Praying for discipline

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Friday in the Twenty-Third Week in Ordinary Time, Year II, 09 September 2022
1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-27   ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[><   Luke 6:39-42
Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2019.
Your words today from St. Paul
are so timely, dearest Lord Jesus; 
in a time when so many of us have
become so complacent and even
lazy in this life characterized by
comfort and ease, please reset our 
perspectives and points of view,
Jesus, when all we think is ourselves,
of being famous and popular;
worst of all, like in your stern warning
in the gospel, we have become self-
righteous, blinded by our ego that
we see ourselves better than everyone
when all we see are others' faults
without noticing our bigger faults.

Brothers and sisters: If I preach the Gospel, this is no reason for me to boast, for an obligation has been imposed on me, and woe to me if I do not preach it! No, i drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.

1 Corinthians 9:16, 27
Grant me the grace,
O Lord, to be truly your follower,
your disciple, a person of
discipline who treads the path of
truth and mercy, light and understanding,
justice and mercy, honesty and sincerity; 
give me the courage to persevere in 
following you amid all pains and
difficulties.  Amen.

The sins of others we always see

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday in the Twelfth Week of Ordinary Time, 20 June 2022
2 Kings 17:5-8, 13-15, 18   ><)))*> + ><)))*> + ><)))*>   Matthew 7:1-5
Photo by Jenna Hamra on Pexels.com
Help up with your right hand, 
O Lord, and answer us.
(Responsorial Psalm today.)
Help us, dear Father,
to see more our many sins
than the tiny sins of others;
Help us, dear Father,
to control our lips in
being so quick to judge
and speak so much of others;
Help us, dear Father,
to change our ways and
leave our sins.
So many times in life
when bad things happen to
us, we look on others to
blame, including you,
O Lord, without looking 
first into our very selves
at how we have indulged
in evil and sins that started 
so small that we have dismissed
as simple and nothing at all.
Forgive us, Father,
in always blaming others
without ever looking into
our hearts and ways 
that have been so disordered
and strayed from your paths
of love and justice, mercy
and kindness, humility and 
sincerity.  Amen.

Jesus in our blessedness, and sinfulness

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Third Sunday in Easter-C, 01 May 2022
Acts 5:27-32, 40-41 ><]]]]'> Revelation 5:11-14 ><]]]]'> John 21:1-19
Photo by author, sunrise at the Lake of Tiberias, Israel, 2017.

This is the last Sunday in this Easter Season when we shall hear a story of the Risen Lord appearing to his disciples; starting next Sunday, our gospels will be from his Last Supper discourse that were his final instructions before his Passion, Death, and Resurrection.

This is the third appearance by Jesus to his disciples that happened at the shore of Lake Tiberias (aka, Galilee) one early morning after Simon Peter and six other disciples went fishing the night before and caught nothing. The story is quite long but very remarkable with how Jesus was recognized in the blessedness of John the beloved and in the sinfulness of Peter.

Such is the beauty and power of Easter, of Jesus breaking all barriers to come to us so we may experience his love and mercy and forgiveness. As we have reflected last week, it is not the number nor length of our Risen Lord’s appearances that matter but its inexpressible intensity demanding our intense response to him which we find today in John and Simon Peter.

Photo by author, November 2018.

“It is the Lord!”

The disciples were still at a loss three weeks after the Lord had risen. Despite his twice appearances to them, they could not yet grasp Easter’s meaning; it would still be a long way to go before they understand everything when the Holy Spirit comes on Pentecost as Jesus had promised them.

Trying to pick up the pieces of their lives, the seven disciples led by Simon Peter went fishing one night but caught nothing until Jesus appeared to them unrecognized.

When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea.

John 21:4-7

What a beautiful story reminding us of the need to be always in the state of grace, of being in love first with Jesus to see and recognize him in the bountiful blessings he pours upon us daily!

See how it was the disciple whom Jesus loved who first recognized the Lord upon seeing the plentiful catch of fish with a wonderful interplay of catching many fish and recognizing Jesus.

Photo by author, Puerto del Sol, Bolinao, Pangasinan, 20 April 2022.

For people truly in love with Jesus, everyday is a miracle, a day of his coming, of his loving presence among us.

Being in love with Jesus is having a prayer life in him that makes us attuned with him, becoming automatic with us to find Christ present in the various events happening in our lives, whether they are good or bad as both count as blessings to anyone who truly believes in him.

John must have been so in love with Jesus, remembering so well the first time he met the Lord with his brother James and their partners Peter and brother Andrew after a similar incident when they have caught nothing the previous night and Jesus invited them to “cast their net into the deep.” It must have been a “love at first sight” for him with the Lord that they eventually left everything including their father to follow Jesus as “fishers of men” (Lk.5:1-11, Fifth Sunday Ordinary Time, 06 February 2022).

When we love, our senses and our memories are heightened of our beloved’s words and actions that we can see and feel them around us even after they are gone. When we love, we find newness in life every day with Jesus standing at the shore every dawn waiting for us to wake up and lead us to a bountiful catch of fish daily. Of course, the fish is found only in the sea or lake but for us to catch them, we need to find Jesus first.

That is why it is necessary that we begin and end each day in Jesus praying. When we love someone, we always talk and listen, always communicating in various ways with our beloved.

Problem is when we do not pray, we get preoccupied with what we do not have – of not catching anything – of looking more into the dark or murky waters of life not seeing the light in the horizon, of Jesus at the shore.

Photo by author (2017), the shore of Lake Tiberias where Jesus asked Simon Peter thrice “Do you love me?”

“Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”

After bringing in their haul of “one hundred fifty-three large fish” to the shore for breakfast with Jesus, our story reaches its climax with Jesus asking Peter thrice, using his original name Simon with the question, “Do you love me?”.

Peter was distressed that Jesus had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep… And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”

John 21:17, 19

Peter understood fully well (gets niya, as the young would say) why Jesus asked him thrice with “do you love me?” to signify the three occasions he denied knowing him while being arraigned by the Sanhedrin on the night of Holy Thursday.

This time, there was no denying on Peter’s part that he had truly sinned that night in denying Jesus three times! And he was distressed because he was deeply sorry, telling Jesus, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” See the humility and sincerity of Peter in responding to the Lord’s question as he admitted his guilt of denying Jesus; but at the same time, his love and faith in the Lord despite his sinfulness and weaknesses. In telling Jesus “Lord you know everything; you know that I love you”, Peter was declaring his deep conviction that Jesus knows very well all our sins but at the same time knows too as well how much we love him in all of our imperfections.

Sin is not really that bad at all, so to speak, in the sense that even in our sinfulness, Jesus comes to meet us, assuring us of his love, of his mercy and forgiveness.

Photo by author, September 2021.

Just like his first words when nailed on the Cross, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Lk.23:34), Jesus comes to us quickly in our moments of sin, inviting us to come back to him. Every time we feel that guilt after committing a sin, when we feel that shame within, that is the moment too when Jesus calls us personally like Simon, not only asking us if we love him but assuring us most of all that he loves us in spite and despite our sins.

Here we find a different interplay: the more Jesus directed Simon unto himself – do you love me?– the more Simon saw his sinfulness but at the same time experienced Christ’s forgiveness and love for him because like John the beloved, he had always loved Jesus from the start despite his many flaws and weaknesses that would later be smoothened by the Lord.

Remain in love with Jesus. This is the grace of this third Sunday in Easter. We cannot follow nor meet Jesus whether in our blessedness or sinfulness unless we love him first of all. Jesus perfectly knows human love is imperfect; only he can love us perfectly. We do not have to pretend to be perfect before him; just be our true selves, sinful yet sorrowful, to surely meet him who never leaves our side.


Dearest Lord Jesus,
open my heart to love you more
so that my eyes may always see you
in life's many blessings and trials 
that come my way daily;
let me love you more so that
I obey God rather than men and women
who keep on demanding so many things
from me, enslaving me with their many
offers that pretend to make me perfect;
when things become difficult,
open my eyes like your Apostles
who found themselves worthy
to suffer dishonor for your sake (Acts 5:29, 31)
who alone is "worthy to receive power 
and riches, wisdom and strength,
honor and glory and blessing" (Rev.5:12).
Amen.

Photo by author, Puerto del Sol, Bolinao, Pangasinan, 19 April 2022.

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.