Glad to be alive, bless our doctors

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial of Sts. Cosmas & Damian, Martyrs, 26 September 2022
Job 1:6-22   ><000'> + ><000'> + ><000'>   Luke 9:46-50
Photo by author in Alfonso, Cavite, 14 September 2022.
Praise and glory to you,
God our loving Father
in keeping us safe throughout
the night as a powerful storm
passed over us; so glad we are
alive despite the many sufferings
many of us must endure these
coming days due to the super typhoon.
Your words, O Lord,
this day gives us so much 
reasons why every day is a
tremendous blessing from you,
why every breath of life is an
immense gift that comes only 
from you, our very life.

But Satan answered the Lord and said, “Is it for nothing that Job is God-fearing? Have you not surrounded him and his family and all that he has with your protection? But now put forth your hand and touch anything that he has, and surely he will blaspheme you to your face.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand upon his person.”

Job 1:9-10, 11-12
Your words, O Lord,
assure us that no matter what
pains and hurts,
trials and sufferings we
go through physically and
emotionally are still nothing
compared to the immeasurable
gift of being alive; each day, each
morning, each moment is a a gift from
you no one can ever take, not even
Satan with his evil.
Teach us to value our lives,
to value life itself especially at its 
weakest stages in the womb
and while approaching the tomb
of old age and sickness.

As we celebrate today the memorial
of the twin brothers Saints Cosmas 
and Damian, the patron saints of all
physicians, we pray for all doctors especially
those in far-flung areas serving the
poorest of the poor, those in the academe
forming future doctors, those
working hard amid limited resources 
including time in finding cure
and remedies to their patients; 
bless the doctors "persecuted" in many
ways for doing what is right, those burdened
with the demands of the profession
and the call of their families and friends;
Bless our doctors, 
use their hands in caring for us, 
in healing us of our sickness and
diseases, cover them 
with your protection against
all harm and sickness, 
give them fulfillment in their lives 
and please,
tap their shoulders, touch their hearts
to let them know they are loved 
and appreciated; forgive us
for not being able to thank our doctors,
to cheer them because we patients 
are so busy with our sickness and pains.  
Amen.

Praying for those we value

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the Twenty-Fourth Week of Ordinary Time, 12 September 2022
1 Corinthians 11:17-26, 33   ><)))*> + <*(((>< ><)))*> + <*(((><   Luke 7:1-10
Photo by author, 2018.
On this blessed Monday
after a weekend of heavy rains
and thunderstorms, I pray dear 
Lord Jesus for those dearest to
me, the persons I value for they
have all showed me a glimpse of
your goodness and kindness;
most of all, it was from them that I
have experienced your love and care.

When Jesus had finished all his words to the people, he entered Capernaum. A centurion there had a slave who was ill and about to die, and he was valuable to him.

Luke 7:1-2
How touching,
lovely, and so sweet Luke's 
opening lines for today's gospel:
of how a gentile military officer
valued a slave, asking for
representation to Jesus for a much
needed healing, because "he was
valuable to him."
How lovely as the story went on
when the centurion declared those 
very words we also pray before
receiving you, Jesus, in Holy Communion:
"Lord, I am not worthy that you should
enter under my roof, but only say the word
and I shall be healed" (Lk.7:6).
So true, indeed, when we have deep faith
in you, dear Jesus, like that centurion, we
would surely have great love for others;
it is in this deep faith in you, O Lord
who is most present with us in the Eucharist
that we pray for the healing of our loved ones,
those we value most of their sickness 
not only in body but also in mind, heart and soul; 
deepen and strengthen their faith in you,
keep their hopes alive in you always
despite the pains and fears within them.
O dear Jesus,
may we truly be Eucharistic
in our lives, valuing every person
especially those going through 
sufferings and difficulties these
days so that "as often as we eat this
bread and drink this cup, we may
proclaim your death Lord until 
you come again" (1 Cor.11:26).
Amen.
Photo by Ka Ruben of the Parish of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima.

“Do you want to be well?”

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the Fourth Week of Lent, 29 March 2022
Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12 <'[[[[>< + ><]]]]'>   John 5:1-16
Photo from stisidoreparish.org program for baptism.
"Do you want to be well?"
(John 5:6).
How blessed was that sick man
at the Sheep Gate pool called
Bethesda or "house of mercy":
like him, we all want to be well and
healed of our ailments not only in
body but also in mind, heart, and
soul; but, alas, nobody would help
us.
Thank you dear Jesus in passing by,
in coming to our lives daily to heal us,
to wash us of our sins; help us to not 
sin anymore, to match our physical
wholeness with spiritual wholeness.
"Do you want to be well?"
(John 5:6).
Yes, dear Jesus!
Have mercy on us, poor sinners;
heal us and make us well from our blindness 
that prevent us from seeing you and 
from recognizing you as our Savior.
"Do you want to be well?"
(John 5:6).
Yes, dear Jesus, we want to be well
and healed from our paralysis that
prevent us from following you, from
doing your work and from leading 
others to you, the only way, truth,
and life in this world.  
Let us remain in you, dear Jesus;
like the prophet Ezekiel, may we realize
that for as long as we are with you like
the plants and trees by the side of the river,
we shall always be fully alive, bearing fruits,
even abloom despite the drought 
and summer.  Amen.

Pagpapala ng Diyos, bumuhos sa Cana at Lourdes

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-11 ng Pebrero 2022
Paggunita sa Mahal na Birhen ng Lourdes
Isaias 66:10-14  +  Juan 2:1-11
Mga tao pumipila sa mapagpagaling na tubig ng batis sa Lourdes, France; larawan mula sa Shutterstock.
Papuri at pasasalamat sa iyo,
Diyos naming Ama sa pagbubuhos
ng iyong mga biyaya at pagpapala
sa amin sa pamamagitan ni
Hesus na iyong Anak:  kay sarap
isipin una niyang "tanda" o himala
nangyari doon sa kasalan sa Cana, 
Galilea nang gawin niyang masarap 
na inuming alak ang tubig na isinalin 
sa mga tapayan.
Sa gitna ng tanda na ito ay naroon
ang Mahal na Birheng Maria na nagkusang
namagitan sa mga bagong kasal nang 
maubusan ng alak sa kanilang pagdiriwang;
naligtas sila ni Hesus sa kahihiyan 
nang gawin niyang alak mga tubig
sa tapayan.
Makalipas ang kulang-kulang
dalawang libong taon noong 1858,
napakita ang Mahal na Birheng Maria
kay Santa Bernadette doon sa isang 
grotto sa Lourdes, France; bumukal
isang munting batis at hanggang 
ngayon, tinuturing na mapaghimala
matapos mapagaling maraming mga
maysakit.
Salamat sa biyaya ng tubig na
siya ring dumaloy sa sinibat na 
tagiliran ni Hesus doon sa Krus;
salamat sa biyaya ng tubig na
tanda ng paglilinis sa aming katauhan
sa sakramento ng binyag;
salamat Ama sa pagtupad ng iyong
pangako kay Propeta Isaias (66:10-14)
na kami ay iyong "padadalhan ng ina"
na sa amin ay "kakalinga at mag-aaruga 
tulad ng sa isang sanggol sa oras ng
pagkakasakit at kagipitan";  higit sa lahat,
salamat sa pagbibigay mo sa amin, 
Panginoong Hesus, sa iyong Ina, 
ang Mahal na Birheng Maria 
na naging daluyan ng maraming 
pagpapala at kagalingan sa mga 
may sakit at karamdaman sa 
iyong kapangyarihan.
Panginoong Hesus,
dalisayin mo kami at linisin
aming mga puso at kalooban
upang makatulad si Maria na iyong 
Ina at amin ding Ina; sa kanyang
pananalangin nawa kami ay maghatid
ng kagalingan at kapayapaan sa
mga may sakit at nahihirapan gaya
ng mapaghimalang tubig sa batis ng
grotto sa Lourdes, France lalong 
higit sa panahong ito ng pandemya.
Amen.

The gift of touch

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Week IV, Year II in Ordinary Time, 01 February 2022
2 Samuel 18:9-10, 14, 24-25, 30-19:3   >>> + <<<   Mark 5:21-43
Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2018.
As I thank you
God our loving Father
for this brand new month
of February, I pray only
for one thing:  let me touch
you and please, please
touch me too!

There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.

Mark 5:25, 27-29
If I could reach you
and do the same, Lord,
I would have done it a long time ago;
let me touch you in Jesus
among the poor and the sick,
among the fearful and lost,
among those crying in so many
pains and hurts.
Most of all, let me touch you, Lord,
in my loneliness, in my pains,
in my emptiness, in my weakness;
it is what touches me most, 
Lord:  when you search
for me despite my sins;
when like the dying daughter 
of Jairus, you take my hands
and lift me up again to stand
and walk with the same feeble
legs and feet; and when deep inside,
in your loving embrace, 
I realize how the Father weeps
for us sinners like David wept 
for the death of Absalom.
That is the most touching of all -
your divine touches, Lord:  
when like David in all his humanity
despite the sins against him by
his own son Absalom, he was
deeply hurt and sad at his death
because that shows the deeper
meaning of touching - that we are
all one, we are all linked together
in you and with you who is our 
source and our end.  Amen.

Real power

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Memorial of St. Leo the Great, Pope, 10 November 2021
Wisdom 6:1-11   ><)))*> + ><)))*> + ><)))*>   Luke 17:11-19
Photo by author, November 2020.
Glory and praise to you,
God our almighty Father
in making us share in your 
great powers in this world.
Remind us always that whatever
power we have is all from you
meant to serve others and not
to hurt nor overcome them.

For the Lord of all shows no partiality, nor does does he fear greatness, because he himself made the great as well as the small, and he provides for all alike; but for those in power a rigorous scrutiny impends. To you, therefore, O princes, are my words addressed that you may learn wisdom and that you may not sin.

Wisdom 6:7-9
We are all leaders, O Lord,
whom you have tasked to care
for one another, be it a family
or a community, a nation or
an institution like the Church;
may we learn from the wisdom
of St. Leo the Great, a Pope
who early on realized his vast
powers were meant to uplift the
poor and the needy, to save cities
from destruction by the invading
barbarians, and most of all, to unite
peoples for peace and maturity.
Like St. Leo the Great, may we learn
to imitate Jesus in using his power from
you to empower others, to enable
the weak and the sick to "stand up
and go" (Lk.17:19) like the Samaritan
leper he had healed.  Amen.

Praying for our obstinate beloved

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Week XXX, Year I in Ordinary Time, 29 October 2021
Romans 9:1-5   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Luke 14:1-6
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, 2020.
Today I feel dear God our Father
the pains and sadness of St. Paul
in the first reading for his fellow Jews'
refusal to accept and believe in your
Son Jesus Christ.
But it is something more than just
about faith, in accepting Jesus as
Savior that I am speaking of;
you know it very well of some loved
ones who are "blinded" by so many 
other things in life that they cannot see
or refuse to see not only Jesus passing 
by daily in our lives but even us family
and friends who truly care for them.

Brothers and sisters: I speak the truth in Christ, I do not lie; my conscience joins with the Holy Spirit in bearing witness that I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh.

Romans 9:1-3
How can we open the eyes,
awaken our obstinate loved ones to 
the truth that they are loved 
when they are fixed with their past,
their hurts and pains despite
our apologies and amends made to them?
How can we make our obstinate beloved
realize we are present for them when 
they prefer their gadgets and things, 
their addictions and vices, even their
toxic friends and relationships?
How can we enable our obstinate
loved ones experience the beauty of life
when all they do is complain
 what is lacking than what we have?
We pray today Lord Jesus for
those people we love who act like
those Pharisees and scholars of law
who refused to respond to your question
when you asked them, "Is it lawful to cure
on the sabbath or not?" before healing a
man suffering from dropsy; worst,
they preferred to be coldly silent
after you have healed the man (Lk.14:2-6).
Teach us to be more patient
and kind, loving and open to still accept
those who for all kinds of blindness
refuse to accept us, most especially YOU.
Amen.

Remembering, forgiving

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Week XXV, Year I in Ordinary Time, 22 September 2021
Ezra 9:5-9     ><)))*> + ><)))'> + ><)))*>     Luke 9:1-6
Photo by author, 2010.
In this month of September,
help us remember O God our Father
our collective history as a nation
like Ezra your servant:

I said, “My God, I am too ashamed and confounded to raise my face to you, O my God, for our wicked deeds are heaped up above our heads and our guilt reaches up to heaven. From the time of our fathers even to this day great has been our guilt, and for our wicked deeds we have been delivered up, we and our kings and our priests, to the will of the kings of foreign lands, to the sword, to captivity, to pillage, and to disgrace, as is the case today.”

Ezra 9:6-7
Help us remember our sins not to blame
and deepen the wounds of the past
but to learn from the lessons of the 
mistakes and abuses that have happened;
help us remember our sins 
to understand its roots so we may not 
repeat them again; most of all, 
help us remember our sins 
so we may realize your immense
love and mercy for us 
in never forsaking us.

“For slaves we are, but in our servitude our God has not abandoned us; rather, he has turned the goodwill of kings of Persia toward us. Thus, he has given us new life to raise again the house of our God and restore its ruins, and has granted us a fence in Judah and Jerusalem.”

Ezra 9:9
In your strange providence,
loving God our Father,
you have used the pagan kings
of Persia to set your people free
from the Babylonian captivity;
in the same manner,
you have never left nor abandoned us
through our painful experiences
as a result of our captivity in sin and evil
to see your love and compassion,
enabling us to turn them into
opportunities for personal growth
and maturity in our spirituality
by deepening our sensitivity to
the sufferings of others caused by
evil and sin.
We pray today, O God
that we may be agents of your mercy
like King Cyrus of ancient Persia,
most especially as disciples of your Son
Jesus Christ sent out to proclaim
the coming of good news of salvation.
Amen.

Opening our ears and heart

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Sunday XXIII-B in Ordinary Time, 05 September 2021
Isaiah 35:4-7 ><}}}'> James 2:1-5 ><}}}'> Mark 7:31-37
Photo by Ms. Mira Mandal Sibal, 08 August 2021.

Since the start of our Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) last month, I have always admired the faithful people who continue to celebrate Mass with us outside our church as well as those in other places like Quiapo.

I have nothing against ECQ but I have always questioned the government decision in prioritizing churches in every lockdown when we have always been very strict in our protocols unlike malls and groceries. Most of all, it is during this time of crisis when we must give people the chance to express their faith in going to houses of worship to pray in silence and celebrate with the community while observing protocols.

It is very touching and inspiring to see people – young and old alike, healthy and sickly going to churches every Sunday, catching up with our Lord Jesus Christ even outside, rain or shine.

And that is why our gospel this Sunday is again very timely at this time we have reached the two-million mark in less than a year in the number of those infected with COVID-19 while those in government corruption are also breaking the billion peso mark in anomalous transactions! That is how evil those people are that while many are suffering in the pandemic, there those in government with gall to steal big time.

Has God forsaken us his people, especially at this time we are celebrating our 500th year of Christianization? Of course not!

Jesus Christ continues to come to us everyday not only to cleanse by washing our hearts of evil and sin as we have seen last Sunday in the gospel; today, Mark tells us how Jesus comes also to open our ears in order to hear and listen to his words that eventually open our hearts to freedom and salvation.

Again Jesus left the district of Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into the district of the Decapolis. And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears, and spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphatha!” that is, “Be opened!”

Mark 7:31-34

“Jesus went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into Decapolis

Of the four evangelists, Mark is the only one who portrays Jesus as always on the go without even telling us details of his itinerary nor of the places he visited and people he had met. As the first gospel account written, Mark wrote in straight news style as he felt the urgency of proclaiming the gospel of Jesus.

However, when Mark gives even the slightest details of the places and people in the journeys of the Lord, it always means something else. Like in our gospel today.

Photo by author, Sea (Lake) of Galilee, 2017.

Again Jesus left the district of Tyre and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, into the district of the Decapolis.

Mark 7:31

You will recall that in July when Jesus sent his disciples to their first missionary journey, they were told to seek the “lost sheep of Israel”, to not go to pagan and Samaritan lands.

Today, it is the Lord himself who left Tyre and Sidon in northern Israel to go into the pagan territories of Decapolis that literally means “ten cities”.

Here we find the universality of Christ’s mission, not just for his fellow Jews. His love is so encompassing covering all the peoples of all time, then and now.

Jesus seeks us out who are in totally alien territory in life like this pandemic because he loves us.

When we look back and reflect in our lives, we find so many instances in the past how it was in the most foreign and lost situations when we have actually found God, is it not?

Reflecting further in this scene in the Decapolis, Mark is reminding us how we could also be those people who have brought the deaf-mute to Jesus, begging him to heal the man.

And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him.

Mark 7:32

Those people who have begged Jesus to heal the deaf-mute are the same people who went out of their ways since the start of the pandemic helping others in their many needs and sufferings, those people who sacrificed time, talent and treasures for the less fortunate like the community pantry.

They were also those elder brothers and sisters who have helped their younger siblings to learn and thrive in the new mode of learning online that began last year.

Those people who begged Jesus to heal the deaf-mute were also the same medical health frontliners who have died or still continue to serve us despite our callous government officials led by the health secretary.

Though there were so many abusive people last year -mostly civil servants and police officials who have notoriously made headlines – there were still more generous and kind people who made Jesus present to someone in need during this pandemic.

How wonderful it is to realize – and relish this Sunday as we find ourselves in this unusual and surreal situation of the COVID-19 pandemic that Christ is also with us, staying with us, speaking to us.

But, are we listening to him? Are we not also the same deaf-mute who needs Christ’s healing?

Photo by author, Caeasaria in northern Israel, 2017.

“Ephphata” – Be opened!

Notice another significant detail that Mark has mentioned in this gospel scene. Aside from identifying the Lord’s coming to the pagan territory of Decapolis, Mark surprisingly tells us in details the unique and unusual manner of healing by Jesus there.

There must be something very important in this unique healing by Jesus whereas before, he would just lay his hands on the sick or most usually, he would merely speak. Remember that we could also be this deaf needing Christ’s healing.

He took him off by himself away from the crowd. He put his finger into the man’s ears, and spitting, touched his tongue; then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him, “Ephphatha!” that is, “Be opened!” And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly.

Mark 7:33-35

Opening to God involves our whole person, our whole being. Not just our eyes and ears, but most of all our heart. And the first step for us is to take a break from our ordinary life, from our daily routines that have numbed us that we have lost our consciousness of the present moment, even of our very selves.

This is why Jesus “took him off by himself from the crowd.”

Photo by Ms. Mira Mandal Sibal, 08 August 2021.

To a certain sense, this is the grace of the pandemic – an opportunity for us all to spend more time with Jesus in prayers at home or in the church and to bond and fix those broken ties in our family. Before the pandemic, couples and children rarely have the chance to be together even at meals due to each one’s busy schedule; but, with COVID-19’s new mode of work and learning “from home”, many were thrown off balance because some have long lost their sense of being with family members.

Prayer in fact is an awareness of our presence that leads us to God’s presence. Unless we learn to separate from others and the usual ordinariness of our lives characterized by madness and toxicity in everything, we can never experience the presence of God in Jesus Christ in us and among us as well as in the sacraments and prayers.

That putting of Jesus of his finger into the man’s ears and touching his tongue with a spit indicate the personal encounter of the Lord with each of us, of how he would reach out to us daily to feel and experience his presence but we are always “out-of-touch”.

It is said that our heart is the shape of two ears put together.

I believe so. Opening to God is opening our ears to Jesus speaking to us daily. He has been trying so hard to converse with us but we hardly notice him around us because of those ubiquitous ear pods and headphones always stuck into our ears. We shut ourselves from the world to be into our own world, separated from everyone including God. We would rather listen to influencers and personal playlists that confirm things we believe as true, no more room for others especially the poor and marginalized as James noted in his Letter we have heard proclaimed in the second reading.

Beginning this Sunday, let us set ourselves apart from the rest to open ourselves to Jesus to see his light and hear his words so we can walk his path of joy and peace because he is “the Way” (Jn.16:6).

Let our hearts be strong, not to fear this crisis because God has fulfilled his promise prophesied by Isaiah in the first reading on Christ’s coming with “vindication and divine recompense to save us” (Is.35:4).

Have a blessed first week of September!

Photo from news.abs-cbn.com, 2020.

True faith and good health build a community

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Week XXII, Year I in Ordinary Time, 01 September 2021
Colossians 1:9-14   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Luke 4:38-44
Photo by author, November 2018.
Praise and glory to you,
God our loving Father,
for the gift of life that we have
reached the first day of the "ber"
months leading to Christmas.
Since last year we have been
amusing ourselves with the 
awaited playing of Christmas
carols in September to feel good.
But today, we also feel blessed
for being alive, in keeping the faith
in you.

Brothers and sisters: from the day we heard about you, we do not cease praying for you and asking that you may be filled with knowledge of God’s will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding; to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord so as to be fully pleasing in every good work, bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God.

Colossians 1:9-10
While we are all praying
 for more faith and good health
 in this time of another surge,
we continue to pray for the
healing of all those afflicted
with COVID-19, begging you like
Simon Peter for his mother-in-law;
We pray for the healing of the sick
not only in body but also in mind,
heart and soul.
Help us realize that like faith,
good health builds community;
that good health concerns all
because everyone's well-being
depends also with everyone's health.

After Jesus left the synagogue, he entered the house of Simon. Simon’s mother-in-law was afflicted with a severe fever, and they interceded with him about her. He stood over her, rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up immediately and waited on them.

Luke 4:38-39
Teach us, O God,
to be like Simon Peter's mother-in-law 
to realize that most especially 
in our good health we can help build 
our community and family 
by serving in the name of Jesus
for other's good health
and wellness.
Amen.