Blessed are we

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time, Year I, 07 February 2023
Genesis 1:20-2:4     ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>     Mark 7:1-13
What a blessed Tuesday we have today,
God our loving Father as Genesis tells us
in the first reading how you blessed thrice 
the last three days of creation:
on the fifth day, you created and blessed
all water creatures and winged birds;
on the sixth day you created and blessed 
man and woman;
and finally on the seventh day,
you blessed the day of sabbath.
Lately we have been meditating 
what is to be blessed:  Elizabeth called
Mary "blessed" because she believed your words
spoken to her would be fulfilled;
the other Sunday in his sermon on the mount,
Jesus called the poor in spirit, the meek,
the merciful, the grieving, the hungry and thirsty
as "blessed"; and today, after creating the birds and fish,
man and woman, and day of sabbath,
you blessed them all.
In today's story of creation, you bestowed 
your blessing O God to fish and birds and people
after creating them, telling them to be fertile
and to multiply in number;
in blessing the seventh day as sabbath,
you also blessed it as a day of rest;
whether it is used as an adjective or a verb,
being blessed and to bless mean being 
filled with grace, abounding in grace,
and most of all, spreading and keeping
that grace from you as expressed by
your command to the fish and birds and people
to go and multiply; to fulfill that command, we
need to rest on sabbath so that we may keep our
ties and link with you, thereby, to have the
strength to care for all creation,
to keep your grace from flowing!
Forgive us, dear Father, in failing to keep your
command to care for your creation, 
most especially in neglecting one another as
a brother and sister in Christ when we
"nullify the word of God in favor of our many 
traditions we have handed on" like the
Pharisees (Mk.7:13);
help us cleanse our inner selves,
recover our blessedness in you
so we may share your blessings anew.
Amen.

In the beginning

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial, St. Pedro Bautista & Companions, Priests/Martyrs, 06 February 2023
Genesis 1:1-19   <*(((>< + ><)))*> + <*(((>< + ><)))*>   Mark 6:53-56
Photo by author, 6:30 AM, 29 January 2023, in Bgy. Igulot, Bocaue, Bulacan
"In the beginning,
when God created the heavens
and the earth, 
the earth was a formless wasteland,
and darkness covered the abyss,
while a mighty wind swept over 
the waters" (Genesis 1:1-2).
Praise and glory to you,
God our loving Father,
in waking us up to a wonderful 
morning, reminding us of 
another beginning!
Though many of us have 
the Monday blues,
whining and complaining
of great tasks ahead,
of the many problems still not
solved especially unpaid bills
while others are still sick with
some feeling lost and empty
for so many reasons;
forgive us in first seeing what we
do not have without seeing what
you have given us!
Awaken our senses, Father!
Awaken us to this great 
reality of our daily "genesis" story:
of how in the beginning
there was nothing at all!
Help us appreciate how we
all started in the beginning
without the many things
we have today that despite 
the gloom and darkness,
pains and hurts,
we are still better off today
than before when we were just
beginning in our career,
in our business,
inn our studies,
in our lives.
Let us keep that in mind
and heart, O Lord, that 
in the beginning,
there was nothing until 
you blessed us with everything
that is good.
Let us be filled with hope
in you that while everything 
may be in chaos in every
beginning,
order soon follows
as you unfold your 
wonderful plans
for us.
Your Son Jesus Christ
came to enable us to start anew 
in daily life, to find every day 
a new beginning, a genesis,
and go back to you, Father;
to be touched with your love
and mercy so that we too
may touch others to experience
new beginnings in life.
The great martyr-priests 
of Japan led by St. Pedro Bautista
suffered greatly in bringing the faith
in the land of the rising sun;
their martyrdom may have ended
their lives but their faith in you
touched so many others that
brought new beginnings to life
here on earth; may we touch 
others with your love and mercy,
dear Jesus today to start a new
beginning 
for a new earth.  
Amen.

Practical blessedness

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Sunday in the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time, Cycle A, 05 February 2023
Isaiah 58:7-10 ><}}}}*> 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 ><}}}}*> Matthew 5:13-16
Photo by author, Bolinao, Pangasinan, 2022.

We are still at the sermon on the mount by Jesus Christ that opened last Sunday with his teachings on the beatitudes. We have reflected that the beatitudes are actually Jesus Christ himself that are supposed to be the very disposition of his disciples by being like him who is “poor in spirit”, “meek”, “afflicted”, “hungry and thirsty for righteousness”, “merciful”, “clean of heart”, “peacemaker”, and “persecuted”.

Every disciple is already blessed in Christ because blessedness is primarily a being like status in Facebook, not a mere doing. What a dignity we all have in Jesus in being called blessed! That is why this Sunday Jesus is teaching us the practical side of our blessedness, of being “the salt of the earth” and “light of the world” that call on the characteristics and demands of being like Christ, of conforming to his gospel of salvation.

See that being a salt and a light perfectly match the beatitudes when we say, “Blessed are you who are the salt of the earth and the light of the world”! For this Sunday, let us focus on the call of being the light of the world.


After praying over today’s gospel, I saw on a friend’s FB this post from Meralco inviting anyone interested in becoming a lineman. The tag-line was very catchy, “Handa na ba kayo maghatid ng liwanag?” (Are you ready to bring light?) with a hashtag, #BuildingABrilliantFuture.

From Meralco/fb

I felt the Meralco advertisement so brilliant, extolling the great honor of being a lineman who brings light to homes and schools, offices and factories, and everywhere. Requirements are actually minimal except for that most important thing of not having fear of heights. Of course!

But, Jesus Christ’s call to us all is more pressing, more important. More than the linemen building the facilities that will bring light to towns and cities, Jesus invites us to be the light ourselves.

Jesus alone is the light of the world. The light we carry is his. We are all Christ-light who reflect the very light of Jesus Christ in our good works and loving service to others, in our witnessing to our faith.

Words are not enough to bring his light to the world. The light of Christ shines brightly in us when we are witnessing truth and justice, kindness and mercy among our brothers and sisters, when we bear all pains and sufferings in continually working for peace and uplifting of the lowly despite so many accusations by those in power. Here we find that being the light of the world is to put into practice the beatitudes of having a clean heart, of being peacemakers, and being persecuted. It is when we work on them that our light shine before others that upon seeing our good deeds, it is God whom they glorify and not us:

Jesus said to his disciples: “Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

Matthew 5;16

See the following verses when Jesus described in details his teachings of being good, of witnessing his gospel values, he also warned us his disciples to never do good deeds for the sake of being known and popular. It is very clear that in being the light of the world, it is God who must be seen in us not our selves. Living the beatitudes is not having the most “likes” and “reactions” in Facebook nor of being viral nor trending. Moreover, it is definitely not being an “influencer” whatever that word means.

At the same time, Jesus Christ’s call for us to be his light ourselves is also a call for us to work as a community, not just as individuals. It is perfectly good if every disciple will shine brightly as a light of Christ but it is better when all disciples as a community of believers shine in gospel values!

You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.

Matthew 5:14-15
Photo by author, La Mesa Dam Eco Park seen from OLFU-Quezon City, 01 February 2023.

How sad that lately, the world has grown darker not only because of fewer men and women sharing the light of Christ with their witnessing of the gospel but because nations and regions have abandoned the faith. Many are getting de-Christianized on a wholesale basis these days.

Nobody seems to care at all anymore of not going to Mass face-to-face while everyone is so glued on their cellphone and computer screens without a whimper of opposition or rejection even disdain with all the trash coming out in social media like TikTok so saturated with sexual content ranging from same sex relationships to display of too much skin and use of indecent language.

Making matters worst are the many priests and religious lacking understanding in communication who do all the stupid things on camera that instead of evangelizing are demoralizing the faithful. And the tragedy is how most of these media practitioners in the Church are simply playing on novelties than creating innovations in employing the modern means of communications that result in just creating cults around themselves and miserably fail in evangelizing the people. This is the message of St. Paul in the second reading, reminding us that faith rests on the power of God than in the personality and eloquence of the priests and bishops.

Christ’s call for us to be the light of the world is a resounding call we must all respond to in this present age through deep prayer to be immersed in the person of Christ, the light of the world. It is only Jesus and always Jesus whom we must share and give to the people by realizing and affirming our prophetic functions in denouncing the ways of the world of injustice against the poor and the hungry like what Isaiah described in the first reading.

The world badly needs prophets these days, men and women like Christ who are “light rising in the darkness who would turn gloom into midday” (Is.58:10) for indeed as the psalmist declares, “The just man is a light in darkness to the upright.” Amen.

Have a blessed and illuminating week ahead in Jesus Christ!

Photo by author, 01 February 2023.

Breaking free from our prisons

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Memorial of St. Blaise, Bishop & Martyr, 03 February 2023
Hebrews 13:1-8   ><000'> + <'000>< = ><000'> + <'000><   Mark 6:14-29
Photo by author, La Mesa Dam Eco-Park,
01 February 2023.
Praise and glory to you,
O God our loving Father
in giving us your Son
Jesus Christ always with us
for indeed as the first reading
perfectly said it today, "Jesus
Christ is the same yesterday,
today, and forever" (Heb. 13:8).
Keep us aware with your
presence in our lives, Jesus,
whether we are in good times
or bad; "let our brotherly love
continue, without neglecting 
hospitality, for through some
have unknowingly entertained
angels" (Heb. 13:1-2). 
Set us free from the prisons
we ourselves have made and
locked us in - the prisons of
ego and pride when we delight
in the thought of holding others
imprisoned to insist on our own
thoughts and whims like Herod
in the gospel and the Romans in
the story of St. Blaise whose 
memorial we celebrate today.

Many times, O Lord, what really
happens is that the more we 
keep others in prison with our 
pride and insistence of self,
dominations and manipulations,
of vengeance and revenge as we
believe we punish them with our
being unforgiving and unmerciful,
the more we imprison ourselves,
the more we are shutout from the 
world, the more we are alone 
in the darkness of evil.
You have come, Jesus,
to show us the beauty of life
by living in your light and truth,
love and mercy; set us free from
the sins and pride that obstruct us,
that hold us from being truly free
and faithful to you through others.
Amen.
St. Blaise,
pray for us and heal us
of our ailments in the 
throat so that our hearts
and minds may always be
bridged in Christ.  Amen.

Bringing Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Feast of the Presentation of the Child Jesus, 02 February 2023
Malachi 3:1-4 ><}}}*> Hebrews 2:14-18 ><}}}*> Luke 2:22-32
It has been 40 days since
your birth, Lord Jesus Christ
that today we celebrate your
Presentation at the temple;
how lovely it is to contemplate
how on that day your parents,
the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph
obeyed the law that "Every male that
opens the womb shall be consecrated
to the Lord, and to offer the sacrifice
of a pair of turtledoves or two young 
pigeons," in accordance with the 
dictate in the law of the Lord (Lk. 2:23-24)
when you are the Lord Himself,
the Son of God!
But more lovely too are the presence
of Simeon and Anna who both waited 
for your coming, the promised Messiah
of Old; inasmuch as we are challenged 
to share you Jesus with others like your
parents, we are likewise challenged more
to be like Simeon and Anna in receiving
you our Savior into our arms and hearts.
Teach me, Jesus, to be like
Simeon and Anna who patiently 
waited for your coming,
staying attuned with the Holy Spirit
in silent prayer and fasting,
quickly recognizing your coming
as the "light for revelation to the
Gentiles" (Lk.2:31) amid the many
other infants presented on that day;
grant me the discerning spirit of
Simeon and Anna to recognize Christ
among the so many infants there at
that time; strengthen my will and spirit
to endure the day of your coming, 
Lord (Malachi 3:2) so I may recognize 
you and take you to my hands and arms
to raise you up for all to see like Simeon
and Anna proclaiming your coming to
everyone.
Most of all, Lord Jesus,
let me take you to my heart,
like Simeon who prophesied how
you would be a sign of contradiction to many,
piercing hearts like a sword to bare
the truth within us (Lk.2:34-35);
give me the courage, O Lord,
like Simeon to embrace death and
suffering for that it is indeed the 
meaning of your presentation
at the temple; it is only in presenting
myself to you, Jesus, will I be able to
bring you too to others when like you
I go through what they suffer.

In your light, Jesus, lead me.
Amen.

Finding God in the ordinary

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Fourth Week of Ordinary Time, Year I, 01 February 2023
Hebrews 12:4-7, 11-15     ><]]]'> + ><]]]'> + ><]]]'>     Mark 6:1-6
Jesus departed from there 
and came to his native place,
accompanied by his disciples.
When the sabbath came
he began to teach in the synagogue,
and many who heard him were astonished
(Mark 6:1-2).

How nice, O Lord,
that you never stop 
to come home with us,
to be with us,
to be one of us.
And too often,
we are astonished
with your works.
Just like your local folks
back then at Nazareth.
So often, it all ends
that way with us with you,
Jesus:  we are astonished,
surprised, amazed, and wowed
by your works.
But rarely by your person
that we cannot see you anymore
in ordinary things and most especially,
when things become difficult.
Forgive us, Jesus, when like
your town folks, we also "took
offense at you" (Mk. 6:3), 
questioning you,
daring you with your powers;
make us realize the beauty of
you being a Brother,
a Friend to us,
someone we can come to,
someone we can rely on
as being present with us
always, and most of all,
our life and salvation 
for you are our Lord and Master.
Help us also endure our trials 
as a discipline like what the author of the
Letter to the Hebrews exhorted us
in the first reading today;
let us enter into a personal relationship
with you, Jesus, so we may also experience
our being children of the Father
who disciplines us with the trials
that come our way.

At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it. So strengthen your drooping hands and your weak knees. Make straight paths for your feet, that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed.

Hebrews 12:11-13
On this first day of February,
open our eyes and our hearts
to you dear Jesus that we may find you
always in ordinary and difficult times
of our lives for that is when 
you are most present in us and 
among us.  Amen.

Praying for conviction

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Memorial of St. John Bosco, Priest, 31 January 2023
Hebrews 12:1-4   <*(((>< + ><)))*> = <*(((>< + ><)))*>   Mark 5:21-43
Dearest Lord Jesus,
Mark continues to tell us of
your many crossovers across 
the Lake of Tiberias,
of your great love for us all
breaking all barriers that prevent
us from getting close to you;
a lot often, the problem is with us,
our lack of conviction that you are
the Christ.

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea. One of the synagogue officials named Jairus came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, “My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.” He went off with him, and a large crowd followed him. There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She 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 5:21-25, 27-29
Grant me conviction,
dear Jesus;
help me deepen my faith,
my belief into a conviction
that I am so convinced,
firmly believing in what I believe
like Jairus and the woman who touched you;
let my faith deepen into a conviction
that no matter how difficult is 
my situation in life, even hopeless,
I remain focused in you Jesus 
for you alone is our life and
deliverance; grant me a conviction
that cannot be shaken by great crowds
of people who often make us balk
and chicken out from our faith in you;
most of all, a conviction in you like
that of St. John Bosco who overcame 
all obstacles in life like poverty and
lack of support from others in his
conviction of gathering wayward kids
to give them a bright future.
Indeed, "we are surrounded by so great 
a cloud of witnesses, let us be rid
ourselves of every burden and sin 
that clings to us and persevere in 
running race that lies before us"
while keeping our eyes fixed on you,
Jesus, our perfecter of faith (Heb. 12:1-2).
Amen.

Life’s many crossovers

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the Fourth Week of Ordinary Time, Year I, 30 January 2023
Hebrews 11:32-40     ><0000'> + ><0000'> + ><0000'>     Mark 5:1-20
Photo by author, sunrise at Bgy. Igulot, Bocaue, Bulacan, 29 January 2023.
Thank you dear Jesus
for this Monday;
another "crossing over"
from Sunday rest yesterday
to working days beginning
today.
Today's gospel speaks
so beautifully of life's many
crossovers with you leading us,
joining us, coming to us to heal us,
to cleanse us, to forgive us:

Jesus and his disciples came to the other side of the sea, to the territory of the Gerasenes. When he got out of the boat, at once a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit met him. The man had been dwelling among the tombs, and no one could restrain him any longer, even with a chain.

Mark 5:1-3
Many times, O Lord,
we have been bound by chains
of sins and shackles of vices
we have found comfort with;
like that man, some of us have
been living in tombs among
the dead and zombies;
but worst, dear Jesus,
were the people who drove you
away after you have cleansed
that man of his evil spirits,
giving more importance to the herd of
swine that perished than to the one
possessed person freed from evil.
Lord Jesus,
life is a series of crossing overs
from darkness to light,
from ignorance to wisdom,
from slavery to freedom,
from sin to grace;
let us not be afraid to cross
over to the other side to follow you,
to cross with you in faith;
let us lead others into crossing
over through the nights of life into
the day filled with your grace and
challenges; most of all, let us cross 
over life with firm faith in you,
persevering even if we do not receive
"what had been promised" because
"God had foreseen 
something better for us" (Heb.11:39-40).
Amen.

Praying for endurance & perseverance

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Third Week of Ordinary Time, Year I, 27 January 2023
Hebrews 10:32-39   ><0000'> + ><0000'> + ><0000'>   Mark 4:26-34
Photo by Fr. Pop dela Cruz in San Miguel, Bulacan, 15 June 2022.
Lord Jesus Christ,
your words this last Friday of January 2023
are so lovely, so inspiring:
"Therefore, do not throw away your confidence;
it will have great recompense.
You need endurance to do the will of God
and receive what he has promised" (Heb. 10:35-36).
What is to not throw away our confidence?
Simply be assured always in God, with God.
Have faith because he knows very well what is
happening with each of us.
Help us to keep that in mind and heart!
Now, this is what I like, Lord Jesus, 
when the author of the Letter to the Hebrews
told us to have "endurance to do the will of God
and receive what he has promised."
Teach us, Jesus, to bear and endure
all pains in doing your will,
in standing for what is true and good,
in keeping on doing what is good,
in continuing to love amid the pains.
Along with endurance,
give us also perseverance, Lord Jesus:
more than enduring the pains, let us go against
all these difficulties and hardships to perfect
ourselves, our faith and our love like you!
Like the farmer in your parable,
let us persevere, to keep on farming despite
the rains and drought without really knowing
if there would be bountiful harvest or not
except in having that deep faith in God 
that whatever we plant, no matter small,
would always grow and bloom.
Amen.

Praying for courage

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of Sts. Timothy and Titus, Bishops, 26 January 2023
2 Timothy 1:1-8   ><]]]'> + <'[[[>< = ><]]]'> + <'[[[><   Luke 10:1-9
Photo by author, 23 January 2023, at OLFU-Quezon City, Hilltop Mansion Heights.
Dearest Lord Jesus Christ,
grant us courage,
vanish our cowardice
to fill us with "power and love
and self-control" (cf. 2Tim.1:6).
If courage is having that
strength coming from the heart,
cowardice is losing one's heart,
of not having the heart to stand
and fight for what is true and good;
more tragic than physical cowardice
of being afraid of heights or the dark
are intellectual, emotional, and
spiritual cowardice.
In this age when everything
has become relative in the name of
pluralism and "respect" for everyone,
many Christians are afflicted with
spiritual cowardice,
so afraid to uphold your teachings
and examples, Lord, that in the process
have succumbed too to intellectual
cowardice, so afraid in discussing and
dissecting the many issues being raised
against our stand for life and decency,
truth and sanity.
Pray for us, 
Saints Timothy and Titus,
"to stir into flame the gift of God"
we have received in Baptism
so that we may "not be ashamed 
of our testimony" to Jesus
"but bear our share in the hardship
for the Gospel with the strength that 
comes from God" (1Tim.1:6, 8).
Amen.