Catching Jesus, catching for Jesus

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Sunday Week V-C in Ordinary Time, 06 February 2022
Isaiah 6:1-2, 3-8 ><}}}}*> 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 ><}}}}*> Luke 5:1-11
Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2018.

The word catch is a very catchy one, like when we catch our breath. Or, when we catch a train or bus or catch a ball. Recently, we have been catching colds and have also started catching movies. But the most beautiful of all is catching a glimpse of someone special until we catch a person, like a bride or a groom.

To catch means “to have”. It may be something. Or someone. Wholly or partially.

There is always that sense of possession in catching. This Sunday, Jesus wants to catch us all by making us catch others for him, too!

After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”

Luke 5:4-6, 8-10

From their synagogue at Nazareth, Jesus came to the nearby shore of Galilee Lake at Capernaum preaching his good news of salvation. A large crowd of people followed him, listening to his teachings as he sat on the boat of Simon he had borrowed.

Simon and company were washing their nets, on their way home after a fruitless night of fishing when Jesus came. Simon Peter must have heard – “caught” – the words of Jesus while teaching and soon enough, he was caught with fear with their miraculous catch.

Photo by author, Lake of Galilee, 2017.

Again, we have Jesus with his powerful words making such impact on the people, being fulfilled in their hearing most especially to Simon: After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.”

The fish has always been there in the lake but what made the big difference that morning was Jesus – he was not only with them but most of all, Simon believed in the words of the Lord!

Here we find again the words of Jesus being fulfilled because somebody listened and believed.

Last week we heard how Jesus was driven out of the synagogue by his own folks who doubted him and his words despite their amazement at the start; today, here at the shore of Capernaum, the people came to Jesus to listen to his words again.

But, the most beautiful part of our story this Sunday is how Jesus came at the most ordinary time and circumstances of the lives of the people. Too often, many people think Jesus comes only in dramatic and miraculous ways to invite us to come and follow him.

Not really. In fact, he comes when we least expect him like in this scene when Simon must have been feeling so down, coming home empty with nothing to feed his family after a fruitless night of fishing.

The good news of our Gospel this Sunday is how Jesus makes us all his worthy followers when we allow him to catch us. That is how the Gospel works – let yourself be caught by the Lord first and soon you shall find yourself being caught up in so many wonderful surprises: When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him.

Photo by author, statue of Simon Peter after the miraculous catch of fish,asking the Lord to depart from him at the shore of Galilee in Capernaum, 2017.

Jesus does not ask us for great things and deeds; he knows us very well and loves us so much, believing in us that he simply invites us to respond to his calls, to his words in the little everyday things of our lives like being faithful to your husband or wife, being obedient to our parents, being true to our friends, being honest in our work and studies, being kind and open to others. When bad things happen to us, all Jesus asks us is to go deeper in him in faith by being more patient or even uncomplaining to our pains and difficulties.

Of course, these are all easier said than done but this is what we always tell Jesus just before receiving him in the Holy Communion like that Roman official who said, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and I shall be healed”.

Nobody is truly worthy before the Lord but that is why Jesus came to invite us personally to let ourselves be caught by him like Simon and his brother Andrew along with their fishing partners, the sons of Zebedee, James and John, who left everything to follow him.

Every encounter with Jesus and his words always result in a self-discovery of our unworthiness and sinfulness like Simon Peter and Isaiah in the first reading. But, the good news is that every time God comes to call us, he also gives us the strength and gifts necessary to accomplish his mission for us. What is important is our willingness to follow, like Isaiah who said, “Here I am, send me” (Is.6:8) and be ready to leave everything behind like the first four disciples.

Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, 2020.

At the center of every call and mission is Jesus Christ, our Lord and Master, the Word who became flesh and dwelled among us by being one with us in our pains and sufferings, even in death, so that we may become like him, holy and blessed.

To be holy like God is to share in his work of gathering his people into the Body of Christ which St. Paul had reflected these past three Sundays to remind us of the preeminence of love in fulfilling our mission from Jesus.

Every day, Jesus comes, trying to catch us, asking us to cast our nets, inviting us to catch others for him so we may all be one in him in his love.

Let us all be caught by Jesus, be totally his and experience his amazing love and mercy. Amen.

Have a blessed and COVID-free week ahead!

Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2018.

Stiring into flame God’s gifts to us

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Memorial of Sts. Titus & Timothy, Bishops, 26 January 2022
2 Timothy 1:1-8   ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*>   Luke 10:1-9
Photo from Facebook April 2021: “There is an urgency to announce the Joy, the joy of the Risen Lord.”
Praise and glory to you,
God our loving Father,
in sending us the great 
apostle St. Paul whose feast
of conversion we celebrated
yesterday!  His life and teachings
continue to loom above us this
day as we celebrate the memorial
of his two close associates, Saints
Timothy and Titus.

…to Timothy, my dear child: as I recall your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice, and that I am confident lives also in you. For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.

2 Timothy 1:1, 5-7
O God, so many times we complain
of the young generation for so many
things like loyalty and dedication, 
commitment and responsibilities
without examining our very selves
as their elders or adults ahead of them:
how I envy St. Paul to be able to say those
words to Timothy while remembering the 
witnessing to faith by his grandmother Lois
and mother Eunice who were all guided
and shepherded by the great Apostle!
Before we expect too much from those
younger to us, teach us to be humble and
sincere:  what have we taught and lived by
example to them?  Have we been like 
St. Paul who was so full of zeal and enthusiasm
in preaching the Good News to everyone, 
in season and out of season?
Dearest Jesus, you are the one
who calls and sends us to announce
"The Kingdom of God is at hand" 
(Lk.10:9), stir into flame in us your gifts
of witnessing to your values of love, 
peace and justice in a world so 
abundantly rich in things but 
miserably poor in meanings;
awaken us, O Lord, young and old
alike, to the urgency of your mission.
Amen.

Finding God and our mission

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Memorial of St. Camillus de Lellis, Priest, 14 July 2021
Exodus 3:1-6, 9-12   <*(((>< + ><)))*>   Matthew 11:25-27
Photo by author, site of burning bush inside St. Catherine’s Monastery in Egypt, 2019.
Your words today, Lord,
speak of being surprised,
of how wonder can lead us
to you, dear God, the biggest
and most beautiful surprise of all
in this life.
There an angel of the Lord appeared
to him in a fire flaming out of a bush.
As he looked on, he was surprised to see
that the bush, though on fire was not consumed.
So Moses decided, "I must go over 
to look at this remarkable sight, 
and see why the bush is not burned."
(Exodus 3:2-3)
At that time Jesus exclaimed:
"I give praise to you, Father,
Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden
these things from the wise and the learned,
you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been
your gracious will."
(Matthew 11:25-26)
Like Jacob at Bethel 
upon waking up from a dream,
Moses was surprised and wondered
what was with the burning bush
only to find out it was you, Lord,
calling him, sending him to a mission.
The same is true with Jesus our Lord
who exclaimed after being surprised
with the faith of the little ones in him;
what a beautiful flow of things in
every sense of wonder and surprise
when first we find and meet you, then you send us.
We pray, dear God,
you continue to surprise us
in this time of pandemic and trials;
may we take off our sandals like Moses
to realize the whole earth is sacred
because of your divine presence.
Like St. Camillus de Lellis,
open our eyes to find and see you
in various forms of the "burning bush"
like pains and suffering, failures and losses,
or victories and gains where you are always present
calling and sending us to our specific mission in life.
Amen.

Praying for integrity

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Week X in Ordinary Time, 08 June 2021
2 Corinthians 1:18-22   ><)))'> ><)))'> ><)))'>   Matthew 5:13-16
Photo by Ray Piedra on Pexels.com
Jesus said to his disciples:
"You are the salt of the earth.  
But if salt loses its taste,
with what can it be seasoned?
It is no longer good for anything
but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot."
(Matthew 5:13)

Thank you very much for calling us “blessed”, Lord Jesus Christ; but, of what use is our being filled with the spirit of your Beatitudes if we cannot live it out, if we cannot show it and make it work in our lives? Then we are nothing but tasteless salt!

Give us, O Lord, the grace of integration, of wholeness or holiness of putting into practice the grace and virtues you have given us.

Enable us to activate your Spirit in us, not just filling us, not just a feeling of being with you but most of all, reaching out to others, touching lives, leaving your marks of loving service and mercy.

We do not have to be a stand out, we do not have to be known and even noticed by everyone.

It is enough for us to be like the salt, Lord: just a pinch or a dash enough to give taste, to blend with everyone and with everything we do, changing and transforming people and situations in your favor without being seen or known for that is true blessedness – making you known, not us.

Like St. Paul, let our “yes” to your call and mission remain firm and steadfast even if situations and circumstances would sometimes delay us in fulfilling our promise but never neglect our mission and fidelity to you.

When things do not happen according to our plans and schedules, keep us more faithful to you, dear Jesus; for although outside factors may change beyond our control, what matters most is the inside of us, within our very hearts, there you are reigning supreme, giving us security in your in fulfilling and completing your work.

We pray, dear God for our co-workers in you, our co-journeyers in this life of commitment who are feeling weak and saddened by the many criticisms from detractors when their mission is delayed or temporarily shelved for unforeseen circumstances. Do not let them lose sight of the goals and mission you have entrusted for our main challenge in life is being faithful to you than successful. Amen.

God sets us apart to bring us together

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Fourth Week of Easter, 28 April 2021
Acts 12:24-13:5   ><)))"> ><)))"> ><)))">   John 12:44-50
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, Katmon Harbor Nature Sanctuary, Infanta, Quezon, 2019.

Your words again, O God our Father today speak of separation – but this time not because of persecution or by any human design whether good or bad. Today you are teaching us a different kind of being separated for you and your mission in order to be one with you and your people.

How amazing, indeed, are your works, Lord, because when you set us apart from family and friends to be with you, to fulfill your mission, you actually bring us together with our loved ones in you!

Just like what you did with Barnabas and Saul.

After Barnabas and Saul completed their relief mission,
they returned to Jerusalem, taking with them John, who is called Mark.
While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting,
the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul
for the work to which I have called them."
Then, completing their fasting and prayer, 
they laid hands on them and sent them off.
(Acts 12:25, 13:2-4)

Come to us, Lord Jesus!

Be our light in the many darkness of our lives, in the many “separations” we have had in our lives not as you have planned for us.

Enlighten our minds and our hearts to see distinctly when we have to be set apart as you plan, not according to our own ideas and agenda.

Sometimes it happens too that we refuse to be set apart from others and from situations simply because we cannot let go.

Be the one to set us apart from others and from work and routines to do your work and mission.

Make us realize your words, dear Jesus that though you and the Father who sent you are apart and distinct from each other, you are both one in perfect unity.

And that is the beauty when it is you who set us apart in order to be one with you and with others. Amen.

Easter is “taking your place”

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Second Week of Easter, 14 April 2021
Acts 5:17-26   ><)))*> + ><)))*> + ><)))*>   John 3:16-21
Photo by Mr. Red Santiago, 2019.
But during the night, 
the angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison, 
led the Apostles out and said, 
"Go and take your place in the temple area, 
and tell the people everything about this life."  
When they heard this, they went to the temple area 
early in the morning and taught.  
(Acts 5:19-21)

Your words today, O Lord Jesus are so encouraging: “Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life.”

Oh yes, dearest Jesus, give us the courage and zest to go and take our place where you have designated us to proclaim your good news about this life especially in this time of the pandemic.

Take away our fears and doubts, our complacencies and laziness in stopping and putting on hold our mission from you, your plans for us because of this pandemic. Let us focus on you, Jesus, and forget all about fame and rewards nor faintest recognition in “taking our place” to do your work.

During your mortal life here on earth, Lord, you could not proclaim the kingdom of God beyond the Holy Land. Now you have risen from the dead and seated at the right hand of the Father, those bonds and barriers have been broken through your apostles down to us your modern disciples. Keep us faithful in telling the people everything about this life which is so beautiful, so precious, so worth saving!

Like you who have faithfully took your place to tell us everything about this life, may we share you to everyone we lovingly serve.

God so loved the world 
that he gave his only-begotten Son, 
so that everyone who believes in him 
might not perish but might have eternal life.  
(John 3:16)
Photo by author, Chapel of the Holy Family, Sacred Heart Spirituality Center, Novaliches, 2016.

Dearest Lord, please bless and keep safe those who continue to take their place the Father has reserved for them like you our Savior. We pray for their well-being and safety, for their fulfillment in you our Lord and God.

Bless first of all our medical frontliners, everybody working in the hospitals who continue to take their place and tell people everything about this life despite the great dangers and risks of getting sick.

Bless all Dads and Moms, couples and their children who remain faithful to you, avoiding sins, seeking you in prayers daily amid the great difficulties of balancing economics and well-being.

Bless all teachers and students in this difficult period of on-line classes as well as those in their limited face-to-face classes that all their efforts will someday bear fruit in their professional lives and earn them eternal rewards too.

Bless your priests, Lord Jesus, especially those faithfully serving your flock, celebrating the Holy Mass even without your people, giving the sacraments and praying for those lost and weak souls due to this pandemic. Wake up your tepid priests, awaken the moral fiber of your unfaithful priests.

Bless those in news and social communications that despite the dangers of this pandemic they continue to search and report the truth. Encourage those being harassed and threatened like your Apostles before in telling the truth, in exposing and unmasking evils in government and the society.

Bless everyone of us, Lord Jesus Christ, that we may be faithful to your call, that we may always have the courage to take our place amid this pandemic and continue to lovingly serve one another, especially the weak and the poor. Amen.

Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, March 2021.

Lent is home in God

40 Shades of Lent by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Week V in Lent, 26 March 2021
Jeremiah 20:10-13   ><}}}*> + <*{{{><   John 10:31-42
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, February 2021.
I hear the whisperings of many:
"Terror on every side!  Denounce! 
Let us denounce him!"
All those who were my friends 
are on the watch for any misstep of mine.
(Jeremiah 20:10)

God our loving Father, we are now in great danger, in critical level not only with the pandemic happening but with the continuing callousness and heartlessness of those in power in our land. Instead of fighting COVID-19, they are fighting those who speak the truth like your prophet Jeremiah.

They utter all lies and harsh words in public, even make faces to put down those who speak about the real situation and suggest solutions to the problem.

Even families and communities are breaking apart because of COVID-19 as many of us forget the enemy is the virus not the afflicted.

We only have you as our refuge,Lord. We count only on you. Indeed, you probe the mind and the heart of everyone as Jeremiah mentioned today.

Increase our faith in you and do not allow us to take vengeance into our hands against our oppressors who are our very own countrymen, even relatives and friends.

Let us focus on the evil that is pervading which is our closed minds, hard hearts, and angry fists.

May we all go back to you, dear God, in Christ Jesus.

Help us retreat to our own Jordan River (Jn.10:40) like Jesus where everything started – our baptism, our mission – to find rest and comfort in you.

Let us come home in you, God our Father, from whom everything started and finds meaning. Make us remember our journey in faith in you, our sense of mission from you.

In this time when many are rejecting Jesus and his message of salvation, open our minds and our hearts to believe the many signs by which you reveal in him your love and mercy to us. Amen.

Every birthday is a small Christmas

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 08 September 2020
Romans 8:28-30   >><)))*> + <*(((><<   Matthew 1:18-23
Photo by author, Christmas 2018.

Praise and glory to you our great and loving God the Father! In sending us your beloved Son Jesus Christ, you have truly blessed us all in his coming. First among us is his Blessed Mother, Virgin Mary who has become our Mother too through Jesus Christ!

You never fail to surprise us, O God our Father, with your plans not only with the Virgin Mary and the Saints but most especially with each one of us in the coming of your Son Jesus Christ.

St. Andrew of Crete beautifully explained in his discourse the meaning of this Feast of Mary’s Birth:

The present festival, the birth of the Mother of God is the prelude, while the final act is the foreordained union of the Word with flesh. Today the Virgin is born, tended and formed, and prepared for her role as Mother of God, who is the universal King of the ages.

Office of Readings, 08 September, Volume IV

How lovely that on this Feast of Mary’s nativity, the story we were told “is how the birth of Jesus came about” through her and St. Joseph her spouse with of a lot of working by the Holy Spirit.

Give us, O God, the faith and the strength to heed St. Paul’s teaching so that your plans are fulfilled in us like with Mother Mary:

We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

Help us realize this great honor you have given us in sharing with the Motherhood of Mary by reflecting on St. John Paul the Second’s teaching that “Every birthday is a small Christmas because with the birth of every person comes Jesus Christ.” (Evangelium Vitae)

Like Mary, make us share Jesus Christ with everyone and in this world that has turned its back from you.

Like Mary, may we remain standing at the foot of Jesus Christ’s Cross when everything is dark and uncertain for that is when his light shines brightest leading to Easter.

And still like Mary, may we be faithful in our prayer life, always waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit to fill us with fire and strength to proclaim the gospel not only in words but most of all in deeds like her.

O most blessed Virgin Mary our Mother, pray for us to grow closer with your Son Jesus Christ! Amen.

Photo by author, National Shrine of Mt. Carmel, QC, 2019.

Of wages and gifts

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Memorials of St. John Eudes & St. Ezechiel Moreno, Priests, 19 August 2020
Ezekiel 34:1-11 >><)))*> ||| >><)))*> ||| >><)))*> Matthew 20:1-16
Photo by author, Pulilan, Bulacan, February 2020.

As we go through more difficulties and sufferings during this time of pandemic, your words today dear God speak so well of what we need most – a true shepherd who will care for the lost and injured sheep.

Yes, you have fulfilled, O God, your promise a long time ago to Ezekiel that you yourself will come by sending us your Son Jesus Christ to look after and tend your sheep after the shepherds of Israel have miserably failed in their duties and responsibilities.

Unfortunately, there are still so many shepherds today in government even in Church who continue to pasture themselves!

Woe to the shepherds of Israel who has been pasturing themselves! Should not shepherds, rather, pasture sheep? You have fed off their milk, worn their wool, and slaughtered the fatlings, but the sheep you have not pastured. You did not strengthen the weak nor heal the sick nor bind up the injured. You did not bring back the strayed nor seek the lost, but you lorded it over them harshly and brutally. As I live, says the Lord God, because my sheep have been given over to pillage, and because my sheep have become food for every wild beast, for lack of a shepherd; I swear I am coming against these shepherds.

Ezekiel 34:2-4, 8, 10

Teach us, O Lord, through the examples of two great shepherds of souls whose feast we celebrate today: St. John Eudes who was one of the early pioneers in propagating devotion to your most Sacred Heart and St. Ezechiel Moreno who served for 15 years in the Philippines and later in South America where innumerable cancer cures were attributed to him.

St. John Eudes and St. Ezechiel Moreno showed in their lives of faithful and loving apostolate for the poor that shepherding is always a gift, never to be counted or equated nor even be seen in terms of wages and pay like in the gospel.

Remind us sweet Jesus in the midst of this pandemic when we are called to be good shepherds like you, may we always see your call and mission to us as gifts freely given not as tasks or work to be compensated by material things because you believe in us.

May we always go the extra mile in answering your call, O Lord, which is in itself a tremendous gift we must cherish for we are not even worthy at all to receive. Amen.

From Google.

Bakit ka narito?

Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-16 ng Hunyo 2020
Larawan kuha ng may-akda sa Pulilan, Bulacan, Enero 2020.
Minsan aking napanaginipan
matalik kong kaibigan
aming binalikan
mga bukid aming nilakaran
noong aming kabataan;
nagtungo rin kami sa simbahan
doon sa kabayanan
at umistambay pagkaraan
para magkuwentuhan sa Krus na Daan.
Hiniling ko sa kanya
ako'y isama sa kanyang bahay-pahingahan
doon sa bukid ngunit tinanggihan
pinauwi at binilinan tulungan
maraming nangangailangan
lalo na aming mga kaibigan.
Sa aking pagtayo at paghayo
siyang gising ko naman
at natanto
matagal nang yumao 
kaibigan ko.

Larawan kuha ng may-akda sa Assumption Sabbath, Baguio City, Enero 2018.
Maliwanag sa akin
kahulugan ng napanaginipan
dahil kung minsan
ako ay nahihirapan at nabibigatan
sa mga pasan-pasan
at tila naman walang ibang maasahan
bukod sa wala ring pakialam
kaya di maiwasan mag-asam
na mawala na lamang
at sumakabilang buhay.
Ngunit hindi iyon ang solusyon
hindi rin kalooban ng Panginoon
na mayroong nilalayon
dapat nating bigyan ng tuon;
mga hirap at pagod
konsumisyon at ilusyon
bahagi ng ating misyon
bigay at dinadalisay ng Panginoon
kaya't magtiyaga, Siya ay ating abangan
at tiyak matatagpuan, Kanyang tutulungan.

“Screenshot” ng palad ng isang mag-aaral sa Dr. Yanga’s Colleges Inc. na nagsulat ng mga aral napakinggan niya kay G. Michael Yanga, Pangulo ng naturang paaralan, 2019.
Madalas tayo ang nagtatanong 
sa Panginoon ng direksiyon
ngunit paano kung Siya mismo
sa atin naman ang magtanong
sa kalagitnaan ng ating misyon
"Bakit ka narito?" gaya noong
paghintayin Niya si Elias sa yungib ng Horeb
matapos Siyang mangusap 
sa banayad na tinig ng hangin;
kay sarap namnamin at damhin
dahil tuwing tayo tatanungin
nitong Panginoon natin,
ibig sabihin Siya ay ating kapiling!
Ano man iyong gampanin 
ngayong quarantine ay pagyamanin
palaging unahin na ang Diyos ay hintayin
dahil tiyak na Siya ay darating
hanggang matapos itong COVID-19
pangako Niyang kaligtasan at kaganapan
Kanyang tutuparin!