To live in love is to live as children of light

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Week XXX, Year II in Ordinary Time, 26 October 2020
Ephesians 4:32-5:8     >><)))*> ||  >><)))*>  ||  >><)))*>     Luke 13:10-17
Easter Vigil in the midst of COVID-19, 2020.

How beautiful are your words for us, loving Father, on this last Monday of October 2020!

Despite the rains caused by a typhoon, our first reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians is so heartwarming in reminding us of our new humanity in Jesus Christ your Son, encouraging us to live moral lives by “living in love” (Eph.5:2) as “children of light” (Eph.5:8).

Living in love is living as children of light by first being imitators of you, O God, which is to be holy as you are holy. Remove from our minds that holiness is being sinless; teach us to realize that being holy, being “whole” and perfect is a process of being filled with you, dear God.

Teach us to be open to let you fill us, God, full of life and zest, raring to explore and move forward despite the many pains and setbacks we have had.

Cleanse us of immorality and impurity in our minds and hearts and lips.

Keep us grateful to your many blessings we have received specially those we never asked from you yet you have generously given us.

Most of all, make us truthful and sincere in our love for you through our neighbors; take off our masks of hypocrisy like the leader of the synagogue where Jesus healed on a sabbath a woman crippled by a spirit for 18 years (Lk.13:14).

To live in love as your children of light Lord is also to free others from the many burdens burdens in life they carry so they may start living in you through Jesus Christ. Amen.

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.

Thanking God

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Thursday, Week 3, Year 2, 30 January 2020

2 Samuel 11:1-4, 5-10, 13-17 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Mark 4:21-25

Photo by Alan Cabello on Pexels.com

Every day, every night, we thank you Lord for so many blessings you have showered upon us. But, every time we thank you Lord, I wonder if we have rightly thanked you?

Saying thank you is not only being grateful for anything given or shared with us; saying thank you is more than recognizing the goodness of the giver, especially you, O Lord our God.

Saying thank you, Lord, is being like David giving his very self wholly to you, for your praise and glory, in the service of your people.

Thanking you, O Lord, is most of all bringing out to share whatever gift you have given us.

The best expression of gratitude especially to you, O Lord, is to be a lamp giving light to others, leading others to you, reminding others of your light and guidance.

Help us, O Lord, to come closer to you to become like you so that it is our life becomes a thanksgiving and praise to you always. Amen.

Photo by Emre Kuzu on Pexels.com

A prayer to be grateful

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Wednesday, Week XXII, Year I, 04 September 2019

Colossians 1:1-8 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Luke 4:38-44

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

Heavenly Father, I always thank you in my prayers. Early in life, I have been told to always say “thank you” and I have diligently kept that, always thanking people especially you for your goodness to me.

But, now I wonder if I have been “thanking” so much without being truly grateful?

There are “thank you’s” that come from lips and there are “thank you’s” that come from the heart which is what gratitude is all about. So often, I say “thank you” out of habit without really looking into the heart, the goodness of the one doing or giving me a favor. Too often, I thank for the thing or favor, not the person.

“We always give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jess and the love that you have for all the holy ones because of the hope reserved for you in heaven.”

Colossians 1:3-5

How lovely it is to dwell on St. Paul’s expression of his gratitude, his thanksgiving that is clearly directed to persons – including you, O God!

Like the people of Capernaum where you have healed Simon’s mother-in-law and others, they saw your person to thank that they begged you to stay in their town.

Remind me always, Lord, that whenever I say “thank you”, I may first try to feel the heart and experience the goodness of the person doing me good for a grateful heart always sees the loving face. Amen.

On Becoming Children of God

JimMarpa9m
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe
Feast of the Holy Family, 30 December 2018
1 Samuel 1:20-22, 24-28///1 John 3:1-2, 21-24///Luke 2:41-52

         Christmas reminds us that Jesus Christ comes through our family in the same manner He came through the husband and wife of Joseph and Mary.  It is right and fitting that within the octave or eight days of Christmas we also celebrate this Sunday the Feast of the Holy Family.  In this world of broken families, by choice or by circumstances, the gospel reminds us that a family is always made up of a father, mother and child:  When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, “Son, why have you done this to us?  Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety” (Lk.2:48).  But more than our human families, Christmas reminds us most of all of our being a family of God with Him as our Father:  And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me?  Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”  But they did not understand what he said to them.  He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.  And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man (Lk.2:49-52).

         The good news is that we all remain God’s children no matter how old we may be like Nat King Cole singing “to kids from one to ninety-two” which the beloved disciple reminds us in the second reading,  “Beloved:  See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.  Yes so we are.  The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him” (1Jn.3:1).  It is becoming disheartening when people claim that Christmas is for kids because of the superficial things about the season like happiness over gifts.  We seem to have forgotten that Christmas came because of adults like Joseph and Mary, Zechariah and Elizabeth who remained children of God in being obedient to His holy will which is at the very core of experiencing Christ’s coming not only on Christmas Day when we remain like children. This Sunday we are invited to join Mary and Joseph in searching for the child Jesus whom we have often lost in our busy schedules, responsibilities and careers so we may also rediscover in the process our being children of the Father in heaven.

         See the beauty of the response of Jesus to His parents upon finding Him at the temple, “Why were you looking for me?  Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Lk.2: 49).  Though Jesus Christ is truly human like us in everything except sin, growing up and maturing in all aspects, His divine Sonship has always been clear with Him even as a 12 year-old child.  His intimacy with the Father was never lost in His becoming human.  His being the Son of the Father in heaven is the very core of His mission that we always hear Him telling us in His preaching about His being one with the Father and most of all, of the need for us to become children to be included in His kingdom.  This He reveals to us in three ways through this only episode about His childhood as recorded by St. Luke.  First is His complete freedom as a person.

         Jesus has always been free from so many conventions and rules even laws that limit humans from being totally free for God as Father.  Remember how Joseph His legal father also showed that true holiness is abiding in the Laws of Moses based on love that he decided to leave Mary in silence after learning of her pregnancy.  But after hearing the angel’s explanation in a dream, Joseph freely decided on himself based on his love for God, for Mary and for Jesus to take her as his wife.  How funny that when we were growing up we kept on demanding for freedom from our parents thinking that being free is being able to do whatever pleases us.  Then we realize that true freedom is choosing what is good, what is true.  That true freedom leads us to be more loving and faithful.  Too often it seems that as the world gives so much emphasis on freedom, the fact remains that the more we try to be free, the more we become unfree, finding ourselves imprisoned and caught up in too much binds and traps that most of us would always go somewhere to be alone, to have “me time” because we are not free deep within as we have forgotten our basic identity as beloved children of God the Father.  Jesus was so free that He stayed behind at the Temple because deep within Him he was at home at His Father’s house.  And deep within Him He spoke freely of His Father that amazed the experts with Him at the Temple because they were constricted with many concepts and thoughts about God when Jesus was so free to share the love He has inside.

          And here lies the beauty of true freedom that leads to amazement and wonder, to being surprised by something bigger, greater, and so beautiful.  Poets claim that children are the closest to God and the spiritual realms because they always have the sense of wonder and awe.  Even Mary and Joseph must have been amazed at the response of the child Jesus, reminding them of the announcements made to them by the angel before His coming.  In this age of Netflix and daily video streaming of everything, we are being robbed of the simple and deep joy of being surprised unlike when we were younger that we have to wait for the next series of the Knight Rider or Dallas or ChiPS.  With these modern technologies, the more we have become not free at all as we just follow the flow of networks, tech giants, advertisers and markets.  We have been imprisoned by economics and profits along with gimmicks that we miss life in the process.  The finding of Jesus at the Temple reminds us that our God is a God of surprises, that when we are truly free for the Father in heaven, there is always awe and amazement with life.  We live and do not rush, enjoying time and every present moment in life, unafraid of what would happen next.  Then, we become grateful or thankful for everything we have, material and spiritual.

         Every Sunday as children of God we gather in the Holy Mass we call Eucharist, the Greek word for thanksgiving.  In the first reading we have heard Hannah offering her son Samuel to the temple as her thanksgiving for the gift of a child after God answered her prayers.  The gospels teem with so many occasions when Jesus would pray often to praise and thank God His Father, even in public.  His life is a thanksgiving in itself that He gave it entirely to the Father for us.  Though I am not a beauty pageant expert, I feel that Ms. Catriona Gray’s winning the Miss Universe title was largely because of her childlike traits of being free, amazing, and thankful.  Only a child-like attitude like hers can see the silver linings amid the children growing at the slums of Tondo and still be grateful.  It is exactly what Jesus had said that“unless you become like children, you shall never inherit the kingdom of heaven”  that she was eventually crowned as Miss Universe!

          To be a child is to owe one’s existence from another, from God and from parents and elders.  When we teach our children to always sayplease and thank you including po and opo, we are actually reminding them of that deep reality within each of us that we are here on earth because we were given as a gift.  We are not really teaching them something new but more of awakening in them something inherent that our existence is not of our own, our “I” or self not of our own making that we have to be thankful always to God and with our parents and with others.  This is something we adults always forget or even discard and abandon especially when we fill to have achieved so much in life.  We all remain children in our whole lives because are always in need of one another especially when we get older and eventually lose our memories and abilities to do things that rightly so, we get into a second childhood.  On this Feast of the Holy Family, let us be thankful for the gift of one another, especially of our family.  How lovely were those Christmas greetings on Facebook – “from our family to yours” – if each one remains a child of God, freely loving and surprising everyone of the reality of the God among us Jesus Christ, the Emmanuel. AMEN. Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan

*Photo above by Jim Marpa.  Used with permission.  Below from Google.

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