Advent is making God present

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Third Week of Advent, 15 December 2021
Isaiah 45:6-8, 18, 21-25   ><)))*> + ><)))*>   Luke 7:18-23
Lord Jesus,
like the disciples of John
the Baptist, we are so
tempted to ask you at this
time of pandemic and confusion:
"Are you the one who is to come,
or should we look for another?"
(Luke 7:18)
Yes, dear Jesus,
you are the One 
who is to come because
all these things like healing 
of the sick and proclamation 
of the good news to the poor
are happening before our very
eyes even to these days.
The problem, Lord Jesus,
is our failure or hesitancy and 
sometimes refusal to contribute 
our part in making your presence
known and felt in this time of the
pandemic and election campaigns.
Liberate us, Jesus, 
from the blindness, deafness,
paralysis and darkness that 
prevent us in making your Kingdom
and power felt here on earth;
in the same manner you have used
the pagan king Cyrus, use us, O Lord,
in building your Kingdom here on earth
so that people may finally find that
there is no other God except you alone.
Amen.

Advent is looking forward

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Second Week of Advent, 09 December 2021
Isaiah 41:13-20   ><)))*> + ><)))*> + ><)))*>   Matthew 11:11-15
Photo by author, 08 December 2021.
Thank you very much, O God
for all the beautiful memories 
we have in the past, especially 
those moments you have blessed
us with the good life - freedom 
and security, food and clothings,
family and friends, and everything
that is good in between them.
But the problem with our beautiful
and sweet memories of the past is
how often we are fixated to them, 
especially when hard times happen
to us, like with your people Israel who
were exiled to Babylon for so long:
they could not believe their days are
ending when you would set them free
and allow them to come home that they 
kept on harking back to the good old 
days of the past, unable to look forward
to the fulfillment of your wonderful promises
through the prophet Isaiah.
Give us the grace, O Lord,
on this season of Advent to look
forward to a better future, 
to a more blessed present moment
than the past; help us understand
the words of Jesus Christ your Son
about John the Baptist:

Jesus said to the crowds, “Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

Matthew 11:11
Yes, in the past before
Jesus Christ's coming,
it was such a very great time
to have heard and witnessed
John's ministry; there is no doubt
about his great role in preparing
the way of the Lord; however, 
it was Jesus himself who claimed,
and rightly so, even the least
among us is greater than John 
who never witnessed and experienced
the fruits of Christ's sacrifice on the 
Cross!
It has been two years since
this pandemic altered our
lives and made life so difficult
to many of us; until now, we keep
on going back to the good old days
of the past before the pandemic;
help us to move on, Jesus, and look
forward to better Christmas,
better new year in 2022 if we can
be more open to you.  Amen.

Ano – o Sino – ang Inaabangan sa Pasko?

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-6 ng Disyembre 2021
Larawan kuha ng may-akda sa San Fernando, Pampanga, 18 Nobyembre 2021.
Taun-taon, 
halos lahat ng tao
nasasabik sa Pasko
palaging inaabangan
sa mga countdown.
Ngunit bakit nga ba
inaabangan natin ang Pasko?
Petsa lamang ba ito 
at panahon na dumarating,
lumilipas din? 
Kung gayon lang ang Pasko,
bakit hindi na lang tayo 
magbilang ng araw
Bagong Taon pa man?
Higit sa petsa 
at panahon ang Pasko
dahil ito ay ang Diyos na naging Tao;
ang Pasko ay si Hesu-Kristo 
na sumilang noon sa mundo 
at dumarating pa rin sa puso 
ng bawat tao kaya't itong Pasko 
ay isang katotohanan, isang kaganapan
nang ang Diyos ay makialam
at pumasok sa ating kaguluhan,
pinunan marami nating kakulangan,
pinawi mga kasalanan, pinalitan 
ng kanyang kabanalan upang 
buhay natin ay maging makabuluhan.
Sa panahon pa ring ito 
ng pandemya, sana atin nang 
mapagtanto ang Pasko 
ay hindi tanong ng kung ANO 
kungdi ng kung SINO inaabangan 
na tanging si Hesu-Kristo,
dumarating hindi sa sabsaban
kungdi sa ating puso at kalooban
kung saan nagmumula ating mga
gulo at kadiliman; sikaping matagpuan
Kanyang bakas sa ating mga mukha
upang tayo'y makipag-kapwa at 
maranasan Kanyang kapanatilihan
kesa tayo magbilang ng mga petsa at buwan. 
Larawan kuha ng may-akda sa San Fernando, Pampanga, 18 Nobyembre 2021.

Our God of abundance

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the First Week of Advent, 01 December 2021
Isaiah 25:6-10   ><]]]'> + ><]]]'> + ><]]]'>   Matthew 15:29-37
Photo by author, Dampa in Pasay City, 2018.
Praise and glory to you,
our loving God and Father,
for the abundant blessings 
you have bestowed upon us
this 2021 even in the midst of
many sufferings brought by
the COVID-19 pandemic.
As we look back to the past 
eleven months and see how far
we have come to this first day
of the merry month of December,
one thing remains clear:  you are 
a God of abundance, you always
have so many things in store for each
one of us but unfortunately we always
fail to see or even recognize them at all;
worst, with your abundant blessings, 
we are always in need with our mentality
so focused on scarcity.
The problem is with us, dear God;
your promise to Isaiah to feast us 
on "juicy, rich food" and "pure, 
choice wines" have long been fulfilled
in the coming of Jesus Christ your
Son who comes in every here and now
and would surely come again
at the end of time.
Destroy the "veil that veils" us and 
the "web that is woven over" us
so we may find Jesus silently and 
subtly working among us, right in our
midst; let us believe so we may see him
to enjoy your abundant blessings found
in him in the first place!

The disciples said to him, “where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted place to satisfy such a crowd?” Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” “Seven,” they replied, “and a few fish.”

Matthew 15:33-34
Come, Lord Jesus, fill us with
your presence and peace and grace, 
most specially with your pity
and mercy for those in need
so that we may find the abundance
we have always have in you.  
Amen.

Making the Kingdom a reality

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the First Week of Advent, 29 November 2021
Isaiah 2:1-5   ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[><   Matthew 8:5-11
Photo by author, Basic Education Department Chapel, Our Lady of Fatima University, 28 November 2021.
Praise and glory to you,
loving God our Father in heaven
in giving us your beloved Son
Jesus Christ who had come, 
now comes, and would come again
at the end of time.
In him you have fulfilled your promised
liberation and establishment of a "temple
as the highest mountain and raised above
the hills" where "all nations shall stream
toward it and many peoples shall come"
(Isaiah 2:2-3) to worship you and follow
your path.

O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!

Isaiah 2:5
As Christians, we still have a lot
of work to do to bring the spirit of 
Jesus Christ and his Gospel into the
world to make this more humane, 
where peace and justice reign; 
remind us that Christmas is more
than mere celebrations and parties
or shopping and gift-giving.
In this Season of Advent, teach us to
reflect on the real meaning of your
coming, dear God, in Jesus who became
human like us to live and work among us;
Christ has not failed in his mission -- it is
us who have done so little to carry on,
to continue what he had began like bringing
healing and comfort to those afflicted and
suffering, joy and forgiveness to those losing
hope in the face of many sins and evil.
It is true, O Lord, that "we are not worthy to
have you enter under my roof but only say 
the word and we shall be healed" (Matthew
8:8); let us listen and respond to your 
invitation and calls, Jesus, filled with faith like
that centurion so that eventually, your Kingdom
may become a full reality among us.  Amen.

Living in the End-Time

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Week XXXIV, Year I in Ordinary Time, 26 November 2021
Daniel 7:2-14     ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[><     Luke 21:29-33
Photo by author, Assumption Sabbath, Baguio City, 2019.
Thank you very much for this
last Friday of November, God our
loving Father; what a beautiful 
reminder to us all as we prepare
for Advent at the closing of the
liturgical calendar tomorrow that
we are in fact living in the end-time.
All the signs of the end of time Jesus
mentioned in the gospel these past two
days are already happening like wars, 
plagues, famines, and earthquakes;
grant us the spiritual knowledge to 
learn the parable of the fig tree:  that
we have to be rooted in you, O God,
through Christ so that even while in
the midst of a destructive world, we
may get to know you more and be 
aware of your coming.
Like the Prophet Daniel in the first
reading, we may not even know at all
how the Son of Man - Jesus - would look like
when he comes amid the clouds;
give us the grace to know Jesus 
personally so that we may live in
communion with him to have 
the eyes to see and the ears to hear 
his Second Coming in 
every here and now, following
him in the path he had shown us
as truly our King and Savior. 
Remove our blindness of pride
and many excuses in seeing the
signs of your coming expressed 
in the parable of the fig tree; let
us rest in that complete trust in you,
dearest God, that whatever happens
in this world, you are always in control
and would always have the last say in
Jesus Christ.  Amen.

God is present

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Week XXXIV, Year I in Ordinary Time, 25 November 2021
Daniel 6:12-28   ><)))*> + ><)))*> + ><)))*>   Luke 21:20-28
“Daniel in the Lions’ Den” by Briton Riviere (1872) from reddit.com.
God our loving Father,
save us from severe tests 
and trials in life; make us
steadfast in our faith and 
trust in you like your prophet
Daniel who escaped death
without any harm at all when 
thrown into the lions' den.
As I prayed over that wonderful
scene I have known since a child,
it was only now have I realized
our biggest problem in being 
faithful to you in the face of death
and grave danger; of course, it is
pure grace from you to have such
great courage and serenity but 
always, we back out, we balk at the 
mere thought of suffering because
we are busy thinking of what will
happen next, we are busy focused
with the future than with the present
moment where you are with us.
That beautiful imagery of Daniel
spared by the ferocious lions evokes of 
a man so faithful to you, O Lord, living
in your presence, unmindful and undisturbed
of the past and the future because he was
present in you and with you!

Daniel answered the king: “O king, live forever! My God has sent his angel and closed the lions’ mouths so that they have not hurt me. For I have been found innocent before him; neither to you have I done any harm, O king!”

Daniel 6:22-23
Cleanse and empty us,
dear Father, of our many excess
baggage in life, our past sins
and worries of the future
so we may experience and live in
your presence in every here and now,
unmindful of whatever may happen
for we are safely secured in you
always.  Amen. 

Deus Semper Major

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Memorial of St. Clement, Pope and Martyr, 23 November 2021
Daniel 2:31-45,   ><)))*> + ><)))*> + ><)))*>   Luke 21:5-11
Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2019.
Glory and praise to you,
our loving and almighty
God and Father!
Your power and might,
majesty and grandeur are
all around us, even deep 
within each one of us and yet,
still many deny your presence, 
deny your existence.
Enter our consciousness, Lord,
enter our dreams like with 
King Nebuchadnezzar to remind us
nothing remains here on earth, 
that you are always greater, O God,
"semper major"!

In the lifetime of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed or delivered up to another people; rather, it shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and put an end t0 them, and it shall stand forever.

Daniel 2:44
Even your Son Jesus Christ
reminded us through the apostles
how everything would crumble and 
fall, including your Temple at 
Jerusalem, putting an end to everything 
until he comes again to bring upon us
new heaven and new earth.
And so, grant us, Lord,
perseverance and fidelity
to remain humble before you
like St. Clement who bore all sufferings
during the persecution but remained
faithful to you, calling on the early Church
he led as Pope at that time to remain 
one in you, our only Rock foundation
in faith, hope and love.  Amen.

The best of the very best

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial of St. Cecilia, Virgin and Martyr, 22 November 2021
Daniel 1:1-6, 8-20  ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>  Luke 21:1-4
Photo from http://www.reddit.com.
Very often in life, we rarely
think of you dear God our Father
when we try to consider the best
we could ever have; if ever we
remember you, you always come
last because we always want 
the finest and most premium as
something tangible, something we
can hold and even possess.
On this final stretch of our 
liturgical calendar before we move
to our "new year" with the First Sunday
of Advent, your words remind us 
very well how we continue that practice
of searching and possessing the best -
food, clothes, vessels, gadgets, 
even minds and talents or persons
like King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon,
the conqueror of Judah who ransacked 
your Temple of its precious vessels and 
threw your people into exile.
When he asked for the brightest and 
best men of Judah be separated to serve
at his court, he gave them the best food
and wine to ensure that they function well
when summoned; how amazing were your
servants led by Daniel who refused to eat
the king's food and wine in your honor; 
despite their simple meals of vegetables 
and water, Daniel and his company emerged 
as the best young men in the king's court.

In any question of wisdom or prudence which the king put to them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his kingdom.

Daniel 1:20
Meanwhile at the donation box
of the temple, your Son Jesus
found the widow who gave two
small coins as the best donor
of all because she gave her very self
to God unlike the rich who gave only
a portion of what they no longer needed.
Teach us, dear God, that you are
the very best of the best we can ever
have and offer in this life;
may we aspire to have you more -
your love and kindness,
your mercy and justice,
your wisdom and understanding,
your very life and presence
so that we may also learn to give
our total self to you.
Like St. Cecilia, may we sing
your song, O God in our hearts,
giving our very selves to your
loving service for others.  Amen.

Any World (That I’m Welcome To) by Steely Dan (1975)

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 21 November 2021
Photo by author, Singapore, 2018.

Please suspend any judgment yet for our choice of music this Sunday: I have waited so long for this inspiration to come in my prayers since we started this blog on music linked with the gospel.

Yes, I have always been a big fan – a Danhead – of Steely Dan since my elementary days in the mid-70’s and thanks to YouTube and the internet, the more I have come to love their music now that I am a priest!

Though I must confess that I have never learned nor fully understood their lyrics until now, I have always been faithfully in love with their music that is brusque and sophisticated at the same time yet charming and mysterious.

Just Google the meaning of Steely Dan, the band is essentially the duo of the late Walter Becker and Donald Fagen whose ability to gather the best musicians in itself is a stroke of genius.

Next to prayers, Steely Dan music has been my best antidote against all the blues, worries and fears since this pandemic began last year. And when burdens are so heavy that I feel so down, this is the Steely Dan tune I liked most at this time as it spoke so well exactly how I would always feel:

If I had my way
I would move to another lifetime
I’d quit my job
Ride the train through the misty nighttime
I’ll be ready when my feet touch ground
Wherever I come down
And if the folks will have me
Then they’ll have me

Any world that I’m welcome to
Is better than the one I come from

From their album Katy Lied released in 1975, Any World (That I’m Welcome To) speaks so well of our longing to go to another world where everything fits us right — the kind of feeling we tend to have when our plans do not happen, when everything seems to be wrong and out of order.

Like all their songs, Any World is loaded with philosophical musings by Becker and Fagen that words could not sufficiently express and that is why they always have to improvise and innovate in their music and instrumentations that sound so sublime, filled with enigma.

But, where is Jesus Christ and our celebration today of Christ the King in this music which many of my elders used to frown when I was growing up (and discerning my vocation)?

The inspiration came to me while praying on the first reading, on the “vision” of the prophet Daniel of the “Son of man” or Savior God sent to save us, Jesus Christ. Instantly, I remembered the last stanza of this song:

I think I’ll go to the park
Watch the children playing
Perhaps I’ll find in my head
What my heart is saying
A vision of a child returning
A kingdom where the sky is burning
Honey I will be there
Yes I’ll be there

Any world that I’m welcome to
Is better than the one I come from

And when we try visualize the gospel from John of the trial of Jesus before Pilate, the more we wish we are in any world where we are welcomed to! How ironic when we continue to put God on trial, always questioning him for all our woes, doubting his love and presence, his kingship, his very person in Jesus Christ (https://lordmychef.com/2021/11/20/jesus-truly-our-king/).

And that is where I find the genius and “spirituality” of Becker and Fagen: their music like Any World not only tells us of our deep longings but also at the same time of our convictions that there is something better, something good coming despite all the problems and darkness we have in life.

Yes, it will be pushing too hard to speak of faith and religion with Steely Dan music but, as I have cautioned you at the start, suspend any judgment and get the feel of Becker and Fagen in the second stanza of this great song:

I can hear your words
When you speak of what you are and have seen
I can see your hand
Reaching out through a shining daydream
Where the days and nights are not the same
Captured happy in a picture frame
Honey I will be there
Yes I’ll be there

Any world that I’m welcome to
Is better than the one I come from

Who else can understand us so well, who can see everything in us and most of all would be there? That must be Jesus, truly our King who died for us to make this a better world for us!

Have a blessed Sunday!

*We have no intentions of infringing into the copyrights of this music and its uploader except to share its beauty and listening pleasure.

From YouTube.com.