Faith is relationship with God

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Memorial of Sts. Marcellinus and Peter, Martyrs, 02 June 2023
Sirach 44:1.9-13   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Mark 11:11-26
Photo by author, January 2023.
Praise and glory to you,
God our loving Father,
for this first Friday of June;
your words are very interesting
with Ben Sirach calling us to
recall and remember the faithful
men and women who have lived'
and gone ahead of us while Mark
combined two stories in our
gospel scene today.

Now I will praise those godly men, our ancestors, each in his own time. But of others there is no memory, for when they ceased, they ceased. And they are as though they had not lived, they and their children after them. Yet these also were godly men whose virtues have not been forgotten.

Sirach 44:1, 9-10
So true indeed are his words
until now!  There are many great
people we remember their names
for their great faith and but there 
are still far more than them whom we
know remain unnamed having served
God so well among his people;
may we try to remember today 
our simple folks whose faith
have inspired us to be more
faithful and charitable like
On the other hand, 
Mark combines two stories
in the life of our Lord Jesus 
to instill in us the importance 
of faith not just as a belief
nor a system of theology
we must learn but a relationship
we must keep with God through
our brothers and sisters.
Forgive us, Jesus,
for those times our faith
bore no fruit and withered 
so dried like the fruitless fig tree;
forgive us, Jesus,
when we make religion
an economic enterprise 
like what happened to the
temple of Jerusalem during
your time; cleanse us of our 
selfish motives that faith
has become more of a means
for social mobility than for
spiritual growth through
meaningful relationships
with God and with others.
Grant us, Jesus,
the courage and fidelity
of Sts. Marcellinus and Peter
to be firm in our faith in you.

Becoming like Christ, our eternal high priest

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday after Pentecost, 
Feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, 
the Eternal High Priest, 01 June 2023
Genesis 22:9-18   ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[><   Matthew 26:36-42
Photo by Mr. Mon Macatangga, 12 May 2023.
God our loving Father,
thank you for allowing us
to reach the first half of the year
and what a tremendous blessing
on this first day of June we are
also celebrating the Feast of 
your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
the Eternal High Priest.
In Jesus Christ
you have given us
the perfect mediator
to you, our Father
and to one another
as brothers and sisters.
In Baptism,
you have made us share
in your priesthood, Lord Jesus;
you have weakened the
COVID virus and how sad
that now we are free to 
travel, many of us have refused
to come back to Sunday
Eucharist when we exercise
Christ's priestly ministry.

May our lives be a life of
worship to you, O God,
like Abraham, trustingly 
obeying you even in 
giving up those most 
precious to us.

Again then Lord’s messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said: “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you acted as you did in not withholding from me your beloved son, I will bless you abundantly…

Genesis 22:15-17
Also on this Feast of Jesus Christ
our Eternal High Priest,
we pray most fervently for our
priests that each of them may be
a man of the Word,
a man of prayer
 in intimate
relationship with you, dear Jesus
so that they may give us only you, Jesus,
always you, Jesus.

We pray for priests
most especially bishops too
who have no more time to pray
to be one with you, Jesus,
as they spend more time with
people, sad to say, with the rich
and powerful forgetting your little ones
like the poor and the sick;
transform our priests and bishops,
Jesus, to be more like you
in thinking,
in speaking,
in doing,
in living, 
and in loving.

Our God of surprises

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, 31 May 2023
Romans 12:9-16   ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*>   Luke 1:39-56
Photo by author, sunrise at Anvaya Cove, Morong, Bataan, 19 May 2023.
Glory and praise to you,
God our loving Father 
who had come and comes
daily in Christ Jesus our Lord!
Just like in this Feast of the 
Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
you always surprise us dear God
like Elizabeth.
Every visitation is always
surprising, especially when 
you are the one coming,
O God.

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”

Luke 1:41-43
Like Elizabeth,
we are so surprised
with your visitation in
Christ Jesus because
if ever there is anyone
who should be making 
the visit, it should be us -
or Elizabeth who should 
have visited Mary who was
pregnant with Jesus Christ.
What a beautiful anticipation
it was of Christ's mission through
his self-emptying or kenosis
when he said "The Son of Man
has come to serve and not to be
served" (see Mt.20:28, Mk. 10:45).
Keep us home,
keep us grounded in you,
Lord, like Elizabeth,
always ready to be
surprised with your visit,
to welcome your coming
in the Holy Spirit to shake us 
and examine our many beliefs,
traditions and conventions
that have prevented us from 
making Jesus more present among us
especially the poor and marginalized;
keep us home,
keep us rooted in you
like Elizabeth, Lord,
ready to be radical,
to go back to our roots
and rootedness so that only
what is most essential we must
keep - the person of
Jesus Christ himself
because many times,
we do not recognize your coming,
your visits as we are busy
"visiting" worldly concerns
than being focused in you
our Lord.
Come, Lord Jesus,
visit us like when you
visited Elizabeth and 
John through Mary your
Mother so we may imitate
her in bringing you to the
hungry and poor so that 
we may learn to practice
St. Paul's admonition,
"Let love be sincere:
hate what is evil, hold on
to what is good; love one
another with mutual affection;
anticipate one another in
showing honor" (Rom. 12:9-10).
Surprise us, Lord!

Why give?

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the Eighth Week of Ordinary Time, Year I, 30 May 2023
Sirach 35:1-12   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   Mark 10:28-31
Photo by Mr. John Ryan Jacob, December 2022, Paco, Obando, Bulacan.
Why give at all, Lord?

Today you answer this 
"frequently asked question" 
of so many people especially
Christians:  why should I give?

Appear not before the Lord empty-handed, for all that you offer is in fulfillment of the precepts. The just one’s offering enriches the altar and rises as a sweet odor before the Most High. The just one’s sacrifice is most pleasing nor will it ever be forgotten.

Sirach 35:4-6
There are so many reasons
why we should give but in the
wise words by Ben Sirach today,
one clear reason why we should
give is because everything is yours,
O God; we own nothing at all!

Whatever we have is yours
and the more we give,
the more we share,
the more you bless us!
Teach us, O God,
not to be selfish,
to be open,
to be generous
for we are mere channels
of your blessings and 
grace; forgive us, Jesus,
when we are like the rich man
who asked you about gaining
eternal life but unwilling to give
up his possession to share with others
or like Simon Peter counting 
whatever we have given
and shared, most especially 
what we have given up for you
as if everything we have is 
totally ours, that we owe no one
except ourselves in having them
without realizing we are your mere
stewards of whatever we have;
so often, we fail to realize 
the simple truth 
that when everyone
gives, everyone receives.
That is why we must give.

Facing God again

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church, 29 May 2023
Genesis 3:9-15, 20   ><)))*> + ><)))*> + ><)))*>   John 2:1-11
God our loving Father,
as we resume the Ordinary Time
this Monday, grant us the grace
your Son Jesus Christ had given
his Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary,
to "face" you again,
to be sincere and true before your
holiness and perfection,
power and might.
How sad that despite
the graces of his Cross
and Resurrection, we remain
too far from you, O God, because
we are still ashamed like Adam and Eve
to "face" you as we constantly turn away from
you in sins.
Remind us how on that
first miracle of Jesus at the
wedding in Cana when Mary
interceded for the newly-wed couple
that they have ran out of wine,
our worthless selves marred with
sins and imperfections like water
have been transformed into beloved
children of the Father,
so beautiful,
so lovely,
so noble 
like an excellent wine.

The “finger of God”

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Seventh Week of Easter, Memorial of St. Philip Neri, Priest, 26 May 2023
Acts 25:13-21   ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*> + ><}}}}*>   John 21:15-19
Photo by author, sunrise at Anvaya Cove, Morong, Bataan, 19 May 2023.
On this final week of the
Easter Season while praying
the Scriptures, I am reminded
O Lord Jesus by your expression
"the finger of God" in Luke 11:20
when people were doubting your
healing powers.
Very clear in the lives of St. Paul 
in the first reading, then in your 
commissioning of St. Peter in the 
Gospel as well as the wondrous works
by St. Philip Neri in Rome during his
time were clear manifestations of the 
finger of God working.
In the life of St. Paul, there was
the finger of God working at his trial
that brought him to Rome to testify
for you; the same thing is true with
St. Peter who denied you thrice and yet,
it was the finger of God that brought 
him back to you and to his fellow disciples;
in the life of St. Philip Neri, it was also
the finger of God that worked wonders
that he was able to gather followers
to continue his works of bringing
people closer to God through the
Eucharist and prayers.
As the Easter Season comes
to a close this Pentecost Sunday,
help us dear Jesus to recollect 
and reflect our lives to see God's
finger in our life stories too;
open our eyes and our hearts
to find God's finger pulling things
together to make our lives a great
coherence so many times with
amusing and funny incidents,
comedies that make not only our lips
but also our hearts to smile
and experience deep joy
in you.

Our unique giftedness

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Seventh Week of Easter, 25 May 2023
Acts 22:30, 23:6-11   ><))))*> + <*((((><   John 17:20-26
Photo by author, Anvaya Cove, 27 February 2023.
How wonderful and
so touching, Lord Jesus,
for you to call us 
a gift from the Father.

“Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world.”

John 17:24
Help me keep, dear Jesus,
that being of a gift to you
from the Father by being
a witness of your glory
which is standing by your
side at the Cross like St. Paul
whom you have called "to bear
witness to you in Jerusalem and
in Rome" (Acts 23:11).
May we always remember
this truth, our being a gift to
you dear Jesus, so that in moments
we feel so overburdened,
when we are losing hope,
when we feel like giving up,
we may forge on 
and persevere
in bearing witness 
to your Cross of suffering
so that eventually be one
in your glorious Resurrection.

Blessing our goodbyes

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday in the Seventh Week of Easter, 24 May 2023
Acts 20:28-38   ><]]]'> + ><]]]'> + ><]]]'>   John 17:11-19
Photo by author, sunset at Tagaytay Vista Hotel, 07 February 2023.
Lord Jesus Christ,
help us to pray and say
our goodbyes
just like you
and St. Paul 
in today's readings.
How lovely to keep in mind
that the word "goodbye"
is from "God-be-with-you"!
Leaving and separation,
whether temporary or permanent
like death is the most painful part
of living and loving;
like you on that last supper
and St. Paul as he departed from Ephesus,
may we also pray for our loved ones
to be left behind; let us be realistic too
in our goodbyes so that they we leave
behind are not just warned of the
coming dangers but most of all,
be equipped in you.

“I know that after my departure savage wolves will come among you, and they will not spare the flock. And from your own group, men will come forward perverting the truth to draw the disciples away after them.”

Acts of the Apostles 20:29-30
Whenever we leave home,
whenever we leave a gathering,
may we leave the people with the
beautiful experience of your loving 
presence in our giving than receiving,
 in standing by your truth, rejecting 
 lies and dishonesty,
in relying more on you than in ourselves.
When we leave,
may they remember you more
than us.

Choosing what is difficult

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the Seventh Week of Easter, 23 May 2023
Acts 20:17-27   ><))))*> + ><))))*> + ><))))*>   John 17:1-11
Photo by author, Anvaya Cove, Morong, Bataan, 19 May 2023.
Lord Jesus Christ,
give me the courage and
strength to choose what is
most difficult
in order for me to follow you
more closely.
It is in choosing 
the most difficult
that we are able to
follow and do your
most holy will, Lord;
it is in the most difficult,
in the most painful,
and in the most trying
when we become truly selfless,
being able to give ourselves to you, 
through others
like your great apostle
St. Paul.

“But now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem. What will happen to me there I do not know, except that in one city after another the Holy Spirit has been warning me that imprisonment and hardships await me. Yet I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the Gospel of God’s grace.”

Acts of the Apostles 20:22-24
How ironic, dear Jesus
that in this age when
the instant and easy ways
are glorified and desired much
especially when they bring
fame and wealth,
the more our lives
have become empty
of meaning and 
lacking directions.
Keep me close to you,
Jesus, especially
to your Cross
for it is through
your suffering and
death we also enter
eternal life in you.

Conquering the world

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday after the Ascension, Memorial of St. Rita of Cascia, Religious, 22 May 2023
Acts 19:1-8   ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'>   John 16:29-33
Photo by Mr. Mon Macatangga, 12 May 2023.
Thank you dear Jesus
for conquering the world for us
(John 16:33) in your Passion,
Death and Resurrection;
Your gift of the Holy Spirit
affirms each day in us your
conquest of the world.

Forgive us, dear Lord,
when so many times we refuse
to let your Holy Spirit
operate and work in us;
so many times we take your
 Holy Spirit for granted 
that we are easily
attracted and swayed by others
to leave our Catholic faith
when we see "the light" in other
Christian sects and other 
modern beliefs.
Remind us, O Jesus,
that to live in the Holy Spirit 
and conquer the world is to nurture
its dwelling in us in prayers and the
sacraments, particularly the Holy Eucharist
which animates and empowers us to come
in close contact with other faithful to form
your Body, your community of disciples;
Help us, O Christ,
to renew our commitment in Baptism
to proclaim your good news of salvation
in the context of a community of disciples
united and led by the Holy Spirit.
Like St. Rita de Cascia
whose memorial we celebrate today,
give us the courage to
affirm your victory in the world
by being more firm in our stance
for what is right and good,
fair and just and true
in the spirit of a community
and oneness.