Living, loving amid contradictions

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Sunday IV-C in Ordinary Time, 30 January 2022
Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19 ><}}}}*> 1 Corinthians 13:4-13 ><}}}}*> Luke 4:21-30
Photo by Dr. Mai B. Dela Peña, Santorini, Greece, 2017.

Life and love are full of contradictions that make both so wonderful, so appealing, and so engaging. The more contradictions we encounter in life and love, the more we become better persons, more like Jesus Christ who is himself “the sign of contradiction”.

We are still inside the synagogue at Nazareth where Jesus had come one sabbath, proclaiming – and claiming himself as the fulfillment of that part from the Book of Isaiah he had read. And here we find him already a sign of contradiction at the inauguration of his ministry!

People were amazed with him at the beginning but, soon enough, their true colors appeared: first, they doubted him for being the “son of Joseph”; then, they became hostile to him after hearing him say how God sent Elijah and Elisha to help pagans after being rejected too by their ancestors.

He said to them, “Surely you will quote me this proverb, ‘Physician, cure yourself,’ and say, ‘Do here in your native place the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.'” And he said, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. Indeed, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land. It was none to these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” When the people in the synagogue heard this, they were filled with fury. They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away.

Luke 4:23-30
Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, a Black Winged Stilt (Himantropus himantopus), Quezon Province, 27 January 2022.

Making a choice, taking a stand with Jesus

It is true that there are always two or even many sides to a story; that is why, it is imperative that we make a choice for what is true which we must accept and believe and hold on. That was the challenge posed by Jesus Christ to the people at the synagogue and to us today: which part of the scriptures do we fulfill today, his coming or his rejection?

While the gospel is good news, it is not always comfortable because it dares us to be like Jesus Christ, freely living in love and in truth. His gospel challenges us always to change our ways and be witnesses of his justice and mercy.

Last Sunday, we are told that every time we listen and take to heart the words of God found in the scriptures, Jesus becomes present among us, “fulfilled in our hearing”; today, we are challenged to affirm and live the word of God daily in words and in deeds.

And that is where the ironies, the contradictions begin when we make a stand for Jesus and his gospel: his words and teachings are all about love and mercy, kindness and care for one another but, the more we preach and practice them, the more life becomes difficult for us. The more we love, the more we are hurt.

Photo by author, 2019.

Like Jesus, every time we come out in the open to make a stand on what is true and just, good and proper, there will always be rejections. When we speak the truth, there will always be some or many who would be hurt and disturbed from the illusions (even delusions) they have been holding on.

It is the most unkindest cut of all, so to speak: the ones who reject us, the ones who feel “hurt” with our stance are the ones closest to us, the ones we are serving, the ones whose lives we are trying to uplift by liberating them from darkness and ignorance, sins and evil.

We have a Filipino saying that goes, “mahirap gisingin ang nagtutulug-tulugan” (it is difficult to wake up one pretending to be asleep).

That was the problem with the people of Nazareth at that time and even with some of us today: we can be easily astonished with one’s proclamations and words but it can happen that such rave can also mean doubts and skepticism. Some people are not really surprised and even if they ask for more proofs and arguments, no amount of explanations can ever enlighten them because they trust more in themselves and in their illusions of having the truth. They have already made up their minds and would keep on holding on their beliefs.

Worst of all, any appealing discourse is rendered useless and immaterial when people take on the person proclaiming or speaking like Jesus Christ: “Is this not Joseph’s son?”

Now we see the contradictions becoming more pronounced than ever when it involves the person. It always happens everywhere wherein it is the messenger, not the message, who becomes the focus and issue at hand. And here we have the perfect communicator of all, Jesus Christ who is both the medium and the message rejected by his own folks and by us today when we insist on the truths we believe in!

It has always been like that since the beginning of the Church until our present day when those who should have been the first to accept the good news and its preachers have reacted exactly like the folks of Jesus at Nazareth! More than 50 years after Vatican II, until now there are still those who continue to reject the reforms and changes we have in the Church, insisting on maintaining the past that was also borne out of developments in the course of history.

Sometimes I find it amusing whenever we put distinctions between “practicing” and “non-practicing” Catholics. Why be called a Catholic or a Christian at all if you do not practice or believe the teachings of our faith and of the Church?

Photo by author, April 2020.

The power of love that surpasses all others

Luke noted at the end of our story today how Jesus “passed through the people and went away” when they tried to hurl him down headlong at the brow of the hill on which their town was built. See their murderous intents against Jesus, their kin?!

But Jesus simply walked away from them, unharmed.

Like the prophet Jeremiah in the first reading, God assures his prophets and each one of us today how he would protect us every time we make a stand for the Gospel, when we live by the values of the Gospel.

We may not concretely experience God’s protection and deliverance in the given moment but we know from the life of Jesus that God is always present with us, especially at the nick of time, leading us to life eternal.

But, there is still something more to that image of Jesus “passing through” the people; it is very evocative of his own passover that would happen on Good Friday at the cross. For now, there would be so many oppositions and contradictions to him but nothing and no one can deter him from proclaiming his good news of salvation to all.

Like Jesus in this scene, we are invited to follow him in his path, to continue listening and internalizing his words, put it into practice in our daily lives which is a daily passing over, of passing through many contradictions and doubts sometimes from people supposed to love and understand us, accept us.

And that is why Paul encourages us in the second reading to choose a “more excellent way” that surpasses all other gifts, the way of love.

As I have told you earlier, life becomes more appealing and wonderful, so enriching when there are many contradictions coming our way because that is when we truly experience the power and meaning of love in Jesus Christ.

Brothers and sisters: “Love is patient, love is kind… It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”

1 Corinthians 12: 4, 7, 8

When doubts are cast upon us by others, especially those closest to us whenever we persevere in proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ in words and in deeds, that is also when our love for him and for others is purified and made perfect.

It is very difficult and would always be painful but it is during these contradictions when our lives become more meaningful because of the love that we have and share. Remember the beautiful reminder about loving from St. John of the Cross, “The soul that walks in love never gets tired nor tires others.” Just love, love, love.

Jesus gives us the grace today of meaningful life lived in love if we listen and internalize his words, choosing to make a stand for him by fulfilling his words in deeds despite the many doubts and contradictions around us, especially from people we love and trust.

Have a blessed week ahead!

Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, a Black Winged Stilt (Himantropus himantopus), Quezon Province, 27 January 2022.

Listening leads to presence

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Sunday III-C in Ordinary Time, 23 January 2022
Nehemiah 8:2-4, 5-6, 8-10 ><}}}*> 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 27 ><}}}*> Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21
Photo by author, Baguio Cathedral, January 2019.

I am still in quarantine after testing positive for COVID last Monday. One good thing I have realized these past days is how precious every moment of life as I counted each day, checking on my vital signs three times daily until I will have completed soon the required seven days.

Sometimes, we only realize the existential meaning and gravity of every “today” when we go through a difficult phase in life like getting COVID or like the Israelites finally getting home from exile, suddenly hearing the word of God proclaimed after many years of silence:

Then Ezra the priest-scribe said to all the people “Today is holy to the Lord your God. Do not be sad, and do not weep,” for all the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law. He said further, “Go, eat rich foods and drink sweet drinks, and allot portions to those who had nothing prepared; for today is holy to our Lord. Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength!”

Nehemiah 8:9-10

There are also times in our lives when suddenly we become so open to God’s words, so focused on Jesus to experience his presence like that sabbath day in a synagogue in Nazareth:

Photo by author, January 2019.

Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the yes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Luke 4:20-21

Thanks to COVID that now I have felt how difficult it is to be separated from everyone, considering the mild symptoms I had as a fully vaxxed with booster too. It must have been so traumatizing for those who caught the virus during the early surges of 2020 and 2021 without the benefits of the vaccines and other modern medicines. Many of them who survived COVID or have lost loved ones until now feel the pains and hurts of those experiences. Indeed, it is after a difficult situation when we truly realize the value of every present moment we have with our loved ones, when everyone becomes so real and precious, when every present is truly a gift.

Today our readings invite us to slow down, to saunter – so to speak – as we journey in Jesus with Luke as our guide who at his prologue to his gospel tells us how he had “investigated everything accurately anew” regarding the “certainty of teachings of Jesus handed down” to us since the beginning (cf. Lk.1:3-4). Like with our loved ones we miss so much these days of quarantine and surge, Jesus reminds us to always listen to make everyone and him present in us.

Our conscious coming into the Father’s house

Last Sunday at the Feast of the Sto. Niño we reflected how we exercise our child-like traits before God whenever we go into “the Father’s house” like the 12-year old Jesus who was found at the Temple. Our going into the Father’s house to pray and receive the Sacraments expresses our rootedness and oneness with God through Jesus Christ.

This Sunday in our gospel, we find Jesus going again into his Father’s house to “proclaim and claim” the word of God as his very presence among us.

Imagine his movements in “slo-mo” when “He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…” (Lk.4:16-18).

It must have been a moving moment for everyone. So mesmerizing for here was a man so present, so strongly felt with something in him freely walking up to proclaim the word of God. And what an experience for everyone that after “Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk.4:21).

That “today” would be repeated by Jesus with the same intensity on Good Friday shortly before he died when he promised to Dimas “today you will be with me in Paradise” (Lk.23:43).

But, do we make that conscious approach in coming into the Father’s house to celebrate the Sacraments particularly the Sunday Eucharist where the first part itself is devoted to the liturgy of the Word?

Photo by author, April 2020.

In non-verbal communications, we have that communication of spaces called “proxemics”, of how places are designed and positioned to convey something special and profound. Houses of worship of every faith are built on this important aspect of proxemics as every space conveys something about God and his people.

One example of proxemics is the patio of the church with its tall cross at the middle to remind the faithful they are about to enter the Father’s house, of their need to dispose themselves both inside and outside by being silent and being dressed properly.

Sadly, many churches in the country has no patio at all or its patio had become a parking area and worst, a basketball court. What is most tragic is how all these dispositions of coming into the Sunday Mass are disregarded by many people, led by church volunteers who talk endlessly with one another while some priests dress and look sloppily. This is one of the positive aspects of the Tridentine or Latin Mass where the atmosphere of solemnity fills the church and the people as well – and that is why many of the faithful are asking for it! A good example of what St. Paul tells us about the unity in diversity within the Church in the Holy Spirit.

How can we experience the “today” of Jesus being present in us and among us when we do not have such kind of attitude and disposition to listen to him which begins outside the church? If we cannot do it in the proxemics or spatial level, how can we even do it right inside our hearts, whether we are laypeople or the clergy?

Listening to Christ today

One of my favorite writings by the great St. John Paul II is Ecclesia de Eucharistia published in 2003. He tells us something so beautiful about the “universal and cosmic character” of the Eucharist which for me captures the essence of the “today” mentioned by Jesus in the gospel:

Yes, cosmic! Because even when it is celebrated on the humble altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always in some way celebrated on the altar of the world. It unites heaven and earth. It embraces and permeates all creation” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #8).

Ecclesia de Eucharistia, #8

This is very true but we rarely experience it happening because we have refused to immerse ourselves in the very words of God. So few among our people read and pray the scriptures while many of us priests rarely speak the Lord’s words as we prefer to tell what we have seen or heard in media or from some famous theologians or thinkers.

Whatever our vocation and place in the Church and the assembly, each of us must immerse one’s self in the word of God first because it is his very presence too. In the story of creation, we learned how everything came into being simply with the words spoken by God.

Photo by author, ruins of the synagogue at Capernaum in Galilee frequented by Jesus, May 2017.

This Sunday we have heard how Jesus “read” on a sabbath at a synagogue in Nazareth, of how in his proclamation of that part of the Book of Isaiah the very words were fulfilled in their hearing.

It happens daily in the celebration of the Mass everywhere in the world whenever we – lay and clergy alike – imitate Jesus, asking us first of all to come with strong desire to be one with the Father, whether in his house of worship or in our room when we pray the scriptures.

Let us enter God with Jesus and in Jesus in the Sacred Books to find him there so we can listen to him how and what he reads, not what we want to hear and say.

We can only touch the hearts of the people and make them hear God speaking again in his words offered us daily in the Mass if we first learn and listen to what Jesus reads and tells us. It is only then when we hear the Word who became flesh that we are able to respond, “Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.” Amen.

Have a blessed week ahead.

Trusting God

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Memorial of St. Jerome, Priest/Doctor of the Church, 30 September 2020
Job 9:1-12, 14-16  >><)))*>  +  >><)))*>  +  >><)))*>   Luke 9:57-62
Photo by author, city of Jerusalem from Dominus Flevit Chapel, May 2017.

God our Father, sometimes I feel our situation today is very much like during the time of Job when sickness and destruction are all around us with the threats of death no longer lurking out in the dark but most present and getting nearer to us even at daylight.

And that is why lately, I have felt very much like Job too that I want to engage you in a conversation to ask you why all these things happening to me and those special to me. I am so afraid, God, of getting sick that I chill inside when I hear those dear to me going through surgery, chemotherapy, and dialysis.

I feel like asking you why these things going on, why them getting sick instead of just praying for them but, every time these things cross my mind, I just feel like Job:

Job answered his friends and said: I know well that it is so; but how can a man be justified before God? He does great things past finding out, marvelous things beyond reckoning. Should he come near me, I see him not; should he pass by, I am not aware of him; should he seize me forcibly, who can say him nay? Who can say to him “What are you doing?” How much less shall I give him any answer, or choose out arguments against him! Even though I were right, I could not answer him, but should rather beg for what was due me. If I appealed to him and he answered my call, I could not believe that he would hearken to my words.

Job 9:1, 10-12, 14-16

I wonder, Lord, if my faith and trust in you have deepened during this pandemic or, have I just become passive with how things are going on, getting used to the new situations, blankly hoping things will soon get better.

Have I really learned to trust you more than ever, surrendering everything into your hands like Job as I have realized too your immeasurable greatness, your being God beyond my limited knowledge and understanding that you make me wonder and be awed with your transcendence?

Yes, Lord, deep inside me amid all these fears and questions is the conviction you can never be doubted, that all I need is to completely trust you and strive to be good. Thank you for that grace as I continue to pray for healing of those dearest to me.

Let me grow closer to you as your disciple, forgetting everything about myself, surrendering myself to you in complete trust unlike those called by Jesus to follow him in the gospel today filled with many alibis and excuses.

May I have the devotion and discipline of St. Jerome whose memorial we celebrate today in finding you, loving you, and following you in the Sacred Scriptures as well as in the people we serve.

Like St. Jerome, may I have the courage to contemplate like Job on things beyond this world and life like death and eternity without bargaining or haggling with you except to trust in you completely. Amen.

Photo by author, mosaic on the wall of the Chapel of St. Jerome in a cave underneath the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem where he had lived for 34 years until his death in 420 devoting himself in prayers and studies of the Sacred Scriptures while directing some women like “Paula” towards holiness (May 2017).

Every good seed is from God

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Wednesday, Week 3, Year 2, 29 January 2020

2 Samuel 7:4-17 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Mark 4:1-20

An oasis near the Dead Sea, Israel. Photo by author, May 2017.

God our Sower, every good seed is from you.

Thank you very much in giving us the best seed of all, your Son Jesus Christ, the “Word who became flesh”, himself the very fruit of the “seed” you promised to King David long, long ago.

That night the Lord spoke to Nathan and said: “Go, tell my servant David, ‘The Lord also reveals to you that he will establish a house for you. And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins, and I will make his Kingdom firm. It is he who shall build a house for my name. Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever.'”

2 Samuel 7: 11-13, 16

Cultivate us, O Lord, to become good soil who will be open to receive your seed to make it sprout and grow and bear fruits.

So many times in our lives, we choose to be like the “path” where seeds fall and we do not mind at all. Likewise, we sometimes choose to be like the rocky ground who joyfully received Jesus for a while but when trials come, we give up on him because we have not taken him into our hearts to take root in us.

There are those among us, O Lord, who choose to be among the thorns, who choose to believe in science and technology, in materialism that choke the word in us until it dies out and bear no fruit.

In all instances, the problem is with the soil, never with the seed that is so good if given a chance to grow on rich soil would surely be fruitful.

Teach us to be a rich soil, one who is patient and still, willing to wait for your coming each day sowing us the good seed who value silence, and most of all, who uphold the sanctity of life itself so that YOU, O Lord will grow in us, be nurtured by us, be loved and embraced by us.

Show us anew the beauty of your words, O Lord, so we may immerse ourselves in you, be still in your presence to receive and digest your words as food that delights us and strengthens us. Amen.

Darkness in every beginning

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul, Week IV-A, 26 January 2020

Isaiah 8:23-9:3 ><)))*> 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17 ><)))*> Matthew 4:12-23

Photo by author, July 2019, Tagaytay City.

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

The Bible clearly tells us everything in the beginning was dark. And since then, almost everything has always begun in darkness, like human life itself, or every new day, even new year!

Some relatives and friends have been complaining to me how 2020 started off with a lot of darkness.

And I totally agree with them!

Since the Christmas Season until last Friday, I have been officiating funeral Masses for parishioners and friends as well as praying for some relatives and friends who have passed away this January abroad. Also included in this vast swathe of darkness are some relatives and friends diagnosed with serious illnesses like Alzheimer’s and cancer.

In the news we find so many darkness at the start of 2020 like fears of World War III when an Iranian military officer was killed in an American drone attack in Baghdad on January 03; the January 12 phreatic eruption of Taal Volcano now threatening a catastrophic eruption anytime; and, this fast-spreading new corona virus from China that is reportedly so deadly.

Everything is so dark at the start of 2020 and January is not even over yet!

Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima, GMA-7 News, 15 January 2020.

Darkness leads us into light

Even our readings today speak about darkness, especially the beginning of the public ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ after John the Baptizer was arrested.

When Jesus heard John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Napthali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled.

Matthew 4:12-14

However, these same readings assure us that not all darkness are gloomy after all. In fact, it is in darkness where we see the light of the gospel shining brightly.

Sunrise at Lake Tiberias (aka, Galilee), May 2017. Photo by author.

Despite that dark note on the arrest of John the Baptizer, we actually have here the beginning of the good news of salvation with the start of the preaching and public ministry of Jesus Christ.

Darkness is always a prelude to light, like chaos is to order.

Sometimes, we need to experience some darkness for us to realize the need to be enlightened, to see more the beauty of light, to seek light – most especially of the love and mercy of God in Jesus Christ who had come to us on the darkest day of the year, December 25.

See how in our lives when bad things have to happen first before we can learn our lessons so well or find particular values we now treasure in life.

Sometimes, God allows us to be plunged into darkness to find him, to see him, to desire him and eventually have him.

First the Lord degraded the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali; but in the end he has glorified the seaward road, the land west of the Jordan, the District of the Gentiles. Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness: for there is no gloom where but now there was distress. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.

Isaiah 8:23-9:1

Jesus comes to us in darkness

Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, Bohol Island, 2019.

Darkness in the bible signifies sin and evil, failures and disappointments, struggles and sufferings, and finally, sickness and death. No one is immuned from darkness.

But with the coming of Jesus Christ who conquered evil and sin, darkness has become a blessing, an invitation for us to find him, to listen to him, and to follow him.

Fram that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make yo fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.

Matthew 4:17-22

Jesus opted to start his public ministry and preaching in the “darkest region” of Israel at that time, among the peoples living in darkness of sins and lack of meaning and directions in life. He comes to us most of the time during our moments of darkness to enlighten us and give us direction.

That makes every darkness a blessing in itself for that is when Jesus – the Gospel himself – shines brightly.

Lake Tiberias at the back of the ruins of the Capernaum synagogue where Jesus preached. Photo by author, May 2019.

Let everything begin in the words of Jesus

Right away at the start of his preaching and ministry, people began following to listen to Jesus in Galilee, particularly at Capernaum where he used to preach in their synagogue near the shores of the Lake of Galilee (a.ka., Tiberias).

Everything began with the words of Jesus Christ: the sick were healed, those possessed by evil spirits were cleansed, sinners were forgiven, and those troubled found comfort in him.

Most of all, people found meaning in life as experienced by the first four disciples of Jesus, Simon and his brother Andrew, and the sons of Zebedee, James and John.

They were all rich and money was not a problem because they owned fishing boats that was very expensive at that time. Simon Peter is believed to be a very successful fisherman with many hired workers while the brothers James and John were beginning to learn the trade from their rich dad.

All four grew up together, worked together, most of all shared the same darkness in life, searching for meaning and direction in life that they have finally found in Jesus Christ while listening to his preaching. And that is why they immediately left everything and everyone behind after being called by Christ!

Very surprising was the attitude of Zebedee also who did not even bother to call or drag his sons back to their boat to help him because he must have felt and seen the bright sparks within his sons who have finally found meaning and direction in life through the preaching of Jesus Christ – “the Word who became flesh” – according to John who later wrote the fourth gospel account.

The Gospel Book (Evangelare) enthroned at our altar for the Bible Sunday celebration, 26 Jan. 2020. Photo by Angelo Nicolas Carpio.

Such is the power of the word of God who cleanses us of our sins, empties us of our pride and foolish self to be filled with the wisdom and light of Jesus Christ.

In a decree issued last week, Pope Francis has declared every third Sunday of Ordinary Time as “Bible Sunday” to emphasize the importance of praying the Sacred Scriptures, listening to God himself present in his words found in the Bible.

Even today, everything begins with the words of Jesus Christ: that is why it is the very first part of the Mass, equally important with the Eucharist.

We can never experience Jesus Christ in his Body and Blood at the Holy Eucharist or even among our brothers and sisters gathered in the celebration of the Holy Mass unless we first meet and experience him in his words.

Most of all, we can never experience him in person without praying the Sacred Scriptures because according to St. Jerome, “Ignorance of the scriptures is ignorance of Jesus Christ.”

Is there ay darkness in your life these days?

Try dusting off that bible you have kept in a little corner of your shelf — read it, study it, and pray it.

Be surprised in its powers for,

“Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart”

Hebrews 4:12

A blessed Sunday to you!

Rejoicing in the Lord

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Saturday, Week XXVII, Year I, 12 October 2019

Joel 4:12-21 ><}}}*> ><}}}*> ><}}}*> Luke 11:27-28

Mosses have always amused me since childhood. This photo taken at the St. Paul Spirituality Center in Alfonso, Cavite last month during our annual clergy retreat.

Today I join the psalmist’s call to “Rejoice in the Lord, you just!” We have not yet won our battles, many of us are still struggling with illness and many other problems and issues in life while our nation is not getting any better with leaders so far from us who simply want to amuse us like clowns.

Still, we have to rejoice because you are with us, Lord.

Keep us steadfast in our struggles to follow your will, to be patient and persevering.

Enlighten our minds and our hearts with your Holy Spirit to always listen and obey your will revealed in the Sacred Scriptures.

Despite all the heat and mess we are into, life thrives under your loving shade that may sometimes be dark and damp. Just like the moss, take care of us and dwell in us, Lord, and let us live in you. Amen.

Prayer to understand God’s word

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Thursday, Week XXVI, Year I, 03 October 2019

Nehemiah 8:1-4, 5-6, 7-12 ><)))*> ><)))*> Luke 10:1-12

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Our loving Father, today I pray to you for more understanding of your words like the first reading.

Twice successively Nehemiah told us how

Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly which consisted of men, women, and those children old enough to understand.

Nehemiah 8:2, 3

Then, a few more verses, your prophet tells us

Ezra reads plainly from the book of the law of God, interpreting it so that all could understand what was read.

Nehemiah 8:8

Until, finally, Nehemiah concludes today’s reading with a solemn pronouncement:

Then all the people went to eat and drink, to distribute portions, and to celebrate with great joy, for they understood the words that had been expounded to them.

Nehemiah 8:12

Dearest God, I pray for all who read and pray our blog each day. I pray that they may understand your words.

Most especially, I pray for us priests and lay preachers to always read, study, and pray your words.

Let us be the first to understand your words by praying that you, being the “harvest-master”, to send more laborers for your harvest.

Most of all, to truly understand your words, O God, let us be emptied of ourselves so we may only be focused on Jesus Christ, the word who became flesh. He alone is the one we must preach and share in word and in deed. Amen.

Hope for our difficult personality

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Monday, Memorial of St. Jerome, 30 September 2019

Zechariah 8:1-8 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Luke 9:46-50

St. Jerome painting by El Greco portrayed as wearing the Cardinal’s robe to represent his highly esteemed works and contributions to the Church as one of the Four Western Fathers along with St. Augustine, St. Ambrose of Milan, and St. Gregory the Great. Photo from Google.

Praise and glory to you, God our loving Father! Thank you very much for giving us saints, men and women like us who were sinners with so many weaknesses but through your grace were able to lead holy lives.

Through your saints, you give us so much hope to be become better persons despite our many imperfections like our great Doctor of the Church, St. Jerome, the Father of Catholic biblical studies who immersed himself in the study and prayer of the Sacred Writings right in the Holy Land.

Considered as one of the great theologians of the Church, St. Jerome is said to be approachable but notorious for being a difficult person too due to his temper as well as sarcasm and being argumentative at times.

I confess, O God, that I am exactly the opposite of the kind of person Jesus Christ is telling us to be like – a child. Instead of being childlike, many times I have become childish, difficult to handle with my burst of temper and sometimes annoying sarcasm.

Like St. Jerome, fill me with your grace, with courage and willpower to conquer my irascibility and direct all my negative energies in pursuing you in prayers and good works.

Help me to follow St. Jerome in his call to “let us translate the words of the Scriptures into deeds.”

Fill me with your words, O Lord, cleanse me of my sins and iniquities so that your Holy Spirit may dwell in me, suffuse me with your holiness. Amen.

My favorite depiction of St. Jerome by Italian painter Antonello da Messina (c.1430-79), “St. Jerome in his Study.” Again, we see St. Jerome in red robe and hat like a Cardinal at his study desk with his faithful lion in the background which tradition says he had helped in the forest by removing a thorn in its paw. At the foreground are two birds: a peacock which is an ancient Christian symbol of eternal life that our saint meditated often (reason why he always has a skull in other paintings), and a partridge, a reference to St. Jerome’s notorious temper as the bird often represents jealous rage. Photo from Google.