The evil that is jealousy

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Week II, Year II in Ordinary Time, 20 January 2022
1 Samuel 18:6-9, 19:1-7   ><]]]]'> ><]]]]'> ><]]]]'>   Mark 3:7-12
Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2018.

Saul was very angry and resentful of the song, for he thought: “They give David ten thousands, but only thousands to me. All that remains for him is the kingship.” And from that day on, Saul was jealous of David.

1 Samuel 18:8-9
God our loving Father,
today you present to us the
very familiar feeling of jealousy
we experience in our relationships 
when we feel and fear losing 
something or someone we already have; 
it is an unpleasant feeling that creeps 
into us when we think someone 
is trying to take what is already ours -
like Saul who felt David was trying
to steal the kingship from him.  
But what is most evil with jealousy
is how it makes us so obsessed with 
how we compare ourselves with others,
competing with people close to us
we perceive as rivals when they are not!
Teach us to be at home with our
true selves, with who we really are,
that we are good and adequate in ourselves; 
like Jesus Christ who was 
being pressed by people for his 
teaching prowess and power to heal,
give us the grace to always be ready
to go out to the sea to see our worth
before you our Father who loves us so
much in our very own uniqueness lest
our jealousies lead us to more harmful
evils and sins.  Amen.

The joy of acceptance

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle, 24 August 2021
Revelations 21:9-14     ><}}}'>  +  <'{{{><     John 1:45-51
Photo by author, 2018.
Once again on this feast of another saint,
the Apostle Bartholomew, you teach us O God
how you work in mysterious ways; for, indeed, 
how "can anything good come from Nazareth?"
like Jesus Christ when in fact he was from 
Bethlehem and ultimately from you, Father in heaven!
But the most wonderful mystery of all
is when your Son Jesus affirmed 
Nathanael-Bartholomew's perception
and still accepted him!

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How did you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”

John 1:47-48
What did your Son see about Nathanael
doing under the fig tree is also a mystery
but it was more than enough to feel 
the love and acceptance
by Jesus despite his not so kind
words about Nazareth,
enabling him to trust him in return
committing himself as an Apostle
after realizing it did not matter to Jesus
his background nor his previous life.

Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”

John 1:49
Give us the grace, O God,
not only to be contented with your words
but most of all to go out of our way
like Nathanael in "coming and seeing"
to meet Jesus and experience
his unique love and mercy,
and be surprised with his presence
that welcomes everyone.
Amen.

Fixing the inside first

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Week XII, Year I in Ordinary Time, 23 June 2021
Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18   <*(((>< + ><)))*>   Matthew 7:15-20
From Barb Schmidt, Facebook, 02 June 2021.

Your words today, O God, direct us to look more intently into our inside, to see and face our true selves, to be sincere and not to fall prey to so many fakes that abound specially in this digital age when everything can be manipulated to dupe others.

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Beware of false prophets,
who come to you in sheep's clothing,
but underneath are ravenous wolves.
By their fruits you will know them."
(Matthew 7:15-16)

Help us, dear God, through the Holy Spirit to have the courage to face our true selves, to see what’s truly inside and start fixing them instead of putting on masks, on misleading others on who we really are and most of all, to stop fooling our very selves.

In this age when everything can be faked and fixed to look so good outside, to be so clean and amazing, even spectacular, remind us not to forget that what is outside follows naturally what flows from the inside, from what is deep in our hearts, from how clear and clean is our soul.

Teach us to be like Abram to have the courage to speak to you sincerely, to pour out our hearts to you and let you know our fears and apprehensions.

And once assured of your love and presence, keep us firm in our faith like Abram.

Abram put his faith in the Lord,
who credited it to him as an act of righteousness.
(Genesis 15:6)

So many times in the New Testament, St. Paul and the author of the Letter to the Hebrews would retell over and over again this episode of Abram’s deep faith in you, O God as the finest example of trusting in your promise.

Make us realize that at all times, integrity and transparency will always remain the most important premiums we can have in life. Make us learn to be genuine for it is only then that we truly bring out your image and likeness imprinted within us. Amen.

Entering the narrow gate

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday, Memorial of Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More, Martyrs, 22 June 2021
Genesis 13:2, 5-18   <*(((>< + ><)))*>   Matthew 7:6,12-14
Photo by author, the narrow door to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, 2019.

It is now getting clearer, God our loving Father, why we have to see ourselves in the way you see us as beloved and blessed: our strong selfish inclinations make us think more of ourselves, of what would give us most benefits with the least efforts as much as possible that make us forget others.

Like Abram’s nephew Lot who “chose for himself the whole Jordan Plain” settling near the city of Sodom because the whole region was well watered and prosperous, not knowing its inhabitants were very wicked in their sins whom God would punish later (Gen.13:10-11).

Teach us to be like Abram who thought more of others than himself: So Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, or between your herdsmen and mine for we are kinsmen. Is not the whole land at your disposal? Please separate from me. If you prefer the left, I will go the right; if you prefer the right, I will go to the left” (Gen.13:8-9).

Help us to follow your Son Jesus Christ’s teaching that we “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few” (Mt.7:13-14).

May we learn from the lessons of history how powerful men like King Henry VIII of England ended miserable in life when he chose the path of the wider gate that led to his destruction when he ordered in 1535 the beheading of Cardinal John Fisher and Chancellor Thomas More for their refusal to sign his Act of Succession paving the way for his divorce from Catherine of Aragon to marry Anne Boleyn. Five more divorces later, Henry VIII never had a male successor except Edward VI who ruled England very briefly.

Grant us the courage and wisdom of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More who chose the more difficult and painful “narrow gate” of martyrdom to serve you, God, first and above all.

Choosing the narrow gate is always the best because it is choosing Jesus Christ your Son who chose the way of the Cross for our salvation and eternal life.

We pray for those trying to make shortcuts in everything in life, avoiding the way of the Cross to gain more wealth and fame without any regard for the value of other persons. We pray for those who have been blinded by power and money who could no longer see one another as a brother and sister, failing to be just and fair in their relationships and dealings. Amen.

Prayer to see one’s self as God sees me

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Memorial of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, SJ, 21 June 2021
Genesis 12:1-9   ><)))*> + <*(((><   Matthew 7:1-5
Photo by author, Pulilan, Bulacan 25 February 2020.

Sometimes I imagine dear God if ever the world would ever stop for a while, when everything and everyone freezes from whatever we are doing so that we can take a break from all that is going on in our lives, both good and bad.

I remember this silly thought as I prayed on your words today as we celebrate the Memorial of the Jesuit St. Aloysius Gonzaga, a very young and wealthy scion during the middle ages. In the first reading, you have called Abram, a very old man at 75 years of age and also very wealthy and prosperous.

I guess we will never stop, O God, because you keep on calling us to you, whether young or old.

And always wealthy.

More than the material wealth and possessions of Abram and St. Aloysius, you call each one of us to serve you because everyone is so blessed with something always to offer and give. Even give up and surrender to you.

You always see each one of us with so much love and trust, of being gifted with so much to offer and give.

Problem is we cannot see ourselves the way you see us.

Too often, we waste our energies and time stopping to look at others, to criticize others and find faults at everyone except us.

How ironic that you see only the good things in us whether young or old while we are busy finding faults and unpleasant things with others!

Help us through Jesus Christ your Son to “Stop judging, that we may not be judged. For as we judge, so shall we be judged, and measures with which we measure will be measured out to us” (cf. Mt.7:1-2).

Please, open our eyes dear God see ourselves the way you see us with love and appreciation for our many gifts and talents that are wasted as we find faults with others. Amen.

Praying for humility and gratitude

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Week XXIX, Year II in Ordinary Time, 21 October 2020
Ephesians 3:2-12     >><)))*>  +  >><)))*>  +  >><)))*>     Luke 12:39-48     
Photo by author, Baguio City, 2018.

God our loving Father in heaven, teach us to accept that you love us, that you trust us, and that you believe in us so that we can finally be grateful and humble before you.

Yes, dear God – one reason we find it so hard to be grateful and humble before you is because we have hardly accepted nor appreciated your love and trust in us. Teach us to see ourselves as you see us, like St. Paul despite our sinfulness.

To me the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for all what is the plan of the mystery hidden from ages past in God who created all things.

Ephesians 3:8-9

What a wonderful attitude by St. Paul, expressing such gratitude to you God in calling him and entrusting him the “stewardship of your grace” (Eph.3:2) for others to experience you and your love!

Remind us, dear God, that everything we have is not simply a grace and blessing from you but a sign of your trust in us – whether as a husband or wife, mother or father, brother or sister, or, whatever profession and vocation we follow – they all mean you believe us, that we are responsible enough and most of all, we can all accomplish our mission in Jesus through the Holy Spirit.

May we heed your Son’s warning in today’s parable that

“Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

Luke 12:48

And to do so, let us humbly and gratefully accept your gifts always. Amen.

Photo by Dr. Mylene A. Santos, MD, Quezon, 2020.

Faithful and consistent

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday, Week XXVII, Year II in Ordinary Time, 09 October 2020
Galatians 3:7-14     <*(((><<   +   >><)))*>     Luke 11:15-26
Photo by author, 2019.

Glory and praise to you, O God our Father through your Son Jesus Christ! Today we are celebrating the Memorial of some great men who faithfully and consistently served you and your people with their lives of witnessing to your gospel as members of the clergy: St. John Leonardi who founded in 1570’s the forerunner of Propaganda Fide now headed by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle; St. Denis, first bishop of Paris who suffered martyrdom with his priest and deacon in 258; St. Louis Bertrand who came to be known as the “Apostle to the Americas” during the 16th century; and beatified recently by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman considered as one of the great Christian intellectuals of the 19th century.

They were all great men of deep faith. And most of all, consistent in heeding your call, doing your work.

And that is why, today O Lord I pray for the gift of being consistent in my faith.

A believer without consistency in his faith and actions is not faithful at all. A truly faithful servant is always consistent especially when the chips are down, we are confronted of either for you, Lord, or against you.

Sometimes we try “moving the lines”, convincing ourselves that we are not crossing the line of morals and morality like when we are bent on accommodating others and ourselves in some occasions to justify personal preferences like tinkering with the formula of the Sacraments as well as those pertaining to intrinsically sinful and immoral.

Like St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians today, clear our minds and our hearts of all kinds of inconsistencies in our faith, set us straight onto your paths, Lord and let us see your own consistency, your works in the past that are fulfilled in the present.

Unlike those people accusing you of driving evil spirits in the name of Beelzebul, may we be consistent in relying only in you and your powers despite our many setbacks and failures in life when you never failed to bless us and work things out for our own good. Amen.

Photo by author, August 2020.

Loving and knowing

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Week XXIII, Year II in Ordinary Time, 10 September 2020
1 Corinthians 8:1-7, 11-13  >><)))*>  >><)))*>  >><)))*>   Luke 6:27-38
Photo by author, dusk at my parish, July 2020.

Thank you, dear Jesus, for the grace of being together again with our family and relatives at this time of the pandemic. Your words from St. Paul today are so timely as we now spend more time together at home due to shortened work periods while kids have online classes.

But, despite these grace-filled moments in the pandemic while being together again with our family, frictions happen because we have never been truly at home with each other. We always forget the fact that love of one another is more important than being right.

Brothers and sisters: Knowledge inflates with pride, but love builds up. If anyone supposes he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if one loves God, one is known by him.

1 Corinthians 8:1-3

Oh yes, Lord! We are sometimes surprised at how fast we have grown in age with our parents and siblings. And yes, how we have grown apart too from each other, still carrying those sentiments and memories we have had when younger.

Purify us, Jesus. Heal our memories. Enable us to let our love flow to others specially those dearest and closest to us. Remove all emotional blockages in our hearts and mental blocks in our minds that prevent us from being kind and understanding, and be more spontaneous and more sincere with everyone.

Make us realize that the more we know, the more we must be loving and understanding.

Photo by author, Malagos Garden Resort, Davao City, 2018.

Let our knowledge make us “holier” because to know what is right always leads us to being more loving as we heed your words in the gospel today, “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Lk.6:31).

Inspire us to reflect further on these words by St. Bernard about spiritual life so that it may soothe our souls and calm our minds:

The whole of the spiritual life consists of these two elements. When we think of ourselves, we are perturbed and filled with salutary sadness. And when we think of the Lord, we are revived to find consolation in the joy of the Holy Spirit. From the first we derive fear and humility, from the second hope and love.

Office of Readings, Wednesday of 23rd Week, The stages of contemplation by St. Bernard

We pray in a very special way today, Lord, for our family and relatives, for those we live together at home. Amen.

Love without borders

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Week XX, Cycle A in Ordinary Time, 16 August 2020
Isaiah 56:1, 6-7 >><}}}*> Romans 11:13-15, 29-32 >><}}}*> Matthew 15:21-28
Twilight at our parish by Ms. Ria De Vera, 12 August 2020.

For the third Sunday in a row, Jesus reveals a very wonderful side of him who goes out of his way to meet us and comfort us in the most difficult situations and places we are into. It is something we need so much in these days of Moderate Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) seen right away in the opening of today’s gospel.

At that time, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman of that district came and called out, “Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David! My daughter is tormented by a demon.” But Jesus did not say a word in answer to her.

Matthew 15:21-23

Jesus goes out of his way to meet everyone

Israel is a very small country but always leaves a big impact on everyone who goes on a pilgrimage there. There is that sense of awe in every sacred site that until now continues to “speak” and evoke among pilgrims the presence and holiness of God and his saints.

Like what we have mentioned last Sunday, the proxemics or the non verbal communication of the places Jesus have visited convey to us deeper meanings than just mere sites. And that is more true during the time of Christ like the setting of this Sunday’s gospel, the region of Tyre and Sidon.

Now part of Lebanon found south of its capital city Beirut that was devastated by powerful explosions two weeks ago, Tyre and Sidon were gentile or pagan cities during the time of Jesus with a considerable Jewish population.

His going there shows us his fidelity to his mission of “searching for the lost sheep of the house of Israel” that partly explains to us why he never bothered to give the slightest hint of recognition to the Canaanite woman who had sought his help for her daughter “tormented by a demon”.

Photo by author, the Holy Land, May 2019.

And despite the lack of any explanation again by St. Matthew on the attitude by Jesus “snubbing” the pagan woman, we can safely assume that Christ surely knew that by going to Tyre and Sidon, gentiles would seek his healing as news of his fame had spread beyond Galilee at that time.

Here we find the great love and concern of Jesus for everyone, specially the rejected and marginalized in the society.

His “withdrawing to the region of Tyre and Sidon” was in itself a revelation of his universal love, a love without borders reaching out to those lost and feeling alone in life, those rejected, those discriminated for their color and beliefs, status and gender, sickness and diseases like AIDS and lately, COVID-19!

Inclusive Jesus, exclusive human

At the beginning of chapter 11 of St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans from which our second reading is taken today, the great Apostle starts by asking “has God rejected his people?” St. Paul emphatically said “no”, explaining at length the plan of God in Jesus Christ to save all peoples not just the Jews, beautifully telling us,

For the gifts and the call of God are (permanent and) irrevocable.

Romans 11:29

St. Paul’s reflections on God being “inclusive” as against our being so “exclusive” in sending us Jesus Christ to bring us all together as one sheds us some light on that extraordinary incident in the region of Tyre and Sidon involving the Canaanite woman.

Again, I invite you my dear reader to reflect on the many layers of meaning found in this episode so special like the feeding of more than five thousand people the other Sunday and Jesus walking on water last week.

First, notice the silence of Jesus. Keep in mind when the Lord is silent, it does not mean he is out or does not care at all to our needs and pleas. When there is silence – specially a deafening one – the problem is never with God but with us people.

And, true enough! See how the disciples asked Jesus to “Send her away, for she keeps calling out after us” (Mt.15:23) — exactly the way we deal sometimes with those begging our help and attention, seeing them as a nuisance to be sent away? What a shame!

From Google.

Now, we go to the climax of this episode with the woman coming to Jesus, “paying him homage” for the healing of her daughter tormented by a demon. It was a scene similar with St. John’s wedding at Cana where the Blessed Mother also approached Jesus with a request when wine ran out during the feast.

In both episodes we find Jesus being a snub – suplado, as we say.

Most of all, in both scenes we find the remarkable faith in Jesus by his Mother at Cana believing he can do something to spare the newly wed couple of embarrassment from running out of wine while this Canaanite woman felt so sure only Jesus can cure her daughter.

See how she addressed Jesus like his disciples with not just “Lord” but also with the title “Son of David” to indicate her faith in him as the Messiah.

And it did not stop there as she engaged Jesus into a dialogue — indicating intimacy and trust, depth and communion that we refer in Filipino as “matalik na ugnayan” or “matalik na usapan”.

Sometimes in life, Jesus seems to have that longing for some “lambing” from us that he tries to be “pakipot” or hard to get in order to be intimate with us. Please take these Filipino traits positively to get what I mean from this unique scene of Jesus and the Canaanite woman in Tyre and Sidon.

Jesus said in reply, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” Then Jesus said to her in reply, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.” And the woman’s daughter was healed from that hour.

Matthew 15:26-28
Photo by author, Church of All Nations beside the Garden of Gethsemane in the Holy Land, May 2019.

Brothers and sisters all in one God as Father

St. Matthew recorded this episode not to scandalize and shock us with those words coming from the Lord, referring to the Canaanite woman as one of the “dogs” that was the term used to designate pagans at that time.

For St. Matthew who was writing for Christians of Jewish origins, the episode was a reminder that the people of Israel were indeed the “children” of God to whom the coming Messiah and salvation – like bread or food – were first promised. St. Paul spent a great deal of explaining of this in his letter specially to the Romans .

Rigthly then, theirs was the “food” not right to be thrown to the “dogs” but, that fact does not exclude the “dogs” from partaking later from the leftover food of the children, as if telling Jesus, today we satisfy ourselves with crumbs, tomorrow we shall have bread!

The Canaanite woman clearly knew where to place herself before the Lord, proving to him her deep faith and amazing knowledge of God’s goodness and plans for everyone. For that, she was highly praised by Jesus for her faith. The only other person also praised by Jesus in having a tremendous faith in him was the centurion – another pagan – who begged the Lord for the remote healing of his servant.

Last Sunday afternoon I read the story of how a nurse was driven out of her boarding house after she tested positive for COVID-19 virus. The poor lady had nowhere to go to spend the night after being denied of any assistance by barangay officials, even by her own family in Batangas! Good enough, somebody reported her to the Philippine National Red Cross that sent an ambulance to take care of the nurse who was found crying by herself at the gutter of a street in Pasay City.

What a very sad and tragic reality happening among us these days of the pandemic.

Where is our love and concern for everyone, especially the weak and the sick, those in our own versions of Tyre and Sidon where no one would dare to go except Jesus, perhaps like the dorms and residences of our medical frontliners who are so tired and sick physically, emotionally, and spiritually during this pandemic?

In these past three weeks we have reflected how Jesus lovingly joined us, staying with us in the wilderness, in the storms of the dark sea, even at the pagan territories where nobody would ever want to go.

This Sunday, Jesus is inviting us to break all barriers and borders between us that separate us from each other. Let us animate our community with Christ’s love and mercy for us all amid our many differences so that slowly we fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy in the first reading that someday the house of the Lord shall be called “a house of prayer for all peoples” (Is.56:7). Amen.

A blessed and safe new week to you! And please do not forget to pray ten Hail Mary’s every 12-noon for national healing and end of the pandemic until September 15, 2020.

A clay- and fish – worthy in the Lord

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday, Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus, Bishop and Doctor of the Church, 30 July 2020
Jeremiah 18:1-6 ><)))*> >><)))*> >>><)))*> Matthew 13:47-53
Photo by author, Third Sunday of Lent, 15 March 2020.

How amazing O God on this day as we celebrate the Memorial of St. Peter Chrysologus who spoke eloquently of the Incarnation of your Son in one of his homilies, your Prophet Jeremiah today also spoke something of our being clay in the potter’s hand.

He who made man without generation from pure clay made man again and was born from a pure body. The hand that assumed clay to make our flesh deigned to assume a body for our salvation. That the Creator is in his creature and God is in the flesh brings dignity to man without dishonor to him who made him.

Why then, man, are you so worthless in your own eyes and yet so precious to God? Why render yourself such dishonor when you are honored by him? Why do you ask how you were created and do not seek to know why you were made?

St. Peter Chrysologus in his sermon on the sacrament of Christ’s incarnation, Office of Readings

Thank you, dear God, for this enlightenment from St. Peter Chrysologus also known as the “man of golden speech” for reminding us the great honor of being created by you… from worthless clay!

Help us to reflect more on why you have created us than ask how we were created, and transformed like in the potter’s hand.

Then the word of the Lord came to me: Can I not do to you, house of Israel, as this potter has done? says the Lord. Indeed, like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, house of Israel.

Jeremiah 18:5-6

Teach us, sweet Jesus, to be pliant and docile to the Father who continues to form us like clay in the potter’s hand — that no matter how painful life can sometimes be, even difficult, may we also see and appreciate the Father’s wonderful plans for our transformation in the future.

Help us to go through the pains of growing up and maturity so that when judgment day comes, may we all turn out to be good fish to be collected than bad ones that are thrown according to your parable of the net. Amen.

Photo by author, 2018.