The evil that is pretense

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Week XXXIII, Year I in Ordinary Time, 16 November 2021
2 Maccabees 6:18-31   ><)))*> + <*(((><   Luke 19:1-10
Photo by author, 2020.
Once again, O God our Father,
your words today are as timely as
the news headlines, perfect in 
reminding us to remain faithful
and true to you, most especially
to be men and women of integrity,
resisting all forms of pretense, of 
deceiving in purpose for whatever 
Teach us to be firm like your 
servant Eleazar who strongly turned
down offers to save his life by 
pretending to eat pork as ordered
by their pagan conquerors; 
he chose death than deceive 
and mislead the people,
specially the young ones.

He (Eleazar) told them to send him at once to the abode of the dead, explaining: “At our age it would be unbecoming to make such a pretense; many young people would think a ninety-year-old Eleazar had gone over to an alien religion. Should I thus pretend for the sake of a brief moment of life, they would be led astray by me, while I would bring shame and dishonor on my old age. Even if, for the time being, I avoid the punishment of men, I shall never, whether alive or dead, escape the hands of the Almighty. Therefore, by manfully giving up my life now, I will prove myslef worthy of my old age.”

2 Maccabees 6:23-27
Teach us also to be like
Zacchaeus, who despite his 
being a publican and a sinner,
made no pretense of being 
good or holy before Jesus
when he passed by the city
of Jericho; he did not pretend to
be tall or of any stature that he 
made the great effort to climb
a tree in order to see Jesus passing;
most of all, he shed all kinds of
pretense in himself when he vowed
to Jesus to repay people he had extorted
money from.
We pray, dear God, for our nation,
for our voters specially the young
people to closely examine the integrity
of every candidate running for office
so we may choose men and women
who are "models of courage" and 
"unforgettable examples of virtue"
(2 Maccabees 6:31).  Amen.

Praying not to be deceived

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, St. Andrew Dung-Lac, Priest, and Companions, Martyrs, 24 November 2020
Revelations 14:14-19     >><)))*>  +  <*(((><<     Luke 21:5-11
Photo by author, “wailing wall” of Jerusalem, May 2017.

Your words today, Lord Jesus, are disturbing because they are actually happening: “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name saying ‘I am he’ and ‘The time has come.’ Do not follow them!” (Lk.21:8).

In our age of instant communications when everything is reduced to bits and pieces of information to be consumed by everyone through various media platforms, we have become so gullible for whatever is fed to us. The more outlandish even unbelievable, the better! Worst, we never bother to check their veracity and even sanity that sometimes, we have become so foolish to accept everything we hear and see and read.

Heighten our sense of reason and most especially our faith in you.

Let us not be deceived in following your impostors as well as focusing more on the coming end that we forget to live in the present moment by making a stand for your gospel truths.

Like St. Andrew Dung-Lac and his companion martyrs in Vietnam, they chose to live in the present moment of giving witness to your gospel than arguing or debating if it were the moment of your final coming or not.

Let us not be deceived by focusing on the peripherals of our faith like rites and rituals empty of loving service for others.

May we stand firmly by your side, for what is true and just, so that when judgement day comes, we may remain faithful in you like grapes so ripened, ready for harvesting, and when pressed, produce good wine to uplift the spirits. Amen.

Value of hiddenness

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Week XVIII, Year II in Ordinary Time, 03 August 2020
Jeremiah 28:1-17 >>><)))*> >><)))*> ><)))*> Matthew 14:22-36
Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA-7 News before a storm in Batanes, 2018.

God our Father, we come to you again fervently asking for your guidance and protection as the threats of COVID-19 infections are getting closer to home. More and more are getting sick and we could feel them so strongly for they are no longer statistics we read and see in news but persons we know very well in our home and community.

Thank you very much that finally, our government leaders have listened to the calls of medical experts to go on at least two weeks of quarantine to reassess our response to the pandemic.

In this quarantine period, we pray that we learn to value again silence and hiddenness that we have taken for granted in our 24-hour world of media and noise.

So many times, we have taken for granted things that are not seen, that are invisible and hidden, that we ourselves also hide in evil and sin, convincing ourselves nobody would know or “see” it.

And so, we try deceiving others with our false claims of knowledge and competencies like Hananiah and other false prophets among us who give false hopes to people who are eventually misled from you and from one another.

To the prophet Hananiah the prophet Jeremiah said: Hear this, Hananiah! The Lord has not sent you, and you have raised false confidence in this people. For this, says the Lord, I will dispatch you from the face of the earth; this very year you shall die, because you have preached rebellion against the Lord.

Jeremiah 28:15-16

In this time of modified enhanced community quarantine again, teach us O Lord Jesus to deepen our faith in you so that we may remain focused on you alone in moments of storms when it is so difficult to recognize you, when it is easier to “see” and “believe” the powers of the unseen winds like Simon Peter in today’s gospel.

Let us befriend your holy silence and stillness again, sweet Jesus, because in you, the most significant are always the most hidden too. Amen.

Beneath the surface

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Saturday, Week IX, Year II of Ordinary Time, 06 June 2020
2 Timothy 4:1-8 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Mark 12:38-44
Photo by author, Sonnen Berg Mountain View, Davao City, 2018.

Imagining and praying this whole scene at the temple, Lord, is so chilling, demanding each of us to examine our being your disciple especially in this time of social media when every good deed being presented is no good at all.

There you are, Lord, warning us against doing every piety and religiosity for a show:

“Beware of the scribes , who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets. They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers.”

Mark 12:38-39

Forgive us, dear Jesus and have mercy for those moments we think more of getting famous, of getting known, of having more likes and more followers, when everything is done for the sake of setting a trend and becoming viral.

How sad that we miss the more important that is always beneath the surface, of what is in our hearts.

Photo by author, Church of St. Anne in Jerusalem, May 2017.

As I prayed on your next scene when you “sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury”, that’s when the veracity of our prayers and deeds are proven, when what is in our hearts are trul poured out.

If anything is done not coming from the heart, nothing can truly come out from the heart!

Grant us, Jesus, the same gift of selflessness of St. Paul that at the end of each day, we can sincerely pray to you,

“I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.”

2 Timothy 4:7

If possible, Lord, teach me today to be like that poor widow to draw from my inmost being what is most precious to give and offer you. Amen.

The problem with “pretending”

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Tuesday, Week XXXIII, Year I, 19 November 2019

2 Maccabees 6:18-31 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Luke 19:1-10

Sunrise at Camp John Hay, Baguio City, November 2018.

While praying over today’s first reading, Lord, I wondered what if you were just pretending to be good? What if everything going on in our lives is a big act of pretending so as not to destroy the flow of life or throw everything off balance?

No, it cannot be, dear loving Father!

We are so sure you are real! And this life, our very selves are real.

The problem is with us when we always pretend, when we are afraid to show what is true, what is real, what we believe and what we feel.

So often we pretend you are not real, that you do not exist even if we are convinced of your love and presence.

The problem with pretending is that it is not true, it is a lie.

The problem with pretending is we never realize our true value.

Unfortunately, we still keep on pretending that pretending can work, that pretending is good.

Let us stop pretending, Lord, because we can never escape you, the Ultimate Truth.

Eleazar said: “Should I thus pretend for the sake of a brief moment of life, they would be led astray by me, while I would bring shame and dishonor on my old age. Even if, for the time being, I avoid the punishment of men, I shall never, whether alive or dead, escape the hands of the Almighty.”

2 Maccabees 6:25-26

Give us the courage to be truthful like the 90 year-old Eleazar and chief tax collector Zacchaeus of Jericho who never pretended about who they really were, of the truth about you, O God, that eventually they experienced your saving power in Christ. Amen.