The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Monday, Sixth Week in Ordinary Time, Year I, 15 February 2021
Genesis 4:1-15, 25 >><)))*> >><)))*> >><)))*> Mark 8:11-13
Last Saturday, Lord, you surprised us as we prayed over the deeper meaning of the question “where” like “where are you?” and “where are we going to get?” The question where always implies something that is lost or about to lose, missing or denied.
Today, we pause for the more usual question of “what” like your question to Cain in the first reading:
The Lord then said: “What have you done? Listen: your brother’s blood cries out to me from the soil!”
In the gospel, the enemies of your Son Jesus were also asking, in effect, about “what” signs he can show them from heavens to prove he is the Christ you have sent.
How funny it is, dear God our Father that in your asking Cain as in most cases, you ask us with WHAT because you knew what had happened, you know everything and merely want us to admit the truth and be sorry— but we would not!
For you, the what is already known for you know everything! Nothing can be hidden from you.
On the other hand, for many of us like the Pharisees, we keep on asking you with WHAT because we refuse to recognize or acknowledge what is present, what is existent, what is there because we prefer to accept what is in our minds than what is revealed and true.
What a silly world at how we have made the objective question of what very subjective, depending on what we wish to know and accept or believe. May the question what lead us closer to recognizing every person as a subject to be loved and cherished because we are indeed, our brothers’ keepers. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Wednesday, Second Week in Ordinary Time, 20 January 2021
Hebrews 7:1-3, 15-17 >><)))*> +++ <*(((><< Mark 3:1-6
O God our Father, we praise and thank you in making us share in the priesthood of your Son Jesus Christ, our Lord and eternal Priest. So many times we forget – priests and lay people alike – the meaning of our priesthood which is to communicate your love to others, to become a bridge of men and women with God.
So many times we have become legalistic, paying more attention to the letters of the laws, to forms and to rituals forgetting the very essence of loving service for others. We always enter the church but never the community of believers.
Jesus entered the synagogue. There was a man there who had a withered hand. They watched Jesus closely to see if he would cure him on then sabbath that they might accuse him. He said to the man with the withered hand, “Come up here before us.” Then he said to the Pharisees, “Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than to destroy it?” But they remained silent.
What a shame, dear God when such moments happen when we refuse to look at the persons with their sufferings and pains, choosing to look at things around us like rules and conventions. That more sad part is as we have turned blind to others around us, we have also chosen to be deaf to their cries as well.
Forgive us, Father, when we fail to enter into oneness with others made possible to us in the coming of Jesus Christ who has become our “priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (Heb.7:17).
Help us discard those old understanding of priesthood with emphasis on the mystery of being a priest, of the distinction and honor, forgetting the more important aspects of working for justice and righteousness, and most of all, for peace. Both can only be earned if we strive to be men and women of love and commitment to what is good. Amen.
Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 08 October 2020
In the beginning
we were counting
the days of quarantine
but when COVID-19
spread with so many dying
then we realized this is not just passing
but could be staying
leaving the world in a standstill
shaking our very core and being
bringing us back to God
praying, surrendering everything
to him as our sole grounding.
during this quarantine
is indeed a blessing
directing us to look within
to examine our being
where every healing must begin;
Any sickness is a dis-ease
a lack of order
when things are not pleasing
because of sin and wrong-doing
exactly what we are now seeing
Consider the following:
Long before social distancing
we have always been so far away
even from those with whom we stay
foregoing all the loving,
replaced with twitting or texting;
When we were growing
we were taught to keep our hands clean
but we have pushed it to the extreme
refusing to dirty our hands
forgetting to work with honor and dignity
keeping them free from stains of dishonesty;
Of all the most disturbing
during this quarantine
is the mask that cover our face;
but, why be fazed, objections raised
when we have long erased
to see in every face
that tremendous grace
of God's trace?
In the midst of this calamity
when air became pollution-free
we rejoiced at Nature's beauty;
the remedy for every malady
is not found only in the pharmacy
but right in our hearts when we see
everything and everyone in harmony.
Oh how I long when that day shall be
when everyone is free with nothing to worry;
at ease shall we carry within the peace and serenity
of one big family living cleanly in God's mercy.
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Music by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 13 September 2020
Above is a photo I have taken of some pilgrims entering through the small door of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem last year. I have always loved the story why this entrance door is so small as it leads to a huge and very important church where the site of Jesus Christ’s birth is located.
According to tradition, pilgrims used to bring even their animals inside the church whenever they would come to worship at the site of the Lord’s birth. The priests and monks were so kind that they could not tell them to leave their horses outside to keep the church clean; and so, they built another entrance into the church with a door so small that even pilgrims have to bow in order to get inside.
Eventually, the small door taught everyone especially pilgrims the important lesson that to experience the coming of the Son of God to the world, one must learn to be humble, to bow or get low to get inside the Church of Nativity.
I know Christmas is still four months away but that is one reality we always forget, the we are all brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. That is the meaning of Christ’s call in today’s gospel to “forgive from one’s heart” son we can forgive without limits because we are all brothers and sisters in God the Father who loves and forgives us all (https://lordmychef.com/2020/09/12/forgiving-from-the-heart-2/).
It is for this reason that we have chosen for our Sunday music “Every Kinda People” by the late English singer-songwriter Robert Palmer. It was his first top 40 hit released in 1978 that was rereleased in 1992 climbing the charts again for its beautiful music and superb lyrics that convey love and respect for every person.
Though the word forgiveness is nowhere to be found in the lyrics, it is implied because after all, the best expression of any love as shown to us by Jesus Christ is also the ability to forgive others and forego any revenge.
There’s no profit in deceit Honest men know that Revenge do not taste sweet Whether yellow, black or white Each and every man’s the same inside
What really hurts us most that we find it difficult to forgive those who have sinned against us is not only the injustice done to us but our being disrespected as a person who is a family like a spouse or a wife, a brother or a sister, a son or a daughter, a father or a mother, a kin or a friend, a confidant.
Our offenders thought only of themselves and forgot all about us, our love and kindness to them. Our oneness with them.
That is the unkindest cut of all, my brothers and sisters.
Have a blessed Sunday and a week ahead, keep loving and forgiving even if others do not. At least we remind them of that basic reality of every kinda people…
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Week XIV, Year II in Ordinary Time, 07 July 2020
Hosea 8:4-7, 11-13 >><)))*> <*(((><< Matthew 9:32-38
Forgive us, O Lord, for the many times we have played gods, knowing too much when in fact we know nothing at all. So often, we never consult you and rely more in our limited understanding and perception of things that in the end lead to more woes and problems for us.
Thus says the Lord: They make kings in Israel, but not by my authority; they established princes, but without my approval. With their silver and gold they made idols for themselves, to their own destruction. Cast away your calf, O Samaria! my wrath is kindled against them. How long will they be unable to attain innocence in Israel? The work of an artisan no god at all; destined for the flames — such is the calf of Samaria! When they sow the wind, they shall reap the whirlwind; the stalk of grain that forms no ear can yield no flour; even if it could, strangers would swallow it.
When will we ever learn, Lord?
We always have our own golden calf to worship, turning away from you, the only true God, fount of all life and meaning, grace and fulfillment. We keep doing things according to our plans, each of us desiring to outdo each other, turning away from you.
How sad that whenever you try to intervene and save us or bring us back into the right course of life, we see you more as coming from the devil. Forgive us, Lord, in making it so difficult even for you to be in the right place in our lives for we are so full of ourselves.
And that is really how it is with us: we always feel so troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd but would never admit it, replacing persons with material things not realizing that life is meant to be lived with people not with things.
Create in us an awareness of your presence, of your love so we may be more attuned with you and the people around us. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Cycle A, 07 June 2020
Exodus 34:4-6, 8-9 ><)))*> 2 Corinthians 13:11-13 ><)))*> John 3:16-18
Two young ladies attended our 4:00 PM Mass last Sunday. Just before the Lamb of God, the other lady collapsed and fell on the floor. Thank God she suffered no injury; later after the Mass I checked on her to see if she was sick or maybe hungry that caused her to collapse.
She said she could find no other reason for feeling dizzy and later collapsing except that they have walked two kilometers from their home under the intense heat of the sun that afternoon to celebrate Mass in the parish. She added that sometimes they also ran so as not to be late.
Then, they told me something that really touched me and broke my heart: “sawa na po kami magsimba sa Facebook Live kaya po kami nagpunta sa Parokya para magsimba” (we are fed up joining Facebook Live Masses that we decided to celebrate Mass at the parish).
As I prayed this week, reflecting on this Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, that story from my two parishioners kept on echoing in my head because that is the reality of God in the Holy Trinity: a God who loves because he keeps on giving, without taking anything in return.
The reality of God in the Holy Trinity
Beginning this Sunday as we resumed Ordinary Time in the liturgy, we are celebrating three solemnities successively: Trinity today, Body and Blood of Christ or Corpus Christi next Sunday and Friday after that, the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
In a sense, these three solemnities remind us that God is with us always; hence, on this Sunday as we celebrate his being God in three Persons, he is also telling us to “get real” with him especially in this age of virtual realities and media manipulations.
Getting real with God is like my two parishioners who walked two kilometers under the sun just to celebrate Mass in the parish because they were fed up with online Masses that cannot capture entirely the experience of God in an actual Mass.
When we come to think of it, God does not need to prove himself to us. He simply shows us himself. That is why those two parishioners were willing to sacrifice walking two kilometers because they must have received something, must have experienced something from this God who is so personal, relating and so real that they wanted to experience him personally in the actual Mass.
The same must be true with us all who miss going to actual Masses, who continue to pray at home.
Why do we pray, why do we praise God, why do we ask him for mercy and forgiveness for our sins, why do we ask him for so many things, and the list can go on with one essential question: why do we come to God?
Is it not because he comes first to us? He makes himself known to us by giving himself to us, showering us with many blessings both material and spiritual, surprising us with so many wonderful things and sights like sunset and nature that we praise him? Most of all, he is so kind and loving that we feel sorry when we are mean with others, when we choose to do wrong, when we are not that good like him?
God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.
That is the essence of God, a personal and relating God who gives everything because he loves us. Only God can adequately “speak” of him to show us he exists in ways so marvelous we cannot even dissect yet jump into conclusion right away that “it is the Lord!” like Peter in Lake Tiberias.
When we speak of a Trinity, of Persons, we speak of relationships that presuppose giving and loving. That is God in himself that he poured out this love in him by first creating everything (Father), then giving us his Son to save us after we have turned away from him, and to ensure that we never get lost again and find our way back to him, gave us the Holy Spirit as Advocate and Counselor.
Here we find God is more than a concept or an abstract and structure in our minds that we have construed or created. He has always been there. He has no need of proving himself to us, unlike us who always have to prove ourselves with others.
God is the giver and the gift himself because he is perfect and complete unlike us who can only give gifts and things as representations of our very selves.
And there lies more the mystery of the Holy Trinity — in his being both the gift and the giver, God remains perfect and one even if he keeps on giving and giving without taking anything for himself, a mystery he shares with us by asking us to be like him in giving so we would remain full like him.
Something’s got to give
This mystery of the Trinity, of a relationship of persons that only gives yet never depleted or exhausted reveals to us what we must can and must always do as created image of the loving God.
Time and time again we have proven in history and in ourselves that it is only in giving when we truly receive, when we are truly human, truly loving.
This pandemic is telling us in no uncertain ways that our lifestyle of having and gaining has led us to more wanting and more wasting, more destruction and more separation.
God is telling us in the midst of this pandemic that we get real — learn to give and forgive, to let go and let God!
We are all linked together as one, a community of beloved, saved and forgiven though imperfect and sinful. On Mount Sinai Moses saw for himself this God giving everything despite his people being so stubborn, that he asked God to accompany them in their journey.
Since then God has always accompanied us in our journey in life though we always turn away from him, wandering off in the wilderness, following other paths that we end up more lost, more tired.
What are we willing to give up in this life to experience fullness in God and with others?
Getting real is giving up ourselves so we may be filled by God so we may experience life’s fullness in him and in our relationships with others and even with nature. Amen.
Lawiswis ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-19 ng Mayo 2020
Kay hirap maunawaan
at hindi ko mailarawan
matay ko mang isipin
ngayong panahon ng COVID-19
pinaiiral nati'y karahasan
sa halip na kahinahunan
Minsa'y aking napakinggan
kaya aking tinunghayan
balita sa telebisyon nang
si Mang Dodong ay nakulong
mahigit sampung araw sa Navotas
nang siya ay dakpin dahil
walang papeles ng quarantine.
Asawa niyang si Aling Patring
di malaman gagawin
dahil ayon sa balita,
walang gaanong napag-aralan
mabuti't tinulungan ng mayroong
Kayo na mga mayroong pinag-aralan
napakaraming kaalaman at nalalaman
tingnan itong larawan kung pagdududahan
kakayahan at katauhan ni Mang Dodong
na kailangan siyang pahirapan
sa tanging pagkukulang sa panahon ng lockdown
hindi nakakuha sa tirahan sa Kalookan
ng quarantine pass upang makahango ng isda sa Navotas.
Sino ang hindi mababagbag
at mababagabag sa mga kuwento
ng karahasan at karanasang ganito
sa panahon ng pandemya
na sa halip tayo ay magtulungan at magdamayan
nagpapahirapan at nagmamatigasan
sa mga bagay na mapapalampas naman.
Hindi ba puwedeng pagbigyan na lamang
kung hindi naman gaanong kabigatan, kalala ang kasalanan?
Nasaan ang katarungan kapag mga makapangyarihan
pinalalampas, kinakatuwiran taglay na husay at galing
samantalang nagkamali rin naman at masahol pa sa karamihan?!
Hindi sasapat kailanman ating isipan
dapat mabuksan din ating puso at kalooban
dahil ang katotohanan hindi lamang
karunungang nababatid, naikakatuwiran
kungdi isang kapatid nararanasan
nararamdaman bawat pintig ng kalooban,
hangad makatawid sa gutom, mabuhay lamang.
Maraming pagkakataon sa iba't-ibang panahon
kapag nabubuksan isipan sa maraming kaalaman
mga kasangkapan pinahahalagahan, kapwa tao nalilimutan
tulad sa mga digmaan at labanan ng kanya-kanyang karapatan
hindi baleng tapakan at yurakan katauhan ng iba
pati sanggol sa sinapupunan
huwag lamang mahadlangan sariling kagustuhan.
O Diyos naming makapangyarihan,
Iyo sanang buksan aming puso at kalooban
upang sa amin Ika'y makapanahan;
Iyong mukha na puno ng awa at kabutihan
sa amin ay mabanaagan, huwag mong hayaan
paghariin kapos naming isipan at baka kami magkaubusan.
Quiet Storm by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, 15 January 2020
Now streaming at Netflix is this excellent original 2019 BBC production, Giri/Haji (Duty/Shame), a Japanese story of two brothers set almost entirely in London seemingly inspired by French existentialist writer Albert Camus with closing scenes set in Paris.
Midway through the series, one notices right away the complexities or, absurdities of life that one cannot simply categorize it between “duty and shame”, or good and evil, right and wrong, black and white.
It is a series that hits our innermost core when we find ourselves in those gray areas of confronting what we believe as right and just versus the value of every human person that Camus beautifully expressed in his 1947 novel “The Plague”:
“A loveless world is a dead world, and always there comes an hour when one is weary of prisons, of one’s work, and of devotion to duty; and all one craves for is a loved face, the warmth and wonder of a loving heart.”
Albert Camus, The Plague
Like most Netflix series, Giri/Haji is rated 18+ for its violence, language, substance, and nudity but everything is done beautifully and artistically.
It is a masterpiece that shows some common threads among us humans regardless of our color and culture, gender and age, belief and language. How the creators were able to perfectly blend these all with the excellent cinematography, music, and fine prints into uncluttered and pure simplicity of Japanese Zen principles are a work of art and film genius.
Simple plot but very personal and universal
The plot is simple: an elder, straight brother is a cop with a younger brother who is a Yakuza member hiding in London after being presumed dead when he got the daughter of his boss pregnant. He staged his revenge in London where he killed a Japanese executive with the knife of his former boss that had sparked a war among Yakuza families in Tokyo that was going out of control. Cop-brother comes to London to bring his gangster brother back to Japan to atone for his sins so that peace is restored among the Yakuzas.
Along the way, the two brothers’ stories converged with the stories of three other main characters that provided the many uneventful twists to be united by the element of deaths in various forms and circumstances.
Giri/Haji honestly confronts our basic issues of love and acceptance so lacking or taken for granted in our own families that lead to a host of so many other problems and situations like drugs and other crimes, infidelity and promiscuity, as well as homosexuality and sexual orientations.
What is so unique with the series is how it was able to take these sensitive issues as subjects to be seen in relation with persons, not as objects to be studied or examined apart from anyone that it becomes more of an experience, not just an entertainment.
Giri/Haji is so personal, you can feel yourself “slashed” so you experience the subjects’ pains and hurts, longings and desires, dreams and aspirations.
Like the samurai blade that can cut through almost anything, the series hits you at almost every turn that you find yourself laughing and weeping without realizing that along with the characters, you have also laid your soul bare for serious self-confrontation and examination about your very self and the people around you in the relationships you keep as well as skipped or taken for granted.
Death and new life
There is no glorification of evil and immoralities but Giri/Haji invites us to see these as realities in our imperfect world that must be seen more with our hearts than with our minds and convictions. The series contrasts the Western frame of mind of morals as codes to be followed to the minutest details that slashes even persons into categories with the Oriental point of view of seeing morality in the totality of the person.
How it is resolved in the end is amazing!
And despite its genre being crime and violence, I would still say Giri/Haji is so lovely, even quaint and as Japanese as it can be especially with the depiction of changing of seasons that peaked at autumn.
Despite the dark and gloomy nature of the topics of death in all of its forms, there is the radiance of hope always that will lead to new life. The series teems with other symbolisms and signs including great music selections that add intensity to its drama and tragedy that make us hope the new season comes soonest.
For the meantime, listen to the beautiful music theme of the Giri/Haji by British singer Tom Odell.
Take my mind And take my pain Like an empty bottle takes the rain And heal, heal, heal, heal
And take my past And take my sense Like an empty sail takes the wind And heal, heal, heal, heal
Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 28 December 2019
We continue with our enumeration of the best gifts of Christmas which is above all the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. And because of his coming as human like us, we have come to share in his dignity and glory, thus, making us also the best gifts to share and receive every Christmas!
We await Christmas every year because we await Jesus Christ, the most beloved person of all we can know and have as friend.
We wait only for persons, not things.
Waiting is beautiful because we never wait alone. There is always another person waiting with us, waiting for us. And when we finally come and meet with the other person also awaiting us, then we become present, a gift for one another.
In our presence with each other comes the wonderful gift of intimacy.
“God became a human being so that in one person you could both have something to see and something to believe.”
St. Augustine, Sermon 126, 5
Christmas is a story about persons called by God to bring us his Son Jesus Christ. It is a living story that continues to our own time. Here are some of the best gifts of Christmas coming from the gift of our personhood.
The gift of family. Christmas happens in a family of husband and wife and children. Very much like Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. Remove one and the Nativity scene becomes incomplete. Let us be thankful for our family, let us pray for the unity of our family. When Jesus was lost at the age of 12, Joseph and Mary decided to return to Jerusalem – symbolizing God – and eventually found him there in the temple. Let us always turn to God, ask for his guidance and protection of every family, for the healing of our family, for the mending of our broken relationships. Let us pray for all broken families whose members from the husband and wife to their children are all aching deep inside for the pains of separation.
The gift of women and of motherhood. When God created man, he found “it is not good for man to be alone” that is why he created the woman as man’s “suitable partner” (Gen.2:18). What a beautiful term for woman, part-ner, a part of man who is never complete by himself alone. How sad that until now, it is right inside the home where every woman first experience physical, verbal and emotional pains. Women are the best signs of fidelity and faith: Elizabeth called Mary “blessed” because she believed the words spoken to her by the angel from God will be fulfilled. Let us pray for the women in our lives especially own own mother and sisters, lola and aunties, cousins and nieces. Remember, the way we relate with women reflect to a great extent the way we relate with God. Love and bless the women!
The gift of men and fatherhood. When Jesus taught us how to pray, he taught us that God is like a “Father” whom we shall call “Our Father”. There is a crisis in fatherhood and manhood these days because many men have forgotten to be truly man enough like God our Father: a giver of life and protector of life as well. Most of all, when children lose this gift of life, it is the father who restores the life lost like the merciful father of the prodigal son in Luke’s gospel chapter 15.
This Christmas break, spend time with your family, hug your mommy and your daddy tightly and feel their presence again.
Thank your family, your mom and dad.
Pray for your departed loved ones, visit the cemetery and say a prayer for them, talk to them. Most of all, listen to them and feel them again.
Romans 15:14-21 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Luke 16:1-8
Before everything else, O loving Father as we praise and thank you for this new day, we fervently pray for our brothers and sisters severely affected by the rains and floods up north in Cagayan as well as those displaced by the effects of earthquakes last two weeks in Mindanao.
Take care of them and make us more sensitive to their plights that we may be moved to do something concrete for them.
Like St. Paul, fill us with the same Holy Spirit, with zeal and enthusiasm to always do your work, Lord.
But I have written to you rather boldly in some respects to remind you, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in performing the priestly service of the Gospel of God, so that the offering up of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
Fridays for everyone is the end of school and/or work, a time to celebrate and have fun; the most welcome break of the week. But with you, Lord, you never stop working for us, with us, and in us.
Like St. Paul, fill us with yourself, O God which is the literal meaning of “enthusiasm” from the two Greek words, “en theos”, “be filled with God”.
Like St. Paul, may we never stop proclaiming you and your salvation joyfully even among those who have known you, Lord.
In this world of so much competition and rat race with no clear winners at all, make us realize like the shrewd steward in today’s gospel that being wise is giving more importance to people and persons and relationships than money and wealth. Amen.