indeed derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked,” says the Lord God. “Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way that he may live?”

Ezekiel 18:23

In this blessed season of Lent, help us to be good by thinking what is good, seeing what is good, saying what is good, and doing what is good.

Let us be good always in every here and now. Help us let go of the past, thinking how sinful we have been. Or, in a similar manner, claiming how good we have been. So often, we always live in the past than in the present where you are always found.

One thing so good with you dear God is your “poor memory” of our past sins! And so, bless us to always make every effort to be good and make good our relationship with you in others in every present moment so we stop harking back into the past.

You say, “The Lord’s way is not fair!” Hear now, house of Israel: Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair? When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies, it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die. But if the wicked, turning from the wickedness he has committed, does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life since he has turned away from all the sins that he committed. He shall surely live, he shall not die.”

Ezekiel 18:25-28

Let me choose you always, dear God, to relate with you in the present moment each day in love and kindness. Let it start right here inside my heart where I choose to be good in thoughts and intentions, words and actions. Through Jesus Christ your Son and our Lord, let me not reject you by turning away from my brothers and sisters for that is not the kind of worship you want; let every good begin right inside me, within my heart and not from the outside that can always be faked just to look good. Amen.

From Google.

Advent is simply being good

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Advent Week-III, 15 December 2020
Zephaniah 3:1-2, 9-13     >><)))*>   +   <*(((><<     Matthew 21:28-32
Photo by Mr. Red Santiago of his youngest son, 21 November 2019.

Dearest God our Father: Lately our social media giants were having problems, one by one, had gone down for several hours with glitches that could not be accessed. And everybody is complaining that in less than a week, Messenger, GMail, and YouTube have landed on headlines in the world.

What is happening?

A new religion? A new god everybody is following?

Almost everyone is crazy risking one’s life for the sake of remaining in the web because even children declare, “wifi is life”!

It may be funny but thought-provoking at how we would always want our internet, apps and gadgets perfectly working, doing good all the time.

If we could just be like our internet, apps, and gadgets, Lord, to be simply good as persons, everything would flow smoothly especially our relationships with everybody happy and nobody complaining.

But we are more than internet, apps and gadgets, Lord!

This Season of Advent, teach us to be simply good, to stop all debates and complicated discussions on so many things in life like those people in Jerusalem both during the time of Zephaniah and Jesus Christ.

“Purify our lips” (Zeph.3:9), Lord, that we may “walk our talk” like the first son in the parable: though he said no to his father’s request, he changed his mind and obeyed him (Mt. 21:28-29).

Let us be good brothers and sisters, good neighbors, good classmates, good colleagues, good Christians who reflect more of your presence than what we know or whatever is in our minds that we always insist.

Let us be kind and caring, never judging others, always respecting one another, and trying to find what is good than what is wrong. Amen.

Prayer in a time of “war”

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Memorial of St. Camillus de Lellis, Priest, 14 July 2020
Isaiah 7:1-9 <*(((><< ] + [ >><)))*> Matthew 11:20-24
Fire at the Pandacan Church, 10 July 2020.

O God our Father, we are in a war.

A war between good and evil, between light and darkness, sanity and insanity.

It is a war long been raging within us that I fear must have reached a stalemate because of our indecision, of our indifference. Some battles may have been won but the war rages on because we have refused to make a gallant stand for you.

Banish our fears, assure us with your same words to King Ahaz of Judah when threatened with simultaneous attacks by his neighboring kingdoms:

Take care you remain tranquil and do not fear; let not your courage fail before these two stumps of smoldering brands… Unless your faith is firm you shall not be firm!

Isaiah 7:4, 9

Sometimes, our faith waver especially at how things are now going on among us like divisions and confusions due to lack of clear leadership in government while many of us in the church are in disarray.

Make us realize that there is a day of reckoning for all our sins, for taking side with the enemies, for refusing to stand for what is true and just when Jesus Christ reproached Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum who refused to recognize his works of salvation when he came.

May we learn from the experience and lessons of St. Camillus de Lellis who was a soldier addicted to gambling but later converted to follow Jesus as a priest taking care of the sick, realizing the need for us to grow in holy charity. Amen.

The kind of people we need in this time of corona

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of St. Barnabas, Apostle, 11 June 2020
Acts of the Apostles 11:21-26; 13:1-3 ><)))*> +++ 0 +++ <*(((>< Matthew 5:20-26
Photo by Roberto Nickson on Pexels.com

Thank you very much, O dear Jesus, for the gift of your Apostles who became the foundations of your Church here on earth like St. Barnabas whose Memorial we celebrate today.

Despite his being a “Johnny come lately” replacing your betrayer Judas Iscariot, St. Barnabas proved to be a true apostle with his life of loving service to the early Church.

A Levite Jew from Cyprus who settled in Jerusalem, he was one of the first to embrace your new way of life, Lord, described by St. Luke as “a good man, filled with the Holy Spirit and faith” (Acts 11:24).

What is so wonderful, Lord, is how he lived out the meaning of his name “Barnabas” which is “son of encouragement” or “son of consolation”, exactly the kind of people we need at this time of corona pandemic and of so many social unrests and issues happening.

Send us, Jesus, more “Barnabas” – good men and women filled with your Holy Spirit and faith who would encourage people to do what is good, direct others into reason and understanding through cooperation and collaboration to hurdle all these troubles, not divisions.

Like St. Barnabas who searched and encouraged St. Paul in Tarsus to join the Christians at Antioch in proclaiming your gospel of salvation to those outside Israel including the Gentiles, may we gather and inspire other people into working together in this troubled time instead of fighting each other.

May our words also bring more encouragement to people to rise above each one’s differences in color and language and beliefs to seek what is common so we can collaborate more for peace and common good like what St. Barnabas did in convincing the Christians in Antioch to welcome their former persecutor, St. Paul.

Help us imitate the generosity of St. Barnabas in selling his piece of property so that the Apostles may have the means to provide for the needs of the early Church and thus, consoled the poor and widows.

Most of all, like St. Barnabas who participated at the Council of Jerusalem, may we seek ways in resolving issues among us that may lighten the burdens of people saddled with so many concerns in life without diluting the essence of being your follower, sweet Jesus.

Lastly, like St. Barnabas, may we always have an open heart for reconciling with others, in setting aside past misunderstandings like his falling out with St. Paul to be one again in your most holy name, O Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

St. Barnabas, pray for us!

From Pinterest.

Continuing the Christmas story

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul

Baptism of the Lord, 12 January 2020

Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7 ><}}}*> Acts 10:34-38 ><}}}*> Matthew 3:13-17

From Google.

Today is our “holy birthday” as children of God, the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus. That explains the sprinkling of Holy Water at the start of our Mass to remind us of continuing the Christmas story the whole year through as sons and daughters of God.

With this feast, we close the Christmas Season by celebrating the great mystery of Christ’s Nativity when he became human like us so that we can become divine like him as children of the Father in heaven.

Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. John tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you and yet you are coming to me?” Jesus said to him in reply, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed him. After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Matthew 3:13-17

We are the children of God

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

Every morning when we wake up, the same thing happens with us with Jesus at Jordan: as we arise whether filled with joy or saddled with so many pains and worries from the previous day or night, Christ joins us in every brand new day as his brother and sister in the Father.

Despite all our anxieties and fears with every new day of work and school, the heavens open and the Holy Spirit comes down to us with our Father in heaven declaring to all his creation, “This is my beloved child, with whom I am well pleased.”

That is the mystery of Christmas we must celebrate daily when Jesus became human like us in everything except sin. In Baptism, we have become sons and daughters of the Father in his Son Jesus Christ our Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit.

That coming down of Jesus to John to be baptized in Jordan is the message of Christmas, of how God became human like us to be one with us in our dirt and stain so he may cleanse us in his Passion and Death in order to share in the glory of his Resurrection .

That is why Christmas is a continuing story we have to keep on telling and sharing with our life of holiness with others.

As children of God, we are called to holiness

Please don’t be scared with the call to “holiness”, my dear reader and follower.

Holiness is not being sinless.

Holiness is being filled with God.

Holiness is following Jesus who calls us to be holy like the Father in heaven with all of our imperfections and sinfulness.

Morning in our Parish. Photo by author, 2019.

So many times in our lives, as we strive to lead holy lives by being good individuals, we also feel so tired and exhausted that we question or wonder if we are still doing the right things in life especially when we try to be faithful to God and with others.

There are times we just cry and suffer in silence in order not to hurt with our words and actions those people dearest to us who are oblivious or even do not care at all to the pains and difficulties they cause us.

Like a slave driver boss, demanding and exacting parents, a perfectionist husband or wife or partner, a naive sibling.

It is very difficult to be holy, to be like Jesus who is so loving and merciful, kind and understanding.

And that is why he chose to come to us, to be with us, to help us, to assure us that “the Father is so well pleased with us”!

Flowers at our Altar, Epiphany Sunday 2020. Photo by author.

God is well pleased with us

Three things I wish to share with you this lovely Sunday, especially for some of us feeling tired and exhausted this early with our many tasks and responsibilities at home, the school, the office, and even the church and community.

First is get it done. We all have roles to play in life. Remain faithful and stay focused with the mission not with the person. Yes, it is easier said than done but like Jesus instructing John for his baptism, he said, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Mt.3:15). It must have been so difficult for John to baptize Jesus the Son of God but the Lord told him anyway, get it done! And just as John did his role, everything happened according to God’s plan.

Second is give others the chance to do the will of God. Sometimes many of us have that “messianic complex” as if we are the saviour of the world. No! That is Jesus alone and he has tasked all us with specific roles in doing his mission. Let others do their part. Stop monopolizing all good deeds because when there is a monopoly of holiness, certainly there is already a pervading evil. Jesus as the Christ is the definitely the holy one but he told John to baptize him and he in turn “allowed” the baptism to take place.

Third is do whatever is good. Always. That’s what Jesus told John, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Mt.3:15). Doing what is righteous is doing what is good, what is holy, what is just. But, it is not that easy. I know.

“Minsan nakakapikon na magpakabuti lalo na kapag tila walang pakialam yung mga ginagawan mo ng kabutihan.”

We have felt so many times that being good, doing what is right can take its toll. We always wonder “when is enough really enough” with people who have made it their way of life of hurting us, of stressing us, of being pain in the ass.

We want to scream, to spill the beans, to unmask them to reveal them as fakes and hypocrites!

But, don’t!

Do not be like them.

Be good like Jesus, the one prophesied by Isaiah in the first reading.

Thus says the Lord: Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations, not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street. A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench…

Isaiah 42:1-3
Baby Jesus on a bed of white roses in our Sanctuary area, Epiphany 2020. Photo by author.

In the second reading, we heard St. Peter preaching after the Pentecost of how “Jesus went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him” (Acts 10:38).

Whatever difficulty you are going through at this very moment, you are still God’s beloved child with whom he is well pleased. God is always with you. Continue the beautiful Christmas story with your life of loving service, even to people who hurt you.

A blessed Sunday to you!

All that glitters is not gold

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Friday, Memorial of St. Albert the Great, 15 November 2019

Wisdom 13:1-9 <*(((>< ><)))*> Luke 17:26-37

A street performer in Tamsui, Taiwan delights tourists and residents alike, January 2019.

How true are these words by Shakespeare and other men of letters: we have all to be careful because not all that is shiny and impressive is valuable.

Looks can always be deceiving that we must always probe deeper until we find the Ultimate Good, God.

For they search busily among his works, but are distracted by what they see, because the things seen are fair. But again, not even these are pardonable. For if they so far succeeded in knowledge that they could speculate about the world how did they not more quickly find its Lord?

Wisdom 13:7-9
From Google.

May the Universal Doctor, St. Albert the Great, guide us and enlighten our minds and our hearts to seek first Jesus Christ in the most Holy Eucharist “because it bestows the fullness of grace on us in this life” (Breviary, November 15, commentary by St. Albert the Great on the gospel of St. Luke).

I also thank you Most Sweet Jesus on this day as we celebrate our 22nd anniversary of ordination as Deacons. I still remember the great fear and fright I felt thinking of the immense responsibilities as a Deacon in preparation to our ordination to the Priesthood.

And yes, Lord Jesus, there were many occasions since then until now when we are blinded by so many shining things in the ministry that are not really you nor the Father.

Send us your Holy Spirit that we may seek you always and follow you by lovingly serving others in your name. Amen.

To See More of God, We Need to See More of What is Good

DSCF1437
Shifen Waterfall in Pingxi District, New Taipei City, Taiwan.  Photo by the author, 29 January 2019.

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Tuesday, 12 February 2019, Week V, Year I
Genesis 1:20-2:4///Mark 7:1-13

            Everyday O God we praise you in our prayers and most especially when we see your majesty in nature.  You never fail to remind us of your presence in your wonderful creation as we have heard in the first reading today (Gen.1:20-31).  Indeed like the psalmist, we always exult of “how wonderful your name in all the earth” (Ps.8).

            However, too often like the Pharisees and some scribes in the gospel today, we tend to look for what is missing or lacking that we perceive to be not good:  When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus, they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands (Mk.7:1-2).

            Like those Pharisees and scribes, we “nullify the word of God in favor of our tradition that we have handed on.”  And yes,  Jesus, it is so true with us today like the Pharisees and scribes, “we have many such things” (Mk.7:13).  We make so many rules and precepts, traditions and beliefs that eventually supersede your Laws and worst, have even replaced you O God!

            Forgive us O Lord in worshiping traditions and other practices than You.

            Forgive us O Lord in disregarding persons, the crown of your creation, and giving more importance with our beliefs and other concepts so detached from You.

            Teach us O Lord to see more of you our God and Creator by seeing more of what is good around us and among us.  Amen.  Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan.