Prayer to deal with life’s many questions

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Feast of St. Philip and St. James the Less, Apostles, 03 May 2021
1 Corinthians 15:1-8   ><)))*> + <*(((><   John 14:6-14 
Photo by author, Pililla Wind Farm in Rizal, January 2021.

Lord Jesus Christ, you have taught me in my many experiences in life that a man is known by the questions he asks, not by the answers he gives. So often, the answers we have are always wrong or simply not true at all.

But, if we ask the right questions, even if there are no immediate answers or if we do not fully grasp and understand especially your answer, it is always more than enough than everything we need to know and realize in life.

So many times, we are afraid to ask you because we think more of our selves than of the truth that would set us free. Help us imitate your apostle St. Philip who dared to ask you again something you have been teaching them – and us! – yet have not fully understood yet. It is even doubtful if he really got what you meant when you answered him during the last supper which is exactly the same thing with us until now who forget and could not master the things you have been teaching us.

Philip said to Jesus, 
"Master, show us the Father, 
and that will be enough for us."
Jesus said to him,
"Have I been with you for so long a time 
and you still do not know me, Philip?
Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.
How can you say, 'show us the Father'?
Do you not believe that I am in the Father
and the Father is in me?
The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own.
The Father who dwells in me is doing his works."
(John 14:8-10) 

Give us, Lord, that same courage and humility of St. Philip to keep on asking things we cannot understand, things we cannot dismiss, things that keep on bugging us because that in itself is a grace from you so that we may know you more, so we can love you more, and most of all, follow you more closely.

If St. Philip had not asked you that question – even if you seem to have sighed in exasperation, did you, Lord? – even us until know would have not realized that you are indeed the em-bodi-ment and the in-carna-tion of the Father in human form.

On the other hand, there is another question that we most of the time avoid confronting: the need to address difficult situations in our lives that affect our interpersonal relationships and the way we live out your gospel, Lord Jesus Christ.

In writing to us a “pastoral letter”, St. James the Lesser tried answering the many questions about our practice of faith that boils down to the most essential which is to “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves” (James 1:22).

Likewise, it was St. James with St. Peter (Acts 12:17) who tried to face and resolve the questions about the difficult relations between the Christians of Jewish origin and those of pagan origin regarding the integration of Jewish practices and beliefs into Christianity during the Council of Jerusalem:

After they had fallen silent, 
James responded,
"It is my judgment, therefore,
that we ought to stop troubling the Gentiles
who turn to God, but tell them by letter
to avoid pollution from idols, unlawful marriage,
the meat of strangled animals, and blood.
For Moses, for generations now,
has had those who proclaim him in every town, 
as he has been read in the synagogues every sabbath."
(Acts 15:13, 19-21) 

As we celebrate their feasts today, we ask for their intercessions, Saints Philip and James the Lesser that like them, we may also dare to ask and address questions especially when they blur our relationships and proper understanding of you and the Father so that your light, dear Jesus, may shine more than ever in our lives. Amen.

Photo by author, ICMAS-Theologate Chapel, 2020.

Bakit nagkaganito buhay natin?

Lawiswis Ng Salita ni P. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Ika-21 ng Setyembre 2019

Larawan kuha ni G. Chester Ocampo sa Catanduanes, Abril 2019.



Isang gabi pagkaraang magdasal at magnilay
kinailangang pansinin at sagutin
isang nagtext sa akin:
kanyang tanong ay napakalalim
bumaon din sa aking loobin.
Aniya'y, "bakit nagkaganito ang buhay namin?"
isang tanong tumimo sa akin
marahil ilang ulit din sa inyo dumating
nakaka-praning, ang hirap sagutin
bagkus maraming katanungan pa rin.
Ang hirap naman kasi sa atin
kapag maganda buhay natin
dinaraanang landasin ayaw suriin
sa pag-aakalang kasiyahan magpapatuloy pa rin
hindi alintana lahat lilipas din.
Kapag ito ang naitatanong natin
mas malamang mga salarin
ng suliraning kinalalagyan natin
tiyak hanggang ngayon ay mga tulog at lasing pa rin
hindi kayang aminin ni tanggapin kanilang pagkukulang din.
Kaya kung ikaw ay nagtatanong
"bakit nagkanito buhay natin?"
tiyak ikaw ay gising at higit na mapalad pa rin
iyong maaapuhap balang araw dahilan
nitong hantungang hindi para sa atin.
Mga taong nagpapasakit sa atin
kadalasan maraming sugat at sakit na dalahin
sadyang kaawa-awa kung tutuusin
ni hindi nila batid bakit nagkanito buhay natin
sigaw ng kanilang loobin sila'y pansinin at saklolohan natin!
Larawan kuha ni G. Chester Ocampo sa Catanduanes, Abril 2019.

Disturb Me Within, Lord

RaffyBatanes12
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe-Prayer
Friday, 30 November 2018, Feast of St. Andrew the Apostle
Romans 10:9-18///Matthew 4:18-22

            Thank you very much Lord Jesus for the gift of your Apostle Andrew whose feast we celebrate today.  I have always loved his attitude of always being disturbed deep within his heart and bringing it out in the open with you.

           The moment he first saw you when John the Baptist proclaimed you as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,” Andrew was there, moved in his heart and asked you, “Rabbi, where are you staying?”  You asked him and his companion to “come and see,” and he believed you are the Messiah! (Jn.1:35-41)

            When you tested Philip in the wilderness and asked him where you could buy food to feed more than 5000 people, Andrew again felt his heart stirred within, presenting to you a boy with a boy with five loaves of bread and two pieces of fish.  But, Andrew could not also contain himself in knowing their situation then that he asked you, “what good are these for so many?”  And the great miracle happened when everyone was fed and satisfied with so many leftovers!  (Jn.6:1-15)

            “For one believes with the heart and so is justified, and one confesses with the mouth and so is saved.” (Rom. 10:10)

            Indeed, Lord Jesus Christ!  St. Andrew the Apostle always believed in his heart, always allowed his heart to be stirred with your words, with your presence, with your feelings.  And he dared to open his mouth, to express to you these stirrings in his heart, always asking you and voicing out his feelings and thoughts no matter how crazy or even stupid they may be.  But because of his inquiries that you were made known as the Christ!

            Give me that grace Lord Jesus, to always recognize the stirrings in my heart, no matter how crazy they may be and to always tell these to you.  Give me that same courage Lord to ask you, to express whatever disturbs me deep within so that like Andrew, you may reveal more of your ways, more of your heart, and more of your very Self to me and others.  AMEN. Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan 3022.

*Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA-7 News, Batanes before typhoon Ompong, 14 September 2018.  Used with permission.  Photo below from Google.  St. Andrew, like his brother St. Peter, felt unworthy of being crucified like Jesus Christ; he asked to be crucified on an X-shaped cross.

st.andrew

What’s on your mind, Who’s in your heart?

PhilipStPaulResize
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe, 25 November 2018
Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
Daniel 7:13-14///Revelation 1:5-8///John 18:33-37
 
            The trial of Jesus before Pontius Pilate occupies a very important role in the fourth gospel.  Unlike the other three evangelists, John mentioned only in passing that Jesus was brought to the high priest Caiaphas (Jn.18:24) after being examined by his father-in-law Annas while Simon Peter was outside denying the Lord thrice (Jn.18:12-23).  In narrating to us this trial of Jesus before Pilate, we see the spirituality and artistry of the beloved disciple who began his gospel account by solemnly declaring the eternal divinity of the Lord, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (Jn.1:1).  Building up the climax of his gospel, John placed Jesus for the first time – in fact the only time – face to face with the world’s representative of political power.  And this shows us the meaning and essence of what we are celebrating today with Jesus Christ our Lord as King of the Universe, that His kingdom is “in this world but not of this world.”
 
            Pilate said to Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”  Jesus answered, “Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?”  Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I?  Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me.  What have you done?” (Jn.18:33-35)

             Every morning when we open our Facebook, this scene seems to be happening again in a similar manner when Mark Zuckerberg’s creation asks us“What’s on your mind?”  Facebook and social media are gifts from God, a tremendous blessing for mankind where people meet to forge new friendships and renew old ones.  However, its overuse and abuse have led to many occasions of sins and evil.  In asking Pilate “Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me”, Jesus was not merely asking him what was on his mind but more of who was in his heart.  And we all perfectly know what happened next:  despite pleadings even by his own wife when he himself knew deep inside him the truth, Pilate washed his hands and went on with what was on his mind to sentence Jesus to death even if he knew deep in his heart He was totally innocent and in fact a very good man.

                The question “what’s on your mind” is so enticing for us to just open up without really thinking hard with what we say that may hurt others or have long lasting negative effects not only on other persons but especially to us.  It is a question with so many other implications that do not really seek to address anything substantial but only to affirm our own selves that in this world, at this very moment, “I am the king or the queen” and I can do everything!  We say whatever is on our minds to lord it over other people, sometimes literally throwing our weight around on others that in the process, we destroy our relationships.  Worst of all, when we keep on letting out what is on our minds without checking its veracity, we actually reveal our stupidity than sanity.  If we have to ask any question, we have to be ready to know its answer.  That is why, when we ask Jesus a question, we must inquire things of the above than things of this world for we might not like His answer that eventually would forcibly bring out from our hearts the right answer like what happened with Pilate later.  When Pilate asked Jesus “are you the king of the Jews”, he was not really ready to know yet the answer because deep in his heart he felt and knew the people behind the plot to kill Jesus.  Pilate was not ready to confront them because he also knew the Jewish leaders were very much aware of his corrupt practices.  How sad that so often we ask not to know the answers but simply to affirm our convictions especially if we know they are not sound at all.  When we ask more of this world, of things verifiable by facts and things that can be seen and tested, then we are not yet ready for the truth.

                Jesus answered, “My kingdom does not belong to this world.  If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.  But as it is, my kingdom is not here.”  So Pilate said to him, “Then you are a king.”  Jesus answered, “You say I am a king.  For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.  Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” (Jn. 18:36-37)

            Jesus Christ is king but His kingdom does not belong to this world.  It is in the world but not of the world.  His kingdom transcends beyond this world but right here in us.  Jesus Christ is king when in our hearts He reigns supreme, when we see Him among others as our brothers and sisters in Him.  More than our thoughts and ideas, more than our feelings and assumptions are persons to be loved and respected.  This is the reason why the question is not“what’s on your mind” but “who’s in your heart” which asks the more crucial question, “is Jesus our king?”  
             To recognize Jesus our King is to follow Him by taking up our cross because His kingdom is based not on force or power but on love expressed in humility, kindness, patience, and mercy that are often seen as weakness in the world.  Yes, one may say His kingship is out of this world but that is exactly what the world needs these days!  Remember His lessons to us His disciples these past weeks when He sent us with “no food, no sack, no money in our belts” (Mk.6:8),  that we must be like little children for “whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it” (Mk.10:15), insisting that whoever wants to be great in His kingdom must be the slave of all like Him who came “not to be served but to serve and to give his life as ransom for many” (Mk.10:44-45).

             The Solemnity of Christ the King reminds us at the closing of our liturgical calendar as we prepare for Advent next week of that main truth that we as a Church must continue to be an image of this kingdom.  And what is the truth?  In the bible, truth is a road or a path one can follow with complete trust to have life found in God’s law.  Truth is something that must be done as in the expression “to walk in truth” (Ps. 119:105) by conforming our lives to the word of God.  See again the spirituality and artistry of the beloved disciple, of how he alone recorded the Lord’s declaration “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn.14:6).  Here we find the totality of Christ the King who is the Truth because He is the way and the life.  Let us recognize today with thanksgiving to God Christ’s coming to us as our Alpha and Omega, our beginning and end.  May His kingdom come as we heed His call every day, especially in the Holy Mass as “the time of fulfillment… Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk.1:14-15).  Jesus my King, stay in my heart, reign in my life always!  AMEN. Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ni San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan 3022.  Email:  lordmychef@gmail.com   

*Photo by my former student Arch. Philip Santiago, Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls in Rome, October 2018.

LMC

Allowing God to Work In Us

be-a-light
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe-Prayer
Wednesday, 07 November 2018, Week XXXI, Year II
Philippians 2:12-18//Luke 14:25-33

            Bless me, O Lord, when sometimes I feel tired in trying to follow you.  When I feel tired not really of the cross I have to carry but of living “in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.” (Phil.2:14)

            How can some people follow what is wrong, believe in what is false, rejoice in what is offensive and disrespectful, and still project themselves as better and truthful?  Where have all our values gone like honor and dignity?

            I am not complaining, Lord.  I just feel so sad at how things are going on.

            Give me the grace to keep on following you, to do your work by holding on to your word of life without grumbling or questioning so that I may shine like a light in the world covered with darkness (Phil.2:13-15).  AMEN. Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan 3022.

*Images from Google.

worldunfair

Kung Ikaw Si Bartimeo?

LordMyChef      “Lawiswis ng Salita”     Ika-30 ng Oktubre 2018

IMG_2434

Hanggang ngayo’y hindi ko makalimutan
Magandang tagpo ng ebanghelyo nitong Lingong nagdaan
Kuwento ng bulag na si Bartimeo, isang pulubi sa gilid ng daan.
Sa kanyang kapansanan ay siya lamang nakaalam
Kay Kristong dumaraan kaya’t siya’y dumalanging pasigaw
“Hesus, anak ni David, mahabag po kayo sa akin!”
 
Ngunit siya’y pinagsabihang manahimik
Kaya’t lalo pa niyang ipinilit kanyang giit,
“Anak ni David, mahabag po kayo sa akin!”
Tumingin at tumigil si Hesus upang siya’y tawagin at tanungin,
“Ano ang ibig mong aking gawin?”
“Panginoon, ibalik po ninyo aking paningin” agad niyang hiling.
Kung ikaw si Bartimeo tatanungin ng Panginoon natin
“Ano ang ibig mong aking gawin?”
Ano nga kaya ang iyong hihilingin?
Mga palagiang alalahanin tulad ng salapi at pagkain?
O mga lugar na inaasam, minimithing marating?
O marahil ay alisin mga pasanin at dalahin?
Sadya namang marami tayong naisin at ibig hilingin sa Panginoong natin
Ngunit kung ating lilimiin bulong ng ating saloobin at damdamin
Isa lang naman kung tutuusin kailangang natin:
Nawa tulad ni Bartimeo, mabuksan mga paningin natin
Upang pananampalataya ay mapalalim
At maliwanagan itong buhay natin.
Aanhin mga malinaw na mata na sa kinang ng ginto at pilak nahahalina
Ngunit di makita ni makilala mga taong tunay at tapat nagmamahal sa atin
Na pawang salamin ng Diyos nating butihin.
Kaya kung sakaling ikaw ay hihiling, si Bartimeo ang gayahin
Sana’y huwag mong limutin, kaliwanagan sa puso’t loobin
Upang Diyos ang makita at kamtin at Siyang maghari sa atin.
bartimaeus
*Unang larawan ay kuha ng may-akda sa Sonnemberg Mountain View, Davao City, Agosto 2018.  Ang ikalawa nama’y hango sa Google Images.

Jesus Transforms First Our Questions to Transform Us

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The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe-Prayer
Thursday, 16 August 2018, Week XIX, Year II
Ezekiel 12:1-12///Matthew 18:21-19:1

            Dearest Lord Jesus:

            Every day we come to you with so many questions, an endless series of who, why and why not, and how.  As I prayed today’s gospel, I realized you seldom give straight answers to questions given to you in many instances like when Peter asked you about how many times should we forgive a brother who sins against us.  In many occasions in the gospel like today, you answer questions with a parable.  It is as if you first transform our questions in order to transform us eventually with the answers we can glean from your parables.

            As I dwelled on your parable of the unforgiving servant, I have realized one important aspect with our questions to you, Lord Jesus.  And that is our being so fearful of many things in life, especially of being loving and merciful like you.

           We try to be specific like Peter, asking in a numerical form “how many times should I forgive… seven times?”  The other day, we asked “who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?”  Once we have asked you “who is my neighbor?” or “Lord, are you going to establish your kingdom now?”  In these instances, you never gave in to our questions because you knew very well we asked these while bounded by fears.  We lacked freedom.  Or, we refused to be free to be who we really are as beloved children of a very loving Father in heaven.  Because we doubt your love and mercy.
             And so, you give us parables like today’s unforgiving servant to assure us that we are loved and forgiven by the Father.  Give us the grace to fully embrace this truth, that we would always listen to your gentle voice within to forgive and to love with all our hearts.  Amen.Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II,Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria,Bulacan 3022 .
*Photo by Fr. Nick F. Lalog II, still life experiment, September 2016.