Problem with overconfidence

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Tuesday in the Eighteenth Week of Ordinary Time, Year II, 02 August 2022
Jeremiah 30:1-2, 12-15, 18-22   ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[><   Matthew 14:22-36
Photo by Mr. Jay Javier in Taal, Batangas, 15 February 2014.
I like your words today,
God our loving Father;
they are so true, and yes,
so hurting. They are a 
bull's eye or "sapul" as
we say in Filipino.
Many times, I feel so
confident with myself,
with my goodness, or
holiness; many times I
feel I am so equipped 
to hurdle everything in
life; and many times, I feel
so sure I have done nothing
wrong and sinful like Peter
in the gospel who asked
Jesus to make him walk
on water.

Thus says the Lord: Incurable is your wound, grievous your bruise; there is none to plead your cause, no remedy for your running sore, no healing for you. All your lovers have forgotten you; they do not seek you. I struck you as an enemy would strike, punished you cruelly; why cry out over your wound? Your pain is without relief. Because of your great guilt, your numerous sins, I have done this to you. Thus says the Lord: See! I will restore the tents of Jacob, his dwellings I will pity; city shall be rebuilt upon hill, and palace restored as it was.

Jeremiah 30:1-2, 12-15, 18
Give me courage, O Lord,
to look inside myself and
confront my true self;
build me up anew, Lord,
as your people and you
our God.

Forgive us, O God, 
for the many times we
have misread your coming
in Jesus Christ as like a ghost 
in the dark sea; so many times
we are so sure of our swimming
skills like Peter, confident we 
would not drown, unaware 
of the strong winds that can beat
and pummel us into pieces.

When overconfidence
drown us, let us shout like
the disciples in the boat,
"Truly, you are the Son of
God, Lord Jesus!"
Amen.

Beatitudes of Jesus, attitudes of his disciples

The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Sunday Week VI-C in Ordinary Time, 13 February 2022
Jeremiah 17:5-8 ><}}}}*> 1 Corinthians 15:12, 16-20 ><}}}}*> Luke 6:17, 20-26
Photo by author, monastery inside the compound of the Church of Beatitudes, the Holy Land, 2019.

From the shores of Lake Gennesaret in Capernaum, Jesus now takes us to the plains for his first series of teachings called “sermon on the plains”. In Matthew’s gospel, it is called “sermon on the mount” due to his different emphasis and audience, his fellow Jews while Luke situated it on the plains based on his own focus directed to gentiles or non-Jews.

But, whether it was on the mount or on the plains, one thing remains clear: Jesus taught important lessons specifically for his disciples called the Beatitudes.

Last Sunday Jesus called his first four disciples to become “fishers of men” and as he travelled preaching along the shores of Galilee, they grew to Twelve in number.

On the night before this scene of sermon on the plains, Jesus went up a hill with the Twelve to pray before appointing them as Apostles. It was the first “face-to-face” class of the Twelve with the Beatitudes labelled as Discipleship 101.

And raising his eyes toward his disciples he said: Blessed are you who are poor for the kingdom of God is yours. Blessed are you who are now hungry for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven. But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are filled now for you will be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you will grieve and weep. Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way.”

Luke 6:20-26
Photo by author, Church of the Beatitudes, the Holy Land, 2019.

Beatitudes, the meaning of discipleship

The Beatitudes tell us the meaning of discipleship, of not simply following Jesus but making a choice, taking a stand to be like him. Each “blessedness” is actually Christ who is described as the poor, the hungry, the weeping, and the hated.

Again we find in the Beatitudes of Jesus the contrasts and contradictions we have reflected three Sundays ago when he was rejected by his own folks at a synagogue in Nazareth (see https://lordmychef.com/2022/01/29/living-loving-amid-contradictions/).

See the set of “Blessed” followed by a corresponding set of “woes”, giving us a hint that the Beatitudes were patterned by Jesus to Jeremiah’s pronouncements to the people we heard in the first reading,

“Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the Lord. Blessed is the who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord. He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: it fears not the heat when it comes, its leaves stay green; in the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit.”

Jeremiah 17:5, 7-8

Both in Jeremiah and in the Beatitudes by Jesus, there is the promise of blessings in the future; however, it is not something we only hope to achieve in the future but something realized in the present IF we trust in the Lord.

Photo by author, pilgrims entering the Church of the Beatitudes, 2019.

More than a promise of hope in a future glory, the Beatitudes by Jesus are directions every disciple must take as path in life, guides or criteria in discerning the will of God for us in this life. It is said that the word beatitude is from “be attitude” or the attitudes of a disciple.

That gesture of the Lord looking up to his disciples that include us today while teaching the Beatitudes indicates his recognition of our present situation by speaking in the present tense with “Blessed are you who are now poor, hungry, weeping and hated”.

Are we not feeling poor and hungry, actually weeping and hated in this intensely heated politics in the country where everyone seems to be lacking reason and shame, everyone going insane and worst, salaula (filthy) without any sense of shame at all?

At the same time, all those pronouncements of having the Kingdom of God, of being satisfied, of laughing, and of being rewarded greatly in heaven are not things we get in the future if we suffer now; these we can NOW have amid our sufferings when we are one in Jesus Christ.

The saints have shown us in their lives most especially St. Paul how while being poor, hungry, weeping and hated they have experienced fulfillment and joy at the same time. We ourselves have proven them right that with St. Paul we can “boast” like him, “Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10).

The key is union in Jesus Christ because the Beatitudes not only reveal to us his very person but also his Paschal Mystery of Passion, Death and Resurrection. It is therefore an imperative that every disciple must be immersed in Christ because discipleship is the imitation of Christ. Again, we borrow from St. Paul who said, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal.2:20).

Photo by author, dome of the Church of Beatitudes, the Holy Land, 2019.

Woes of not following Jesus

Contrary to claims by many philosophers and filosofong tasyo alike who are atheists and anti-Church, God is not a sadomasochist who delights in seeing his people suffer and die. Nothing bad can come from God for God is love (1 Jn. 4:8).

Unbelievers continue to question God, most especially Jesus and his Beatitudes that are clearly about sufferings with its apparent dislike or rejection of wealth and fame like what Jesus spoke of the woes in the second part of his Beatitudes.

There is nothing wrong with being rich, being filled, of laughing and being spoken well by others per se; in fact, these are all good in themselves. However, Jesus spoke of them as woes based on the pattern we have seen from Jeremiah’s pronouncements in the first reading: “Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the Lord.”

See how Jesus was more “soft” and gentle in his woes than God in Jeremiah’s instruction to the people that was so harsh, saying “cursed” is the man who trusts in human beings, whose heart turns away from the Lord.

Photo by author, altar in the Church of Beatitudes, 2019.

But here we find its true context too: it is a warning sign, a reminder of the dangers that can happen to anyone who trusts in himself more and turns away from God.

Here we find something truly happening in the future – not now – unlike in the Beatitudes wherein the future blessings are experienced in the present moment if we suffer in communion with Christ.

Very clear in Jeremiah and in the woes of Jesus, turning away from God surely leads to disaster because it is the opposite path of blessings.

At the same time, since God does not punish, the woes by Jesus are not a condemnation of those who are rich, filled, laughing and well spoken of others. His woes are not expressions of hatred nor hostilities but warning against the dangers of being so proud, of being filled with one’s self, of playing god because it is the path to destruction. Or even perdition as we shall see later this year in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man found only in Luke’s gospel.

The Greeks have a more precise term for that called hubris – an excessive pride and defiance of the gods that leads to one’s nemesis. Clearly, God does not punish nor condemn anyone of us. It is always our choice that we are lost and end in woes, as Shakespeare immortalized in the words of Cassius in Julius Caesar,

"The fault, dear Brutus, 
is not in our stars 
But in ourselves, 
that we are underlings".

Have a blessed week ahead, everyone. God bless you all. Amen.

Praying against blindness

The Lord Is My Chef Daily Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Monday, Week XXX, Year I in Ordinary Time, 25 October 2021
Romans 8:12-17   ><]]]]'> + <'[[[[><   Luke 13:10-17
Photo by Mr. Jim Marpa, 2019.
Praise and glory to you,
God our loving Father 
for this gift of another Monday;
help us to live in solidarity
with your Son Jesus Christ
as brothers and sisters, 
heirs of your kingdom in heaven
that in our work and studies,
we may always be guided 
by the Holy Spirit to seek and
follow your Holy Will. 

For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then, heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

Romans 8:15-17
So many times, O Lord,
we are like that synagogue official
in the gospel today:  blinded not only
by material things but most of all
by our religion - the worst blindness
 we have which we refuse to admit;
hence, we continue to plunge deeper
into its darkness of self-righteousness
as we outwardly profess we believe
 in you, we worship you alone
when in fact we have many other gods
ruling over us like our pride and ego,
our religious positions and titles,
even our ministries that are all
self-serving, too far from the people
specially the poor and sick,
and much too far from you,
dear God.
Give us the grace, dear Father,
through your Son Jesus Christ
in the power of the Holy Spirit to
enlighten our minds and hearts
to search more his light to illumine
the darkness within us and to find
more his face among one another
so that we may be truly in solidarity
 with him and your people.
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.

Easter is obeying God than men

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Thursday in the Second Week of Easter, 15 April 2021
Acts 5:27-30   ><)))*> + ><)))*> + ><)))*>   John 3:31-36
Photo by author, dome of the chapel at Shepherd’s Field, Bethlehem, the Holy Land, 2019.

Your words today, O Lord, from the first reading invites me to examine my attitude when somebody or something reminds me of my sins and sinfulness. What a shame that too often, we are like the members of the Sanhedrin who refused to acknowledge their complicity in your crucifixion, much less even mention your name.

When they heard this,
they became infuriated
and wanted to put them to death.
(Acts 5:33)

Forgive us, Jesus, when our worldliness prevents us from seeing you and others, when we tend to see only ourselves that we do not care at all to others, thinking we have a monopoly of truths, of having so many excuses and alibis defending ourselves.

We pray most especially to our government officials led by the president himself who continues to see himself self-righteously, maligning his detractors and critics despite the many deaths and sufferings of the people especially the poor.

We pray for their blind supporters that you open their minds and hearts that “we must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29) as Peter had told the Sanhedrin during their trial.

Most of all, dear Jesus, only you has the power to cast away all evil and convert hearts: we pray for our leaders and their blind supporters to be reminded always that it is only you “who comes from above is above all” (Jn.3:31), that there is no other God except you!

How sad and tragic that while this pandemic is raging around the world, so many people, world leaders and nations are acting as if they are gods who are above all, doing everything that pleases them, unmindful of you and of others.

For so long, our government leaders have been “rationing God’s gift of the Spirit” (Jn.3:34), feeding us with half truths and worst until now, they have no definitive plan in containing the pandemic except quarantines that have severely affected the poor.

Like the psalmist, we trust only in you our Lord and our God.

The Lord confronts the evildoers,
to destroy remembrance of them on the earth.
When the just cry out,
the Lord hears them,
and from all their distress
he rescues them.
(Psalm 34:17-18)

Amen. Amen. Alleluia, Amen!