The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time, Year I, 07 February 2023
Genesis 1:20-2:4 ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> Mark 7:1-13
What a blessed Tuesday we have today,
God our loving Father as Genesis tells us
in the first reading how you blessed thrice
the last three days of creation:
on the fifth day, you created and blessed
all water creatures and winged birds;
on the sixth day you created and blessed
man and woman;
and finally on the seventh day,
you blessed the day of sabbath.
Lately we have been meditating
what is to be blessed: Elizabeth called
Mary "blessed" because she believed your words
spoken to her would be fulfilled;
the other Sunday in his sermon on the mount,
Jesus called the poor in spirit, the meek,
the merciful, the grieving, the hungry and thirsty
as "blessed"; and today, after creating the birds and fish,
man and woman, and day of sabbath,
you blessed them all.
In today's story of creation, you bestowed
your blessing O God to fish and birds and people
after creating them, telling them to be fertile
and to multiply in number;
in blessing the seventh day as sabbath,
you also blessed it as a day of rest;
whether it is used as an adjective or a verb,
being blessed and to bless mean being
filled with grace, abounding in grace,
and most of all, spreading and keeping
that grace from you as expressed by
your command to the fish and birds and people
to go and multiply; to fulfill that command, we
need to rest on sabbath so that we may keep our
ties and link with you, thereby, to have the
strength to care for all creation,
to keep your grace from flowing!
Forgive us, dear Father, in failing to keep your
command to care for your creation,
most especially in neglecting one another as
a brother and sister in Christ when we
"nullify the word of God in favor of our many
traditions we have handed on" like the
help us cleanse our inner selves,
recover our blessedness in you
so we may share your blessings anew.
The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the Second Week of Ordinary Time, Year I, 17 January 2023
Hebrews 6:10-20 ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> + ><]]]]'> Mark 2:23-28
This prayer I offer
for those losing hope,
wanting to quit and leave,
losing patience and sense
in all their efforts for the
betterment of others and the world,
for those disappointed or frustrated,
for those always on the distaff side,
always seen as odd and weird
because of their firm stand for
their beliefs and values:
remind them, Father,
that you are aware of all their
noble efforts for the uplifting
of lives of many,
for their fight for justice
Brothers and sisters: God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name by having served and continuing to serve the holy ones.
you know so well
how difficult and even
painful to remind people
of their giftedness,
of their dignity,
of their honor;
many times, we feel tired
and sad at how others see us
and all our efforts for their good;
we are not asking for quick fixes
nor shortcuts for we know that indeed,
doing your work is never easy,
it is always a process;
all we are asking is rest,
a break perhaps
like your apostles one sabbath
who picked the heads of grain;
many times like the Pharisees
people give more emphasis and
importance to rites and rituals,
to rules and laws without any regard
remind us always that when
people fail to see our personhood,
our self-dedication to you and
remind us to never sag in spirits,
to never be sluggish
but instead be filled with more
fire and ardor in doing your work
until they realize that "The sabbath
was made for man, not man for
sabbath. That is why the Son of Man
is lord even of the sabbath"
The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Sunday XVI-B in Ordinary Time, 18 July 2021
Jeremiah 23:1-6 ><}}}'> Ephesians 2:13-18 ><}}}'> Mark 6:30-34
Being lost or getting lost is sometimes not totally bad – or a loss – like in traveling when new routes and destinations are discovered along the way. Our readings this Sunday are about being lost, getting lost – both in the good sense and in the bad sense.
Let us reflect first on what we mean by getting lost in the good sense, that is, of getting lost in Jesus which is resting in the Lord.
The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place.
Getting lost in Jesus, with Jesus
Our gospel today is the conclusion of last Sunday’s topic about the mission of the apostles that includes us in this time which is to proclaim the good news of salvation by preaching repentance and casting away evil spirits that destroy life’s beauty.
Mark now presents to us the other two essential elements of our being missionaries of Christ: of getting lost in Jesus, that is, resting in him and last but not least, seeking and comforting those who are lost in this life.
To rest in the Lord is to make time, spend time with him in disciplined prayer, of having a prayer life that is the most essential component of one’s life because without Jesus, we die.
As missionaries of Christ, we can never share and preach him to others unless we first have him in ourselves. Hence, right upon the return of the apostles amid their joys of reporting how they have accomplished their mission so well, Jesus asked them to cross the lake anew to a deserted place to be with him alone to show them that without him, they cannot do anything.
Here we find the great wonder of prayer life, of the discipline of making time for Jesus every day in prayerful meditations and contemplation: the more we spend time with Jesus, the more we can see and feel the people we serve, their needs and aspirations. As we enter into communion and intimacy with Jesus, the more we become one with others.
No apostolate, no ministry, no service will be fruitful without Christ at the center found only in prayer. The late Fr. Henri Nouwen wrote in one of his reflections that the more we become active in the ministry, the more we must be contemplative; while, the more we become contemplative, the more we become active.
It is in getting lost in Christ when we are absorbed to him in prayer where much of our mission and ministry truly happens because that is when we are most purified, when we lose ourselves to let Jesus take over us in directing our lives.
Getting lost in Jesus is entering the true sabbath, a return in Eden where we stop playing God and simply be his image and likeness again as the crowning glory of his creation.
It was after creating human when God saw everything he did as good and completed when he rested and blessed the sabbath day. He rested because he had accomplished his works; on the other hand, we rest in order to accomplish further our work in him through Jesus Christ.
To rest in the Lord is not to stop working and do nothing – resting in the Lord is getting lost and finding him in ever new circumstances and conditions that unfold before us, deepening our intimacy with him that we are eventually recreated and transformed in him.
That is the loss we must go through like St. Paul in order to gain Christ (Phil. 3:8-10) because that is when we truly find our very selves and one another as one in belonging in Jesus and the Father, that we are all indeed, one like him and the Father.
This will get clearer when we enter the third essential element of being missionaries of Christ:
Finding and comforting those lost
Unlike Matthew and Luke, Mark gives us a very brief account of the return of the apostles to Jesus with a dash of humor when the people saw them leaving to rest at a deserted place and arrived at the place even before them! There is really not much time at all to rest for the missionaries of the Lord!
Imagine how the apostles must have felt when they saw the crowd who have arrived ahead of them at the deserted place.
They must have been so disappointed, even disgusted.
But, Mark tells us a completely different picture of Jesus:
When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.
The more time we rest in Jesus, the more we become like him – sensitive to the needs of the flock. To be moved with pity is not just a feeling mixed with some disdain or condescension for those in misery that we have heard and read a lot during this time of the pandemic wherein the poor are being blamed for being stubborn and everything that caused the spread of COVID.
Pity characterizes God like when we appeal to him when we are in deep trouble and suffering like the blind and lepers begging Jesus, “have pity on me”. Pity is a deep feeling that moves us to do something to relieve the pain and suffering of others.
It is oneness with those suffering, of “making sakay” as we say in Filipino or “riding on” or being on their same shoes. It is empathy and sympathy in action.
Notice the words of Mark: Jesus was moved with pity for they were like sheep without a shepherd. This is something deeply rooted among the people of Israel and elsewhere shepherding is largely a part of life and culture.
A sheep getting lost without a shepherd is the worst thing that can happen to any member of the flock.
A lost sheep is surely a prey to wild animals without any defense nor defender at all.
Likewise, a sheep is a very communal animal that when lost, it bleats so miserably wandering in the desert or the open field, feeling so “kawawa” or miserable.
Did we not feel so the same the first time we went to the big city to study or work? Imagine our own feelings when we were lost, trying to find our ways into school or work or life in general when moved residence here or abroad? There was that feeling of being alone, with nobody to turn to in case of emergencies or dangers.
It is also the most common feeling we have since the start of the pandemic, of being locked down, of not knowing where to go as a result or who to trust.
No wonder, so many among us have suffered some forms of depression or emotional turmoil, from young children who could not process what they were going through to the elderly who are refused entry to almost every establishment. There is that feeling of being lost as to what have happened or why are things going like these!
This is then usual bad case of being lost, of being alone with nobody to rely on, to trust. That is the image of a sheep without a shepherd, almost facing certain death.
It is a very scary and traumatizing situation in life that Jesus felt so much with the crowd who followed them that despite his being tired, he gathered them and preached to them (next Sunday, he would feed them).
This is the context of the prophecy by Jeremiah in the first reading that God was so angry with the unfaithful shepherds of Israel who have misled and scattered his flock, promising to “raise up a righteous shoot to David” (Jer.23:5) fulfilled in Jesus the Good Shepherd.
Brothers and sisters: In Christ Jesus you who once were far off have become near by the blood of Christ. He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
Ephesians 2:13, 17-18
Jesus came to gather those who are lost as he specifically told the Twelve to “Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Mt.10:6, Wednesday, Wk. 14).
This is the problem, ironically, in our age of instant mobility and accessibility when feelings of being lost is hardly noticed nor even recognized especially during this time of the pandemic. So many people, young and old alike, feel so lost. Many of them are shouting inside in desperation for their many other losses in life like losing a loved one, losing a business, losing so many chances in life.
Let us join Jesus in crossing the lakes of this life, getting lost in him in prayers, to find those who are lost and reach out to them. A smile, a simple gesture of kindness like a short text or a phone call could surely bring relief to them to find themselves again and discover new directions in life in Jesus Christ. Amen.
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Friday, Week-I, Year -I in Ordinary Time, 15 January 2021
Hebrews 4:1-5, 11 >><)))*> >><)))*> + <*(((><< <*(((><< Mark 2:1-12
Let us be on guard while the promise of entering into his rest remains, that none of you seem to have failed… Therefore, let us strive to enter into that rest, so that no one may fall after the same example of disobedience.
Hebrews 4:1, 11
Thank you, dear God this Friday with Your words reminding us of “entering Your rest”, Your Sabbath!
But what is Your “rest”, God our Father?
More than a particular day of the week, it is first of all Your very presence like in paradise that our first parents have lost due to their pride and disobedience to You.
May we heed and learn from the reflections of the author of the Letter to the Hebrews of how Your chosen people, the Israelites, disobeyed you, dear God, while in the wilderness that prevented them from entering Your rest in the Promised Land of Israel, spending 40 years wandering in the desert.
Sadly, all these continue to happen in our own time when we are supposed to be disciples of Your Son Jesus Christ.
Help us O God to resist the temptations and strive hard to see you, feel you, and experience you.
Help us to be like those men carrying the paralytic who sought ways and means to see Jesus Christ, our only true hope and inspiration and consolation in times like these. It is in Jesus Christ’s coming that we are able to enter Your rest freely and truly, dear God, to experience Your love and mercy, kindness and compassion we have all taken for granted.
But, more than a place and a day, Your rest, O Lord, is heaven, Your very presence, that very moment when Jesus healed and forgave the sins of the paralytic, astounding everyone, glorifying You, saying, “We have never seen anything like this” (Mk.2:12).
Let us “rest” in You, dear God by returning to You, of being renewed in You with Your whole creation in Jesus. Amen.
Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 18 January 2019
People have been telling me to get a tablet or at least upgrade my iPhone so I can continue with my blogs when I go on vacation just like this past week; but, I am not yet that techie to be able to blog away from my study table. Besides, I feel it is going against the very idea of a vacation when we are supposed to “vacate” or empty ourselves of the ordinary things and routines we always have. Vacation is the first and most essential kind of “Marie Kondo-ing” or decluttering of self of so many things we have accumulated that have disfigured us. A vacation is not merely taking a break from the usual stuff and routines in life but to rest and recreate so we find our true selves again. In the bible we find a more beautiful term for vacation called “sabbatical” from the word “Sabbath” or day of rest. Genesis 2:2 tells us that after creating everything, God rested on the seventh day that later God made it His third commandment, “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day” (Ex. 20:8).
Vacation is always a gift of God not only for the resources to rest and recreate but most of all, it is a grace to rediscover our true selves by discovering Him again. God rested on the seventh day because He had completed His work; but we people and all creation have to rest so we can all continue to work in God. Every vacation as a Sabbath is a celebration of life, of being children of God because the more we turn away from Him, the more we get lost in life. The more we turn away from God, the more we lose our true identity and self as His beloved children. See how when Adam and Eve sinned: they hid from God because they found themselves naked whereas before, they felt no shame because they felt and found everything good. They have been alienated from their very selves the very instant they turned away from God. Hence, every vacation in the spirit of Sabbath is a return to Eden or paradise!
An author whose name I could no longer recall said that “a sabbatical is when I stop playing God, when I go back to the original image of God.” In our Filipino language, vacation and Sabbath have a more beautiful translation called pahinga. It is from the root word “hinga” or“breathe” which is a verb and becomes “hininga” or breath when taken as a noun. To rest which is “magpahinga” literally means “to be breathed on.” Therefore, to rest as in vacation is to empty ourselves so that we can be filled again with the breath of God or to be breathed on by God! In this sense, in every vacation, we are also re-created by God who fills us with His Spirit. And there lies the true beauty of every vacation when we feel so alive, when all of a sudden everything and everyone looks so nice and lovely as we realize how blessed we are, how fortunate not only to have gone and visited wonderful places and destinations but most of all in having found our rootedness in God – that we are so loved by this personal God who relates with us truly as a Father. When we experience a lovely sunrise or sunset, when we are captivated by nature’s wonders, when we suddenly realize we are alive and existing that no matter how little we may be in this vast universe, we are assured deep within that we are loved and cared for by Somebody bigger and powerful. When we stand in total darkness of the night to see the stars above or be awed by the Aurora Borealis, we realize that even if we are just a speck of dust in this vast universe, we are so special because everything was created for us to see and experience and enjoy! It is an awesome feeling that we exist, that we are alive and most of all, we are far better, more lovely and beautiful than anything because we are the only ones created by God in His own image and likeness.
And there lies the joy of coming home from every vacation as we are eager to go back to share not only the wonderful sights and sounds we have experienced but deep within us – unconsciously – we want to show our newfound self, our refreshed self to others. We yearn to go home after a vacation not because we have nowhere else to go but because we now have a clear direction in this journey of life. Every year we look forward to our vacation, to venture out there somewhere for our Sabbath and let God come closer to us so that we can always come home to ourselves, to our family and friends, and eventually to Him in all eternity. Amen.
Photos by the author: above is sunset at the Assumption Sabbath Place in Baguio City, below is the lobby of the retreat house.