Praying to the Sacred Heart

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, 11 June 2021
Hosea 11:1, 3-4, 8-9  +  Ephesians 3:8-12, 14-19  +  John 19:31-37
Let me begin my prayer to you, dear God,
with a confession from my heart that despite my 
many years of praying, I have not really known you;
when I pray the "Our Father" 
words simply pass my lips  
slipping, skipping depths of my being.
On this Solemnity of Your Son's
Most Sacred Heart, please grant me
intimacy you have long offered a reality
if only our eyes can see
by looking at him whom they have pierced
blood and water flowed, our source of peace.
In that natural heart of your Son
is found your revelation 
that outside of him
we find no salvation;
open our hearts, clear our doubts
to experience your love!  
How sad that we cannot love
because we feel not being loved
when our Father in heaven is truly a Dad
who has never been mad when we are bad
in his boundless love for us
gave us his Son, full of tenderness and compassion!

For our reflection, see https://lordmychef.com/2021/06/10/god-our-tender-loving-dad/

Photo by the author, Sacred Heart Center for Spirituality, Novaliches, QC, 2016.

God our tender, loving Dad

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, 11 June 2021
Hosea 11:1, 3-4, 8c-9  ><)))'>  Ephesians 3:8-12, 14-19  ><)))'>  John 19:31-37
Photo by author, Sacred Heart Spirituality Center, Novaliches, QC, 2018.

So many times in life, we think we have loved so much, that we are a good and loving person when it is all an illusion because in reality, we have actually failed in truly loving the people and institutions we profess to love so much.

It is always easy to say in so many words, even to brag to our very selves and others of how much we love our family and friends, our country, our Church, and our company. But, when a little discomfort happens that result from misunderstanding or miscommunications, or a few mistakes and shortcomings, we flare up in anger expressing it in harsh words and deeds, hurting the people we supposedly love.

Not only that. Long after an unloving incident, we later hold grudges that we cannot forgive and forget, hurting us most in the process when sanity returns and see how we have broken a beautiful relationship.

But, it is not all that bad.

We all have our low moments in not showing how much we truly love like Simon Peter denied knowing the Lord three times on Holy Thursday evening while being tried by members of the Sanhedrin after their last supper. And very much like him too at the shore of Lake Tiberias eight days after Easter, we profess to Jesus and our loved ones that “you know everything; you know I love you” (Jn.21:17).

Our imperfect human love in God’s perfect love

We celebrate today the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart to be reminded of God’s immense love for us despite our failures and fears in expressing that love he continues to pour upon us through his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

It is the third major feast of the Lord since we have resumed the Ordinary Time after Pentecost to instill in us God’s deep, personal love for us through Jesus Christ with whom we have become brothers and sisters, beloved children of the Father in heaven.

Thus says the Lord: When Israel was a child I loved him, out of Egypt I called my son. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, who took them in my arms; I drew them with human cords, with bands of love; I fostered them like one who raises an infant to his cheeks; yet, though I stooped to feed my child, they did not know that I was their healer.

Hosea 11:1, 3-4

See how God had always loved us like a loving father to his son or daughter.

Try to feel God speaking through Hosea in the first reading reminding us of his great love for us, doing everything to free us from the bondage and slavery of every form of evil.

But, like our own experiences with our parents as we grow older, the more we distance ourselves away from them and from God who always come to get nearer and intimate with us: “A child I loved you, I called you my son; and the more I called you, the farther you went away from me” (cf. Hos.11:1-2).

What have happened to us as we matured?

We have become so cerebral, thinking more, and feeling less, always trying to assert our independence, our strength, and self-reliance when the sad truth is we are all weak inside who cannot accept and believe the fact that we are truly loved by God and by others!

Imagine this lovely scene of God reminding us of his great love for us just like our Dad: “I took you in my arms with hands of love; I fostered you like one who raises an infant to his cheeks yet though I stooped to feed my child, you did not know I was your healer” (cf. Hos.11:4).

Here lies the problem with all our praying and loving that are detached from God, something like an echo of the elder brother in the parable of the prodigal son!

When our love for God is superficial, our love to our family and friends, to our institutions and other relationships become skin deep too. Our many love experiences are forgotten as we give more emphasis on others’ shortcomings and to our expectations from them.


We find it so hard and difficult 
to truly love God and those dearest to us 
not because we are bad and evil 
but primarily we ourselves are not convinced we are loved.  
Today's readings remind us 
that human love is imperfect, 
only God can love us perfectly. 

We find it difficult to truly love unconditionally because deep inside us is a festering anger or hatred for our parents or siblings or friends who have hurt us a long time ago but we are so afraid to bring out in the open or just simply cast away or transcend so we can move forward to deeper and matured love in Christ.

Of course, there is that love remaining in our hearts but inert because we cannot accept nor be convinced that we are truly loved by God and by others.

We find it so hard and difficult to truly love God and those dearest to us not because we are bad and evil but primarily we ourselves are not convinced we are loved. Today’s readings remind us that human love is imperfect, only God can love us perfectly.

Thus says the Lord: My heart is overwhelmed, my pity is stirred. I will not give vent to my blazing anger, I will not destroy Ephraim again. For I am God and not man, the Holy One present among you. I will not let the flames consume you.

Hosea 11:8-9

Just keep on loving no matter how imperfect we may be for God perfectly knows us so well as humans with so many weaknesses and limitations.

God’s universal and personal love for us in Christ


We can never truly experience 
God's personal love for us in Jesus Christ 
unless we are first convinced of his great love for us 
despite our sinfulness and weaknesses.  
The more we doubt the love of Jesus, 
the more we hurt him, 
the more we hurt others, 
and the more we hurt our selves.

Photo by author, St. Joseph Parish, Baras, Rizal, January 2021.

This personal and fatherly love of God is what St. Paul had always shared and elaborated in his many writings and teachings. See how he humbly introduced himself in our second reading as “the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ” (Eph.3:8).

More sinful compared to Simon Peter, Saul as he was called before his conversion persecuted the first Christians, having a direct hand in the stoning to death of our first martyr St. Stephen (Acts 8:1). Yet, in God’s fatherly love and mercy, Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus that led to his conversion. He would later insist in his letters how he had experienced both the universal and personal love of God through Jesus Christ.

St. Paul was so good and effective as an apostle because he was so convinced that while Jesus had died and rose for all, he also died personally for him (St. Paul) as an individual! He was the first to elaborate the universality of God’s love through Jesus Christ’s dying on the Cross and the subjectivity of his death and love for each one of us.

From being a sinner to becoming a believer, from a persecutor to an apostle, St. Paul tells us in the second reading today how he had experienced this love of Christ in himself which we can all personally experience too, praying that we may “be strengthened with the Holy Spirit to comprehend the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that we may be filled all the fullness of God” (Eph.3:16, 18-19).

We can never truly experience God’s personal love for us in Jesus Christ unless we are first convinced of his great love for us despite our sinfulness and weaknesses. The more we doubt the love of Jesus, the more we hurt him, the more we hurt others, and the more we hurt our selves.

Thank goodness God knows us so well that despite our doubts in him, his mercy is always stirred, not allowing his anger to consume or destroy us. On the contrary, the more we hurt God, the more he loves us until we are convinced that we are truly loved by him!

So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus and saw he was already dead, they did not break his legs, but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out.

John 19:32-34

It was from this scene that we find the meaning of the Sacred Heart of Jesus that was pierced after offering himself on the Cross as the sign and symbol of God’s unique love for us all. For the evangelist, that flowing of blood and water from the pierced side of Jesus was a special “sign” pointing to the work and mission of Christ which is our own salvation.

But aside from linking the blood and water that flowed out from the Lord’s pierced side with the two prominent sacraments known by then early Christians, namely, Baptism and Eucharist, St. John as a witness to the event showed us how two natural elements that are so personal to everyone as signs of God’s intimacy with us.

On this Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, God is reminding us of his immense love for us expressed most personally in the self-sacrifice of his Son our Lord Jesus Christ in whom we have all become the Father’s beloved children.

Despite our ingratitude to his Fatherly love for us, God cannot let himself be angry to chastise us as we deserve. Instead, he kept on forgiving us for our sins, sending us his Son Jesus Christ to redeem us.

Today Jesus is inviting us to go back to our Father – our Dad who watched and guided us through life without our knowing – to be convinced of his personal love for each of us. Outside of him, we can never find peace nor joy nor fulfillment. That is why the human heart of Jesus is always here with us as the revelation of the Father’s boundless love for us.

Let us experience anew his tenderness and forgiveness so that we may grow too in our love for God through one another despite our many sins and weaknesses.

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make our hearts like yours! Amen.

Prayer to become small

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, 19 June 2020
Deuteronomy 7:6-11 ><)))*> 1 John 4:7-16 <*(((>< Matthew 11:25-30
Photo from Google.

O most Sacred Heart of Jesus, make my heart like yours — make me small and little in standing, hidden and unknown among many, simple and humble in a world now measured in influence, popularity, and following.

On this Solemnity of your Most Sacred Heart, I thank you dear Jesus in choosing to be small and little, always hidden in the simplest things of life like soft voices of kindness and mercy, reason and wisdom, gratitude and love.

You have shown us that to be truly loving like you, we have to be small and little like children.

Most of all, free to be ourselves as beloved children of the Father!

Free from inhibitions and guilt to truly express the love and joy within.

Help us, Jesus, to cast all our worries to you, to take your yoke that is easy, burden that is light.

It is so difficult to love when we are burdened by many concerns and considerations, when we cannot be our true selves that we lack spontaneity, of being natural and easy.

In the same manner, it becomes hard for us too to love or even please someone who sees him or her self bigger than reality, when they see themselves as “big shots” and “heavyweights” who have to be pleased and “followed” or affirmed.

May we always keep in mind the words of Moses so applicable also to us today:

“It was not because you are the largest of all nations that the Lord set his heart on you and chose you, for you are really the smallest of all nations.”

Deuteronomy 7:7

O Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, you have given us your heart that bleeds due to the thorns of our sins, yet aglow with the fire of your immense love and mercy.

May we come to you, today and always to find rest, to learn from your gentle and humble ways so needed in our heartless world. Amen.

Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2019.

What delights us is finding Jesus in our hearts


The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
First Friday, Week IX, Year II in Ordinary Time, 05 June 2020
2 Timothy 3:10-17 ><)))*> 000 + 000 <*(((>< Mark 12:35-37
Photo by author, Sleeping Sto. Niño, January 2020.

I wonder, dear Jesus, what delighted the people of your time when they heard you teach at the temple area, telling them:

“How do the scribes claim that the Christ is the son of David? David himself, inspired by the Holy Spirit, said: The Lord said to my lord, ‘Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies under your feet.’ David himself calls him ‘lord;’ so how is he his son?”

Mark 12:35-37

What delights me these past few days still in quarantine, still by myself, still uncertain when our churches would be opened?

As I prayed, O Lord, I realized YOU are the only one who delights me in these past days and weeks, even months since the pandemic and this quarantine.

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart like thine!

Despite the loneliness, the fears of getting sick, the insecurities of where to get so many things, the lack of concern and care from some people I care for, when I think of you, when I feel you inside my heart, that is when I am delighted like those people you taught at the temple.

I am delighted, Lord, because no matter what happens to me, you are always here with me, loving me, caring for me, forgiving me, accepting me most especially when persecution comes as St. Paul warned us in the first reading.

How is the Lord called by David as lord is his son?

That’s the wonder of you, sweet Jesus! You have allowed yourself to be small, to be weak, to be human like us so you can be in us and be with us.

Dwell in my heart, sweet Jesus, now and forever. Amen.

Sacred Heart of Jesus for a heartless world

The Lord Is My Chef Recipe for the Soul
Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, 28 June 2019
Ezekiel 34:11-16 >< }}}*> Romans 5:5-11 >< }}}*> Luke 15:3-7
Sacred Heart of Jesus at the Jesuits’ Sacred Heart Retreat House and Seminar Center in Novaliches, Quezon City. Photo by author July 2018.

At a glance, the powers of darkness seem to rule the world.

Pains and sufferings are all around us as we see them in the news and, worst, experience them right in our homes and community!

The other Sunday evening, one of our parish lectors was hit by two riders driving under the influence of alcohol that severely damaged her face, particularly her right eye and front teeth. She did not see the motorcycle coming because the drunk riders were going so fast opposite the one way street.

The two riders have no driver’s license and both claim to have no money to pay for the medical expenses of our parish volunteer who comes from a very poor family.

I told her story to our Sunday congregation. Right after the Mass, two ladies came to me, handing me Php 25,000.00 in cash, pledging with more money for the medical and dental bills of our lector. Tears were rolling in my eyes as I thanked the two kind ladies who refused any recognition at all.

Yes, too often we are shocked at the evil going on in the world.

But, more surprising is the fact that it is always God who has the last laugh and final say in all these pain and sufferings around us.

There is always the more powerful Sacred Heart of Jesus offsetting our seemingly heartless world today.

Jesus the Good Shepherd with a lost sheep on his shoulder. A wood carving atop the cathedra of the Minor Basilica Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Malolos City. Photo by Lorenzo Atienza, 12 June 2019.

Jesus addressed this parable to the Pharisees and scribes: “What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy.”

Luke 15:3-5

I love that imagery of Jesus the Good Shepherd carrying on his shoulders the lost sheep. It is so powerful and evocative of God’s immense love for us sinners.

God fulfilled his promise to Ezekiel in the first reading that he would personally come to tend and look after us his sheep by sending us his Son Jesus Christ.

For his part, Jesus showed us in teaching this parable the solicitude of the Father in going beyond his words to the prophet of not just affectionately gathering and leading his sheep to green pastures but by communing with sinners of his time. What a wonderful way by Jesus showing us the pains God is willing to go to find one lost sheep.

From Google.

Jesus knows it so well how difficult and painful to get lost that he spent time with sinners, dining with them in many occasions. He knows the fearful thoughts running through us when we were wandering in darkness and sin that he never judges us nor condemns us like the woman caught committing adultery. Most of all, Jesus knows how difficult it would be for us who were lost to find our way back home, to go back to normal life of grace that he is willing to wait like with St. Paul and with St. Augustine.

Hence, when Jesus the Good shepherd finds the lost sheep, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy. Imagine also the spontaneous reflex to clutch to oneself whatever or whomever was lost and is found. That is how intense is the love of God through Jesus for every lost sheep when finally found. He is filled with joy that he carries the lost sheep on his shoulder to hurriedly bring it to safety and comfort, never to get lost again.

Moreover, here we find the great love of God for us who have gone stray in sin: he would patiently look for the lost sheep and likewise willing to patiently carry it on his shoulders so as not to make it suffer further in going back to the fold. Absolutely, no trace at all of any disgust in God in our going stray in sins!

From Google.

Eventually, Jesus proved this intense love of the Father to us in his dying on the Cross. He showed us how true love that comes from God and rooted in God is a love that is always meek and humble. A love that is unconditional, embracing both friends and foes. Yes, it is easier said than done but doable if we love in Christ Jesus.

From Google.

To love in Christ Jesus is to trust in God’s love. Without this trust in God’s love, we will always rely on our own self, prioritizing on our love of self than love of God and others. That is when darkness comes to rule over us, making us heartless too. Then, indeed, the world becomes evil because we have become its slave.

On this Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus when our nation is in so much darkness, Jesus is inviting us to make his love visible by trusting in his unfailing care as our Good Shepherd. When there is a major paradigm shift in the parable of Jesus wherein there are more lost sheep who are also self-righteous in knowing everything, calling those not on their side as stupid, we are more challenged today to witness Christ’s values of dignity of persons and peace. Let us pray for more patience with the appalling governance we now have courtesy of the majority of our people whom we have denied with God’s love and care for the longest time.

The Tenderness of God

RCMSacred-Heart-770x439_c
The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe, Sacred Heart-B, 08 June 2018
Hosea 11:1,3-4,8-9///Ephesians 3:8-12,14-9///John 19:31-37 

One of my all-time favorite love songs is Billy Joel’s “Leave a Tender Moment Alone.” (https://youtu.be/JHpIC4Kk0MU)  The poetry of its lyrics and its lovely melody introduced by a stirring harmonica always bring the “kilig moments” of every man’s love experience:

Even though I’m in love
Sometimes I get so afraid
I’ll say something so wrong
Just to have something to say

I know the moment isn’t right
To tell the girl a comical line
To keep the conversation light
I guess I’m just frightened out of my mind

But if that’s how I feel
Then it’s the best feeling I’ve even known
It’s undeniably real
Leave a tender moment alone

While praying over the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I kept on hearing this song playing in my mind because our celebration today is actually about the tenderness of God.  See how He had spoken through the prophet Hosea in the first reading like a Father to us.  Let us personalize His words and be immersed in His tenderness: “As a child I loved you, I called you my son.  The more I called you, the farther you went away from me.”(Hos.11:1-2)

             Is it not this is how our love relationship is with our parents and family including God? When we were kids, we loved running to our dad, taking pride for being his son or daughter, always clinging to his big hands?  During the early years of marriage, couples seem to be so inseparable.  But as we mature and find new friends and new relationships, we drift apart from our parents or spouse, including God.  And worst, we drive them away, even feeling ashamed of them especially when they come near us with their gestures of love and concern.  But, when problems arise in our new relationships like betrayal and infidelity, we go back to them, most especially to God, rediscovering their genuine love that is so tender and very comforting:  “I took you in my arms, drew you with human cords with bands of love. I fostered you like one who raises an infant to his cheeks; yet, though I stooped to feed you my child, you did not know I am your healer.”(Hos.11:3-7)

             Unlike Billy Joel in his song “Leave A Tender Moment Alone,” God makes no mistakes in loving us.  He remains faithful to us with His love, even “allowing” us often to sin and commit mistakes so that eventually, when we hit rock bottom, we rediscover Him and His love that is so real and so personal.  This “stooping down” by God that He had spoken to Hosea hundreds of years earlier took its deepest plunge when He sent us Jesus Christ His Son as our Savior by dying on the Cross.  St. John tells us how on that Good Friday soldiers broke the legs of the other two thieves crucified with Jesus to hasten their death; but, when they saw Jesus “already dead, they did not break his legs, but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out.” (Jn.19:33-34)

According to St. John, this fulfilled the Old Testament that “Not a bone of it will be broken” and that “They will look upon him whom they have pierced”(Jn.19:36), thus identifying Jesus Christ as the new lamb offered once and for all to God for the forgiveness of our sins.  It verified the words of John the Baptist also found in the fourth gospel describing Jesus as “the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”, the perfect offering on the Cross and expression of God’s immense love for each of us.  His death on the Cross is the most tender moment of love in history when our God who personally loves us by becoming like us in everything except sin loved us until the last drop of His blood because we are His beloved brothers and sisters in His loving and faithful Father in heaven we have always deserted in our many sins.  Indeed, when blood and water flowed out from His pierced side on the Cross, the ocean of Divine Mercy flowed out for us, forgiving our most grievous sins, regardless of our many weaknesses.  In His Most Sacred heart, Jesus is inviting us to always leave some tender moments alone with Him so that “He may dwell also in our hearts through faith so that once we are rooted and grounded in His love, we may have the strength to comprehend the breadth and length and height and depth of His love that surpasses knowledge and be filled with the fullness of God.”(cf. Eph.3:17-19)

It is an imperative for us all to be “rooted and grounded in His love” because human love is always imperfect.  Only God can love us perfectly in Christ Jesus who offered Himself on the Cross to fulfill what we have failed since the beginning – that is, to love God and others. Oh what a loving God we have in Him as we pray, Jesus meek and humble heart make my heart like thine!  Amen. Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, Parokya ng San Juan Apostol at Ebanghelista, Gov. F. Halili Ave., Bagbaguin, Sta. Maria, Bulacan.

Photo from Google.