We are the master of the world but God remains our Master

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul
Wednesday, Memorial of St. Scholastica, Virgin, 10 February 2021
Genesis 2:4-9, 15-17     >><)))*>  +  >><)))*>  +  >><)))*>     Mark 7:14-23
Photo by author, Camp John Hay, August 2019.

Praise and glory to you, God our loving Father and Creator of heaven and earth. Yes, we may be so small in this vast universe but it is in our smallness you have made us so great by creating us at the center of all your creation, the master of our world!

the Lord God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being. Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and he placed there the man whom he had formed. The Lord God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it. The Lord God gave man this order: “You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and evil. From that tree you shall not eat; the moment you eat from it you are surely doomed to die.”

Genesis 2:7-8, 15-17

Forgive us, dear God when we always forget that our freedom is never absolute; that from the beginning there has always been exception in doing everything.

Yes, we are the master of our world but YOU remain our Master; hence, the primary task of keeping this relationship with you always intact, always maintained, always whole and never separated from you.

From this relationship flows everything that is beautiful in your creation, O God: from each one of us who is a microcosm of the universe, a paradise within with all the gifts and abilities to become according to your plan and, on to the whole world you have given to us as a gift we must take care and nurture by responsibly enjoying it, neither harming nor destroying it.

Photo by author, Petra at Jordan, May 2019.

Alas, like what Jesus reminds us today in the gospel, we have defiled our inner selves with evil and sins so that from our hearts come unclean thoughts and actions.

Though we may no longer have those issues of unclean food like during your time, dear Jesus, we remain focus on so many trivial things that we ignore the real evils right in our hearts.

Through the prayers of St. Scholastica, help us to consecrate ourselves to you, O God, to be pure and simple in our thoughts and ideals, words and actions that reflect your true beauty and majesty in simply being good and holy. Amen.

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.

Jesus is both the Sower and the seed – and so must we!


The Lord Is My Chef Sunday Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Week XV, Cycle A in Ordinary Time, 12 July 2020
Isaiah 55:10-11 >><}}}*> Romans 8:18-23 >><}}}*> Matthew 13:1-23
“The Sower” painting by Van Gogh, photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Parables constitute the heart of Jesus Christ’s preaching. From the French para bolein which means “along the path”, parables are simple stories with deep realities that must be cracked open through prayers and reflections to uncover its meaning.

In fact, every parable by Jesus is a word of God that is like a seed that must be received, planted, and nurtured so we may eventually see and experience what is within it who is God himself!

On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd stood along the shore. And he spoke to them at length in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. As he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it. But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold. Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

Matthew 13:1-9
Photo by Onnye on Pexels.com

Jesus, the mysterious seed

Beginning today until the last Sunday of this month of July we shall hear different parables by Jesus taken from this 13th chapter of the gospel according to St. Matthew.

It is very interesting that as Jesus now begins to preach in parables, we also notice his usual usage of this image of the seed, especially of the mustard seed to stress to us what we have mentioned earlier about the significance of parables as simple things with deeper realities. Every seed is so small, easy to overlook and taken for granted. Yet, we all know how every seed is also the presence of what is to come in the future, of something so big and huge that we can never imagine.

That is how Jesus would always portray the Kingdom of God, which is himself, his very person who is always taken for granted but full of mysteries that later in the fourth gospel he would reveal a deeper reality of this seed akin his Cross:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

John 12:24

That is the mystery of the seed, the mystery of Christ: something so ordinary we take for granted with immense possibilities when given up, when it dies. In this parable of the sower, Jesus shows us a hint of this profound truth about himself as a mysterious seed, someone who must be broken to die in order to grow and bear fruit.

If we read the full text of today’s gospel, we find Jesus explaining the meaning of this parable and we discover that he himself is both the sower and the seed: he goes out everyday to bring us the good news of salvation, providing us with seeds we must plant so we can have food in the future.

Every seed Jesus sows in us is always good as the first reading assures us.

Thus says the Lord: Just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful… so shall my word; my word shall not return to me void.”

Isaiah 55:10-11

Most of the time, we reflect on this parable on the importance of the soil on which the seed is sown.

This Sunday, let us reflect on what kind of a seed are we, of how we waste or put into good the enormous potentials packed in each of us by God.

Photo by Dids on Pexels.com

“A sower went out to sow. As he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up.

Jesus the sower does not make distinctions on different kinds of soil; he just scatters the seeds freely. His words concern everyone.

Unfortunately, there are some of us who do not care at all, as hardened as the path or pavement.

These are the people who has no plans in life, no directions, spending their lives watching days pass without knowing that they are really the ones passing by.

Sometimes, they just go wherever the winds would lead them while once in a while, they step out of themselves a little to join friends or peers wherever they may be going. Eventually they leave when the journey gets farther.

They are literally wasting their lives.

Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for lack of roots.

They are the “spur of the moment” type who eventually end up as what we call ningas-cogon (a kind of local grass when dried is highly combustible; quick to start fire but quick to extinguish too).

Beware of them who are at the beginning very enthusiastic in every project and endeavor but when the goings get tough and difficult, they are the first to leave.

No roots, no foundations in life. Easy to give up. Just as hard as those seeds on the pavement.

Photo by author at Petra, Jordan, May 2019.

“Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.”

These are the people who thrived a little but eventually the “thorns of the world” choked them that they eventually dried and died.

They are the kind of people we lament and sometimes grieve, wondering what have happened within them that their hearts have suddenly turned away from God and others with their noble causes we used to share with them at the beginning.

Oh, they are well represented in Congress, especially the party-list representatives of various advocacies for the marginalized and less privileged who eventually come out with their true colors and ugly features. Some of them simply stopped thinking and feeling the other persons, blinded with power and wealth selling off their souls completely to any golden calf willing to pay them.

The modern Judas Iscariots.

But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit, a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.

Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte, flower farm at Atok, Benguet, 2019.

We now come to the better seeds (because all are good seeds, remember?).

They are the ones who fell on rich soil and produced fruit because they were the ones who willingly gave themselves up to the Sower. They are the ones who let go and let God, those who let themselves “die” and fell on the ground to give way to new life.

They are fruitful, not successful; the former relied on the powers of God, patiently bearing all pains and sufferings while the latter relied on their own powers, own intelligence and even connections that on the surface may seem to have the upper hand but totally empty inside.

The fruitful seeds are those willing to fall and be broken by God according to his divine plan. Many times, what is fruitful to God may be failures to us humans. Being fruitful is not about results and accumulations we have made but what have we become.

Fruitful people are focused on with the future glory to revealed by God through our pains and sufferings as St. Paul reminds us in the second reading today.

Let us not put into waste this good seed sown in us by Jesus Christ, allow it to be cracked open and broken to let the new life within us spring forth and lead us to becoming fruitful. Amen.

A blessed week ahead to everyone!

When people reject us…

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Thursday, Easter Week VI, 21 May 2020

Acts of the Apostles 18:1-8 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> John 16:16-20

Photo from yourteenmag.com.

Thank you dear Jesus in speaking to us today in our readings about rejection we all detest due to its deep and painful hurts that affect us even for a lifetime.

In the first reading, St. Paul was successively rejected in his preaching about your Good News of salvation while in the gospel, you remind us of our coming rejection by the world that had first rejected you.

Indeed, you were the first to be rejected and that is why you can speak so well of its nature; but, at the same time, you encourage us to be strong because when we are rejected, that is when we are led into joy.

You know how sad and even tragic is the feeling of being rejected by others, of being turned down, of being driven out, and worst, of being crucified simply because others refuse to accept us for so many reasons, from our skin color to our hairstyle to our religious beliefs and everything.

That is the saddest part of rejection: when we are rejected for reasons we have no control of, for being who we are.

But, you also teach us today, Jesus, that the worst part of rejection is “self-rejection” — when we ourselves affirm our rejection by others!

That happens when we stop pursuing our dreams and fulfilling our mission, when we stop living and give in to the rejection of others, when we go into self-pity that we are worthless, that we are nothing, that we are useless.

Like yesterday when the Athenians scoffed and rejected St. Paul’s teachings of your resurrection, they could not accept that there is always a chance in life in you, that we are all your beloved, forgiven and saved.

Give us the drive and determination of St. Paul to never lose sight of our mission in life despite many rejections by others. Keep us strong and persevering despite the many rejections we go through in life.

“Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.”

John 16:20

Most of all, let us always be filled with the grace and power of the Holy Spirit to keep in mind we are your Father’s beloved children, saved and forgiven in you Jesus Christ from our many sins and shameful past, ensured of a better tomorrow because you always believe in us, you always trust us, and you always give us each morning as a new chance to make up for our losses and mistakes yesterday. Amen.

Photo by Jens Johnsson on Pexels.com

Lent is believing in one’s self

40 Shades of Lent, Wednesday, Week I, 04 March 2020

Jonas 3:1-10 +++ 0 +++ Luke 11:29-32

Photo by Mr. Raffy Tima of GMA-7 News, Batanes, 2018.

Our dearest Father in heaven:

On this first week of Lent, we pray for the grace that we become more trusting of ourselves, of our worth, of our identity as your beloved children.

Until now, we can hear your Son Jesus our Lord lamenting that “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah (Lk.11:29)”  because we keep on looking for signs from you and from others before we can believe in ourselves.

Remind us, O God, that we are already a sign of your presence in Christ Jesus, our Emmanuel or “God-is-with-us”.

Like Jonah in the first reading, we keep on running away from you, from disobeying your will.

Worst of all, like Jonah, we cannot trust you and others because we always doubt and mistrust the people around us of something good they could do. 

From Google.

And sad to say, the very people we doubt much about their own abilities and goodness are the ones closest to us like husband or wife, children, brother or sister, and friends! 

What a tragedy indeed that we always refuse to appreciate our worth as your beloved children that lead us to see also the value of others around us, especially those who truly care and love us like our family and friends.

May we have the grace and courage to finally be reconciled with you in the Sacrament of Confession in one of these 40 days of Lent, that we may return to you in Jesus Christ with our “whole hearts, for you are gracious and merciful.”

Most of all, may we believe more in you, O God, so we also begin to believe in our selves, in our goodness and ability to change for the best. Amen.

Sharing the gifts within

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul

Thursday, Week XXIV, Year I, 19 September 2019

1 Timothy 4:12-16 ><)))*> ><)))*> ><)))*> Luke 7:36-50

Photo by Ms. Jo Villafuerte, Atok, Benguet, 01 September 2019.

It has been raining for quite some time, Lord, dampening our moods. Some of us have been trying hard cheering ourselves up despite the rains and gloomy skies that have gotten inside inside us too!

Thank you very much for your soothing words of encouragement through St. Paul, sweet Jesus.

Beloved: Let no one have contempt for your youth, but set an example for those who believe, in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity… Do not neglect the gift you have, which was conferred on you through the prophetic word with the imposition of hands of the presbyterate.

1 Timothy 4:12, 14

There are times Lord Jesus when we just hit it so low, when everything does not seem to be going in the right directions, when we feel even under attack.

How reassuring are your words through St. Paul reminding us of our giftedness and the gifts we have to offer you and others.

More reassuring were the words you spoke about that “sinful woman” who came to anoint you with oil and perfume as you dined with a certain Pharisee.

“Do you see this woman? When I entered your house, you did not give me water for my feet, but she has bathed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but she has not ceased kissing my feel since the time I entered. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she anointed my feet with ointment. So I tell you, her may sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little.”

Luke 7:44-47

So nice of you to remind us today to keep on doing what we think and feel as good and beautiful, to see ourselves still blessed despite our weaknesses and sins like that woman who has so much goodness to share like the oil and perfume she poured on you, Lord.

We pray for those going through hard times these days due to many problems not only with others but with their very selves – those feeling so guilty with their sins, feeling bad with themselves due to failures, or just having the “blues”.

We pray for those having difficulties with their loved ones who are sick and simply misunderstood even unwelcomed. Those having problems with family members who refuse to admit their faults for all the problems their family is going through.

Lastly we pray for those of us misunderstood and boxed or labelled. O Lord, help us bring out the goodness and giftedness we have inside to fill our homes, offices and schools with your fragrance, sparkle, and presence. Amen.

Knowing and Relating

The Lord Is My Chef Breakfast Recipe for the Soul, Easter Week VI, 27 May 2019
Acts 16:11-15 >< }}}*> <*{{{ >< John 15:26-16:4
Photo by Dra. Mai dela Pena, Carmel Monastery in Israel, 2014.

Praise and glory to you O Lord Jesus Christ! Today I praise and thank you in a very special way because of this immense love you have made me experience these days. I feel so blessed because I feel so loved. And I feel so loving too.

You know O Lord I have always looked down at myself, always doubting my abilities and most of all, my goodness. Every time I go on my personal retreats, in my own silent moments with you, I find it so hard to see myself as you see me — a beloved one.

So many times even if I know you have forgiven me for my many sins, I always still feel unworthy and untidy before you.

But when people come to thank me, to remind me of some kindness and charity I have extended them, you overwhelm me.

Maybe that’s the problem with us: we always doubt you love us, that we are loved, that we mean so much to other people. We tend to look on our dark side than on the bright moments you have worked in us and through us.

Teach us to be realistic and humble like Paul who was prevailed upon by Lydia in her generosity to receive them because of their goodness coming from you.

You are absolutely right, Lord Jesus: some people think they are doing God a big favor hurting us your followers because they have not really known you and the Father.

They have never experienced really knowing you, entering into a relationship with you as a person, as a Father, as a Brother.

That’s what make Christianity so different where we have a relating God, a God who knows when to give us that proverbial pat on the shoulders when we forget our goodness in you. You are a personal God who knows us and relates with us.

We pray for those burdened today, for those who feel neglected and even useless because of their plight and sorry condition. Remind us always that despite our many flaws and weaknesses, sins and failures in life, you still love us and would always love us no matter what. Amen.

Our pilgrimage team at Petra in Jordan, 01 May 2019.
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